View Full Version : What's working for your affiliate? Or not?

02-22-2012, 01:10 PM
I am the President for PPA of Massachusetts and since this area is for discussion-lets start one.

What's working in your state? What's not? Is membership down or up? How many members do you have? How many events do you offer your members per year?

Our Annual Convention is next week and we were disappointed in low print case turnout. Our membership stands at just about 100 right now but many of our members renew at Convention so we have a better picture next week.

It seemed online forums had taken over as the way to learn, thus reducing membership in person to person organizations. But this past year it seems that even the forums have slowed way down and now facebook groups are all the rage. I don't find them to be as user friendly or as helpful as forums so I am hoping to see a resurgence in actual groups.

If you agree-what are steps you are taking/have taken towards that end?

02-22-2012, 01:24 PM
Wisconsin is following someone else's lead and having a "party" in a different room during print judging with images being piped into that party room. There will be scoring contests to see who can get closest to the final score. I don't know details yet.

Hands-on shooting is helpful.

Keep an eye on Wisconsin's convention next weekend.

Also, check out what David Ziser to some state convention and turned it into "ProPhoto Expo". Don't know all the details but it was massive.

02-22-2012, 03:27 PM
Cat, we just had our state convention (Arizona) a few weeks ago and it was successful, but we are always looking for ways to increase attendees, membership, revenue, etc. I'm the current chairperson for 2013 convention and the incoming President for AzPPA.

At the last several affiliate leadership meetings that were held (with PPA as the gracious host), we were able to share a lot of great ideas with other affiliates around the country in person. If you (or another leader from your chapter) has a chance to attend the next affiliate leadership meeting I would highly recommend it.

To answer your question about what events we hold for our membership, we have approximately 130 members, and we hold monthly meetings, bi-annual print critiques, annual convention, fall festival (multi-day workshop), studio tours, and a number of all-day seminars throughout the year. We keep our membership quite busy :)

As Fuzzy mentioned, there are a few affiliates that have been doing some very interesting things with print competition - separate viewing rooms with a party atmosphere, digital presentations, etc. - to add excitement and hopefully get more attendees to get involved in the competition process. We are looking to implement these ideas into our convention in 2013. In speaking with David Trust, he offered to have his team assist with specifications on digital print viewing so that we can be 'in sync' with regional and international specifications where possible.

Fuzzy - do you have any additional information on what David has been doing with the 'ProPhoto Expo'? I"m very interested to learn more about it.

02-22-2012, 04:02 PM
Also, check out what David Ziser to some state convention and turned it into "ProPhoto Expo". Don't know all the details but it was massive.ProPhoto Expo? That's California's Convention and they've had that name for over 15 years.

California's convention, I believe, is the largest state convention in the country. The ProPhoto Expo is the Trade show part, and Western States Convention is the program side. In the past 6 years, it has drawn an average of 125 vendors and about 3500 attendees, and has been a major "pillar" of PP California.

The real change happened when the board of directors, and the convention committee, focused on experience, rather than benefits. If you try to market your convention based on education and print comp, you will get little or no interest. Ask anyone about Texas school, "what's great about Texas School", and I've found that a majority of the answers are "the parties"! Very few say "the education".

That's why the idea of a "sports bar" during print comp on a "closed circuit" television is a wonderful idea started by PP Louisiana. It's the experience, not the print comp. And by the way, you learn about the print competition process at the same time.

Think in terms of why many of you buy Apple products. They managed to turn customer control into a wonderful user experience. Think about it. Everything in apple is proprietary, and they made it the best feature as to why you should buy their products!

Cat, if you want to PM me, I can give you a few suggestions. I've just consulted PP Maine and PPANE for a bit to help them with a few ideas to make some positive changes to their associations.

This has been my personal mission as a PPA Board member. I really believe that the affiliates need to be strengthened so that PPA will have a better supply of future leaders.

02-22-2012, 04:05 PM
I am a member of the PhotoProNetwork that Fuzzy mentioned and have worked closely with David over this past year building it to what it is today which is massive. Here are some stats from our convention a few weeks ago.

1. PhotoPro Expo 2012 was the LARGEST regional photographic event in the USA with over 1,000 - yes – over 1,000 photographers in attendance!
2. PhotoPro Expo 2012 was the fourth largest photographic convention in the country!
3. PhotoPro Expo 2012’s trade-show was also the largest regional trade show in the country and the largest in the Midwest.
4. PhotoPro Expo 2012 hosted photographers from 25 states and Canada – the first time ever a regional convention had such a geographic diversity!
5. The speaker lineup - Scott Kelby, Vincent LaForet, Jerry Ghionis, et. al. rocked the house with huge crowds for all programs – even those beginning at 7:30 a.m. Jerry Ghionis brought down the house Saturday morning with a standing ovation from a 625+ crowd!
6. We awarded the PhotoPro Expo attendees more dollars in Door Prizes than any photographic convention in the country, if not the world – over $25,000 at last count!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
7. PhotoPro Expo 2012 was the first fully juried photographic print competition to go “LIVE” - broadcasting over the internet to all the states in the union and dozens of country’s around the world – including the Federated States of Micronesia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federated_States_of_Micronesia) – yes, they were listening to us in the middle of the Pacific ocean!!!

Last year we had a little 300 in attendance. There is no single thing that made this happen. It was a combination of efforts that each did their own part in adding to the success. We are still the KPPA(Kentucky Professional Photographers Assn) but we dropped our borders to do business as the PhotoProNetwork. This has made us more of a regional influence and as you can see the region was hungry for it.

If you want you can call me and I will gladly fill you in on how we made it happen.

02-22-2012, 05:28 PM
Michael, AzPPA would love to hear any advice you can provide to us in how to improve our state convention attendance, enhance attendee experience,etc. I agree, just as photographers we sell the experience as much as quality, our association needs to do the same. Any advice would be greatly appreciated - either on this forum or if you prefer by PM. Thanks Michael.

02-22-2012, 06:53 PM
Great Robert! Love to help. PM sent;)

02-22-2012, 09:51 PM
That's why the idea of a "sports bar" during print comp on a "closed circuit" television is a wonderful idea started by PP Louisiana. It's the experience, not the print comp. And by the way, you learn about the print competition process at the same time.

Yes, we started the PPLA "Sports Bar" two years ago when I was PPLA President. It wasn't my idea but I wish it was. The idea came from our PPLA Secretary, Ralph Romaguera, Jr. - he proposed it, it sounded like a blast, the board approved it and the rest is history - it was a GREAT experience for the attendees. They could cut up and hoot and holler and have a great time during the print competition and it was all OK ! No one whispering for them to be quiet, there was a cash bar, everyone had a great time. The noise from the other room threw the judges for a while until they understood what we were doing there, but once they understood what the noise was all about, they were fine with it. I'm happy to hear that other affiliates have picked up on the idea. It's a sure thing to add the excitement back into print competition - last year - the second year we held it - the "Sports Bar" was packed and the number of print competition entries were up.

02-22-2012, 10:34 PM
Rick, Shirley and photographed a sexy portrait of the two of us (she's sexy, I'm not) and wanted to enter it, but instead of the full frontal image, I chose a more conservative (tightly cropped) version of it because I was afraid of this party atmosphere and the possible embarrassment. I've never been to this kind of judging. Is there respect for adult images or is there elbowing and "Yeah baby!" comments when nudes come around?

02-22-2012, 11:20 PM
I guess it will all depend upon the crowd. At PPLA, it was fun, a bit loud, but it was still kept professional. Most of the noise was around the participants trying to out judge the judges and predict what the final score would be. There would be moaning when everyone missed the score and there would be cheering when someone hit the score on the nose. The "Sports Bar" was in a room across the hall from the judging room which was still just a bit too close, so the judges could hear the noise, but we had issues in piping the audio to a room on another floor, so we had to hold it where we could run wires for the speakers so that the judges comments could be heard in the "Sports Bar". Our convention was held in New Orleans, so nudity is pretty commonplace so if any nudes did come up, they were pretty much just taken at face value and just judged. There wasn't anything shown in the judging that anyone couldn't see more of just a few block walk away. In a more conservative town, you might get a different reaction, so those in charge of the room may need to make an announcement about having it be fun, but keeping it professional too.

How many "Yeah Baby"s you might get depends on how many ladies you have in the room and just how sexy you look in the photo...

02-23-2012, 01:19 AM
Our remote viewing(Sports Bar) was on a different floor of the hotel so we couldn't hear them in the judging area. Nudes received the same reaction as other images because people were more concerned with nailing down the right score. We heard nothing but praise so we will be doing this every year.

02-23-2012, 01:51 AM
We would have liked to have had our Sports Bar in another area - possibly in our hospitality room - but we couldn't make the logistics work last year. Jeff has souped up his system and it apparently worked very well at your convention - so this year we may be able to move it up to the 24th floor - or pretty much anywhere else in the hotel we want. The same guy handled the software for your event as did ours for the last few years - Jeff Burton with Proofcast.

02-23-2012, 02:31 AM
Yeah, Jeff's a great guy and he worked his tail off. He was working the bugs out of the system from the new upgrades and did an impressive job at keeping people from noticing.

We also had a large following on the web throughout the judging and many of those became members just so they could participate in the competitions and reviews we have throughout the year that are also broadcast live.

02-23-2012, 03:31 AM
Does Jeff from Proofcast also webcast the print competition as an option? Did you find his fees to be reasonable? I remember Ralph mentioning his services at the last month's affiliate meeting at Imaging, and I was hoping Jeff would have been at the trade show but I couldn't find him. I think it's time we give him a call and chat :)

02-23-2012, 01:56 PM
WOW thanks for all you responses. I posted this on a week where we are leading up to our yearly Convention, so did not get right back to the thread. Thanks to those who PM'd me willing to talk on the phone I will take you up on that.

For those who have monthly meetings-whats the content? Is it speakers or just social? Thats something I have always wanted in our org, more frequent meetups but know the manpower needed to make it happen isnt always available.

02-23-2012, 02:04 PM
I have always thought that there was not reason why NH, MA and ME could not create a speaker circuit like they do in LA and TN for monthly meetings. We are near 200 members and for $120 a member receives two full day conferences, 10 monthly meetings, a 4 day convention and a print case. Currently we pay no one to be part of our board.

02-23-2012, 03:37 PM
Cat - at AzPPA, our monthly meetings consist of approximately 2 hour seminars (usually 7PM-9PM, with 6-7PM for the social hour before the seminar begins) and each month is a different topic. We host both local speakers as well as national speakers, and each month is a different focus so all members find something they are looking for.

We cover basically everything - technical topics, financial/business, hands-on, marketing, wedding, portrait, commercial (we have had a joint meeting with ASMP), you name it. We survey our membership after each meeting and track the attendance of members, guests, first-timers, etc. in our database and once a year during a Board meeting we review the popular topics and use that to help create our calendar for the following year.

Our monthly meetings also have a mentor program that members can sign up for in advance. It is a 20 minute session (typically with a master photographer in our association) where they can ask any questions they want. We also hold orientation meetings for all guests prior to each month meeting, which we have found to be extremely helpful in making the guests feel welcome and converting them to members.

We typically have our speaker lineup already scheduled a year in advance. This is important so that we advertise during our membership renewal drive at the end of the year what is coming up for the following year. It also allows us to have a postcard that we hand out at each meeting to guests that show our entire year speaker calendar, all upcoming specials events, and we include a long list of benefits that they receive when they become a member.

Different affiliates exist for different reasons. Some exist soley for an annual convention, others have several meetings a year, and others such as us have monthly meetings PLUS an annual convention (which is a separate fee). Also each state has different setups with some having multiple affiliates, some with a 'state' chapter and then local chapters as well, etc. We are the only PPA affiliate in Arizona, so we handle it all. Our main reason for existence however is the monthly meetings - the personal touch and friendship that our membership experience because of the monthly meetings is vital to our existence.

Everyone is a volunteer in the organization (except the Executive Director that gets paid a monthly stipend). In case you are curious, our membership is $225/yr (includes the monthly meetings at no additional charge which we hold at a local hotel and includes snacks, 2 print critiques we hold each year, and studio tours). The membership fee does not cover all-day seminars (which we have several per year), fall-festival (a 2 day outing in some locale in AZ), or our annual convention which is typically $149 for a 2-3 day convention.

I would be glad to share with you any other information which could be helpful.

02-23-2012, 05:02 PM
I have always thought that there was not reason why NH, MA and ME could not create a speaker circuit like they do in LA and TN for monthly meetings.
I would beg to speak on that circuit.

Our membership is $39/year. Our Main conference costs around $180 to attend and we get $99 rooms in an incredible hotel. We also have a Summer School that is around $99 to attend. We have three print comps throughout the year and all are broadcast live. We also record all of the classes and have them archived on our website for viewing any time. By doing the math you can see that the bulk of our cash flow comes from the conferences and sold out trade shows. I have been to several conferences in the past two years and ours is by far the most upbeat.

It's very much like hosting a rock concert. Put together a really good lineup of entertaining speakers, work with your tradeshow vendors to have them advertise through their e-mail contacts, and make sure you have arrangements to feed a large crowd. We had some issues in the food dept because of timing. When 600+ people walk out of a 2 hour class hungry and the hotel restaurant only seats 100 and everything else is closed it can be chaos.

02-23-2012, 05:41 PM
Greg, how do you arrange the copyright aspects of recording the classes with the speakers? We have looked into this as an added benefit to our membership, but a number of concerns have been raised regarding the speaker copyrights, images being shown by the speaker, etc. etc.

02-23-2012, 06:26 PM
We obtain a release from the speaker for member use only. I think it's incorporated into the original contract. The images they are projecting are theirs(or at least they darn well better be) and are covered under the same release. It's a huge benefit for members like me and my wife because we are working continuously throughout the conferences. We love helping out and by being able to view the presentations later it frees us up to do many jobs, all of which we love.

02-23-2012, 06:29 PM
I just wanted to add that we did have one speaker we couldn't record due to his affiliation with Disney. It could have been done but the process of getting approval would have been a long one.

02-24-2012, 12:11 AM
I appreciate it when I'm asked. We don't want our program recorded.

And in another side, I wish photographers would ask if the speaker minds if people record or shoot pictures of the slides. I find it VERY distracting with cameras popping up and down like prairie dogs.

I realize it's for learning purposes... but shouldn't it be common courtesy to at least ask first?

02-24-2012, 12:48 AM
But it's so funny when the audience photographs the slides with the flash!:D

02-24-2012, 03:57 AM
I was at a Dean Collins seminar in early 1980s when a guy did that. I think Dean said, "f8".

There was another story about a guy who was photographing one of Deans Finelight booklets, instead of buying one. Dean came over and helped hold it for him. As he was about to shoot, Dean said, "Can I explain to you copyright law?"

02-24-2012, 04:05 AM
I totally agree Fuzzy. It is amazing that the same photographers that complain about their images being 'stolen' have the gall to photograph copyrighted material and slides from speakers, in plain view of everyone.

02-24-2012, 01:48 PM
OK, back on topic;)

One dinosaur that is starting to go away is the Awards Banquet. California did away with it back in 2005. PPA got rid of it too - with two awards ceremony, one followed by a big party.

When California eliminated the banquet, this gave them the ability to do away with the costly, dreaded "Hotel Costs". They took their awards party on the road (just across the street from their convention center) and occupied a Jazz club. There, they were able to but out a ton of food from Subway and Costco, made it more casual. To retain the audience, they conducted the awards midway before the food ran out (although they never ran out). So, instead of only 40-60 people attending, there would be about 200-250, which created more fun and excitement. After the awards, each of the Presidents had their own after party idea, one was a wedding shootout by two "celebrity wedding photographers", and on another year, a casino night.

Because the costs were cut (they paid $1000 to use the venue for the night, and the Jazz club had the bar receipts), the food costs were minimal and thus the food was free.

Free food draws a crowd:)

02-24-2012, 05:05 PM
That sounds like a great idea. Fortunately for us, we have not had the 'stuffy' awards night ceremony for a long time. We incorporate the awards ceremony with our primary lunch during the convention so everyone is already in attendance, and we are fortunate to have Kay Eskridge and Tom Cheswick (we call them the Kay and Tom show) provide entertainment as MC's for the event. They could charge just for the entertainment factor alone :) The lunch is a 2 hour event, and has worked well for us. A quick annual membership meeting takes place just afterwards, and then on to the next speaker.

02-24-2012, 05:21 PM
we are fortunate to have Kay Eskridge and Tom Cheswick (we call them the Kay and Tom show) provide entertainment as MC's for the event. They could charge just for the entertainment factor alone :)

In my opinion this is a key factor for success. I completely understand that the main function of conferences is education but if you overlook the entertainment portion then the education becomes more of a chore. I'm amazed that no one has considered a comedy act. Photography can be a funny business and laughter is truly good for the soul. There are speakers out there that use comedy in their presentations but I think it would be great to sit through a presentation that was there simply to entertain.

03-03-2012, 04:29 PM
How did your convention turn out? Did you come up with any ideas to boost interest and membership? What about the print judging? Did you have many people there to watch it?

03-04-2012, 02:53 AM
How about MISSY MWAC for an MC? She would either have the place rolling with laughter or throwing stones at her.

03-04-2012, 12:13 PM
How about MISSY MWAC for an MC? She would either have the place rolling with laughter or throwing stones at her.

I laughed when I first read this. Then I realized this idea could be incredible. It's humor, it's outside the box, it's relevant and most of all, I just like it.

03-04-2012, 03:51 PM
One of my favorite lines from her. "Just give your clients a disc of images. Don't print them. Printing is HARD."

03-05-2012, 12:48 AM
Sorry I have not been back to this!

It was a fantastic Convention-with incredible speakers. If you are looking for speakers I can highly recommend Drake Busath, Lissa Hatcher, Onne Van der Wal and Tina and Mike Timmons.

All around it went great! Our Convention runs friday to monday, with friday as our "Free Day" to bring in new members. We had over 100 people in the room for our friday speakers which was high for us. I do not have data available right now to see how many joined as a result. I know there was few.

Our membership base right now is at about 128 including Life and Student Members. Overall we are down. We have an Awards Night sunday night, no loner a banquet, mostly for cost, but food and awards and DJ/dancing and this year we had one of our speakers donate his Photo Booth which was a lot of fun. About 65 people attended I think. A lot of those with "real jobs" leave after the sunday speaker to go home for monday work. I know when I was new I didnt attend the Awards Night because I didnt feel I fit in. I tried *really hard* to make the new members feel welcome and get them to stay cuz it IS such party. Many did! We make sure to acknowledge them.

Not that many entered Print Comp-27 total cases with only 12 Print-which is WAYYY below our usual. We did not hold our customary Print Comp seminar in January-that may have been part of the problem. WIll absolutely revisit that this coming year and bring those numbers back up. I'd say we had about 20-30 spectators at a time.

I would like to increase programming or at least social events in between our quarterly seminars. When I thanked the Free Friday attendees I said "I dare you to get a better experience in an online forum!" I believe forums are awesome but there's nothing like in person. I want to increase events to increase membership.

I thank you all for your ideas here! I mentioned the Print Comp "Bar" and people loved the idea! I have to ask though-what time of day? Our Print Comp starts at 830 am.....

Hoping our VP of Publications Cassandra Sullivan will pipe in with her opinions .... :)

03-05-2012, 03:29 AM
I mentioned the Print Comp "Bar" and people loved the idea! I have to ask though-what time of day? Our Print Comp starts at 830 am.....

It doesn't matter what time you hold your competition. Ours starts early too. The point of the "sports bar" is not the bar, but the chance to watch the competition without having to be deathly quiet. Since they are in a separate room, they can talk among themselves, discuss and debate the merit of the images without disturbing the judges. The interaction and discussions in the "sports bar" are highly educational since they can discuss among themselves what the judges are saying while they are saying it, and don't have to worry about being told to be quiet. They can even walk up to the screen and point to what they are talking about while the judges are scoring the images in the other room. Even if you don't have a bar in your "remote viewing room", it is still a great and highly educational idea. The bar just gives those who want a drink the opportunity to have one. A great idea is to have it in your hospitality suite, but the only problem with that is that if it is being held in a hotel, the suite is usually upstairs in the hotel and attendees may need a room key to get access to that floor - that eliminates anyone who is not staying at the host hotel from getting into the room or gaining access to that area. This is why we use another meeting room down the hall where members can just walk in without having to jump through hoops.

04-06-2013, 01:45 PM
2013 Texas PPA Regional Convention was a huge success, we went from about 700 attendees to over 1,100. We added 187 new members who attended the event. Had over 400 brand new people at the event including Trade Show only folks. There was an excitement in the air. The vendors were happy with the turnout and especially all the NEW faces we had.

We turned things around. We did everything different. Whether we like it or not, our industry has changed and if we (the associations) don't change, we will go the way of Blockbuster and the Associations for Buggy Whip makers!

A brief explanation of our situation, Texas and Southwest PPA trade off hosting a regional convention every other year. We are a 6 state region, TX, OK, AR, LA, NM and recently added CO. Two years ago our event was in the fall of 2011 in Arlington, TX. The convention center and hotel is next door to The Ballpark where the Texas Rangers play and down the street from the new Cowboy Stadium. That year the Rangers were in the playoffs so there was a game on Fri and Sat night. There was a the Texas A&M vs Arkansas game on Saturday and of course a Dallas Cowboys game on Sunday. Our event and Trade Show was on that Sat and Sunday. Traffic (or the perception) that traffic was horrible kept about 500 of our registered attendees away from the event. And kept people from attending both days. So Mike Scalf, Executive Director of SWPPA, and I met with the hotel. We had 3 more years of contracts with almost 500 room nights and $13,000 in food guarantees. In 2008, when we signed the 4 year contract, that was no problem, that was the norm. We regularly had 1,000 people at our events. Then the economy and changes in our industry happened. We had to get out of the area in the fall. Last year SWPPA used the hotel on Wed-Fri for print judging and moved the rest of the convention to the Las Colinas area, about 15 miles away, more in the Dallas Area, but still in the Fall. Bottom line, both the 2011 TPPA and 2012 SWPPA regional conventions had about 700 attendees, but no excitement. We had the same faithful members in attendance that always attend, but almost no new faces. We needed to change - fast!

2013, wow, it worked! The officers of Texas PPA decided, we need to shake up the photographic world and change the direction of photographic events. We needed excitement, we needed new faces, we needed a bigger variety of programs, we need a BUZ!
We got it!

Anyone interested in what we did to turn things around?
Doug Box
TPPA Executive Director

04-06-2013, 02:48 PM
Do tell, Doug. Do tell.

04-06-2013, 04:27 PM
Im listening!