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PPA Today: September 2011 Archives

September 2011 Archives

photocare_blog.JPGHave you heard the great news? PPA is introducing a brand-new member benefit, one that marks a landmark decision to help protect our members' businesses and put hundreds of dollars back into their pockets each year: PhotoCare Equipment Insurance.
 
PPA is covering the premium for $15,000 in equipment insurance coverage beginning October 1, 2011 for each of our U.S.-based Professional Active and Life members as a part of your annual membership!  In order to activate the policy, members must log in to PPA.com with their user name and password and opt in. Instructions are provided on the site.
 
Read the full press release about the $15,000 of equipment insurance that is now included in your PPA membership.*
 
*PhotoCare is available to U.S.-based Professional Active and Life PPA members. In order to activate the policy, members must log in to www.ppa.com and opt in. Instructions are provided on the site. 
 
PPA members can also purchase additional equipment insurance and general liability policies through Lockton Affinity, PPA's exclusive insurance partner. That coverage will come at a significantly reduced rate negotiated by PPA. See all the new insurance offerings at www.ppa.com/insurance

Dear PPA Member,

The phrase, "The pen is mightier than the sword," needs to be updated for the 21st century. It's now the mighty keyboard.

Social media and online review sites can impact your business when unhappy clients decide to take their comments to the Internet rather than to you first. Sometimes, it's a misunderstanding that you didn't realize had occurred...or worse, a false statement from an anonymous poster. While we recognize that we can't make everyone happy, it's important to address those less than stellar comments made about you or your business. And you need to do so as a professional.

This week's Vital Signs discusses how to handle clients with "keyboard courage" (those who say things online rather than dealing with someone face to face) and the steps that you should follow to right any perceived wrongs.

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

Your artistic skills got you into this industry, but it takes business savvy to be successful. That's why PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) offers the Business Basics Workshop. This two-day course will teach you how to run a profitable photography business, so you can keep doing what you love!

But there's only one more chance to get the workshop this year: November 5-6, 2011.

The good news is that there are still a few spots available in that class. So, don't let this chance slip by you. As Emily Mulkey of Emily Mulkey Photography says, "I only wish I had attended this workshop two or three years ago, as it would have saved me many tiresome nights of frustration!"

taufer_blog.jpgVicki Taufer, M.Photog.Cr., began her business 12 years ago when, as she says, her hobby for photography "snowballed into a business." Today, her portrait studio--V Gallery in Morton, IL--continues to thrive thanks to her hard work and international recognition. However, as a mother, Vicki knows that you want your photography business to be part of your life, not your whole life.

Do you feel that the opposite is true? That your business has become your life? Well, Imaging USA offers you the chance to get your life back. Join us for Vicki Taufer's Kodak-sponsored "Simplify Your Business and Get Your Life Back" Imaging USA class on January 15, 2012!

It's All in the Balance
"It is important to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, so that you can focus on your strengths and outsource or receive help with your weaknesses," Vicki explains.

For her, the joy of being a photographer comes from documenting her client's lives. It's one oftaufer1.jpg her strengths. "I have been documenting many of the same families and their milestones over the past 12 years," she says. "I started out my business hoping to create clients for life, and I have done that."

While Vicki loves creating relationships with her clients, she admits to being challenged by the day-to-day tasks of managing her business, including managing employees. Her strengths, she says, do not include managing people! To overcome this challenge, she simplified her management by downsizing her staff to just the essential people. She also receives consulting from people whose strengths ARE in such areas.

Learn From Her Experiences
At Imaging USA, Vicki's class will provide you with many more tips for simplifying your business and getting back to what you love to do--taking photographs.

"The most important lesson I can share is how to work smarter, not harder," Vicki adds. "Too many photographers let their businesses run their lives. Come see how I am overcoming similar struggles to have more balance in my life, while still being successful in my business."

taufer2.jpgRead more about Vicki Taufer here.
Read more about Imaging USA here.


ALL IMAGES © VICKI TAUFER

taufer3.jpg

rogerwilliams_headshot.JPGPhotographic passions tend to grow with time...if you find ways to keep the creative fires burning and stay profitable! That's what Roger Williams, CPP, of Tranquility Art Photography in Springfield, Illinois, discovered when he opened his studio nine years ago. His studio was the culmination of his lifelong love of photography, and he's kept it growing ever since with his expanding product lines.

Making a Business out of a Passion
Roger remembers buying his first camera, a Canon AT-1, with the paychecks earned from his first job as a kid. Still, it wasn't until his own children were grown that he felt he was at a point in life where he could finally open that studio.

"When I started, I never would have guessed that it was this difficult to run a photography business. However, that is also what makes it rewarding," Roger says. "Plus, I had always wanted to have my own business, and this was a way to do it while satisfying a need."

With hard work and education, Roger turned his love into a solid business. For example, one way he has found success is by capitalizing on the resurgence of 1940s-style glamour and boudoir photography. He'll even be teaching a Super Monday class on the subject in Illinois this October!

While his glamour and boudoir photography is important, Roger still shoots many differentroger_williams1.JPG types of photography. He believes in expanding product lines and simply enjoys the "variety of doing it all." As he says, "I don't want to be labeled as the baby photographer or a 'whatever photographer.'"

In fact, adding new product lines--from glamour and boudoir to destination weddings--has helped his business grow, so you might want to pay attention to his upcoming class!

Glamming Up Your Business at Super Monday
If you want to add glamour and boudoir photography to your product lines, don't miss Roger's "1940s Glamour & Boudoir" Super Monday class on October 24 in Springfield, Illinois. Attendees will learn tips for lighting this style, as well as how to advertise and brand it. You'll even be able to photograph a model to get in some practice during an afternoon photo shoot...and a second daylong photo shoot the following day!

So, get ready to expand your product offerings and attend Williams' Super Monday class this fall.

rogerwilliams2.JPGLearn more about Roger's class and browse more Super Monday classes in more locations at www.ppa.com/education-events/sm_new.php. Read more about Roger Williams here.

Super Monday is an educational program sponsored by PPA every spring and fall. These daylong, interactive workshops are conducted in locations around the country, allowing PPA members to earn merits for sharing their craft and enabling all photographers to learn new skills and develop professional networking contacts.


ALL IMAGES © ROGER WILLIAMS
Power failure during a sunny day, broken-down cars, dogs eating the media cards...think it can't happen to you? Those are all events that did happen to PPA members. No one plans for catastrophes to happen, but they do. And we hate to say it, but sooner or later, something could go wrong with one of your client assignments. Here's the good news:

If you're ever accused of negligence, you'll be happy to know that PPA has your back with the Indemnification Trust, one of your exclusive benefits as a PPA member.*

The purpose of the Indemnification Trust is to protect you when allegations of negligence arise from an assignment, such as:

  • Digital image data loss (corrupt media card or hard drive failure) relating to a paid, contracted assignment
  • Failure of the photographer to be at the event or assignment at the specified time
  • Missed or missing images
  • Client dissatisfaction with services rendered during an assignment or as contracted

Three Steps to Remember...
While we hope that you never need to use the Indemnification Trust, filing a claim is easy. Just follow these steps:

  • Call PPA's Customer Service Center at 800-786-6277.
  • File an Indemnification Trust report with the Customer Service Center team member.
  • Wait to be contacted by the law firm that handles all Indemnification Trust issues. (You can expect to hear from that law firm within one business day, allowing you to address the issue as soon as possible.)

And here's another point that might make you sigh in relief: Your PPA membership rate will not change after filing a report! The Indemnification Trust is like a unique trust fund to help out in these situations. All PPA members pay the same participation fee, regardless of how many reports are filed.

Read more about the Indemnification Trust, how it can help you, and how it all works here.

*All PPA members who identify themselves as wedding or portrait photographers are automatically enrolled in the Trust. If you are not a wedding or portrait photographer, you may opt out of the program. Not sure if you are currently participating in the Trust? Contact the Customer Service Center at csc@ppa.com or at 800-786-6277
barton_michael_blog.jpgExtra income. New clients. Which of those is a bad thing? If you're like most of us, the answer is neither--you want more of both! So, tune in to Michael Barton's PPA online class, "Building Your Business with Collections" (October 4, 2:00pm ET), where he will explain why and how to use limited-edition, themed books and images to generate extra income, attract clients and create buzz.

Why Special Collections Work
"It is difficult to offer specials and discounts for our businesses without undermining our business plans and pricing structure. When we offer discounts, we often attract people that are only looking for a bargain and nothing more," explains Michael. "But by creating a theme and offering special limited edition sessions, we are able to attract new clients to our studios without compromising our day-in, day-out operations."

Just look at Michael's own studio, Indigo Photographic. In 2008, Indigo Photographic created a collection of images featuring little girls and Gerber daisies. "This collection generated a wide range of exposure for virtually no expense, and the 'gerber daisy' images have since become a staple in the Indigo aesthetic," notes Michael.

Indigo Photographic has also created a range of collections featuring boys with hats, dress-up clothes, character studies, and prominent women in the community.

Key to Making Them Work

One of the essential things to remember about using such collections and new ideas is to offer items that are not available during standard sessions. (Once again, that goes back to not undermining your pricing structure!)

"It is also important to focus only on the single image that you wish to create for the special collection and not photograph a normal session," reminds Michael. "These collections are special events, and you are bringing in guests to expand your creativity while generating a new client base.  Special events require special products--not business as usual."

Ready to go beyond "business as usual"? Ready to make more money while finding new enjoyment in your craft? Register for Michael's upcoming class and prepare to build up your own special collections.

Dear PPA Member,

It may sound strange, but I love to make plans. While I'm all for spontaneity, there is something comforting about being prepared for almost anything. I also develop contingency strategies because I know that, sometimes, things don't go as...planned.

When you add clients into the mix, planning becomes even more complicated. You don't know their thoughts, and you don't know what will happen during the course of your relationship. That's why you need a game plan that will, from the very first meeting with a potential client, clearly express expectations. And sometimes, you need to be able to adjust it with the end goal in mind: a happy client who makes a wonderfully large purchase.

Sound impossible? It's not. You just need to put a little thinking into it, and this week's Vital Signs can help.

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

roguegels_blog.JPGExpoImaging, Inc. has announced the availability of Rogue Gels, the newest addition to its Rogue Photographic Design line of products.

Rogue Gel Kits offer photographers a choice of 20 dynamic color and correction filters to help create dramatic and theatrical lighting. Each kit includes a combination of 14 color effects gels, 5 color correction gels, and 1 diffusion gel inside a compact storage pouch with quick reference dividers to keep the gels safe and organized.

Rogue Gels are individually printed with the LEE Filterâ„¢ name of each gel, as well as the gel's measured f/stop loss value, and when appropriate the corresponding Kelvin color temperature correction and camera white balance icon.

Rogue Gels are sold in two styles, the Rogue Universal Lighting Filter Kit and the Lighting Filter Kit for Rogue Grid.

Rogue Universal Gels are designed to fit most standard shoe mount flashes. The Rogue Gel-Band, which is included with the Universal Filter Kit, is used to quickly attach the tabs on the Universal Gels to the flash head. With a coverage area of 3" x 2.5" (76mm x 63mm) they are large enough to cover even the largest flash heads.

Rogue Grid Gels are designed to be used exclusively with the Rogue Grid. They are cut to nest into the circular Grid bezel in front of the molded honeycomb grids.

Colored lighting filters, or gels are often used in photography on accent lights, or to add dramatic color to backgrounds or selected portions of a scene for artistic effect. Correction filters are typically used to adjust the color temperature of a flash to better match other light sources to improve overall color balance in an image.

Pricing and Availability
Rogue Gels are available now through ExpoImaging's distribution partners worldwide, or online at www.expoimaging.com. Rogue Gels - Universal Lighting Filter Kit $29.95, Rogue Gels - Lighting Filter Kit for Rogue Grid $27.95.
beckstead_blog.jpgSometimes, discovering what you are meant to do takes you in a completely different direction than where you were headed before. One of our Imaging USA 2012 instructors experienced that very thing. David Beckstead is currently one of the most sought-after wedding photographers in the world. In fact, he was named one of the top 10 wedding photographers in the world by American Photo Magazine in 2007. But before all that, he was fighting fires.

Finding His New Direction
Yes, Beckstead got his start in photography in a most unexpected way. He spent 12 summers working for the U.S. Forest Service, fighting forest fires all over the United States. When he wasn't fighting the fires, he carried a Nikon SLR and captured images of them. Eventually, the Forest Service offered him a full-time job photographing the forest fires.

"Although I loved fighting fires, this was an opportunity I could not pass up!" Beckstead recalls. "Yet no sooner did this great opportunity arise, than it was taken away due to funding issues."

However, that idea and experience inspired him to open a photography business...and start in a whole new direction.

While he started by photographing every job that came his way, from aerials to portraits,beckstead1.jpg Beckstead really enjoyed weddings. He began to focus his business on wedding photography in 2001 when he attended a Gary Fong workshop and really saw the creative and artistic possibilities in it.

"My business has been exciting ever since, and I have been able to push my style and art to new levels," he says. "My brides and grooms love it!"

beckstead2.jpgToday, Beckstead is a destination wedding photographer who has worked in over 70 countries. This career balances his two great passions--photography and travel--perfectly. Of course, being a traveling photographer also presents its unique challenges.

In addition to having to get on a plane to earn his money, Beckstead points out that he rarely meets his clients until he gets on the job. To overcome that challenge, "I find ways to sell my lifestyle and business to clients," he says. "I get them excited about who we are and what we do." And one thing that has helped him do this successfully is his style, a style that potential clients view as his brand.

Developing Your Own Style with Him

In fact, Beckstead believes so strongly in the importance of bringing out and refining your style that he is teaching a class about it at Imaging USA! He'll share tips on how to create a style that is unique to you in his "Power Style: Developing a Dynamic & Compelling Style" class on January 17, 2012.

You'll learn how to be yourself, press the shutter for you, create art, be different and find your style. "Plus, you'll be able to wrap it all up into a brand that sells who you are and how you shoot," Beckstead promises.

So, get ready to build your confidence, develop your own style and much more at Imaging USA in New Orleans from January 15-17. As Beckstead says, "Anyone who doesn't go every year is crazy!"

"There is just no other place in the world where you can get the Imaging USA experience!" hebeckstead3.jpg exclaims. "It is amazing what you can learn if you keep your eyes and ears open to new and exciting concepts. It may be something small. But that small idea can turn into a big money-making business decision that takes you in a whole new direction."  (And he would know, wouldn't he?)

Read more about David Beckstead here.
Read more about Imaging USA here.


ALL IMAGES © DAVID BECKSTEAD
granger_stacey_blog.jpgIf you want to grow your business, the perfect time is almost here--the holidays. Stacey Granger, owner of Life Art, believes that the holidays are the best time of the year to grow your photography business. Her upcoming PPA online class ("Grow Your Business Over the Holidays") will share her tips for doing just that!

During the holidays, Stacey concentrates on reaching new prospects and upselling, upselling, upselling. For example, her special holiday base package is only $89. "As low as it sounds, it gets new clients in the door to try our services, and it has repeatedly led to large upsells during the proofing session and residual sales after the holidays."

Of course, residual sales don't happen without some effort on your part. See how Stacey encourages them in her own business:

  • Contact clients in January--"Many busy families focus on just their holiday gifts in the beginning, so I reach out to them in January. I find that many are ready to consider their own portrait purchases during what is typically a terrible month for photographers!" explains Stacey.
  • Offer fantastic holiday cards (with your contact information included)--Stacey's studio offers a large selection of holiday cards. "We find that new clients reach out when they receive our cards from their friends."
  • Require online viewers to sign in with an email address to see images--This helps Stacey add them to her mailing lists for the new year.

To see why and how these holiday growth tips--and many more--work for Stacey's company, don't miss her online class September 27 at 2:00pm ET.
Georgia-area photographers looking for freelance help with services such as web design, marketing and public relations will want to consider attending Freelance Forums' Portfolio Night on October 6, 2011.

This yearly event showcases the commercially published works of Freelance Forum members. A variety of professionals will be displaying their work at the event, including graphic designers, web designers, copywriters and marketing and public relations specialists, among others.

Portfolio Night will be held from 6:00 - 8:30 p.m. at The Solarium in Decatur, Georgia's Oakhurst Village business district. Admission is free.

Visit freelanceforum.org for more information.
Twenty members of the Professional Photographers Society of Greater Washington captured 46 near mystical moments in lesser-known landscapes around the nation's capitol. Now through December 2011 visitors to the Dulles International Airport "C" Gateway Gallery may enjoy these unique reflections of modern Washington -- images even DC natives will find fresh and inspiring.

blanken_blog.jpgCurated by the Arts Council of the Washington Metro Transit Authority, this fine photography exhibit titled: "Washington: More Than Monuments" aims to invigorate appreciation for the natural beauty of the metro area and the creative mastery of its local photographers.



"Washington is far more than government architecture and monuments to dead presidents," says Robert N. Blanken, CPP, Cr. Photog., president of PPSGW. "This exhibit tells the compelling story of a vital, richly diverse and captivating community from the Chesapeake Bay to the Blue Ridge, from Baltimore to Mt. Vernon."

Displayed through large (36x48"), full-color light boxes in the connector walkway between the AeroTrain C-Gates station and Concourse C, the pictures vividly divulge each artist's perspective on local environs. "One of the challenges of being a photographer is that almost everything has been done before. So what does today's photography artists have to contribute?" asks Blanken. "The job is to free up something from reality and bring it into a picture so you create something more memorable that adds to the appreciation of what you photograph. The scene calls you as the photographer. You're in a dance with the scene, an adventurous interaction with the environment."

IMAGE © ROBERT BLANKEN
Dear PPA member,

How did I find my dentist? Referral. Hairstylist? Referral. Doctor? You got it--referral. I rely on the people I trust to steer me in the right direction, and so far, I've been happy. These people knew what I was looking for and how much I was willing to pay, and I knew that I would get great customer service from their referrals.   

When potential clients come to you and you're booked, can you still provide great service? Yes, and that could mean offering them an alternative via a referral to a photographer you trust will provide them with more great service. (No one can replace you, but...)

I consider it "paying it forward," but you should consider it good business. Of course, knowing the right things about the photographer you refer and developing a group of such photographers you trust enough to refer will help in the long run. This week's Vital Signs will hopefully steer you in the right direction.

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience
iusa2012_bite_blog.jpgEver feel swamped? Stuck in a rut? Are your sales and marketing campaigns toothless? You don't have to stay mired down. Bypass the bayou of blandness and kick your photography up a notch at Imaging USA in New Orleans!

Our world-class instructors will help you do just that by sharing their proven techniques on everything from increasing your bookings to lighting in any situation. In fact, we've added some new classes just this week! (Keep checking the schedule because the final instructors are being added as they come in.)

The Imaging EXPO vendors will also display and demonstrate a host of items that could spice up your offerings. And sharing the good times and good ideas with others who love this industry will only help you reconnect with your photographic passion!

Register now to sharpen your business skills and hone your creative edge, so you can swallow your competition whole. 
Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® 3 is one piece of software that can greatly help photographers manage their workflow. However, if you don't know what you're doing, you may not be using the program to its maximum efficiency. That's why you need Ty Swartz, of Ty Swartz Photography in North Parlin, New Jersey. Swartz will show you how to use this software more efficiently this Super Monday, thanks to his own experiences.

Swartz began his first photography business in 1995 in Norfolk, Virginia, while on active dutyswartz1.jpg with the Navy. However, his interest in photography began much earlier than that.

Finding Photography
When he was 12 (and before he had Adobe's Lightroom software!), Swartz began photographing the family dog with an old Polaroid. His parents eventually recognized that he had some talent for photography and upgraded his camera when he was in junior high school.

A group of cheerleaders then asked him to take their pictures for the school yearbook...and he did, with not-so-fantastic results. "After the film was processed, I discovered that not one of the images came out!" he says.

Instead of becoming discouraged, Swartz took to the local library and read all he could about photography. There, he discovered "Two Views of Manzanar" by Ansel Adams and Toyo Miyatake. The book showed photos of the living conditions of Manzanar, an internment camp where Miyatake himself was imprisoned during World War II.

"I was captivated by the impact that photos had on history," Swartz recalls. "It was with this passion that I started to photograph everything I saw."

swartz4.JPGWhile in high school, Swartz was mentored by another professional photographer who told him that if he wanted to learn how to take photojournalistic images, he should join the Navy as a photographer. So, he attended the Naval School of Photography to become a Photographer's Mate, learning to get the perfect exposure and images in focus.

Building a Photography Business
Today, Swartz specializes in bringing the photojournalistic style he developed as a naval photographer to senior, wedding and engagement portraits.

"I love photojournalism because you get to use so many techniques and are able to challenge yourself during each shoot," explains Swartz. "I believe that repetition helps make a good photographer, but being able to master a variety of techniques and know when to use them and when to break the rules is key. And the plus is getting people to forget that a photographer is taking their pictures!"



 

swartz2.JPGBuilding and maintaining any business has its difficulties, though. Swartz has moved several times throughout the years, and one of his challenges has been re-establishing a customer base each time. "It seems that each move is about re-establishing that base...and the trust your customers have that you are going to take care of them," Swartz says.

"The Internet is invaluable in these situations. I use Facebook, Twitter and online storage to ensure that customers from around the world have access to their images," he adds. "This really helps when my customers talk about my photographs, and potential customers see the care, passion and dedication I have when it comes to customer service before and after the shoot."

Managing a Photography Business...with Good Workflow
Of course, if you don't have a good workflow, managing a photography business can be a challenge whether or not you move! Luckily, Swartz has some well-earned advice and tips to share with you. Attend his "Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3: Workflow from Shot to Print" Super Monday class on October 24 in North Parlin, New Jersey, to learn how this software can make your workflow easier.

"I believe that photographers will learn solid file management from the time images are put intoswartz3.jpg the computer and maintained in their RAW state while artistically creating new images," Swartz says of his class.

So, get ready to take your Lightroom skills to the next level this Super Monday!

Learn more about Swartz's class and browse more Super Monday classes in more locations at www.ppa.com/education-events/sm_new.php. Read more about Ty Swartz here.

Super Monday is an educational program sponsored by PPA every spring and fall. These daylong, interactive workshops are conducted in locations around the country, allowing PPA members to earn merits for sharing their craft and enabling all photographers to learn new skills and develop professional networking contacts.


ALL IMAGES © TY SWARTZ

Have you read the "How We Did It" and "Ask the Experts" columns in Professional Photographer? Heard success stories from PPA's Studio Management Services clients? Many of those photographers' turnarounds happened in part because of information from the Benchmark Survey.

After all, the Benchmark Survey is what PPA and SMS base their financial and business guidelines for photographers on. It's helped hundreds of photographers! And we need YOUR help to make it even better this year.

Help others. Help yourself. Participate in the 2011 Benchmark Survey!
  1. Complete the Participant Demographic Questionnaire.
  2. Gather a few financial documents into a folder on your desktop.
  3. Upload those documents and file to PPA by October 31.

Participate by October 31 to Win:
  • Drawing for TWO all-inclusive trips for two to Imaging USA 2012 in New Orleans
  • Personalized financial analysis of your studio compared to the 2011 Benchmark results.
  • Benchmark webinar to guide you through the results (including a free download of the PowerPoint and other materials used during the webinar)
  • Advance copy of the survey report
kelleher_blog.jpgGood sales are an important part of a profitable photography studio. So, if you want a selling process that promises good numbers almost every time, tune in to PPA's online class with Julia Kelleher, CPP, on September 20: "The 5 P's of In-Person Sales: The Must-Haves for High Profits."

"Each one of the following five P's plays a critical role in ensuring high dollars in the sales room," explains Julia. "If all of them are strong parts of a studio's makeup, it's hard NOT to have a good sale."

The 5 P's of In-Person Sales:
  1. Pre-consultations
  2. Products
  3. Pricing
  4. Projection sales
  5. Policies

Do you feel strong in all five P's? Which one causes you the most stress? "Each photographer has different strengths and weaknesses, so what is hard for one may be easy for another and vice versa," notes Julia. For example, she says that those who aren't the best conversationalists may have more difficulties with the pre-consultations or sticking to their policies. For those who are numbers-challenged, pricing can be really difficult.

"Regardless of which 'P' is the most challenging, it's important to be good at ALL of them," reminds Julia. And that's why you shouldn't miss her PPA online class! "Once you have a system in place for the 5 P's, you'll be able to bank on consistent sales that meet your happy money place. And what a secure feeling that is!"

Dear PPA Member

We all love a good deal. I'm a huge fan of charity auctions because I get to do two of my favorite things at once: shop and donate to a worthy charity! However, if you're a photography studio donating to a charity auction, you need to be on your toes.

The right wording on your certificate can make it a success and bring you more clients. The wrong wording could land you in a spot of trouble. But don't worry--this week's Vital Signs helps you create the perfect charity auction certificate with a little help from your fellow PPA members!

After all, you may be an angel when you donate your services to a charity, but the devil is almost always in the details.

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

P.S. We've got a new Extreme Deal from Animoto for our members: Buy 1 month of Animoto Pro, get 1 month free. Deal is valid through September 30.

onOne Software, Inc., has announced the release of Perfect Photo Suite 6 along with new products Perfect Effects, Perfect Portrait, Perfect Mask, and an update to Perfect Layers. All products in the Perfect Photo Suite 6 now work as standalone applications in addition to working directly from within Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Apple Aperture and Adobe Photoshop.

Giving photographers intuitive tools that work where they do, the Perfect Photo Suite 6 now offers solutions for photographic effects, portrait retouching, creating and working with multilayered files, replacing unwanted backgrounds, image resizing, depth of field control, and edge effects, in one affordable package. The Perfect Photo Suite 6 includes Perfect Effects 3, Perfect Portrait 1, Perfect Mask 5, Perfect Layers 2, Perfect Resize 7, FocalPoint 2 and PhotoFrame 4.6.

With this new version of the Perfect Photo Suite 6, photographers can now move effortlessly between individual applications within the Suite and have complete flexibility to use the products where they work. The Perfect Photo Suite 6 now operates not only as a plug-in for Photoshop but also as a standalone application. This additional functionality means that the Suite can be used directly within Lightroom and Aperture without the need for a separate host application as was previously required. Perfect Photo Suite 6 will continue to include full support for Photoshop CS5 and CS4 with many of the products now functioning as Smart Filters.

Perfect Photo Suite 6 includes full versions of the following onOne Software products:

Perfect Effects 3: Perfect Effects builds on the popularity of PhotoTools to provide an even faster and more powerful way to create images with impact. Perfect Effects 3 includes a complete library of professional photographic effects that can be previewed live, full screen, on an image before being applied. Perfect Effects 3 now includes blending options that provide even more control over how effects are combined and applied.

Perfect Portrait 1: Perfect Portrait is a completely new product that offers the latest innovations in portrait retouching for photographers. Photographers can now focus on the art of retouching and portrait creation because the most time consuming tasks have been automated in Perfect Portrait. Perfect Portrait automatically finds faces and features in images so that photographers can get directly to the work of retouching and enhancing an image. Improving skin texture and color, removing blemishes and enhancing features like eyes, lips and teeth have never been easier.

Perfect Layers 2: Perfect Layers allows photographers to combine photos for endless creative options. Create and edit multi-layered files with Perfect Layers directly from Lightroom and Aperture, or as a standalone application. All Perfect Layers files can be edited in Photoshop later. Perfect Layers is the heart of the new Perfect Photo Suite 6.

Perfect Mask 5: Perfect Mask 5 is the next generation of Mask Pro, the leading software for background replacement. Perfect Mask takes the core strengths of Mask Pro to another level, by automating many common masking tasks with incredible accuracy. Perfect Mask's new masking technology makes selecting subjects and isolating backgrounds surprisingly easy. With Automatic Background Removal, an initial mask is made on the image and can then be fine-tuned using the Erase and Refine Tools. With these new features, high quality masks can be created in just a few clicks. Perfect Mask 5 makes masking tough subjects like hair and glass on complex backgrounds easy.

Perfect Resize 7: Perfect Resize 7--powered by Genuine Fractals--is the industry standard for image resizing. It is renowned across the photographic and printing industries for its ability to increase image size well over 1000% without the loss of sharpness or detail that is normally expected. The patented, fractal based interpolation algorithms work like nothing else and the results speak for themselves.

PhotoFrame 4.6: Add the perfect finishing touch to images and layouts with PhotoFrame. With over one thousand design elements like film edges, borders, textures, backgrounds and adornments, PhotoFrame 4.6 even has complete layouts where users can simply drop an image in and they are done. It is the easiest and fastest way to add an authentic darkroom touch with a film edge or to create beautiful albums or scrapbook pages.

FocalPoint 2: Like bringing the camera lens inside Photoshop, FocalPoint 2 gives photographers the best way to add the most realistic depth of field and selective focus control to any image after it is photographed. Photographers now have an incredible amount of flexibility and control over the look of the blur with FocalPoint 2's new blur algorithm, FocusBrush, Lens Presets and multiple FocusBug features.

Availability
The new Perfect Photo Suite 6 will be available in late October 2011. Owners of the Perfect Photo Suite 5.5, Plug-In Suite 5 or earlier versions, can upgrade to Perfect Photo Suite 6 for $149.95. Perfect Photo Suite 6 is available to new users for $299.95. Customers who own one or more of the products in Perfect Photo Suite 6 will be able to upgrade as well by visiting http://www.ononesoftware.com/upgrade/. For more information on the Perfect Photo Suite 6, visit http://www.ononesoftware.com/.

For those that have purchased the Perfect Photo Suite 5.5 on or after August 7, 2011, onOne Software will issue a complimentary upgrade to the Perfect Photo Suite 6 via download when it is available in late October 2011.
Nik Software has announced the release of its much-anticipated Color Efex Pro 4, the company's latest version of its popular digital photographic filters for retouching and creative enhancements. Recognized for over a decade as the professional's choice in photographic filters, the 55 total filters of Color Efex Pro 4 offers a new generation of technologies and features for creating stunning effects. Color Efex Pro 4 introduces stackable filter combinations, visual presets, filter recipes, and new filters such as Detail Extractor, Vintage Film Efex, and Image Borders. The release also includes a new History Browser, improvements to imaging algorithms, greater performance, and enhanced usability. To watch videos and join special live online preview sessions, visit www.niksoftware.com/colorefexpro

The latest evolution of Nik Software's U Point technology in Color Efex Pro 4 provides easy-to-use tools for photographers to fine-tune and stylize their images with precise selective adjustments without complicated selections and layer masks. Filter effects can be added or subtracted from images with incredible precision, using a few clicks of the mouse. Enhancements are automatically blended throughout an image for natural results. Color Efex Pro 4 also takes full advantage of the latest graphics processing units (GPUs) and multi-core processors for responsiveness and fast processing.

Key New Features:


  • Filter Combinations--Add multiple filters at once, adjust opacity, and make selective adjustments to get the desired look
  • Brand New Filters--Detail Extractor, Dark Contrast, Vintage Film Efex, Natural Image Borders, and much more
  • Visual Presets--Each filter contains single-click starting points making it possible to explore creative options quickly
  • Style Recipes--Customize and share filter combinations with others, using recipes
  • History Browser-- Facilitates intuitive comparison of previous edits and different looks
  • GPU Processing and Multi-Core Optimization--GPU Processing takes full advantage of the processors found on advanced display adapters providing even faster performance
  • Interface, Interaction, and Workflow--Benefit from interface and interaction improvements to filters, zoom controls, shortcut keys, and much more

Pricing and Availability

Color Efex Pro 4 will be available directly from Nik Software, through specialty camera retailers, and through online and national resellers in October 2011. A list of Nik Software resellers may be found at www.niksoftware.com/resellers.

Two versions of the software will be available: The Color Efex Pro 4 Complete Edition contains 55 filters with a suggested retail price of $199.95. The Color Efex Pro 4 Select Edition contains 26 filters with a suggested retail price of $99.95. Upgrades to the Complete Edition from any edition of versions 2.0 or 3.0 are $99.95. Customers who purchased Color Efex Pro or a Complete Collection bundle on or after August 7, 2011 are eligible for a free upgrade. Registered customers will be emailed instructions for accessing their free software. To pre-order Color Efex Pro 4, visit www.niksoftware.com/colorefexpro

Color Efex Pro 4 is Windows and Mac compatible and installs as a 32-bit and 64-bit plug-in for Adobe® Photoshop® CS4 or later, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom® 2.6 or later, Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 or later, Apple® Aperture® 2.1.4 or later. For more information about Color Efex Pro 4, including video tutorials, feature lists, and special live online preview sessions, visit: www.niksoftware.com/colorefexpro.
You asked for more time, and we listened. We've extended the deadline for participating in PPA's Financial Benchmark Survey until October 31.

Many PPA members say that PPA's Financial Benchmark Survey results have helped them make smarter, more profitable business decisions. And as if that isn't enough of a reason to participate, you still have over a month to win prizes! Participate by October 31, and you'll be in the drawing for TWO all-inclusive trips for two to Imaging USA 2012 in New Orleans. Plus, everyone who takes part by that date will get a free, personalized financial analysis of their studio compared to the 2011 Benchmark Survey results, a webinar about the results, and an advance copy of the survey report.

As with any survey, the more who participate, the more accurate the results will be. It's good for both you AND the industry, so join in by October 31! Get started now...
laura_cottril_smheadshot.jpgHave you heard the term, "deceptively simple"? It describes those things that seem easy at the beginning but can end up causing you difficulty if you don't realize all that's involved to do them right. Cases in point: natural lighting and running a home-based photography business!

As Laura Cottril, CPP, of Laura Cottril Photography in Walnut Creek, CA, well knows, both natural lighting and home studios can challenge photographers. And that's why she's providing a Super Monday class where you can learn to improve your skills in those areas!

Building a Business with Joy
Although Cottril left the advertising world to open her photography business eight years ago, she says that she became curious about photography long before then...as a child growing up in Hawaii.

"I wanted to learn how to take photographs like those I saw in magazines of beaches, flowers, mountains and people," Cottril remembers of her early interest. "My sister and I would 'model' for each other and photograph the neighbor kids as well. I find it funny that I had this passion in me that early, and I still took the long route to get here professionally."

Eventually, Cottril was inspired to open her photography business by the birth of her son. "Icotrill1.jpg wanted to capture his moods, personality and story through photographs," she adds. And it seems she's never lost that desire because for her, the real joy of photography comes from being present in the moment and being able to capture those moments with her camera.

"I love when I connect with my clients emotionally through photography. It creates a scenario similar to connecting with someone I love," explains Cottril. "My images are better, my client's experience is better--everything is better!"

Expanding a Business with Balance
While Cottril's business originally focused on baby and maternity photography, it has since expanded to include both family and children's portraiture.

"I always said I would grow my business as my family grew. And it turns out that as my kids get older, I'm attracting more and more clients my kids' ages," Cottril says happily. "I love watching the family dynamic at play. The personalities and the spontaneous and often humorous interplay is a gift to see."

cotrill2.jpgOf course, with an expanding business, she is challenged with balancing her family life with managing her studio. To keep this balance, she focuses on marketing toward higher-end clients that will spend more money per session.

"Initially, my goal was simply to get more clients, pushing my total sales toward a certain financial goal. Now, my focus is on maximizing each client and marketing toward higher-end clients so my average sale goes up, and I am not as pressured to shoot more sessions," she explains.

To find these higher-end clients, Cottril partners with other local businesses for marketing campaigns. One recent partnership is with a landscape architect who plans to give her best clients a gift certificate for Cottril's photography.

"The intention is for me to photograph the family in their newly landscaped yard," notes Cottril. "To further the value to our businesses, we will ask the families if we can use the images on both of our websites."

Sharing Business & Lighting Skills at Super Monday
Want to collect more of the tips that have helped Cottril navigate her home-based photography business, including how to capture great images anywhere with natural light? Don't miss her "Natural Light Photography & the Home-Based Business" Super Monday class in Walnut Creek, CA on October 24.

"I hope that I can show photographers the possibilities of choice in running a home-based business," she says.

And those choices include how to keep things simple with natural lighting, which can be ancotrill3.jpg essential skill for a home studio. As Cottril explains, "I photograph with natural light, and much of the time I work at my client's homes or a location special to them." In fact, she'll demonstrate how she works with natural light in her home AND what I she looks for in an outside environment.

So, get ready to build up your skills for better lighting and better business!

Learn more about Cottril's class and browse more Super Monday classes in more locations at www.ppa.com/education-events/sm_new.php.

Super Monday is an educational program sponsored by PPA every spring and fall. These daylong, interactive workshops are conducted in locations around the country, allowing PPA members to earn merits for sharing their craft and enabling all photographers to learn new skills and develop professional networking contacts.

Read more about Laura Cottril here.


ALL IMAGES © LAURA COTTRIL

"I believe it is important to know how our industry is doing," says Susan Hoermann, M.Photog., CPP, of Evergreen Studios in Texas. She believes in that so strongly that she has participated in every single Financial Benchmark Survey PPA has offered. And this time, she also received an additional payoff...in the form of a free iPad!

But that wasn't really the reason she participated, although it's nothing to scoff at! Instead, she refers to how being a survey participant has helped her see how her studio compares to others nationally. (All participants receive a free analysis of their studios compared to the Benchmark Survey results, a webinar about the results, and an advance copy of the results.)

"Although different types of businesses in different locals vary, the Benchmark Survey has been a good way to measure our costs to an industry standard. It gives us an overview snapshot of where our industry is headed, what is an acceptable cost of goods sold and where other businesses are," Susan says about how she's used the PPA benchmarks in the past.

"It also lets me see how the market is changing," she adds. "I have a retail business and expenses have gone up while net profit has gone down; whereas, in home-based studios, the last Benchmark Survey showed just the opposite was occurring. I will remain a retail business, and it helps to see where the expenses changed so I can address those changes."

Receiving that kind of knowledge and guidance made it more than worthwhile for Susan to gather her financial documents for the 2011 survey.  She calls it a "great measuring stick" for her own business, and believes it's extremely important for more photographers to take part.

Want to see the Benchmark Survey results pay off for your own photography business? It's as easy as 1-2-3...and you have until October 31 to participate!

Participate by October 31, and you'll be in the running to win an all-inclusive trip for two to Imaging USA in New Orleans!
potts_emily_blog.jpgWhich studio type is right for you--home or retail location? Emily Potts, CPP, the owner of Emily Potts Photography, will share her reasons for choosing a home-based location (including how she's made her choice more profitable than ever) in her upcoming PPA online class "Home for the Holidays."

For one thing, don't assume that a home-based location means you can't target the high-end market! Potts is proud to run the highest-end photography studio in her market area. Two years ago, she had the opportunity to lease a beautiful retail space. Deciding instead to keep her business at home was one of the smartest things she did, and the years following were her most profitable yet.
 
"One of the most obvious benefits of having a home studio is the significant savings I realize in my overhead costs. While the expense of leasing space is a big one, simply having a storefront will not necessarily bring me additional clients," explains Potts about her decision. "I leverage the money I save by investing it back into marketing efforts, which I know will attract new clients. I also invest in showering tons of love on clients who have come to me in the past, encouraging both repeat business and referrals." (And she'll discuss how in more detail!)

Another reason that Potts loves being "home for the holidays," so to speak, is the visual testimonials she can provide. Clients are able to see how great wall portraits look as part of a room's design. As she says, "Seeing a series of portraits displayed over a couch or console is something they can relate to and visualize for their own home environment."

Yes, that is something that a retail studio can do, but the impact can be even greater when it's the photographer's home. Potts can show clients how she uses--and adores--her own family portraits.  They are able to see her portraits used as part of her home décor, which proves she really believes in what she's selling.

"I truly do get much more enjoyment out of the many large canvases and framed prints showcased in my home than I would from small gift-sized prints, and I am able to show clients that," Potts says. "They hear me talk about the joy a particular set of canvases can bring, and I know they see it on my face when I show them my own series."

Those are just a few of the ways that Potts leverages her home studio to increase her sales average and loyal client base. Want to learn more? Join her online September 13 at 2:00pm ET!
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, professional photographer members of the Professional Photographers' Society of New York State Inc. (PPSNYS) will work together to capture New York's resilience and unity. Called "Project 9/11," the PPSNYS initiative will involve members of the association taking photos throughout New York State on Sunday, September 11, 2011.

During this 24-hour period, the association will capture the spirit of New York's resilience and unity through the eyes and lenses of its over 400 professional photographers. Participants will be photographing people and events from Montauk to Buffalo, Jamestown to Plattsburgh.

The ultimate goal of Project 9/11 is to produce a piece of living history, demonstrating the power of visual media to capture and document the emotions, people and events in this brief moment in time. And PPSNYS is harnessing the talents, minds and hearts of some of the finest people in the photographic profession to make it possible.

Participants will submit their photos to the Project 9/11 Committee, who will evaluate them. The photographer with the winning photo will be honored at the 2012 Photo North East Convention and Trade Show, taking place March 24 - 27 in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

For more information about Project 9/11, please contact PPSNYS Headquarters at 518-434-9500 or headquarters@ppsnys.com.

About PPSNYS: The Professional Photographers' Society of New York State Inc. was formed solely to instruct its members and the public in photography and to create, foster, promote and encourage the exchange of knowledge among its members and the public. PPSNYS is a society dedicated to the advancement of photography both as a science and an art. Members are encouraged to develop the highest standards of professionalism, ethics, business practices and customer relations.

Dear PPA Member,

Would you ever take an extended trip to a foreign country not knowing how much money you'll need to bring, what to pack, where you'll stay, or what you'll do once you get there? Probably not. That would leave a lot up to guesswork and plain old luck. Hopefully, you have a plan in mind--or a travel agent who takes care of it for you.

Even more than a long vacation, your business requires careful planning (not spontaneity). You don't want to just guess and go with the flow when it comes to running your business! Luckily, PPA's Financial Benchmark Survey is like a vacation planner for your business, and today's Vital Signs article will show you why. For example, it can help you make decisions about where you want to go, what you want to do, and how much money you'll need to get there.

Start using the PPA Financial Benchmark tools today to make your business a success, and you might soon head off on a much-deserved vacation to celebrate...

Cheers!
Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

P.S. We've got a new Extreme Deal from Animoto for our members: Buy 1 month of Animoto Pro, get 1 month free. Deal is valid through September 30.



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