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PPA Today: May 2011 Archives

May 2011 Archives

nordstrom_headshotblog.jpgNew mothers are entranced by their little ones...it's a special time in their lives, a perfect time to capture in portraits! But how do you make them aware of what professional photography and you, specifically, have to offer? Lori Nordstorm, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, knows, and she's going to share her marketing tactics with you via an upcoming webinar, "Marketing to New Mommies: Maternity & Baby's First Year" (June 7, 2:00pm ET).

"Knowing who forms your target market is the number one step," explains Nordstrom. "If I know who she is, I know where to find her! In fact, I'll be sharing ways to define your target market in my webinar."

But once you find your client, how do you appeal to her? You have to find the hot-button issues, the wants and desires that will move her. For example, Nordstrom gets her new moms excited by talking about their babies and their vision for the nurseries. "My goal is to help moms decorate with portrait art, so we begin that process of education right from the beginning," she adds. "If I can get mom excited about decorating with portraits, it's something she'll stay excited about throughout her client experience."

Defining and appealing to your target market will all be covered in Nordstrom's webinar, along with much more. You'll learn how to prepare the moms for each session, how to work with newborns and what products sell at each stage.  You'll snag some ideas for working with other businesses. And you'll even learn the most important thing a photographer can remember when marketing to mommies:

"When a woman is pregnant or has just had a baby, it's all about THEM," says Nordstrom. "They don't want to chat about the weather or what's so great about you or your studio.  They want to know what you can do for them, how you will help them and how you will make them feel."

Sign up for "Marketing to New Mommies: Maternity & Baby's First Year" now and learn how to do just that! 
Black River Imaging has announced the latest version of its free ordering software, Cascade 1.2, with the ability to clone a book or album layout. Already known for its three-dimensional preview as you build an album, Cascade 1.2 now gives photographers the ability to copy, or "clone," an album or book into a second version in another style or size. For example, a photographer can design a leather wedding album and--without rebuilding the layout--clone that album to create a smaller book with a fabric cover for the bride's parents.  Cloning saves design time while adding versatility to the wedding and portrait photographer's product offering.

To experience this and other new features, download Cascade 1.2 at  www.blackriverimaging.com/order-cascade.asp.

Read more about Black River Imaging at www.blackriverimaging.com.
Datacolor (www.datacolor.com), a global leader in color management solutions, has announced the release of its SpyderGallery iPad app available for free download on the Apple App Store. Datacolor is the first to develop an app to allow for custom color profiling of iOS devices and is the first to provide a viewer to apply custom color corrections to images.

iPad users who download the SpyderGallery app can enjoy color corrected viewing of their photos in the standard photo library albums. The app provides an easy-to-use calibration utility for owners of Datacolor's Spyder3 display calibration solutions to create a custom color profile on their iPad. Using the Spyder3, the app will measure and profile color on the iPad and then apply color correction to images displayed through the SpyderGallery. Viewing images through the color-managed viewer will allow for more accurate colors and provide users with a closer match to desktop monitors and other color-managed displays.

App Highlights:

  • Color correct your iPad and iPad 2
  • View all images loaded on iPad in one easy to use gallery viewer, no photo importing required
  • Personal photo watermarking feature
  • Pixel-level zooming capabilities

Datacolor's SpyderGallery is available for free download from the App Store on iPad on www.itunes.com/appstore/. For more information on SpyderGallery for iPad, visit http://www.datacolor.com/goto/spydergallery.

Dear PPA Member,

What did you learn in kindergarten? Sure, you probably learned how to color inside the lines and walk in a single file line to the lunchroom, but your teacher was also helping you learn how to work well with others. You had to learn how to share and take your turn--lessons that you will use the rest of your life. But just like there was always that kid who didn't want to share the building blocks, odds are there will be someone similar you have to work with as a grown-up.

Dealing with other vendors is a common situation for photographers, especially those who photograph weddings or events. But what happens if one of those other vendors shows up with a camera to photograph the same wedding you were hired to photograph? This week's Vital Signs reviews how to handle this type of situation while maintaining a positive relationship with your clients (because working well with others is just as important now as it was in kindergarten!).

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

tenba_discovery_daypack.jpgTenba has announced the new Discovery collection of incredibly lightweight bags for photographers with an active outdoor lifestyle. This new collection includes an adventure-friendly Photo/Hydration Daypack that's compatible with a hydration reservoir, and a camera Shoulder Bag that provides quick access to a large camera system. The Discovery collection features water-repellant fabrics, heavy-duty hardware and professional-level protection and construction that meet Tenba's "Crafted Without Compromise" standard. Both bags are available in black/gray and sage/khaki color combinations.

"These two new Discovery camera bags are the lightest weight professional-level bags that Tenba has ever created," said Jan Lederman, President of MAC Group. "These bags are built to satisfy the needs of and impress photographers that lead an adventurous lifestyle."

The Photo/Hydration Daypack weighs only 2.4 pounds and features a hydration-ready rear compartment that fits a reservoir up to 72 ounces. This rear pocket can also be used for a slim tablet or laptop up to 11 inches. A pop-out, padded camera insert fits any size DSLR with 4-6 lenses and accessories, and the insert can be removed to convert the bag for non-photo use.

Weighing less than 2 pounds, the Shoulder Bag provides quick access to 1-2 DSLR bodies and 5-7 lenses, plus flash and accessories. An overlapping top zipper closure protects against the elements, and padded side cargo pockets have cutaway openings for easy retrieval of equipment.

Both bags have waterproof bottom panels for protection when the bag has to be put down on a wet surface, and they include Tenba's exclusive WeatherWrapâ„¢ fast-deploying all-weather cover.

The new Discovery bags are available now at suggested retail prices from $119.95 to $129.95 for the Shoulder Bag and Daypack respectively. To find more information about Discovery collection, and to see a full video demonstration of all Tenba products, visit www.tenba.com.

During the month of June, PPA's online classes will feature two vastly different photography specialties: boudoir and maternity photography. You may think these specialties have nothing in common--the marketing and sales approaches differ, as do the ways you conduct the sessions. But the end goal is the same. You want to showcase beauty, and beauty comes in many different forms! The June online classes will teach you how to appeal to each type of client--each type of beauty--for the most profitable results.

AT&T is performing routine system maintenance on Thursday, May 26, from midnight to 6:00am EST. This will affect PPA.com, ImagingUSA.org, and other association-related Web services. Please note that PPA online content and services like event registrations may be unavailable during this time. We apologize for any inconvenience. 
diVitale_jim_blog.jpgMost of us want quality control in our image making, but how do you get that perfect exposure again and again? Jim DiVitale, M.Photog.MEI.Cr., API, F-ASP, says that good workflows and pre-processing help, and he'll be sharing more about that during his "Profitable & Dynamic Camera Raw Processing" webinar (May 31, 2:00pm ET).

"It's  all about getting a proper workflow from start to finish, so we can spend more time working with clients and our business--not waste time chasing exposure numbers and fixing things after the fact," DiVitale adds. For example, the point of pre-processing is to get everything right so that when you click the camera, you know what will happen. "Complete, closed-loop calibrations are an important part of that," he says. You need to prepare and calibrate the camera, the monitor and the printer, so that you're ready "from the front-end all the way through to the final archiving and getting things off the camera."

Even when the images are off the camera, you need to have a plan prepared. "We're all hoarders on our computers. We're being strangled by files," DiVitale explains. "To avoid that, you need a process to keep the images flowing, not backing up."

In his upcoming webinar, you'll learn steps for such a process--one that will not only help you create perfect exposures from Adobe Camera Raw, but will also help you speed up the entire production! After all, as a commercial photographer, DiVitale has used a digital capture workflow for a very long time (and for very educated buyers of photography).

Are you ready to learn and apply his winning techniques?
Sigma Corporation of America has announced that its flagship DSLR, the Sigma SD1, will be available for purchase for the MSRP of $9,700 in early June.

This 46-megapixel DSLR is delivered in a splash-proof, easy-to-handle build that is similar to that of a classic 35mm camera. Professional and high-end enthusiast photographers will utilize the SD1's exclusive Foveon 23.5x15.7mm APS-C X3 direct image sensor to capture exceptionally rich and detailed images that have a film-like quality. Users will also benefit from Sigma's wide selection of interchangeable lenses that are compatible with the SD1.

In addition to the 23.5x15.7mm APS-C X3 direct image sensor, the Sigma SD1 features dual "Three-layer Responsive Ultimate Engine (TRUE) II" image processing engines, which improves processing speed, provides high resolution power and produces high-definition images with richly graduated tones.  It also allows simultaneous RAW and JPEG recording, which is a first for Sigma cameras. Additionally, the photographer has the option to select full-size, half-size or quarter-size RAW files making it a more versatile camera for a wide range of photographers. The Foveon sensor uses three silicon-embedded layers of photo detectors, stacked vertically to take advantage of silicon's ability to absorb red, green and blue light at different respective depths. This technology efficiently reproduces color more accurately and offers sharper resolution, pixel for pixel, than any conventional image sensor. Since color moiré is not generated, the use of a low-pass filter is not required.

The optical format of the Foveon sensor has been upgraded from that which was used in previous SD cameras, and has increased from 1.7x focal length to the 1.5x focal length multiplier. The SD1 also benefits from improved image processing and noise reduction algorithms, with an ISO sensitivity range from 100 to 6400. This is two full stops more sensitivity than the SD15, which has a maximum 1600 ISO.  An intuitive user interface and an impressive lightweight, yet solid magnesium alloy body and O-ring sealing connections that make the camera durable and splash proof are also key feature upgrades of the flagship SD1.   

The SD1 adopts the TYPE 1 Compact Flash Card, and is UDMA-compatible enabling fast processing of large amounts of data. The autofocus system features an 11-point shifted twin cross type sensor, which improves AF accuracy. The SD1 features a 3.0 inch TFT color monitor. This 460,000 pixel resolution LCD monitor benefits from a wide viewing angle, making it easy to check focusing and composition. The SD1 can be used with more than 40 Sigma SA mount lenses such as ultra-wide, ultra-telephoto, macro and fisheye.

Sigma's image processing software, Photo Pro 5.0, comes bundled with the camera and its simple operation allows quick and easy capture of the desired imaged.  Additional functions such as Loupe, Slideshow, Print, Convert to JPEG file and Batch White Balance settings are also incorporated into this software.

The Sigma SD1 will be available for the MSRP of $9,700 through select authorized Sigma dealers. For information about Sigma Corporation of America, visit www.sigmaphoto.com. For more information about the Sigma SD1 DSLR, visit http://www.sigmaphoto.com/shop/sd1-dslr-sigma or view the camera's special page at www.sigma-sd.com/SD1.

Dear PPA Member,

When it comes to Italian food, my mother-in-law knows best. She knows what ingredients are needed, what temperature to set the oven and, honestly, I think she has some sort of special touch that makes whatever she prepares delicious. (It probably doesn't hurt that she's Italian!) Even if I think I can help out in the kitchen, I know better than to interfere. Making amazing Italian dinners is her thing, and I am more than happy to let her take the lead.

The same cannot always be said about your clients or, say, guests at your client's wedding. While you are the professional photographer, others may not hesitate to step in with a camera of their own. That is why this week's Vital Signs addresses the topic of clients with cameras and how to handle those sensitive situations. After all, you want your clients to be return clients and enjoy their time with you (just like I continue to go to my mother-in-law for home-cooked meals).

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

P.S. Save 50% on the Creative Efex Collection from Nik Software! This Extreme Deal collection includes three of Nik Software's most popular tools, featuring timesaving solutions for professional portrait retouching, black-and-white conversion and much more. Take advantage of this Extreme Deal before May 31, 2011.

You know how important professional photography is. Want to help educate consumers? Want to spread the word via your own websites, social media pages and other marketing? We have prepared a special See the Difference resources page for PPA members to help you do just that. Go on, browse through the side-by-side comparison images, Facebook page designs, sample brochures and more!

Your Bottom Line: What Health Care Reform Means for Photographers
May 18, 2011 @ 4:00pm EST

Panelists: Larry McNeely, U.S. PIRG's Health Care Advocate and
Rhett Buttle, Small Business Majority

Free to PPA Members: Log in here to register.

How does health care affect you?

As a small business owner you have many different roles to play and tasks to accomplish. A topic of high interest that many PPA members have to deal with is health care. To help keep you up to speed on what is currently happening on Capitol Hill, this webinar will focus on what the new health care law--the Affordable Care Act--means for small businesses.

The U.S. federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (U.S. PIRG) and the Small Business Majority will present information from both federal and state provisions so that you know how the law affects you. We will review small business tax credits (including who is eligible for them and how to claim them), state insurance exchanges, high-risk pools, shared responsibility and cost containment. You will also learn about tools and resources available for small businesses interested in learning more about health care law.

Larry McNeely is U.S. PIRG's Health Care Advocate, coordinating the organization's federal-level advocacy, communications and organizing on health reform. Based in Washington, D.C., Mr. McNeely lobbies Congress for legislation that will tame rising health costs, and offer consumers better choices in the health care marketplace. He has earned a Masters of Public Administration degree from West Virginia University and studied international development and health promotion in rural India through the University of Minnesota's Minnesota Studies in International Development Program.

Rhett Buttle manages Small Business Majority's operations in Washington, DC, acting as a liaison with the Obama administration, Congress and national partners, while collaborating with national, state and local business organizations and other groups on targeted small business outreach efforts. Before joining Small Business Majority, Rhett served in the Office of the President at George Washington University. Prior to that, he worked in the office of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, where he was part of the team involved in California's health care reform effort. Rhett completed his undergraduate studies at the University of San Diego and has a Master's degree from The George Washington University.

It's no secret that the majority of photography clients are female. And, all feminist ideals aside, the ways women think and make purchase decisions are, on average, different from how men would. So, come learn how to appeal to your clients via marketing, service, and your photography itself! It's Chicks Who Click (June 23-26, 2011), where any photographer can learn how women market to women...and draw in the profit.

Not only will you learn about marketing, sales, posing, lighting, using Adobe Photoshop and improving your boudoir, senior, children, pet and wedding photography, you'll also get the chance to get your business on track with the renowned Business Basics Workshop from PPA's Studio Management Services. And this vital and inspiring education is just the tip of the iceberg. Chicks Who Click benefits PPA Charities, so while you learn, you'll be raising money for a cause that helps children around the world smile again: Operation Smile, PPA Charities' charitable partner!

So, are you ready for top-notch programs? Social events and mentoring ops? Great food and a boutique trade show? Fun in the sun? Now's your chance--learn more and register for Chicks Who Click!

chickswhoclick_blog.jpg
The fabulous Chicks Who Click speaker lineup features Kay Eskridge, Mary Fisk-Taylor, Jen Hillenga, Cindy Behnke, Vicki Taufer, Jennifer Hudson, Sandy Puc', Carol Andrews Jensen, and Ann Monteith.


artistsagainst.JPGProfessional Photographers of America (PPA) and the Copyright Alliance announce the creation of a new website that unites creators (including photographers like you): ArtistsAgainstDigitalTheft.com. This new site explains digital theft problems and solutions, allows you to share your stories, and provides direct links and ideas for taking action.

"As artists in every creative field are all too aware, digital theft of their work is a threat to their livelihoods," says Copyright Alliance Executive Director Sandra Aistars. "Websites trafficking in unlicensed, infringing content divert customers from legitimate online outlets, robbing creators of both incomes. Also frustrating is that chasing down all this illegal activity detracts from the ability to devote time and energy toward their work." Read more here.
Photographers need to stay focused on Capitol Hill these days, as copyright is a hot topic. In fact, two key pieces of legislation were recently introduced in the U.S. Senate in an effort to bring copyright law up to date with the advances in digital technology:

  • S. 986 - The Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (The PROTECT IP Act)
  • S. 978 - a bill that increases the criminal penalties associated with online copyright infringement.

"Photographers are all too familiar with digital theft," notes David Trust, PPA's chief executive officer. "Even if a client isn't misusing the image files, the mere presence of an image online increases the odds that someone can find it and steal it. While not a 'cure-all,' these new Senate bills strengthen the enforcement side of the law, creating much-needed deterrents to keep infringing hands off your work." Read more here.
lowepro_compactcourier.jpgLowepro has announced the launch of the Compact Courier Series, consisting of the Compact Courier 70 and 80.  Ideal for the increasingly popular interchangeable lens compact cameras (ILC) such as Sony® NEX and similar models, the Compact Courier series is a lightweight and flexible carrying shoulder bag solution.

Both shoulder bags feature Lowepro's protective and thoughtful details, such as padded interiors with contrasting brushed tricot lining,  a built-in memory card pocket on the outside flap, a built-in microfiber cleaning cloth to protect a lens and LCD screen from dust and smudges, an extra-wide dual-zippered opening for easy access to the main compartment, hook/loop fasteners on the flap;,  an adjustable shoulder strap, a built-in belt loop, sturdy hardware; and durable water-resistant materials that protect from impact and moisture.

he Compact Courier 80, specifically designed to fit the Sony® NEX series and like-built ILC cameras, offers a 2-bags-in-1 solution. It can be worn as a shoulder bag over the shoulder or across the body, or attached to a belt as a beltpack. The pouch will hold an outfitted compact system camera, plus an 18-55mm lens attached and extra pancake/16mm lens in the main compartment. For a more minimal option, remove the built-in Mini Quick Case and only carry the camera with the pancake/16mm lens attached. The Mini Quick Case includes a leash that tethers to a camera strap, securing the case to the camera while wearing and shooting--making it quick and easy to capture any moment.

The flexible Compact Courier 70 is the smallest carrying solution for these new styles of cameras. It's designed to fit a Sony® NEX, or similar model, with an 18-55mm lens attached. To carry a more expanded kit, attach the auxiliary lens pouch to the shoulder strap. It fits a pancake/16mm lens and is included with the bag.

The Compact Courier 80 and Compact Courier 70 are available in Black (with Red piping) and Grey (with Arctic Blue piping) both sizes are $39.99.

For more information on the Compact Courier series and other products, visit www.lowepro.com.
NIK_logo.pngFor the first time ever, Nik Software is bringing together three of its most popular and award-winning tools for an exclusive PPA Extreme Deal. For a limited time, you have access to the Creative Efex Collection, which includes Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro and HDR Efex Pro.

With this collection, you'll be able to maximize your creativity and work seamlessly with your favorite image editing software to provide high-quality retouching, color correction, creative enhancements, high-dynamic range imaging, fine art black-and-white conversion, and much more.

"Nik Software's new Creative Efex Collection is perfect for the wedding and portrait photographer," says Tony L. Corbell, Cr.Photog., API, Senior Manager of Product Education and Planning at Nik Software and PPA member since 1979.  "This set is amazing, and I use it on literally every picture I take. Color Efex Pro is my favorite series of filters, while Silver Efex Pro is the only real answer to making quality black-and-white images. Of course, HDR Efex Pro will change the way in which we view high contrast scenes by making the dynamic range no longer a problem to solve, but a condition to enhance."

PPA members can take advantage of this limited-time Extreme Deal here. Don't wait, this offer only runs through May 31, 2011!

"Seriously, everyone is using Nik Software for a reason," Corbell adds. "They work...and they work beautifully."
Photobiz has announced two new Flash templates. The Monte Carlo template is a 3D cube that rotates with the photographs in it with a technologically advanced transition and sleek mirror at the bottom. Left side navigation on a gradient background completes the most stunning Flash site ever created by PhotoBiz. For the gallery pages arrows are displayed at all times so that viewers can easily navigate through the images. As the first image in the gallery appears, the full sized thumbnail will be shown in the lower right corner.

Monte Carlo presents the most superior level of animation available in a template. In addition to having a custom design appearance there are many customizable options.  A fully customizable background allows the user to upload any texture or use any color they wish. The PhotoBiz.com icon bank, captions, and music enhancements are all fully functional features of this template.

This is truly the epitome of PhotoBiz.com template design and to illustrate it PhotoBiz asked Hiram Trillo Art-Photography to provide the images. Hiram has won several awards, been named one of the top Hispanic wedding photographers in the nation by Bodas USA and one of the best young photographers in the world.

Along with the new Monte Carlo template, the Monaco template is loaded with all of the tools a creative professional needs to present their portfolio online. A reverse gradient background compliments the gradient border around the images for a beautiful presentation. The transition animation is a back to front zoom effect that adds interest to the site without being a distraction. As a newer innovation Monaco will use SWF addressing technology that can allow forward and backward page buttons.

The gallery pages will have thumbnails that are placed along the right side of the template.  With a simple roll-over, the thumbnail will appear to the left.  With left and right arrows the viewer can play/pause the slide show, and change the speed. Monaco is a fully customizable template with a sleek and contemporary feel that is sure to get its share of attention.

Photobiz selected Blair Phillips to showcase the Monaco template. He is the 2010 National Senior Photographer First Prize Winner as well as a sought-after speaker and educator. Blair Phillips Photography has been described as eclectic elegance-keeping very timeless elements of portraiture while putting people where they don't belong (in unusual settings).

For more information about PhotoBiz.com and the new templates, visit www.PhotoBiz.com or visit them on Facebook at www.photobizfanclub.com.

Dear PPA Member,

You don't become an expert at something overnight. (Believe me, I took a painting class and realized how much I needed that instructor!) Mastering a craft takes time--not time spent sitting around doing nothing, but time spent learning and growing your skills. It takes passion, commitment and the desire to learn. Are you spending your time wisely? Are you growing as a photographer?

A great place to start is right here! This week's Vital Signs touches on just a few of the educational opportunities available to you as a PPA member. Whether you are looking for online learning or want to become a Certified Professional Photographer, there are resources available to help you along your way. Now is the perfect time to start--or continue--your education! And that is time well spent.

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

P.S. If you're looking to add music to your studio, XM for Business is the perfect solution. They will take care of your music licensing fees, and you can take advantage of a PPA Extreme Deal to make getting started even easier!

FedEx-Office.pngIt's now even easier for you to save time and money with FedEx. As a member of PPA, you are eligible to receive special savings of up to 20% off select FedEx Office copy and print services and 10% off other select services at more than 1,800 locations nationwide.

Plus, for a limited time, you can double your savings on select services! Use your PPA FedEx Office discount today, and you can save up to 40% on select copy and print services through May 31, 2011. That's twice the normal discount!

PPA members can learn more about this Extreme Deal here.
Stay tuned to your email inbox next Friday (May 20)! PPA is updating our system to provide more streamlined and efficient services, which will require a new login and password to access your PPA records and content. These updates will occur during the week of June 6, and more information (including your new login and password) will be emailed to you on May 20. 
PPA is undergoing routine system maintenance from Saturday, May 14 at 7:00am EST to Monday, May 16 at 6:00am EST. Please note that PPA member-only content and some services (such as event registrations) will be unavailable during this time. We apologize for any inconvenience. 
allen_suzette_blog.jpgText and graphics play a huge part in making eye-catching and dramatic sport and event images, whether they are in a decorative edge, an overlay, or an integral part of a team poster. But using Adobe Photoshop in that way requires a different set of skills.

"In fact, many sport and event photographers don't think they have time to design something cool, so they just do something mediocre," says Suzette Allen, Cr.Photog., CPP, API, an in-demand Photoshop instructor for the photographic industry.

Allen is here to combat that thought. Just watch her webinar, "Photoshop Made Easy for Event Photographers" (May 17, 2:00pm EST)! She'll teach techniques to make "really cool," professional, dimensional text and graphics...and how to do it fast.

"One of the biggest challenges these photographers face in layouts and presentations is efficiency," Allen explains. "They need to turn things around very quickly. And we all know that Photoshop can just eat your life if you're not fluent in it!"
Benchmark.pngBenchmarks are exactly what they sound like--marks or measurements that help evaluate performance.  If you've had a check-up in the last year, your doctor probably gave you a benchmark for healthy cholesterol or blood pressure.  By comparing your numbers to that benchmark, you immediately know whether you're healthy or could use a little improvement.  PPA benchmarks work in a very similar way, only they can help you measure the health of your business.  

PPA accountants analyze photographers' finances (through Benchmark Surveys) to come up with those benchmarks--financial targets you should work toward for more profitability. And they are critically important for a number of reasons:

  • You can't grow your business until you understand where you are (and fix anything that's ailing). PPA benchmarks give you key performance indicators to help you isolate the most important facets of your financial performance.

  • Your doctor wouldn't make the best decisions if he tried to compare you to a 15-year-old.  The same goes for your finances--it doesn't make sense to compare a photography studio to a law firm or a restaurant.  Even though small businesses share many common challenges, photography studios need to stack their financial measurements against other photography studios' finances to see more clearly where they can improve and grow.  And we're not talking about just one or two other photographers--you need to consider how you're performing against an average or range from many studios. PPA benchmarks allow you to do just that.

  • PPA benchmarks give you targets for planning.  Once you've looked at specific performance indicators from your business compared to hundreds of other studios, you'll have a much better idea of the changes you need to make to cut costs and increase profitability.
 
Ready to head toward a healthier business? Check out PPA's free Benchmark resources to get started!

  • Review all the current PPA benchmark reports and tools. PPA is the only organization that provides Benchmark analysis and resources, so PPA members can have a competitive edge just by using the resources.

  • Participate in the 2011 Benchmark Survey (and possibly win some great prizes).

  • Check out "The PPA Business Handbook," which just won the 2011 Gold Service Journalism Award from the Magazine Association from the Southeast! This is your primer for building a healthy, profitable studio with expert advice and real-world examples based on the Benchmark Survey findings.
Have you been feeling stuck in a rut...like you can't get ahead (and might not know where to go if you did)? Well, the doctor is in. The perfect "prescription" for those symptoms could be a combination of the relaxing, refreshing Chicks Who Click conference (by PPA Charities), and the empowering Business Basics 2-day workshop (by PPA's Studio Management Services)!

On June 23-26 you'll have a chance to learn from some of the industry's top mentors, connect with other photographers and enjoy some bonding time during the Chicks Who Click conference in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona, at the fabulous Firesky Resort & Spa.  That's just the ticket for getting you relaxed and your business refreshed at the same time.

And if you really want to get ahead (on the right track to profitability), come early. PPA is bringing its Studio Management Service's "Business Basics" 2-day class to you at the Chicks Who Click location (June 22-23). Chicks Who Click attendees can save $100 by registering for both educational events! But you must act now, as the SMS class is limited to only 25 students.

"I got so much from our Chicks Who Click speakers on stage, between sessions, at dinner, and when we were just passing by.  They were all so giving of their time, information and suggestions! I felt they really cared about us as professionals and truly wanted to help us advance in our businesses."

- Madonna Nicholson, David Nicholson Photography
2010 Chicks Who Click Attendee
Rock your customers, crank up your brand, and turn your business on with XM for Business. America's most popular satellite radio service is available for businesses--just like you!--and can help attract and entertain your customers with vibrant, branded music and audio content. Plus, your ASCAP, BMI and SESAC fees are paid by XM for Business on your behalf, so you don't need to worry about renewing your licensing fees!

PPA members already receive a discount on the XM for Business service, but now you can save even more with this limited-time deal.
kennethmartin_headshot.jpgMany photographers don't choose--in the beginning--to be a professional photographer. Often, it happens in stages, helped along by various opportunities. Then, one day, you make a conscious, serious decision that changes your life and career--a decision that often includes professional education. Super Monday Instructor Kenneth Martin, M.Photog., of Martin Photography in De Pere, Wis., had a beginning like that. And he chose to give photography (and his clients) his all.

Martin simply enjoyed taking scenic portraits. In fact, he had never considered making portraits of people until a co-worker asked him to take senior portraits of his daughter. "Wow! I became a little nervous about that new assignment and started to search for some kind of instruction," Martin remembers.

That educational search led Martin to the Winona School of Photography in Winona Lake, Ind.

"On arrival to the school, I walked the halls and was amazed with the images on the walls," he says. "They were lined with the Loan Collection--talk about being intimidated!"

Dear PPA Member,

Wouldn't it be great if life came with an instruction manual? It may be fun to figure some things out on your own, but think of how much time you could save (and pain you could avoid) if you were given instructions on how to buy your first house or avoid a breakup. Someone else has probably gone through those same situations, so why not use that knowledge to your advantage?

This is exactly what PPA's Studio Financial Benchmark Survey aims to achieve--except instead of life lessons, it helps you understand how to run a more successful photography business. And this week's Vital Signs will help you better understand what the Benchmark Survey can do for you.

In addition, preparation for the newest survey is in full swing. In order to gather the most up-to-date statistics, we need fresh information from photographers like you. By participating in the next Benchmark Survey, you not only help to contribute to the Benchmark effort, but you also have the opportunity to win some pretty great prizes (can you say "all-inclusive trip to Imaging USA"?).

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

P.S. Looking for a way to leave your clients in awe? Take advantage of PPA's newest member benefit with Animoto and you can create memorable videos and save some money at the same time!

loweproawseries.jpgLowepro has announced two camera bags for outdoor enthusiasts. The Photo Sport AW Series was designed for outdoor adventurers that like to bring photo gear along when skiing, biking, snowboarding, etc., and the Optics Line was created to meet the unique needs of bird photographers and wildlife observers venturing in to the wilds

Photo Sport AW Series
Lowepro's Photo Sport 200 AW backpack and Photo Sport Sling 100 AW are both dual-compartment packs featuring supreme protection for adventure sports enthusiasts. To ensure quick access to camera equipment, the lower compartment of each pack includes Lowepro's Ultra-Cinch Camera Chamberâ„¢ that snugs gear in a secured compartment to prevent bouncing while in motion. A zippered, side-access pocket allows the wearer to quickly rotate the pack to the front, unzip, un-cinch and access the camera compartment which can accommodate a DSLR with attached lens and a flash unit.

This minimalist set up is augmented by a top-loading upper compartment that provides flexible storage space--13.9 liters in the 200 AW backpack and 9 liters in the Sling 100 AW--for other essential photo gear or a jacket, snack, cell phone, guide books, etc. Additional features specifically designed for outdoor adventurers include: reflective piping, triple-ripstop nylon exterior, Lowepro's patented All Weather AW Coverâ„¢, multiple attachment points for trekking/ski pole loops, extra webbing to expand capacity and in the 200 Aw a dedicated space for hydration pouch. The Photo Sport 200 AW and Photo Sport Sling 100 AW are available in Black/Light Grey and Lowepro Orange/Light Grey for $199.99 and $129.99 respectively.

Lowepro Optics Line

Designed to enhance the experience of birders, wildlife watchers and outdoor photographers while in the field, the new Optics Series from Lowepro was designed to provide long-wearing comfort and hands-free support for those who venture into the field with binoculars, optical scopes, digital cameras and other associated gear for the well-provisioned outdoor enthusiast. The bags are constructed from water-resistant materials that resist abrasion and moisture, and feature Lowepro's patented All Weather covers for extreme weather situations. The Lowepro Optics Series consists of:
epson_r2000.jpgEpson America has introduced the latest 13-inch printer to join its line of products, the Epson Stylus® Photo R2000. Taking advantage of Epson's next-generation pigment printing technology, this printer produces vivid, archival prints with an unmatched glossy look and feel that's optimized for serious photography and other high-level creative applications.

The Epson Stylus Photo R2000 provides several features and qualities that are typically found in professional-level printers, such as pigment-based inks, flexible media handling, and significantly larger capacity cartridges that deliver up to 50 percent more prints. The printer's connectivity options are unparalleled for its class, making it easy to print from a home office or studio via Ethernet®, Wireless-N and USB 2.0. Its media flexibility is also unsurpassed, giving users the ability to print on a full range of papers, including cut sheet and roll paper, photographic and fine art media, canvas, art boards, and CD/DVDs.
Bjoershol_Heather_Michelle.gifThe number one misuse of Corel® Painter™ software? It stays in the box. "It's crazy how many students I've had who will buy the software and then never use it!" says Heather Michelle Bjoershol, an award-winning Corel Painter Master. "The truth is, it's difficult to misuse Painter, as the software's possibilities are limitless."

And Bjoershol should know. Her skills with the software have led to her painting portraits wholesale for photographers all across the country! She does also offer photography to "retail" clients, and adding Painter to her product line has increased her bottom line tremendously. "Almost every portrait sales now includes at least a 20" painting on canvas," Bjoershol explains. "Clients also tend to upsize their orders to show off the hand-painted details and artistry...which also increases my frame sales."

Adding the use of Painter to you own work is sounding better and better, isn't it? The keys to making it work for you, though, are in learning how to use it to its full potential and incorporating it correctly in your studio.

For example, one thing Bjoershol cautions against is too much reliance on the "auto clone" feature without finishing the painting with any "hand-applied" brush strokes. "That often makes the portrait look mechanical and digital versus hand painted," she says. "While there is a place for auto cloning, it's important to balance it out with custom touches."

Want to learn more from the master? Tune into Bjoershol's PPA webinar, "Painter for Profit: Making Corel Painter Work for Your Studio," (May 10, 2:00pm ET).

"Simply put, the correct use of Corel Painter will increase your bottom line, give you a new product in this highly competitive market, open the door to new clients, and allow you to offer an affordable alternative to true, organic oil paintings," adds Bjoershol. "Whether you learn it yourself or outsource the artwork, it's a win-win." 
Animoto Pro is the award-winning new tool for photographers that allows you to instantly combine your images and video clips into beautiful, custom videos. With plug-ins for Lightroom and Aperture, Animoto Pro is easily integrated into your workflow so that you can create the perfect video for every client.

"Animoto Pro is a beneficial tool for photographers because it actually generates profits, gets new leads in the door and is a simple solution for photographers interested in using the video capture option on their camera," explains Rebecca Brooks, Senior Marketing Associate at Animoto.

Get started with video styles designed for (and vetted by) professional photographers, and then use Animoto's spotlight, pace setting and text features to easily customize the video. Every Animoto video is completely unique and customized for your images and song selection. And to help you make the most of your time, Animoto analyzes and combines your images, video clips and music with the same sophisticated post-production skills used in television and film. What used to take hours, now only takes minutes!

"PPA members are a great fit for Animoto Pro because they are a group dedicated to enriching their craft and intent on keeping their passion for photography profitable," adds Brooks. "With PPA offering endless educational opportunities, their members continually stay ahead of the curve with leveraging social media, selling new products to clients and staying on top of trends and changes in the field of photography--including the recent convergence of photography with video. All of these educational takeaways can be employed with an Animoto Pro account."

PPA members receive a special offer on the Animoto Pro plan, which offers unbranded and commercially licensed videos for subscribers. Members can learn more about this new benefit at PPA.com. 


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