Meet the SMS Team
PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) is a team that leverages the expertise of successful photographers, industry experts and a specialized staff accountant to support our members. Above all, our goal here is to help you grow and sustain a more profitable business.
That’s why SMS team members are hand-picked professionals (and PPA members, of course). Their mission is to educate and guide you in successful business and financial management...and they have proven their expertise in their own businesses!
Chief Financial Officer of PPA
Scott Kurkian, PPA's Chief Financial Officer, has been with PPA for 19 years and is one of the founders of PPA’s Studio Management Services department and PPA's Financial Benchmark Survey. Scott has worked with many photography businesses to help them learn and understand the financial aspects of managing a small business and how to use financial analysis to improve profitability.
CPA & Manager, Studio Management Services
Bridget Jackson is a Certified Public Accountant and Manager of PPA’s Studio Management Services. She has worked with small businesses for over 10 years and has been at PPA for several years, assisting numerous photographers.
Jen Basford is best known for high school senior portraits and the annual must-see fashion show she puts on for upcoming seniors each spring. She owns a 3,500-square-foot, custom-designed studio in Edmond, OK, and markets to a high-end boutique clientele. In fact, she has become one of the top senior portrait photographers in the Midwest largely due to her out-of-the-box approach to marketing and client relationships. Her love of senior portraiture and fashion-style photography has led her to develop an entirely new market at her studio: individual portrait studies for ’tweens. Besides Jen's love of fashion, she enjoys posting on Instagram, obsessing over pretty office supplies at russell + hazel, and Sonic’s Diet Dr. Peppers. She is also the mother of three loud, crazy, dramatic, adorable and slightly obnoxious little girls who are the namesake of her studio, 3 girls photography.
Mary Fisk-Taylor, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API
Mary Fisk-Taylor has been a member of the Professional Photographers of America since 1999. Along with her business partner, Jamie Hayes, they operate a high-end wedding and portrait business in Richmond, Virginia. Hayes & Fisk the Art of Photography is a home-based studio located on almost one acre of beautiful gardens and they have successfully created one of the most sought after Portrait and Wedding studios in their area.
Mary was named Photographer of the Year in 2007 and has won Best Wedding Album of the Year in Virginia several times. Nationally she has had her albums in the top five. She has won numerous Best in Show awards, Kodak Gallery Awards, Fuji Masterpiece Awards, Loan Collection prints and albums. Mary is also a recipient of the prestigious Virginia Award, which honors photographers for their commitment and dedication to their state association, and the business of professional photography.
Angela Talentino Kurkian, M.Photog.Cr.
Angela Kurkian has been a member of PPA since 1994. As the owner of Essenza Studio, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, she manages a staff of five, including three photographers. The studio was established in 1999, and Angela and the Essenza team originally became known for their wedding photography. Today, though, the business has grown to include all types of portraits. (Currently, high school senior portraits rival weddings for the amount of business produced.)
In 2007, Angela built her dream studio: a 4,000 sq. ft. building with multiple camera rooms, sales rooms and galleries. And in the midst of an economic downturn, she and the Essenza team have managed to not only survive, but have grown substantially due to the implementation of a new sales system, more efficient production and creative marketing. Angela also earned her Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman degrees through PPA, has been awarded Kodak Gallery awards and Fuji Masterpiece awards, and has had images selected for the PPA Loan Collection.
Having worked for many years as a professional photographer, Angela understands the demands of this type of work while focusing on creating a balanced life. As she says: "It can be so easy to get caught up in the work because it's something I love, but I never want to lose sight of what is most important. I want to help photographers develop strategies to build financially sound businesses that will also cultivate and feed their artistic natures."
Ann Monteith, M.Photog.Cr.Hon.M.Photog., CPP, ABI, API, A-ASP, Hon.A-ASP
Before finding her calling in photography, Ann Monteith taught high school English, college journalism, and was PR director at a local college. Now she’s known as a leading authority on studio business management. Ann serves as a consultant to studios throughout the country, both privately and under the auspices of major industry suppliers. A former chairwoman of the board of the PPA International School of Professional Photography and a past president of PPA, she received the Gerhard Bakker Award for excellence in teaching and the Charles H. “Bud” Haynes Award “for encouraging business awareness and practices.” A widely published author, she and her husband Jim are directors of Countryhouse Studios near Hershey, Pennsylvania, as well as a prestige portraiture business and teaching facility in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland.
Edward Zemba, M.Photog.Cr.
Edward and Robert Francis Zemba are the dynamic duo owners of Robert Charles Photography. They lead a group of professionals creating photographic artwork throughout New England and beyond. Edward, the businessman of the team, has focused on strategic planning and market execution. Through years of studying with many photographic greats, he has identified and put into practice some of the most effective ways to grow a photography studio.
According to Scott Kurkian, CFO of PPA, the Zemba family and their staff turned Robert Charles Photography into one of the most profitable businesses of its kind in the country. More importantly, this was done while holding on to the style of photography they are most passionate about.
Jeffrey Dachowski, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, A.C. ph
In high school, Jeff quickly fell in love with photography. After pursuing every class related to photography, he attended the Hallmark Institute of Photography. He has been photographing weddings all over New England, the Caribbean and the inter-mountain west since 1992. And in 2003, Jeff and his wife, Carolle, opened their studio in Manchester and have seen meteoric growth since opening. They have a loyal following of children and family clients, a buzz in the wedding industry, and a growing number of commercial portrait clients.
Jeff is a busy man, and his work has been featured in Seacoast Bride, a New Hampshire Bride, Woman Engineer, Woman’s World and Rolling Stone. He has nine images in the PPA Loan Collection, nine Kodak Gallery awards, two Fuji Masterpiece awards, 13 Court of Honors, and an ASP Regional Medallion. Jeff is also active in PPA’s Studio Management Services and contributes monthly to Professional Photographer magazine (his prosperous studio was featured in the July 2008 issue, too). In addition, he is a PPA Approved Juror, a Certification Judge for the Professional Photographic Certification Committee and a Vatican Approved Photographer. Jeff is a Certified Professional Photographer and has attained his Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman degrees from PPA. He even serves as president for the New Hampshire Professional Photographers Association (NHPPA).
Beth Forester, M.Photog.Cr., CPP
For 15 years, Beth Forester, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, has operated a boutique portrait studio in the small coal-mining town of Madison, WV. Specializing in senior portraiture, she is known not only for her award-winning images, but also for her creative marketing strategies and business tactics. Recognized as a leader in the photographic and business industry, she has been featured in various magazines, such as Rangefinder, Professional Photographer, Studio Photography & Design and WV Executive.
In fact, Beth has been named West Virginia Photographer of the Year three times (2004, 2006 and 2007) and Mid-East States Photographer of the Year twice (2006 and 2007). Along the way to achieving these titles, Beth has earned, 10 Kodak Gallery Awards, 4 Fuji Masterpiece Awards, 13 Loan Collection images and the prestigious PPA AN-NE Award for marketing.
In addition to running a full-time studio, Beth develops and markets her own software line: photoDUDS, a commercially-licensed series of DVD volumes containing graphic design elements, templates and marketing materials created specifically for professional photographers.
Amber McAdoo, CPP
Amber McAdoo owns and operates a high-end boutique portrait studio in the small town of Benton, AR, where she specializes in captivating images of high school seniors and families. Along with her image-making skills, she has been recognized for her studio's drastic change from a failing business to a thriving studio. With the help of PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS), she was able to double her prices, cut her session count in half, employ only one part-timer…and still make more money. Then in June 2009, within a matter of two weeks, Amber and her husband, Chancy, adopted a baby girl, Anna Morie. Now, she is in the studio three full days a week and is able to stay at home with Anna the rest of the week. Amber believes it is important to love your life and live it the way you want.
Lori Nordstrom, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI
Lori Nordstrom specializes in maternity and baby portraits and owns a studio in Winterset, Iowa—home of the Bridges of Madison County. In this town of just 5,500 people, she has built and maintained a top-producing studio, thanks in part to her distinctive approach to children’s portraiture. One of her biggest fulfillments is sharing her passion for the business of photography with other photographers—and seeing their businesses thrive.
Allison Rodgers, Cr.Photog.
Before opening a photography studio, Allison, armed with a BFA in Graphic Design and Photography, worked for several nationally recognized advertising agencies. She garnered multiple design and photography awards and was published in PRINT magazine, a prestigious design magazine.
In 2004, Allison and her husband Jeff, also a graphic designer, opened Allison Rodgers Photography (their work was featured on the April 2008 cover of Professional Photographer). They have doubled their sales each year and are regarded as one of the most profitable studios in the U.S., due to their design skills, marketing strategies, and client relationships. In addition, they are active in charity-based projects, enhancing the commitment to their community and customer base.
Carrie Wildes, CPP
Carrie Wildes owns Carrie Wildes Photography (based in Tampa, Florida) and operates out of a custom home studio and second location in a shared commercial space. Their team includes six photographers, a studio manager, and graphic designer. You can find Carrie dodging traffic, leaning off ledges, and sometimes even braving the snow to get the money shot. But this all didn’t start until she realized the gift she had while on a mission trip to the Philippines…where she fell in love with photography. In 2007, she and her husband, David, left the frozen tundra of Chicago to start a new and warmer life in Tampa, Florida. Carrie then decided to get off the corporate ladder and build one her own. She graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering, is a scuba diver, doesn’t eat beef, and is a social media diva.
SMS Consultant Spotlight
Beth Forester: Always Looking Ahead
About 15 years ago, Beth Forester, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, created a part-time home studio in Madison, W.V., to explore her interest in the art of photography. Today, she juggles Forester Photography—which has cornered the senior portrait market in her area and moved into a modern downtown facility—and photoDUDs, a drag-and-drop design software company for photographers. She's happy, profitable and doing what she loves.
But how did she navigate those difficult early years and keep growing? "I think the key to my success is that I'm always looking ahead," says Beth. Read the full article here.