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PPA Today: July 2010 Archives

July 2010 Archives

Joanbrady_headshot.jpgThe Most Rewarding Part of Photography
For Joan Brady, of Joan Brady Photography in Washington, D.C., being a professional photographer means more than just capturing and selling great images. She also views it as a great way to help give back to her community.

Photography as a Bribe
Brady's work in photography began in 2001 while taking a three-month leave of absence from her 80-hours-a-week corporate job. During the leave of absence, Joan thought she would like to become a social worker or a teacher. To further this goal, she took a volunteer position as a homework tutor at a local group home for foster children. But once she started her volunteer work, Brady faced the challenge of trying to get the children to actually do their homework.

"I knew I needed something to bribe the kids," she recalls. "I had just gotten a 1.2 megapixel digital camera and decided to try trading the kids' pictures for their homework. I printed the pictures on my home printer to fill each child's little photo album, and I quickly discovered that the kids would do any amount of work for more pictures: extra reading, extra math problems, extra anything academic."

One day when she arrived for work, a staffer at the home took her aside and explained that some of the children had gotten in trouble for taking their new photo albums to bed. (The kids were not allowed to take anything to bed with them.)

"They wanted to look at those images before they fell asleep and first thing when they woke up in the morning," Brady explains. "I began to truly see the importance of those pictures to the children. Over time, I came to understand the connection between the pictures and the children's self-esteem."

Joanbrady_1.jpgMaking It Legit
Her experience as a volunteer at the foster home inspired her to open a children's photography business. She met with the photographer who shot her wedding, PPA member Clay Blackmore, M.Photog.Cr., and began helping out in his studio. In April 2004, she opened her own studio.

Brady joined PPA on Blackmore's recommendation and immediately began to see the benefits. "Imagine how annoyed I was with myself when I was cruising the site months after joining and found the section with model releases. I had just spent $1,500 having contracts written for me--ugh! I could have saved the bulk of what I spent," she says. "Now I always check PPA first, before I purchase, before I take a class, before I do anything."

During the Copyright Alliance meeting (July 28, 2010), PPA staff spoke with Victoria Espinel, appointed by President Obama as the first Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (a position created in 2008 when President Bush signed the PRO-IP act into law).

In addition to PPA's previously submitted comments--about the effect of copyright infringement on the photographic industry, our educational and preventive efforts and a general overview of the industry--Espinel said her office received hundreds of comments from individual photographers about the importance of copyrights to them. In fact, the number of comments received this March totaled 1,600.

Click here to read more.

Dear PPA Member,

Remember those old '80s advertisements of "glamour shots"? (Honestly, I try not to.) Well, get those images out of your head. There's a new sexy in town.

It's not cheesy, it's not raunchy...it's alluring, empowering and classy...when it's done right!

Everyone wants to feel beautiful (or handsome, as the case may be) and be confident in themselves. And, as photographers are discovering, many women (and men) want to celebrate those feelings through a special form of portraiture: boudoir photography.

As boudoir photography is a specialty with sensitive issues that must be addressed (emotional and otherwise), this week's Vital Signs brings you some pointers from professionals who have successfully integrated boudoir photography into their offerings.

Cheers!

Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

American Color Imaging (ACI) has announced that their custom framing is now open in conjunction with their professional color lab.

"We know that professional photographers want to offer the complete package," said ACI President Mark Lane. "So we knew that a professional, custom frame division was the perfect complement to the professional portrait."

ACI is carrying 70 frame styles in stock along with 19 stock mats. Over 1,000 frame styles will be available for special order. All stock mat choices are acid free and Conservation Glass (99% UV) is also available.

"Everything will be assembled and completely finished," said Lane. "Paper backing, hanging wire, wall guards - everything. We've even developed special packaging for the finished frames."

Lane emphasized that while custom framing isn't always the least expensive, "We will be competitive," he said. "We want to make it great quality so our customers will be proud to sell this to their clients. Because it will be offered through professional photographers, it's a one-stop shop for the consumer, rather than taking the print to a second location for framing."

Framing is online and ready for ordering. It's as easy as choosing the framing catalog in ACI's onPrint PRO ordering software.

"This is just the beginning for our Framing Division" said Craig Monson, ACI's Marketing Manager. "There will be many more matting and framing products and services rolling out over the coming months, and you can see it all unfold online at www.acilab.com. You'll want to check the website often to see all these great new options!"
Do you date your customers? (Date, as in cultivating a relationship, I mean.) Farrah Braniff of2009ANNE_website.jpg Farrah Braniff Photographs in Houston, Texas, does. She knows the power of connecting and making a good impression, and she put that into her marketing, winning the 2009 AN-NE Marketing Award for Best Image Marketing and Best Website.

"As photographers, we are our brand," says Braniff. "Customers have to like and relate to you."

Braniff sees websites and blogs as her best chance to make a good first impression to her customers. "I want my website to be like a really good first date," she laughs.

Read more here.
Leading video creation platform Animoto has introduced its first collection of video styles exclusive to professional users, and launched a monthly subscription option for its business product, Animoto Pro. Comprised of four graceful new video styles, the "Elegance" collection gives Pro users the ability to create simpler, slower-paced videos with the same industry-leading production quality that Animoto fans have come to expect. The four new Elegance styles introduced today are the first of a series of styles that will be released over the next two months, all designed to give pro users more options for creating the perfect video for any occasion.

In addition to the Pro-only Elegance styles, Animoto is releasing a simple video style, Simplicity, that is available to all users at no cost. Both Elegance and Simplicity styles feature more conservative motion design than traditional Animoto videos, making them ideal for occasions that favor a more toned-down video production. From weddings and baby photos to nature and landscapes, these new styles let photographers showcase their images like never before.
 
"My wedding clients have very diverse tastes, and the new Elegance styles from Animoto provide even more options to create something that will resonate with every bride and groom," said Kevin Kubota, award-winning wedding photographer and president and owner of Kubota PhotoDesign. "Now, I can really diversify my video creations depending on the mood and the style of the images. It's another layer of simple loveliness from Animoto."

"We're working hard to give businesses and photographers the most powerful tool for fast, easy, and customized professional video creation," said Brad Jefferson, CEO and co-founder of Animoto. "The launch of the Elegance collection is built on nearly two years worth of professional photographer feedback, and it demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the needs and success of our pro users." 

In addition to the new simpler video styles, Animoto is also announcing a monthly subscription option for Animoto Pro. With the introduction of monthly pricing, Animoto Pro subscriptions are now available for $39 per month or $249 per year. Animoto Pro subscriptions allow users to create an unlimited number of unbranded, full-length, high-resolution videos. The Elegance style collection is included in the Pro subscription at no extra cost, while the new Simplicity style is available to all users at no extra cost.

The Elegance collection is built on Animoto's powerful video creation engine, which means that it brings the same ease and simplicity to high-end video production. The heart of Animoto is its Cinematic Artificial Intelligenceâ„¢ technology that thinks like an actual director and editor, using the same sophisticated post-production skills and techniques that are used in television and film. The technology takes into account every nuance of a song: the genre, structure, energy, rhythm, instrumentation, and vocals. Videos are produced in widescreen format and can be emailed, embedded on any website, shared via social network and mobile device, or downloaded in DVD-quality formats for display on computers, televisions, and even large projection screens.
 
For more information about Animoto's Elegance Collection please visit: http://animoto.com/photography/elegance

Animoto recently won Professional Photographer Magazine's 2010 Hot One Award for Best Slideshow / Presentation. 

Dear PPA Member,

One of my favorite images of my younger brother was taken by a league photographer. You could just see the love of the game on that eight-year-old's face, proudly dressed in his catcher's outfit. The photographer created a baseball card from that image, and for me, that memento of his baseball season is more valuable than a stack of Topps cards.

Many, many people are sport fanatics, whether it's a professional team at the Super Bowl or an eight-year-old's Little League game (and I won't even mention soccer moms, dads and grandparents). If you, as a photographer, love sports, too, what better way is there to combine your passions than by getting into sport photography? Sport photographers get to show individuals doing what they love.

Of course, there is much more needed for success in sport photography than just a love of the game. Superstars need to practice, get coaching and understand the game fundamentals--and if your "game" is photography, it's no different. This week's Vital Signs can help you get off the bench and...

Play ball!

Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

Lisa Crayford"What you are working on now influences how your business will be in three months," notes Lisa Crayford, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI. That's a piece of advice that has helped her throughout the years. It's a reminder to look ahead and work ahead, which is what she'll be sharing in her own upcoming PPA webinar, "Family & Children's Promotions: Making Dough in a Photographer's World" (August 25th at 2:00 pm Eastern).

To Crayford, promotions are an important way to work ahead in your business, and they have paid off for her studio, Country Gallery Photography Inc. in Kimball, Minn. That city is so small it doesn't even have a ZIP code...but she's been able to raise enough awareness and desire for her photography. How?

"With the economy being in the shape that it is, we like to do special promotions that help drive in customers to us," adds Crayford. "We like to dangle that carrot in front of them."

One such "dangling carrot" that really works is their Santa Charity, which Crayford will be discussing in more detail during the webinar. "It's a huge hit, and every year we choose a different charity," she explains. "I believe very strongly that it is important to give back and that giving back will help your business grow and prosper."

If growing and prospering sound good to you, maybe you should register for this webinar. Crayford will be sharing her proven ideas for family and children's promotions for late summer, fall and the holidays, including ideas that you can implement right away!

Gary and Kathryn MeekProfessional credentials are not just handed out willy-nilly. They are earned through hard work and study, and that's what makes them so valuable to photographers and their clients. Even if a client doesn't know all the ins and outs of photographic certification, they understand that someone who has been certified in his or her craft has industry-leading technical skills. It's not easy, but it's worth it; and any Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) can tell you that. That's why PPA offers certification preparation classes to help members prepare for certification exams and image submissions.

"We all have our own weaknesses," says Gary Meek, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, API, EA-ASP, one of the instructors of the upcoming Certification Preparation Class, along with his wife, Kathy, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, API. "That's the beauty of this class. We can find out what the weaknesses are and concentrate on strengthening a participant's knowledge on those points."

The Meeks are able to do that because every person who signs up for their class is sent about a hundred pages of handouts and study guides...prior to the class. You'll get sample tests, Gary's own white papers, a handout on histograms and even a page of photographic formulas.

According to the latest PPA member survey, many members would like more explanation about the Merit & Degree program and what is involved with it. Inquiring minds want to know, so take a look at the following articles that dip into the inner workings:

Dear PPA Member,

Some women love being pregnant. They look forward to seeing their bodies change and embrace those nine months with open arms. (Plus, you get to eat for two!)

But others may not enjoy being pregnant quite as much. There's the weight gain, morning sickness and a roller coaster of feelings. Strangers want to ask invasive questions and give advice. They have to buy new clothes because nothing in the closet fits. (Wait...new clothes?)

Regardless of the emotions, pregnancy is a beautiful time in a woman's--and a family's--life. Maternity photographers are there to capture those moments. This week's Vital Signs takes a look into the job of a maternity photographer and how to best cater to their special clients. Knowing how to interact with these moms-to-be (especially since their emotions can range from happy to not-so-happy) is key for a positive experience and creating images that the family will treasure forever.

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

Helping photographers like you learn to profit from your passion is the goal of the Sandy Puć Family Tour 2010. This tour was received with rave reviews in 52 cities throughout the United States, and now it is coming to four locations in Canada!

Family Tour 2010Join Sandy and her team to fall in love with photography all over again, see your career in a new light and set your family market on fire. With equipment reviews, lighting demos and tips on posing, choosing backgrounds, creating an anxiety-free family session and more, you'll see how to market your studio as the most family-friendly in the community.

The Canadian tour debuts August 27th in Vancouver. Sign up fast so you can make it to one of these Sandy Puć Family Tour 2010 stops:

  • Vancouver, BC August 27, 2010
  • Calgary, AB August 29, 2010
  • Edmonton, AB August 30, 2010
  • Toronto, ON September 1, 2010

PPA Members Save!
This five-hour program (including a mini trade show!) is only $79. PPA members save an additional $20--click here for your discount code.

For more information, venue locations and full program description, visit: sandypuctours.com.

Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSMSigma Corporation is pleased to announce the release of its new 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM lens. 

This large-aperture, standard-zoom lens, which was first introduced in February at Photo Marketing Association International, is designed for small chip, APS-C digital cameras and incorporates Sigma's Optical Stabilization (OS) functionality and new FLD glass. The 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM  is an ultra compact lens with an overall length of just 3.6 inches.

The 17-50mm F2.8 EX DC OS HSM covers a focal length from a 17mm wide angle, has a minimum focusing distance of 11 inches throughout the entire zoom range and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:5. The lens is currently available in Canon mounts at all authorized Sigma dealers for the MSRP of $980, and it will be available in Nikon, Sigma, Sony and Pentax mounts in the coming weeks.

The OS function offers the use of shutter speeds approximately four stops slower than would otherwise be possible. Only Sigma has made it possible for Pentax and Sony shooters to utilize an anti-shake system in either the lens or the camera body. The compensation for camera shake is visible in the view finder for all mounts, which makes accurate focusing fast and easy.


flip-cage_gary_fong.jpgGary Fong, Inc., developer and manufacturer of cutting-edge photography equipment designed to help photographers experience new levels of creativity, today announced an extension of its popular Flip-Cage line with the introduction of the Pro-Series designed to accommodate larger point-and-shoot cameras. The Flip-Cage is a lightweight multipurpose accessory for point-and-shoot cameras that conveniently attaches to the camera's tripod mount and easily "flips" from a protective roll-cage to a tabletop stand and more.   

The Flip-Cage, including the new Pro-Series, instantly expands a camera's capabilities. When closed,it provides protection from accidental drops or general wear and tear. When open, the Flip-Cage swings out to provide a stable table-top platform that locks a point-and-shoot camera in a vertical or horizontal orientation, enabling the photographer to step out from behind the lens and become part of the shot.  In addition, the Flip-Cage can be converted into a macro stand for shooting extreme close ups, or with its legs pressed together it can even act as a steady-cam to improve stability when shooting handheld video. The Flip-Cage also comes with movable flaps that both shade the LCD screen to reduce glare and shade the camera lens to reduce lens flare.

"Whether they're professional photographers or occasional shutterbugs, all camera owners have experienced situations where they wish they were included in a picture, gotten a sharper close up, or, worst of all, reached into their pockets only to find their camera's LCD smashed. The Flip-Cage addresses all of these potential issues in one power-packed accessory," said CEO Gary Fong, internationally renowned photographer and inventor of the Flip-Cage. "With the launch of the Flip-Cage Pro-Series, we're able to bring the unique capabilities of this product line to a whole new audience of photography enthusiasts."  

The new Flip-Cage Pro-Series will accommodate cameras up to 3" x 4-1/4" x 1-3/4" (7.6 x 10.8 x 4.4 cm) and is available for $19.95.  A demonstration of the multifaceted Flip-Cage, hosted by Gary Fong, is available here: http://learn.garyfongestore.com/blog/2010/05/20/flip-cage

For more information or to purchase the Flip-Cage, please visit http://www.garyfong.com.
imagingusa.jpgImaging USA offers the perfect kindling for your creative fire: pre-convention classes. From January 13-15, 2011, you have the chance for more in-depth education on a variety of subjects, from specialties like pet or senior photography to using Corel Painter software and understanding the business side of photography. And the classes are now available for viewing and registration!

Take a look, pick your pre-convention classes and make your travel plans to join us in San Antonio for Imaging USA!

Studio management software might best be described as every photographer's little helper--a solution that manages sales, marketing, client outreach, lead tracking, digital images and sales presentations, all in one neat package. (If they could only figure out a way to work in laundry and kitchen duty, we'd have to give this stuff a perfect 10.)

"With studio management software, photographers can know every detail about what product lines they're shooting and the average sales per session by product line. They can track where clients are coming from, integrate web leads and know exactly how each prospect is handled," says Bridget Jackson, PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) manager. "In addition to the product management and marketing tools, there's also the benefit of managing workflow."

She also points out that studio management software helps photographers build comprehensive profiles of clients, which can help with up-selling, repeat business and those all-important referrals. "One of the most important aspects of successful selling is being able to consistently replicate what works, and the only way you'll be able to accomplish that is by keeping detailed records of what works and what doesn't," adds Jackson.

PPA member and studio owner Dave Huntsman, M.Photog.Cr., of Versailles, KY couldn't agree more. "Being able to track my numbers easily is so valuable. I can do comparisons to previous years, map trends and keep track of referrals...and it's so simple to use."

Spit-Shine Your Business Processes
If you want to learn more about a variety of studio management software solutions, there's no better time than the next two weeks. That's when PPA will feature guests representing PhotoOne, ShootQ, StudioPlus, StudioCloud and SuccessWare. In just an hour each day (at 2 p.m. ET, July 20th, 21st, 22nd, 27th and 30th), you can learn the basics of studio management software, including a detailed review of customer relationship management, online booking, total digital workflow and point-of-sale management tools, one of Huntsman's favorite features.

"Studio management software makes your whole process more professional when you're working with a client," he says. "During my presentations, I can quickly and easily include thumbnails of the images clients like and print them right on the order with the invoice, so there's no confusion about what's been ordered. I can use one product and button up all my marketing and selling into one nice package."

PPA members pay just $19 per webinar, or you can get all five for $39. Of course, if you have an online learning pass, you can get access to these valuable webinars, along with all other live and archived webinars for an entire year.

Sorry...you'll have to look elsewhere to get your socks washed, but if you're serious about cleaning up your sales, marketing and digital workflow processes to improve profitability, then don't miss this webinar series.

Mamiya announces today the release of new remote viewing software for the DM-series and RZ33 digital cameras and backs. Featuring newly enhanced resolution capabilities for the Apple® iPad(TM) as well as other features for both the Apple iPhone® and iPad, the new Leaf Capture Remote v. 2.0 viewing App offers Mamiya Digital photographers a more convenient viewing solution for both clients and assistants. And its familiar user interface makes the software easy to use for even the most novice user.

While shooting tethered to a Mac, the new Leaf Capture Remote v 2.0 App allows photographers additional creative freedom by enabling one or more iPad or any iPhone, including iPhone 4, devices to act as remote image viewers. Clients can view images from a photo shoot from the comfort of a photographer's Wi-Fi enabled client room. Assistants can instantly check focus and details even when at a distance from a photographer's main computer. And stylists can see what the camera sees-all without crowding around the photographer or main computer area.
PPA urges the U.S. Senate to pass two key tax provisions that will be beneficial to alleviating the tax burden faced by small business owners like photographers. As the Senate prepares to debate H.R. 5297 - The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, PPA has sent letters of support to the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee leadership and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), applauding their efforts to ease some of the challenges faced by many photographers.

Members can read the full article here.
Kubota Image Tools, provider of photographer-empowering creative imaging tools, workflow-saving solutions and educational offerings for photographers of all levels, today announced it will begin offering a new educational format that combines the business value of its popular Digital Photography Bootcamps with the convenience of an in-home or in-studio setting. The e:CLASS series will be taught by company founder and Idea Guy Kevin Kubota, who will bring his unique photographic expertise and learning-style to the online-seminars.

Kubota Image Tools' e:CLASS series is a unique way to provide the quality education photographers have come to expect from the company's live seminars, but in a convenient and affordable format to meet the demanding schedules of professional photographers.
Lowepro, the leading brand of protective gear for photography equipment and portable electronics, and Polar Bears International (PBI), a non-profit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear, has launched a photo contest titled "My Favorite Things." The Grand Prize winner will receive a Frontiers North's Tundra Buggy® Adventure for two to observe polar bears in their natural habitat in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada in November of 2010.

Open to professional and amateur photographers, "My Favorite Things" has a twofold purpose: to draw attention to the wildlife and ecosystems threatened by climate change and to celebrate the planet's treasures through the medium of photography.

PhotoBiz.com has launched a new forum with the desire that the new Photobizcommunity.com photography forum will benefit their customers and all photographers who may wish to join. Cutting edge social networking tools are integrated with each blog post and forum topic so that photographers can share particular information anywhere they would like.

The forum is moderated by photographers with amazing business, marketing and photographic expertise. PhotoBiz.com has great public speakers, social media gurus, seminar builders and business professionals with large and small studio experience. PhotoBiz.com has already had some of the industry's top professional wedding, family and event photographers contribute such as Brett Tyler, Michelle Moore, John Edgar, Hiram Trillo, Tessa Rice, Maïa Taïeb, Walter Van Dusen and Jen Shannon. With PhotoBiz.com members located around the world, there is the potential for a truly international flavor to the forums. In addition to the United States there are community members located in Canada, Mexico, The Caribbean Islands and Brazil.

Mamiya announces today a new trade-in program created to make its new Mamiya RZ33 digital camera kit even more affordable. Designed specifically for existing owners of Mamiya RB67 and RZ67 film-based camera systems, this new trade-in program allows photographers to update their equipment to the latest digital version of the legendary Mamiya RZ system at an exceptionally reasonable price.

From July 2010 until September 30, 2010, photographers who purchase a new Mamiya RZ33 digital camera kit can trade in their existing RZ67 or RB67 camera body for a credit of $1,000 towards the purchase of their new Mamiya RZ33. There is a limit of one trade-in per RZ33 purchased.

"The positive response to the announcement of the new Mamiya RZ33 digital camera kit has been overwhelming among existing Mamiya RB and RZ owners," says Mamiya Product Marketing Manager Mike Edwards. "Photographers are eager to update their equipment to the new digital RZ33, but still want to make good use of their previous RB or RZ67 camera body. Our new trade-in program gives these photographers the perfect way to do this, and makes transitioning to the new Mamiya RZ digital system even more affordable."

About the Mamiya RZ33

The Mamiya RZ33 is a new large-sensor digital camera kit featuring a high performance 33 megapixel CCD sensor. This new camera advances the long adored Mamiya RZ line to a new level, bringing the famous ease-of-use and versatility of the Mamiya RZ camera system to the large-sensor digital arena. With no cables necessary, RZ33 users simply add their favorite razor sharp RZ lens and a CF card, and they are ready to produce large, detailed, and gorgeous images. The RZ33 leverages the large availability of lenses and accessories from the previous generations of the Mamiya RZ67 family, allowing photographers to utilize premium-level equipment they already own.

Pricing and Availability

The new Mamiya RZ33 digital camera kit, including Capture One and Leaf Capture software, will be available in the U.S. this month for $17,990. Photographers taking advantage of the $1,000 trade-in program will simply coordinate the trade-in with their authorized Mamiya Digital Dealer at the time of the new RZ33 transaction.

Dear PPA Member,

When I was a kid, the bank teller gave my mother cash and me a lollipop. It used to be that if you wanted money, you waited in line, waited at the bank window, then waited for the money to be counted out. I waited because there was the promise of sugar on a stick if I was good, but my mother waited because there were no ATMs.

Now? My bank is halfway across the country. If I want to deposit a check, I take a picture of it on my iPhone and it's deposited. It's all electronic transfers and debit cards. No bank tellers. Welcome to the Information Age.

The Internet has changed the way we live, work and do business. Need a contract signed, but don't have the person sitting in the same room? Electronic signature to the rescue! That's what this week's Vital Signs (delivered to you electronically) covers.

Still, technology is both a blessing and a bane. It can make our transactions faster and simpler, but until I can get my computer to hand me a lollipop as a reward for being patient, it doesn't take the place of human interaction...yet.

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

Certified Professional Photographer logoInterested in working towards your Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) designation? Preparation is key, so take advantage of the following new resources this year:

  • PPA's intensive, three-day Certification Preparation Class (August 22-24, 2010) on the exam topics, Image Submission Review and more. Fees are $299, and the CPP Certification Exam will be offered August 24th.
  • Certify with Sandy Puc', a free motivational and support program developed by Sandy Puc, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, API to encourage other photographers to complete the certification process.

Make this the year you get certified--it's the crazy smart thing to do. Read more about these opportunities here.

Image copyright Dawn McCarthy PhotographyPhotographer Personality Match Makes Perfect
When Paula Boatright and Brian Lipka decided to host their wedding hundreds of miles south of their Northern Virginia home, the thought occurred that planning a remote wedding might have its challenges. "We knew the logistics would be harder to control," says Paula, and this daughter of a retired professional photographer knew that one of the most important things she wanted to address first was finding the perfect photographer for their big day.

Paula's story is one of the bridal testimonials found on the new consumer-focused "See the Difference" web page promoting the value of professional photography. After you're finished reading her story, please let us know if you have brides who would like to provide testimonials, or if you've re-photographed a bride who initially had a bad experience because she didn't hire a pro the first time. We'd like to feature those brides' stories, too! The campaign, which is designed to direct brides to the PPA member-exclusive Find-A-Photographer database, features photography, videos and articles to help brides educate themselves on the value of working with a professional photographer. Learn more about this campaign here.

It's often hard to be a photographer and a businessperson. And that's why PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) is here. If you're ready to take a deeper look at your own business--and the ways that you can improve it--you only have three more chances this year!

(Don't forget: For an additional fee, you can add on an accountant/mentor consultation for even more personal business and marketing guidance. Limited on-site consultations are available with your 3-Day SMS Business Workshop.)

3-Day Business Workshop
July 26-28, 2010, Irvine, California

Instructor: Julia Woods, M.Photog.Cr.
Lecture-only Price: $599.00; and $299 for second attendee

2-Day Business Basics Workshop
November 6-7, 2010, Atlanta, Georgia

Instructor: Ann Monteith,
M.Photog.Cr.Hon.M.Photog., CPP,
ABI, API, A-ASP
Price: $349; and $199 for second attendee

3-Day Business Workshop
November 8-10, 2010, Atlanta, Georgia

Instructors: Ann Monteith,
M.Photog.Cr.Hon.M.Photog., CPP,
ABI, API, A-ASP, &
Mary Fisk-Taylor, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API
Lecture-only Price: $499.00; and $199 for second attendee

Lindsay_Michelle.jpgBefore opening a studio of her own, Michelle Lindsay Caucutt was the director of marketing for a large family portrait operation. From 2005 to 2007, she shot some portraits and weddings on the side, and in 2008, she picked up the pace with the goal of going solo by year's end. Her plan was to make weddings her main source of income, with portrait sessions filling in the gaps. By July 2008, she felt ready to take the plunge, quitting her day job and opening Michelle Lindsay Photography.

The first year, Michelle booked 22 weddings. She also had that many booked at the beginning of the 2009 wedding season and was convinced she could increase her sales. To make that goal come true, she went to a PPA Studio Management Services (SMS) workshop in June 2009.

"Attending SMS completely changed my perspective on my business," Michelle notes. "Before the workshop, I thought I was years away from accomplishing many of my goals. But SMS made me realize that the biggest thing holding me back was myself."

What helped Michelle were the little things, perspectives and ideas that just hadn't occurred to her before--like the fact that she could project images for her clients in her 900 sq. ft. condo. "SMS gave me not only the knowledge, but the confidence to take smart risks," she adds. "As long as I understand my numbers, I can make major changes within the realms of what I am financially comfortable with."

Michelle's willingness to apply what she learned is paying off. With hard work, she increased her average wedding sales by 16 percent for the rest of 2009. Projected sales for the 2010 wedding season, based on her year-to-date bookings, are more than 30 percent higher than her average sales before she attended the SMS workshop and implemented the changes.

"Less than a year later, I have a beautiful home studio, am projecting a 30-percent increase in my average for 2010 and, most importantly, am running the business model I want and am seeing the difference and rewards in my sales," she says.

Top that off with her low cost of sales--just 16.5 percent in 2009, nearly 19 points better than the PPA Benchmark for home studios--and Michelle is poised for a very successful future.

Interested in attending an SMS class like Michelle did? You can learn more here.

PPA's Summer Shootout digital photo contestHow hot are you?
Go up against the best photographers on the planet. Join in the fun rivalry with PPA's new online photo contest: the Summer Shootout--exclusively for PPA members. Submit your images from July 1st - September 30th, and you could win cash prizes! Get all the contest details (and enter) at www.PPA.com/shootout.

We'll be giving away thousands of dollars in cash prizes, and it is only $10 to enter your first image--and only $5 dollars for each additional image. As an added bonus, you can also request a critique of your image to see how it would stack up in PPA's International Photographic Competition.

Come on...show us what you got!

Sample Facebook & Google Ads
Facebook Sample Ad
Google Ad Sample

PPA members asked for it, and we're doing it! PPA is launching a consumer-focused campaign called "See the Difference," targeted to wedding couples, seniors and families to reinforce the value of professional photography. Online advertising and social media will drive prospects to specialized landing pages. The wedding-focused landing page can be viewed at www.ppa.com/weddingphotographer. (Landing pages featuring senior photography and family/children portraiture will follow.)

These special landing pages will highlight articles, image galleries, videos, tutorials and search capabilities linked to our exclusive PPA Find-a-Photographer database. We are also researching the use of vertical websites and targeted e-mail marketing. Of course, we'll be pushing the campaign through PPA social media channels, and we hope that PPA members will help us get the word out through blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts.

What can you do? (Or don't do?)
Do Update Your Find-A-Photographer Profile
As we're directing consumers to Find-a-Photographer, make sure your profile is up to date with your logo, headshot and your most stunning sample images! (Please note: Aspiring PPA members are not listed in the Find-a-Photographer database.)

Here's an idea of the traffic we're hoping to drive to Find-a-Photographer: During our test campaign in June (10 days long), we generated 1,615 clicks and 2,499,474 impressions! Over 200 of those visitors conducted searches on the Find-a-Photographer database and about 20% were reading the articles about selecting a professional.

Don't Click It!
You may see our ads on Google, Facebook and other online sites. Please don't click on the ads (we know it's tempting, but...), as we will incur costs for those clicks and it will make our tracking data inaccurate. (Ad copy is based on high-performing keywords.)

MOO has joined forces with SmugMug, the leading online photo sharing and storing community, to offer members a new way to share their SmugMug information and photos offline. SmugMug users can now get creative with photos and bring them to life with MOO, an online printing company that dreams up new ways to help people turn their virtual content into beautiful, unique print products. Starting today, SmugMug users can smoothly import their images to MOO and quickly and easily create Business Cards, MiniCards, Greeting Cards and other printed materials that have significant business impact and - quite simply - look amazing. MOO offers a range of products; each can be customized with a different image per card, providing photographers with unlimited opportunities to market the full spectrum of their work and encourage re-sale of images.
 
The process is simple. Visit MOO.COM and choose a product to make. Next, access the 'import photo' options and click the SmugMug button. Users will then be asked to enter their account details for authentication and, in seconds, their SmugMug photos will be available to drag-and-drop into a MOO account. Using MOO's revolutionary 'Printfinity' technology, SmugMug users have the opportunity to print a different image on every card or sticker in a pack, creating a remarkable 'pocket portfolio'--perfect for photographers who need to show and share their work.
 
"This is a very unique and exciting collaboration that will enable us to contribute to the growth of our photographers' businesses," said Markham Bennett, VP of Business Development, SmugMug. "By creating a seamless workflow between SmugMug and MOO, it's a snap for photographers to make a lasting impression and hook their clients.   We're confident that the combination of SmugMug and MOO can be a true difference-maker for photographers seeking to stand out in the crowd."
 
SmugMug provides its more than 300,000 photographers with a secure online portfolio with capabilities to share, store and sell photos. The company consistently hones its offering based on feedback from its devoted community of photographers, introducing new products and enhancements that extend photographers' reach to customers. The partnership with MOO enables SmugMug photographers to create one-of-a-kind marketing materials and products to take their online portfolio to the offline world. 
 
"At MOO, we pride ourselves on partnering with the most innovative and loved brands in the imaging industry and we are very proud to include SmugMug on that list," said Lisa Rodwell, VP Marketing & Product at MOO. "We very excited to introduce SmugMug photographers to the endless possibilities that can come from using MOO and can't wait to see what they create."

To help spread the word, MOO is giving away FREE Business Cards or MiniCards to all SmugMug Pro Users, as well as offering a 10% discount to all Power and Standard users until July 16, 2010. For more information, sign into MOO with your SmugMug account here.
Dear PPA member,

Six years ago, big brown eyes captured my heart, and I realized that life as I knew it would never be the same.

Her name is Nell. She's a Tennessee Treeing Walker Hound. She likes belly rubs (hence the nickname "Nelly Belly"), biscuits and lying on the couch. Especially lying on the couch.

According to the 2009-2010 National Pet Owners Survey, 62 percent of U.S. households own at least one pet, which equates to 71.4 million homes. It's estimated that U.S. pet owners will spend $47.7 billion on their pets in 2010--and some of that will be on pet photography.

I know some photographers who love this niche market, but it doesn't come without challenges.
(Old dogs? New tricks? I'm not going to use that...too easy.) All I'll say is that most pet owners will jump through hoops and chase their tails to get a treasured image of their pets.

Want to be a "top dog" in this emerging specialty? This week's Vital Signs talks with some PPA members who have tips and tricks for successful pet photography.

Cheers!

Christel Aprigliano
PPA's Director of Member Value & Experience

Sigma Corporation of America, a leading researcher, developer, manufacturer and service provider of some of the world's most impressive lines of lenses, cameras and flashes, is pleased to announce that the company's highly anticipated SD15 digital SLR camera is now available in the United States for the estimated street price of $989.

The SD15 is the latest model in Sigma's SD series, which previously consisted of the SD9, SD10, and now includes the SD14. The DSLR has been developed to produce superior image quality with improved processing speed, operation and performance, and its 14-megapixel Foveon X3 direct image sensor can capture all primary RGB colors at each pixel location arranged in three layers. The SD15's "TRUE II" image processing engine helps the camera process a large amount of data, while producing high-resolution, high-definition images with impressive three-dimensional detail and rich gradation.



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