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PPA Today

By Sarah Ackerman

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This week we're embracing improvement! Check out our top eleven blogs to help you be more. And, yes! There is a bonus blog this week!

SCAM ALERT: Arm yourself with knowledge against these four scams that seem to be running rampant in the photography industry! The folks at PhotoShelter bring you the top four scams they've seen, including fake photo contests and fake photo assignments! Read on and Be More Protected!

INSPIRATION: If you've ever suffered from a lack of motivation, direction or inspiration, this awesome E-book from Eric Kim will give you the best kick in the pants! Download it in a variety of formats and feel the creativity flow!

FINANCES: If the finances of your business are keeping you up at night, check in with Krista Newbill and our PPA Studio Makeover team! Krista has been focusing on finances for the past month. See what changes she's made and what she's looking to do in the future with this update!

SCIENCE + STORYTELLING: How do you set yourself apart in a world filled with billions of advertising messages? It's not easy, but it can be done! Read up on how to marry the science of marketing with the joy of storytelling from HubSpot. 

We're back with an update on Krista Newbill's Studio Makeover. Check out the previous post on the project overview if you need a refresher, and take a look at Wes Roberts' first update from last month.

Below is an update on what Krista has been doing with her team of PPA mentors, the early progress she's made along with some of the obstacles she's facing. Some of it surely applies to some of you and your business... maybe you can consider applying similar changes to Be More Profitable too?

The Financials

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Krista first came to PPA for help with her business back in 2012. At that time her studio's gross sales were down 21% from 2011 and what was more telling, expenses were up and her bottom line suffered, going down 52% during that time.

In 2013 Krista focused on cutting costs. Her sales that year increased and her bottom line recovered. Then in 2014 the stress of running and paying for a retail location caused Krista to rethink her location. She opted to co-lease a space with another photographer. With sales up 14% and her expenses once again down, Krista was keeping almost 61% of every dollar she grossed. According to PPA's Benchmark, top-preforming retail studios keep about 39% of each dollar, proving that Krista was doing a great job keeping her expenses in check.

As she started planning for 2015, Krista was feeling that she was working too hard, too many hours, and not spending enough quality time with her family. "How long can I keep up this pace?" is a question most business owners ask themselves at some point during their careers. That's why the concept of sustainability is one of the most important things to consider when you're planning each year.

What affects your business sustainability? The number of hours worked, stress levels, income, family life balance, and pretty much anything else that affects you as the business owner. Simply ask yourself, can your business continue on the same track it's currently on with you, as the business owner, doing everything as-is? Sometimes it simply comes down to time (or lack thereof). In the long run, can you realistically continue to put in the hours/week that you are currently spending and be achieving your life goals?

Krista realized that she's too busy and is now looking for ways to work smarter, not harder. Her main product lines include weddings, portraits and headshots. She lives near Nashville and has a very large clientele. Up until 2014, Krista created albums and sold prints to her wedding clients, but she only sold digital files to her portrait clients.

By Lindsey Forson

Commercial use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, continues to be a hot issue on Capitol Hill.

While we anxiously await the FAA's approval on new regulations for small UAS operations, things continue to move forward. Last week, Senator Cory Booker (New Jersey) and Senator John Hoeven (North Dakota) introduced the Commercial UAS Modernization Act (download it here: 265083514-UAS-Modernization-Act-of-2015.pdf) to the U.S. Senate. This legislation has not yet become law and would not replace the forthcoming rule from the FAA, but it could serve in the interim.   

If the Commercial UAS Modernization Act becomes law, it would make it legal to use UAS for commercial purposes within specified regulations. The Act would also accelerate the process of incorporating commercial UAS use into the current framework. If passed, the FAA would be required to act very quickly to establish the knowledge test and certification process for commercial UAS operators.

For an update on the FAA rulemaking process, check out PPA's past coverage of the issue. We will keep you updated on the progress of the Commercial UAS Modernization Act on the Hill!

Lindsey Forson is PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs Coordinator.  She works with members on a daily basis addressing copyright questions and works closely with our CEO to advocate for professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep members informed on the issues that affect their businesses. She's new to Atlanta and spends most of her free time exploring the city (restaurants, markets, parks); spends three nights a week playing soccer and is a huge Auburn fan. 

 

 

By Chris Homer

Another week, another roundup! From business advice to lighting tips, you'll find it all below:
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BUSINESS: Since most photographers are entrepreneurs and small business owners, we know how easy it can be to become overwhelmed with everything involved with running your business. That's why this post from Fast Company is worth a read for all photographers. It lists 7 habits of people who are happy at work. Take a look, these tips are good to keep in mind when running your business! 

SOCIAL MEDIA: We've talked before about the importance of having a presence on social media for your photography business. With everything else on your plate, it can be tough to find time to work on your social media. That's why this post from Forbes is great! Read on for tips on how you can use social media without having it eat up too much time.
 
NAMING YOUR BUSINESS: If you're just making the transition to full-time professional photographer and need a name for your business, read this post from Name Kitchen first. PPA's own Director of Education and photography studio owner, Angela Kurkian, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, provides some good advice on things to keep in mind when picking a name. 

SALES: Are you struggling with making high-dollar sales for your portraits? This post from the Million Dollar Photographer is right up your alley. Make sure you don't hold any of the attitudes listed in the post about making sales; you may be hurting your bottom line!

LIGHTING: If you need advice on lighting for your wedding photography, don't miss this video featuring past Imaging USA instructor Ryan Brenizer from Fstoppers. He shares his top 5 lighting tips for weddings. 

STUDIO SETUP TIP: This post from Digital Photography School that lighting setups in your studio don't always have to be complicated to be effective. Check out 5 setups using only one light that you can use to get great photographs.
 
INSPIRATION: The National Geographic Traveler Photo Content is currently underway, and InFocus has a collection of some of the top entries so far. There's some powerful imagery here that just may inspire your own work!

NATURAL LIGHT: If you like to photograph using natural light, check out this interview on the Phoblographer. Photographer Susan Wasinger uses only natural light in her studio, and shares her processes and tips for this style of photographing in the interview. 

PPA COMPETITIONS: PPA Photographer Christine Walsh-Newton, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, is back in the round up this week sharing a recap of her experience at this year's District Photographic Competition. She shares the images she entered, how they scored and how she uses the District Competitions to prepare for PPA's International Photographic Competition. If you're thinking about entering this year's IPC (entries open May 26), check out this post. You'll find some good advice!

TUTORIAL: The newest version of Lightroom was recently released. If you use this software, this tutorial from Light Stalking is worth your time. It goes over how to use the new Panorama, HDR and Filter Brush features of Lightroom 6 step-by-step, as well as explaining what's so impressive about these features and how they can impact your photography.

There you have it - our favorite posts of the week! What photography blogs or podcasts do you follow? Post your favorites on theLoop or email them to us at OnlineContentCommittee (at) PPA (dot) com.


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About the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages.



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PPA's Southeast District Competition has come to an end and the results are online. Congratulations to all who earned a seal of approval and will move on to this year's International Photographic Competition (IPC). Don't forget, even if you didn't merit this round, you can still rework your images and enter the IPC!

In addition to earning merits, the top scoring image in each of the 12 judging categories is selected to receive a PPA Southeast District Competition Award.

This year's category winners are:

By John Owens

Another week, another critique for your to Be More Competitive! And further reminder that entering the International Photographic Competition (IPC) is the best way to improve as an artist and photographer.

It can also help boost your profits. How? Better images = happier clients = more money for you!

To make the most of the IPC, we recommend you sign up (it's free) to have your images critiqued by one of PPA's International Jurors, who are themselves accomplished photographers. We understand that if you've never entered the IPC and had your images being critiqued the whole process can seem overwhelming. To ease your anxiety, take a look at an actual critique from last year. Below you'll see Ellen LeRoy's image "Lakeside Love" being reviewed by IPC juror Mark Garber, M.Photog.Cr., CPP. 

Ready to enter the IPC and improve your photography game? It's coming up so soon! Entries for this year's competition open May 26. Take the plunge and Be More Competitive. 


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John Owens is PPA's resident wordsmith. Know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? That's where he comes in. The Connecticut transplant and (still) avid Hartford Whalers fan is an aspiring adventurist/novelist/racer on a lifelong quest to find the best trails, brews and burger.

Like every month, PPA is back on Washington to advocate with legislators for your photography rights! Small business owners are often overlooked by the law, but PPA is on the Hill to make sure photographers are accounted for in the upcoming new copyright legislation.

Yesterday, PPA's advocacy team met with Corey Cooke and Joe Hartz who both serve on the Hill as Counsel to the House Small Business Committee. 

"We discussed various issues affecting small photography businesses including copyright issues, health care concerns, and drone photography," said Lindsey Forson, PPA's copyright & government affairs coordinator. "This introductory meeting made sure these important people on the Hill know who PPA is and what issues are important to the 28,000+ photographers and small business owners PPA represents. The goal is to forge positive relationships with those looking out for the concerns of small business owners like photographers."

Today's agenda includes meetings with:

  • The Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator

"There is a new coordinator in place and we want to establish a relationship with the office and make sure they are thinking about small business copyright issues," said Forson.

  • The U.S. Copyright Office

To discuss the Copyright review process.

CONTINUE READING FOR UPDATES

I find this week's round up particularly inspiring. So get ready to feel good, stay happy and push your business to the next level!

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THE LOST GENERATION: Convincing your clients the need to purchase prints can be an uphill battle. Check out this wonderfully written piece by PPA Treasurer, Rob Behm, M. Photog., Cr, CPP, to see why it's so important and how you can better educate your clients. 

HEALTH: Here's an unpopular topic for many photographers - making time to take care of yourself! Everyone knows they should exercise, but TIME covers why it can harm your work if you don't.  
 
PERSONAL PROJECTS: Andy Baker of National Geographic clues you in on how to get noticed by potential clients, and why personal projects are so important. Check out the video from Behind the Glass in this great article from FStoppers.  

SKILL SETS: Improve your ability to effectively run a business with this piece from Inc. Even if you're a company of one, this is a great reminder if you ever hire a second shooter or office admin. Or if you're a larger organization, it serves as a great message about supporting, encouraging and taking really good care of your employees. 

DEFINING 'PRO': What makes you a professional photographer? InMyBag talked to five highly respected photographers, including Benjamin Von Wong and Missy Mwac, to get their perspectives. It's an eye opening read!

WATCH YOUR MOUTH: What are common characteristics of successful people? This awesome article by the Review Journal breaks down seven phrases that successful people wouldn't eversay, and (more importantly) why they would never say them.   

LEGISLATION PROGRESS: James Williams of the Federal Aviation Administration made an announcement this week on the status of upcoming drone regulations. Although it's taking a bit longer than we all would like, this is a step in the right direction. 

POST PRODUCTION: Photoshop can be your best friend in post-production, but these guys take it to the next level for some commercial shoots! Check out the time lapse videos on six plus hours of editing. It's amazing what you can do if you have that kind of time and skill.

PROTECTION: This great read from Fstoppers gives you a quick review on how to protect your images, but also talks about how your subjects are covered. Everything from architecture to tattoos could have a copyright. Stay educated on what's fair game and what needs some special permissions. 

HAPPY THOUGHTS: Let's end this week on a positive note! Join Imaging USA speaker Jeffrey Shaw as he chats with Cornell Thomas, author of "Power of Me, Army of One" on all things positive thinking and how it can change your business and your day-to-day life! 

There you have it - our favorite posts of the week! What photography blogs or podcasts do you follow? Post your favorites on theLoop or email them to us at OnlineContentCommittee (at) PPA (dot) com

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Sarah Ackerman is known around PPA as #Sarah in part because she handles all things social media and in order to differentiate herself from the other Sarah's in the office. Sarah loves improv comedy (think "Whose Line") and routinely performs around Atlanta. When she's not tweeting/facebooking/instagramming all of the action at PPA, she can be found gallivanting around the world or wandering around the woods with her pup, but more than likely she's on stage making people giggle.

By: Lauren Walters

If you're looking to make a bigger profit, PPA's Benchmark Resources are here to help revise your budget. A small change can make a huge difference in your business. In fact, a 1% decrease in your cost of sales and overhead expenses can save you as much as $50,000 by the end of the year.

For a retail studio, overhead expenses should estimate to about 40% and cost of sales at about 25%. Keep in mind that your profit depends upon the amount of sales for that fiscal year. For example, you need about $143,000 in sales to earn a $50,000 profit. Make sure to use PPA's Square One tool to see the change 1% makes to your bottom line.

The video below stresses the importance of creating a strategic budget and sticking to it! Watch and learn more about how to keep your sales and expenses in line with your new 1% budget.


For more information, visit PPA.com/Benchmark. Be More Profitable.

By Chris Homer

By now, you've heard us say this before, but we'll say it again: Entering your work into a photographic competition like PPA's International Photographic Competition (IPC) is one of the best ways you can improve as an artist. Having your work judged and listening to the critique can help you improve your images in ways you probably have not have considered before.

To make the most of the IPC, we recommend signing up to have your images critiqued by one of PPA's International Jurors, who are themselves accomplished photographers. We understand that if you've never entered the IPC and had your images critiqued the whole process can seem overwhelming! To ease your anxiety, take a look at an actual critique from last year's IPC. Below you'll see Matthew Kauffmann's image "Medic" critiqued by PPA juror Mark Garber, M.Photog.Cr., CPP. 



Ready to enter the IPC and improve your skills? Entries for this year's competition open May 26!


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About the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages.



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