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PPA Today: November 2011 Archives

November 2011 Archives

Join the Houston Guild, December 4-5, 2011, for networking, trade show deals and education from speakers like Doug Box, Kirk Voclain, John Woodward, Richard Sturdevant & Doug Gordon! There's even a CPP Certification Exam held on December 3, for those candidates aiming for certification. Learn more at www.ppgh.org.
Have you purchased new equipment in 2011 (or will you)? If so, don't forget to take advantage of IRS Section 179! It's the deduction that allows you to expense almost any type of new equipment (including software) that you use in your business, as long as it is placed in service by December 31, 2011. This means that the entire cost of the qualifying equipment will be deducted from your current 2011 taxable income.

There's still time for you to fulfill your holiday wish list of new equipment (and put it in use) to qualify for this deduction. Plus, if you're a PPA member, PPA Affinity Partner United Funding can help you get such equipment with very little out-of-pocket cash, thanks to their leases and loans. PPA members even get a 2% rebate of the cost of equipment with United Funding! (And since United Funding doesn't report to the credit bureaus, your credit scores or ratios will not be adversely affected.)

Here is an example* of the money that you can save by taking advantage of Section 179:

  • Equipment cost:  $10,000.00
  • Approximate Monthly payment (48 Months): $300.00
  • Tax Savings (assuming 25% marginal tax rate): $2,500.00
Learn more about this member benefit--getting started is as easy as completing the online credit application.

*Keep in mind that this example is only intended to explain the tax benefits under this provision. It is advised to consult with your tax professional to determine the accuracy of the calculations and whether or not your purchases would qualify.
Ready to help a child smile? It's easier than ever with PPA Charities' Double Smiles Month for Operation Smile. Now your $240 donation will save TWO smiles, not just one!

A small group has issued a challenge to all PPA members to help raise $25,000 by the end of 2011. This "PPACH Leadership Circle" pledges to match, dollar for dollar, all PPA member contributions up to a total of $25,000! Plus, that $240 donation earns you the title of PPA Charities Operation Smile Studio (and all the resources that come with it). Learn more about this charity, the challenge and how you can help: www.PPAcharities.com 
Russell and Paula Jensen of South Dakota and Babe and Arlene Sarver of Arizona have a few things in common. They own photography studios, are PPA members, believe in the power of the PPA Benchmark Survey resources...and are the 2011 PPA Benchmark Survey's grand prize winners of the all-inclusive trips for two to Imaging USA!

The Benchmark Survey Pays Off
Both the Sarvers and Jensens have used the previous Benchmark Survey resources to help their businesses, and this all-inclusive trip is an added bonus.

For example, the Jensens used the Benchmark resources to build their studio's budget. "These are essential tools for photographers who actually want to make a living doing photography!" says Paula. "They help studios understand how much money should be coming back to the photographer and where they should be budgeting."

"Rather than plan in a vacuum, the Benchmark resources enabled us to compare our status to other PPA home studios. And for the first time, it was easy to identify our strong and weak areas," add the Sarvers, who used the Benchmark as a blueprint for their planning process. "It showed us where we were out of range from the norm and gave guidelines for improvement."

Heading to Imaging USA
The trip the Sarvers and Jensens won will help them continue to push their art and businesses forward--that's one of the purposes of Imaging USA!

"Imaging USA lets us see what is working for other studios and marketplaces and then decide how to implement the best aspects into our own business," says Paula. For example, she's looking forward to the "Business Breakthroughs" pre-convention class, and Russell is eager to "get the nation's pulse in photography" (along with seeing his first Loan Collection image displayed in the International Photographic Exhibit)!

And the Sarvers are doubly excited for Imaging USA. "After attending our first Imaging USA, we decided it was the conference not to be missed," they say. But it wasn't looking like a viable option this coming year...until they won the all-inclusive trip! Now they are looking forward to "taking back to our studio those important elements that will set us apart," from artistic and technical elements to business know-how.

Grab that business know-how yourself--join these winners at Imaging USA and check out these Benchmark resources.
braniff_2011head_blog.jpgConsidering starting a baby plan at your studio...or are you struggling with the one that you already have? Join Farrah Braniff, Cr.Photog., CPP, next week for an online class on everything you need to know to get a "baby's first year" plan started (or make it even more profitable) at your studio. Over half of Farrah's business is from her own popular baby plan, so tune in to overcome seasonal lulls and keep business flowing into your studio all year long!
DxO Labs has announced the November 30, 2011 availability of DxO Optics Pro 7, a major new release of its leading image-processing software for demanding photographers. This new version, released simultaneously for Windows and Mac systems, redefines the standard for image quality, achieves batch processing up to four times faster, and offers a considerably optimized interface and workflow.

DxO Optics Pro 7 supports five additional cameras with this release: Fujifilm X100, Nikon P7100, Sony Alpha 77, NEX-C3, NEX-5N, and includes more than 300 new DxO Optics Modules.

Based on a unique, ultra-precise modeling of each camera-lens combination, DxO Optics Pro 7 automatically corrects optical defects. The software integrates the most powerful RAW converter and noise reduction technology on the market, as well as sophisticated tools for optimizing color and exposure. During batch processing, all algorithms intelligently adapt to the content of each image for a perfect result and unequaled productivity.

The Most Advanced Optical Correction Technoligies On The Market

DxO Labs has optimized many features of DxO Optics Pro 7 to help serious photographers obtain high-quality images from their JPEG and RAW files.

The Lens Softness tool, exclusive to DxO Optics Pro, is based on DxO Optics Modules and compensates for lens softness by applying a gradual correction across the field to achieve a uniformly sharp image. Thanks to the ultra-precise information provided by DxO Optics Modules for each camera-lens combination, this correction is optimized and ideally adapted to each and every pixel. Based on its ability to analytically read the image, DxO Optics Pro 7 can perfectly preserve the bokeh while avoiding the creation of artifacts in homogenous or out-of-focus zones.

DxO Optics Pro 7's Unsharp Mask tool has a new "Edge Offset" slider that allows users to manually adjust the progression of the correction in the field. This means that even in the absence of a DxO Optics Module, photographers can obtain crisp and uniform sharpness from the center of the image field right to the edges.

Finally, the Protect Saturated Colors tool offers the possibility of restoring a significant number of details and of recovering rich textures in highly-saturated zones. The selectivity of this feature has been improved in DxO Optics Pro 7 for even greater efficacy and better preservation of unsaturated colors. The default preset now includes this feature.

Batch Processing Up To Four Times Faster


In addition to the progress made in providing even better image quality, there have been multiple improvements to DxO Optics Pro 7's engine to greatly increase processing speed.

Thanks to better system resource management, the use of OpenCL technology on Windows platforms, the harnessing of graphics card computing power, and many optimized algorithms, DxO Optics Pro 7 can process batches of photos up to four times faster than previous versions.

An Improved User Interface
 
While retaining the fundamental assets that have made the software such a success (powerful and precise automatic corrections, intelligent presets), DxO Optics Pro 7's workflow has been simplified to provide greater ease of use.

Management by project is now optional: users can select images for processing right from their hard drive's directories. The addition of editing features makes it possible to sort, rename, move, copy and even delete photos in DxO Optics Pro 7.

Three tabs now guide users through the entire workflow. The corrections preview in the first tab allows users to start processing immediately and thus save a remarkable amount of time.

Batch treatment has gained greater flexibility for Windows users: it is now possible to run multiple processing sessions simultaneously, even while customizing other photos. The Macintosh version takes advantage of Mac OS X Lion and offers several Multi-Touch functions (zoom, full-screen view, scroll photos, change tab).

More Supported Cameras And Lenses

DxO Optics Pro 7's automatic corrections rely on a wide library of DxO Optics Modules, developed at DxO Labs, based on a precise analysis of each combination of camera and lens under all shooting conditions.

A recent process breakthrough in DxO Optics Module development will enable DxO Labs to greatly increase its productivity. DxO Labs expects to reach the threshold of 5,000 available modules by the end of 2011, and has set a goal of reaching 10,000 modules by the end of 2012.

DxO Optics Pro 7 includes more than 300 new DxO Optics Modules and supports these additional five cameras: Fujifilm X100, Nikon P7100, Sony Alpha 77, NEX-C3, and NEX-5N.

A True Digital Photo Laboratory

As with previous versions, it includes:

  • A powerful RAW converter coupled with a noise reduction engine (luminance, chrominance, dead pixels, colored noise, color moiré...), even at the highest ISO settings, to automatically enhance textures and details.
  • Sophisticated corrections that rely on DxO Labs' preliminary calibration of photographic equipment in its laboratories.
  • An single-shot HDR feature that offers the possibility of creating an HDR image from a single RAW or JPEG image file, thanks to exclusive exposure and contrast optimization technologies that allow users to recover a large number of details in over- or underexposed parts of their images.
  • An optional DxO FilmPack plugin that allows users to faithfully reproduce the aesthetic signature of more than 60 legendary films rolls on their RAW and JPEG images.

Availability And Special Introductory Offer
DxO Optics Pro 7 for Windows and Mac will be available on November 30, 2011, in the DxO Labs online boutique (www.dxo.com) and at photo resellers at a special introductory discount valid until December 24, 2011:

DxO Optics Pro 7 Standard Edition:
$99 instead of $169
DxO Optics Pro 7 Elite Edition: $199 instead of $299

Photographers who acquired a license for DxO Optics Pro 6 on or after September 1, 2011 are entitled to a free upgrade to version 7. Other users can take advantage of a special discount on all upgrades from now until December 24, 2011, directly from their customer account.
Make your plans to attend Imaging USA before December 1, and you'll save $50 on buddy pass registration for you and one or two friends. After December 1, all buddy pass prices will increase by $50. So, register early and bring a little extra cash for the goodies on the Imaging EXPO floor!
PPA Charities Many photographers helped PPA Charities commemorate 11.11.11 (also Veteran's Day) by raising over $7,750 for Operation Smile on that special day. PPA Charities President Mary Fisk-Taylor adds, "To all who donated, you helped prove how much photographers care for others. We thank you for your generosity." Don't worry, there are more chance to help Operation Smile this year--just visit ppacharities.com!

And don't forget to celebrate charity and take part in the auction at the PPA Charities Celebration at Imaging USA.

Most photographers get into this industry because they love creating art. However, PPA understands that not many photographers have a deep passion for financial management, price lists, marketing research, business plans and other such tasks!  

Managing those parts of a business is a challenge for many photographers because it is not what comes naturally. That's why PPA established Studio Management Services (SMS):  to provide members the knowledge and tools necessary for operating a successful photography business.

Workshops

Want to learn the ins and outs of running a successful photography business? PPA members can turn to SMS Business Workshops: Business Basics and Business Breakthroughs. The Business Basics workshop is designed to teach emerging studios the essentials of running a photography business, from legal financial requirements to pricing for profit and more.

The Business Breakthroughs workshop helps established studios take their business to the ever elusive "next level." This three-day workshop combines a small-group learning experience and a one-on-one consultation with a business mentor and a PPA accountant. It's an advanced course on mastering financial management, branding, marketing, pricing and sales strategies.

Consultations
In addition, SMS provides members the support they need to keep their business on the path to success with consultation services. An SMS Consultation teams you with an experienced business mentor and a PPA staff accountant. They evaluate your business, work closely with you to develop a business plan, and provide valuable financial and marketing support. SMS also offers Ongoing Consultations as a routine guidance and support service to continually help you fine-tune financial management, marketing, pricing and sales strategies.

Benchmark Resources: Tools for Profitability
Along with these benefits, SMS is the "brains" behind PPA's Benchmark Survey, the first and only study providing a financial analysis of the photography industry. The Benchmark Survey reveals why some studios are so successful, why others fall short on profitability, and what pitfalls to avoid. Exclusively for PPA members, we've developed these Benchmark resources to help studios more easily understand critical insights and apply them to their businesses.

Read more about this PPA benefit (Studio Management Services) here.
nordstrom_lori_2010_blog.jpgYou've probably been there. The point where you realize you either have to price for profit or go back to doing photography for fun. But it's not an easy change to make, as Lori Nordstrom, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, knows.

"We all go through the same stage--starting with friends and family to 'build our portfolios," she says. "But there comes a time when we have to take ourselves out of the equation and look at the numbers. We have to evaluate our costs of sales, overhead and other expenses to determine our pricing, instead of pricing by how good we think we are or are worth."

But it's an easy spot to get stuck in, and that's why she's presenting a new PPA online class November 29, "Philosophy of Pricing" (at 2:00pm EST). Join her to learn how to...

  • Raise your prices when the time comes.
  • Sell to your clients (at those higher prices).
  • Prepare clients for the order appointment.
  • Walk clients through the process (making suggestions and ensuring they are happy with their decisions in the end).
This could be just what you need to become more profitable...and raise your prices without scaring off your clients!
duncan_headshot_blog.jpg"Life is too short to not be doing what you love," says Cris Duncan, Cr.Photog., CPP. For him, that means photography! "One thing that I am most proud of is that Deanna and I can do what we truly love and feel we've been called to do...and support our family doing it."

But doing what you are passionate about doesn't mean you'll only see sunshine and roses. Like every business endeavor, there are hurdles to overcome: lack of confidence, industry changes, competition, getting stuck in ruts, etc. Cris and his wife Deanna are coming to Imaging USA to help you beat back those challenges and reignite your photographic passion!

Find Your Passion
The Duncans have operated C.J. Duncan Photography in Lubbock, Texas, since 2002, offering high-end commercial, portrait and wedding photography. Since opening their business, Cris has photographed one president, two vice presidents and done work for large companies like Frito-Lay and Bayer.

Despite these high-profile clients, Cris says that family portraits are still his favorite type of duncan1.jpg work. "We both believe that these portraits will help reinforce the love and relationship that these families have," he explains.

"I feel you need to do something you are passionate about," Cris adds. "Your clients will see that love and passion you have for your job, and that experience is counted to them as value. We are passionate about families and helping preserve them in any way we can."

Improve with Your Passion
Like many photographers, Cris admits that the biggest challenge his business faces is keeping up with the constant change in the industry. And he is constantly working on new techniques, styles and product offerings to stay competitive.

"But there is a difference between changing what you do and adapting to do it better," he explains. "That is where learning comes in. Learning is not gaining knowledge but taking the knowledge and making adjustments to what you do to improve."

duncan2.jpgOne way Duncan overcomes the challenge of competition is by using his unique lighting techniques to create a signature style. He's even known as a "MacGyver of Light," and will discuss lighting tips and tricks that work for them at Imaging USA...along with other business strategies!

"We will be providing some quick 'kick-start' ideas that can be applied immediately and with little effort to help propel one's business," says Cris about that upcoming class. "Most importantly, we will discuss how confidence and having a different perspective on ourselves and those things around us can transform who we are as photographers and serve as a catalyst for our business and our craft."

Ready to make the necessary adjustments in your own business to live your passionduncan3.jpg successfully? Don't miss the Duncans' "Become the Photographer You Want to Be" Imaging USA class, sponsored by Miller's Professional Imaging.

Read more about Imaging USA here.

Read more about the Duncans here.


ALL IMAGES © CRIS DUNCAN

The senior portrait market has become one of the more uncertain areas of professional photography. There are still great opportunities in this field, and many studios around the country are managing both good volume and strong sales. However, few other retail photographic specialties have been impacted by amateur photographers and part-time pros more than senior portraiture.

"The public isn't educated about professional photography," says Shawna Anundi of Eric John Photography. "Everyone is a photographer now, and a lot of people simply don't understand the difference between the amateur shots Uncle Bob takes and the professional images created by a real pro. As professionals, we need to re-educate our clientele, not only on the art in professional photography but also on the value of that art."

This situation has caused a shake-up in the senior portrait market with many longtime pros forced to re-evaluate the traditional business models. But sometimes change is good. Where innovation thrives, success often follows. Many of the flourishing studios that we've seen have found an express lane to profitability by making a few tweaks to long-established methods.

Read more in this week's article.

dxolabs_blog.jpgDxO Labs has announced the immediate availability DxO FilmPack 3.1, the latest version of its famous silver halide simulation software. DxO FilmPack 3.1 adds a line of 25 new creative renderings and an improved user interface.

DxO FilmPack 3.1 brings to photos all the emotional impact of silver halide photography. Using an intuitive interface, photographers can apply the characteristic tint, grain, and rendering of a traditional silver halide film type to any digital image, regardless of its source. Thanks to DxO Labs' advanced calibration technology, DxO FilmPack 3.1 offers a renderings palette for 62 film types --positive and negative color, black & white, and cross-processed.

25 New Creative Renderings

DxO FilmPack 3.1 (Expert Edition) offers a line of 25 new creative renderings.
 
Vintage effects, color nuances, sepia variations, partial desaturations: each rendering is based on a very subtle combination of grain intensity, film style, vignetting, and color filters -- "intelligent" renderings for outstanding images.
 
Users can use the same settings as for film renderings to fully customize each creative rendering, thus offering the possibility of numerous possible combinations. Batch processing allows for a huge increase in productivity.

Sharing The Impact

Thanks to DxO FilmPack 3.1's large number of presets, photographers can give free rein to their creativity by combining, for example, the color settings of one film rendering with the grain of another, thus creating their own personalized film look. A new import rendering function included in the Expert Edition of DxO FilmPack 3.1 lets DxO FilmPack users share one another's customized film looks. Users can simply import custom renderings, rename them, and save the parameters of intensity, grain, contrast, and so on in their own settings library to apply to their own images.

An Intuitive Interface For Unlimited Exploration

Designed to satisfy both beginners and experts, DxO FilmPack 3.1's easy-to use interface allows users to freely explore all the possibilities of the film and creative renderings provided.
 
Thanks to its resizable filmstrip-style preview system, DxO FilmPack 3.1 allows users to better visualize renderings before applying them to their images.
 
DxO FilmPack 3.1 now offers a full-screen mode for greater comfort. Among the many other improvements to the interface, the channel mixer now incorporates color sliders, making their use even more intuitive.

Availability and Special Year-End Offer

Both the Essential and Expert editions of DxO FilmPack v3.1 are now available for purchase in the DxO Labs online store (www.dxo.com) and at photo resellers at a special discount from now through December 24, 2011:

  • DxO FilmPack 3 Essential Edition: $49 instead of $79
  • DxO FilmPack 3 Expert Edition: $99 instead of $129
  • DxO FilmPack 3 Expert Upgrade from DxO FilmPack 1 or 2: $39 instead of $49
As a business owner, you're probably always looking for a way to save money on the products you need to run your photography business. So before you make a purchase, why not check your PPA benefits? PPA has negotiated multiple discounts for members, and we can help you save on items from computers to car rentals!

One such member discount is for something crucial to the success of many photographers: Adobe software. As a PPA member, you qualify to save 15% on all orders placed through the North American online Adobe Store. Key benefits of getting your software through this program include:

  • All standard commercial Adobe products are eligible for the savings.
  • The more you get, the more you save (you receive a percentage discount off your total order).
  • Save on shipping by ordering the downloadable version, and benefit from instant registration as well.

Members can read more about the Adobe discount here.

In addition to the Adobe store discount, PPA and Apple have teamed up to bring members the Apple Association Member Purchase Program. This program gives you preferred pricing on the latest Apple products and accessories. Program benefits include:

  • Special member pricing on Apple and third-party products
  • Exclusive promotions
  • Complimentary shipping on all orders over $50
  • Free engraving on all new iPod and iPad models
  • Mac customization
  • Flexible business financing options

Read more about the Apple Association Member Purchase Program here.

PPA is also a member of the Allied Business Network (ABN). The ABN allows you to receive discounts such as office supplies, travel, promotional products, printing, and more. Here are just two examples of the wide variety of discounts offered in this program alone:

  • Discount on every car rental from Hertz and a complimentary membership in the Hertz #1 Club Gold.
  • Discounts on hotel stays at all of the Wyndham Hotel Group's properties.

Read more about the Allied Business Network benefit here.

And that's not the end of the sweet savings you'll find here. PPA also has discount deals for many other business services you can use in your everyday work...discounts with vendors like Collages.net, FedEx, Office Depot, Animoto, onOne Software, Nik Software and Graphic Authority. Read about all these discounts on the Benefits page...and start lowering the cost of running your business!
If you're a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP)--or have been contemplating pursuing your certification--Imaging USA 2012 is the place you need to be! Here you'll find special classes just for CPPs, an informational session that can answer all your CPP questions, a CPP booth on the Imaging EXPO floor, a three-day Certification Prep Class and, of course, the Certification Exams.

As usual, the Certification Prep Class (Jan. 12 - 14, additional fees apply for this pre-convention class) will help you cram and be at your best for the Certification Exams. Those exams are held 9:00am - 11:00am Jan.  15 - 17, but you must register separately for them at least five business days before.

And to help you get the most certification love out of Imaging USA, this year we've added even more.


At Imaging USA, we pride ourselves on providing exactly what professional photographers need to grow in business, and that includes certification...and help in getting the most out of it!
kennykim_head_blog.jpgKenny Kim never intended to be a wedding photographer. "It just sort of fell into my lap," he says. Originally, he started photographing collegiate sporting events, where his love of photography grew and he became almost obsessed with learning its technical aspects. Then, the members of the 800-plus member church he attended began referring wedding couples to him.

"I fell in love with wedding photography after covering a few of those weddings and have not looked back since then," Kim adds.

Since establishing his wedding photography business, Kenny Kim Photography, in 2006, he has quickly become a nationally recognized name in the industry. He was recently named one of Destination Weddings & Honeymoons magazine's A-List photographers and has written two books on wedding photography, "The Wedding Photographer's Planner" and "Digital Wedding Photography Photo Workshop." And he's getting ready to share his expertise with you at Imaging USA!

Becoming a Destination Wedding Photographer
During his class at Imaging USA, Kim will share what worked and what didn't as he grew hiskennykim_1.jpg business...specifically his destination wedding business. His first destination wedding (in the Bahamas) happened early in his career, and the referrals have been multiplying ever since.

"It's such a festival event, and with each wedding, I feel privileged that my clients would entrust me to capture their special day," Kim says. Today, he shoots about 20 weddings a year, half of which require him to travel. He has captured over 150 weddings throughout the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, Asia and Europe.

Travel to Overcome Challenges
Kim says that his biggest challenge is dealing with the constant change in the photography industry (in both technology and trends).

"We're often tempted to refuse to conform to those changes," he explains. "But we have to constantly motivate and fuel ourselves to stay hungry and grow as a photographer and in business."

Kim credits the traveling he does for his wedding photography work with helping him stay motivated. "Traveling is the best education one can have," he adds. "I am always learning about myself and my character when I observe the lives of people from different cultures, and somehow they become life lessons that I apply to my business."

kennykim_2.jpgTravel is so important to Kim that he recently started a workshop called "PhotoVentures to Italy" to show other photographers what he's learned from his trips as a destination wedding photographer...and he's coming to Imaging USA , too!

Sharing Success
If you're thinking of getting into the destination wedding photography business--or want to improve what you're already doing--don't miss Kim's "Confessions of a Destination Wedding Photographer" Imaging USA class, sponsored by Kodak, on January 16.

He'll share what has worked for him in networking and marketing, as well as some of the mistakes he made when starting out and the lessons he learned from them. If you want to break in to this exciting field, this is the class for you!

Read more about Kenny Kim here. Follow him on Twitter and view his Facebook page. Readkennykim_3.jpg more about his books here.

Read more about Imaging USA here.

ALL IMAGES © KENNY KIM

The results of the 2011 Summer Shootout are now in and congratulations go to Peter Lik. His image "Inner Peace" earned this year's Grand Prize award.

View the winners from the Commercial/Advertising, Wedding/Event, Portrait and Open categories here.

Congratulations to all of this year's winners!
tamronmomtomom.jpgThere's a reason why Mom often doesn't appear in the family photo album: She's usually the one taking the pictures. Tamron USA, Inc., leverages the unique photographic perspective of this dynamic demographic with the debut of its Mom-to-Mom Project, a series of photo exhibits that feature technical tips and artistic inspiration from image-making moms. The exhibits, which focus on a new theme each month, are designed to encourage other moms to experiment with their cameras, lenses, and accessories to hone their own photographic skills.

Moms take significantly more photos than the general population and exhibit unique photography preferences and behaviors, according to InfoTrends' "Spotlight on Moms" series. Participants on Tamron's Mom-to-Mom panel share their own personal approaches and tips to the craft by photographing a family-centered "assignment" with select Tamron lenses, including the Tamron 18-270mm Di II VC PZD 15X lens, SP 70-300mm Di VC USD lens, SP 90mm F/2.8 Di macro lens, and SP 17-50mm F/2.8 Di II lens. Panel photographers upload their images, as well as behind-the-scenes commentary and techniques, to the Mom-to-Mom portal, located on Tamron's MyPhotoExhibits (MPE) site. The Mom-To-Mom exhibits are accessible from the MPE home page under featured exhibits. Tamron USA updates its Facebook page when each new themed exhibit goes live.

Visitors are encouraged to contribute their own photography comments and concepts. "We designed the Mom-to-Mom exhibits to serve as a fun, interactive venue where moms brainstorm with and glean ideas from other mom photographers to boost their confidence when creating their own family memories," says Tamron Chief Marketing Officer Stacie Errera.

The inaugural exhibit for November 2011 features the photographers' favorite way to get their kids to smile. Upcoming themes scheduled through the end of 2012 include holiday card photos, youth sports, multigenerational portraits, and special event photography such as birthdays and back-to-school imagery. 

charities1111_blog.JPGEvery day, thousands of children suffer with facial deformities. Make 11.11.11 the day you help such children smile again!

You can when you help PPA Charities meet its Operation Smile fundraising goal this year by 11.11.11. A unique date like this comes around only every 100 years. So, make it count by designating it your fundraising day--your day to save smiles! If every PPA member donated just $11.11 on that day, we would raise enough money for over 1,000 children to receive the facial surgeries performed by Operation Smile's medical volunteers (doubling our previous donations)!

Every little bit can help save a smile. Plus, donations of $111.11 and above will receive a PPA Charities t-shirt AND the chance to meet and greet Dr. Magee, founder of Operation Smile, at the PPA Charities Celebration at Imaging USA! The more you donate, the more smiles you'll help save (and gifts you'll earn). Go to www.PPAcharities.com for details.

Donate now to save smiles on 11.11.11!

Clever marketing to distinguish yourself in the competitive world of pro photography

Where do I put my marketing dollars? How do I reach my potential clients more effectively? What can I do to stand out from the crowd? These are just a few of the marketing-related questions that photographers ask themselves routinely. Whether you're a newbie or a longstanding icon in your marketplace, chances are you've pondered the same questions.

We certainly don't have all the answers, but we do have access to some of the brightest thinkers in the pro photo brain trust. To inspire others, we're sharing a few clever ideas that have worked well for some studios around the country.

CPP Class: Market Your Certification to Gain a Competitive Edge
With Teri Quance, M.Photog.Cr., CPP & Audrey Wancket, M.Photog.Cr., CPP
Convention Center, Third Level, Room 356 / 357
Tuesday, January 17
5:00pm - 6:30pm


In this special class just for Certified Professional Photographers, you'll learn cutting-edge, out-of-the-box ways to market your certification. See what your peers are doing to make a difference for their businesses in their communities, and take home fresh ideas to make certification work for YOU!

Free with Imaging USA registrations to all current Certified Professional Photographers as part of their Imaging USA.
johnridgeway_headshot_blog.jpgIs your specialty photographing babies? Or do you want it to be? Then we've got someone you should meet at Imaging USA: The "Baby Whisperer." Over the past 13 years, John Ridgeway, M.Photog., has become known as the Baby Whisperer for his talent in handling his newborn photography specialty.

Finding His Specialty
Like many of us, it took John a few years to find that perfect niche. He was originally attracted to photography in college, where he was studying to be an architect (he loved photographing buildings). John's priority shifted to "people" photography after assisting a friend with photographing a wedding. In fact, that brought him to a career change.

"I did a few weddings with him and then thought that I could do this...the way I wanted. Here Iridgeway1.JPG am 23 years later," John remembers of starting his own business. He has been operating Ridgeway Portrait Design in Maryville, Illinois, since 1988 with his wife, Cheryl Ridgeway, Cr.Photog.

After being in the business for a number of years, John decided that he didn't want to shoot weddings anymore. But he "didn't know how to get out."

"My wife asked me what I would want to photograph if money were no object," says John. "I looked at the work of all of the studios around us and realized that there was a lack of good children's photography. Since I enjoyed children and enjoyed photographing them, I decided to concentrate on it."

That decision has paid off for his business over the last 13 years...even in the competitive market today.

ridgeway2.JPGLearning His Secrets
Want to learn the tricks John uses to create newborn photography that amateurs can't match? Attend his "The Baby Whisperer's Secrets Revealed" Imaging USA class, sponsored by H & H Color Lab on January 17, 2012.  

"Ten percent of making a good, quality photograph is the camera; 90 percent is knowing what to do with the camera to make that properly exposed, sellable image," John adds.

And when your subject is a newborn, there are a host of additional challenges added to mix. Attend his class, and you'll learn how John and Cheryl deal with those challenges, including their techniques for putting babies into a sound sleep so you can get a better variety of images for your clients.  

"A good photographer can take any camera and make a great photograph," reminds John. "Aridgeway3.jpg person with the 'best and most expensive' camera will still make a bad photograph if they don't know what to do with their new expensive toy."

So, get ready to wow your newborn photography clients with John and Cheryl's help!

Read more about the Ridgeways here. Read more about Imaging USA here.


ALL IMAGES © JOHN RIDGEWAY
roggi_jennifer_blog.jpgBenchmarks. What are they? What do they tell us? And why should you care? "I believe that in every endeavor, it is good to have a method for setting goals," says Jen Roggi, Cr.Photog., ABI, CBM. And that's why you should pay attention to the PPA Benchmarks. They've guided Jen, and she wants to help you learn to use them, too!

"The Benchmarks give averages and top numbers by which you can make decisions about your own company," adds Jen. "For example, I use the Benchmarks to see where the industry is going when I am planning my upcoming year, and it also helps me see how healthy and strong my business is." Once she knows that, she knows what areas she needs to concentrate on.  

Jen's seen the benchmark benefit firsthand, and that's why she wants to help other PPA photographers take advantage of this resource.

"Even seasoned photographers often struggle to make ends meet, or feel that they are working hard with little to show for it. So, use the PPA Benchmarks to analyze your business and find out where you are going wrong!" Jen advises. "Every photographer should know how to use these Benchmarks so that they can build their business to support their financial needs better than ever."

Join Jen Roggi for her online class, "Better Your Business with Benchmarks" (November 15, 2:00pm EST), as she reviews PPA's photographic benchmarks and explains how you can use them to analyze and improve your business.

Learn more about the PPA Benchmark resources here.
Your camera is a vital part of your photography business--you can't do your job without it! So, what do you do when it is damaged beyond what you can fix yourself? You have to get it repaired, but that's often quite costly. Luckily, PPA has some benefits to help members in situations like this.

Along with the new PhotoCare benefit (which offers eligible members $15,000 of equipment insurance at no extra cost), PPA has teamed up with Precision Camera & Video Repair to offer you discounted repair services. With the PPA Premier Services Program from Precision Camera, members get
:
  • 1-3 business day(s) repair turnaround time*
  • Discounted flat-rate repair pricing (10% discount)
  • Free estimate process (no diagnostics fee; return shipping applies)
  • Discounted outbound shipping on repaired units (up to $14.95 off any shipping, excluding estimate refusals)
  • 1 free gift after first repair

In addition to repair services, Precision Camera also offers PPA members a discount on infrared conversion. With the PPA Infrared Conversion Program, members receive:

  • 1-3 business day(s) conversion turnaround time*
  • Discounted outbound shipping on repaired units (up to $14.95 off any shipping, excluding estimate refusals)
  • Point & shoot infrared conversion ($149 + S&H)
  • EVIL/Micro 4/3rds format infrared conversion ($229+ + S&H)
  • Digital SLR infrared conversion (APS Sensor) ($269 + S&H)
  • Digital SLR infrared conversion (Full Frame Sensor) ($299 + S&H)

Ready to keep your camera in tip-top shape with these great PPA member benefits, designed to help professional photographers like you stay (and thrive) in business? Members can read more about the benefit and how to place an order here.

*Turnaround time may be longer than 3 business days if parts are not readily available to complete the repair.
Imaging USA has released a mobile app to help you get the most out of Imaging USA in New Orleans, January 15-17, 2012. The app is available for iPhone, iPad, Android phones and Blackberry phones. You can download it for FREE now from the Apple App Store and Android Market, and Blackberry users accessing the mobile site http://iusa2012.crowdcompass.com/apps from their Blackberry device will see an option to download the app.

Ready to navigate your way through all that Imaging USA has to offer pro photographers? We've put everything at your fingertips with these great features:

  • Imaging EXPO floor map and product directory (coming soon)
  • Detailed schedules, class, speaker and room info
  • Favorites--where you can pick favorite classes or exhibitors to help plan your schedule and time on the EXPO floor
  • Local map with convention hotel locations
  • Imaging USA updates via built-in messenger
  • Twitter Feed--to follow the show buzz
  • Contact--to help you connect and network with your fellow Imaging USA attendees
Download the app today and get ready to make it big at Imaging USA in New Orleans!

We like to think of PPA Today (both this newsletter and the printed section in Professional Photographer) as a way for members to help members with marketing, sales and business ideas and challenges. With that in mind, we'd like to hear what's top of mind for you in 2012. What's your biggest business concern right now? Once we compiled everybody's choices, we'll start looking for members who have been there, done that, and can help you get control of your biggest concerns.

Thumbnail image for SBS logo.jpg

Small Business Saturday is a national initiative that marks a day to support local businesses (like photographers!) that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. There are free tools to that you can use to spread the word as a small business yourself, too. Just visit Facebook.com/smallbusinesssaturday to grab them (and don't forget to share the love and give shout-outs to your favorite local shops, restaurants and partner businesses!).


charities1111_blog.JPGEvery day, thousands of children suffer with facial deformities. Make 11.11.11 the day you help such children smile again!

You can when you help PPA Charities meet its Operation Smile fundraising goal this year by 11.11.11. A unique date like this comes around only every 100 years. So, make it count by designating it your fundraising day--your day to save smiles! If every PPA member donated just $11.11 on that day, we would raise enough money for over 1,000 children to receive the facial surgeries performed by Operation Smile's medical volunteers (doubling our previous donations)!

Every little bit can help save a smile. Plus, donations of $111.11 and above will receive a PPA Charities t-shirt AND the chance to meet and greet Dr. Magee, founder of Operation Smile, at the PPA Charities Celebration at Imaging USA! The more you donate, the more smiles you'll help save (and gifts you'll earn). Go to www.PPAcharities.com for details.

Donate now to save smiles on 11.11.11!
jenkins_andrew_head_blog.jpgRunning a photography business is not as easy as it looks. Not by a long shot. You need photographic talent, a mind for business and numbers, the ability to wow clients during their entire experience and more if you really want to succeed. But the thought of what it takes to succeed isn't what draws us here. We come because of a passion for the art, and it's up to us to learn and grows the rest of the skills needed to thrive. Imaging USA is a great place to do this, thanks to instructors like Andrew Jenkins, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, who will be sharing what helped him succeed with his senior clients.

Building Success
Andrew remembers growing up in a town where one photographer photographed everything.jenkins1.jpg "Every time I saw him, he would take my picture and I would give him an envelope with money in it. I figured, hey...this guy must be rich!" Of course, it wasn't quite as easy as collecting envelopes with money in them, but he has thrived in his own way.

"Creating images that I know people cherish and enjoy having in their homes and sharing with their friends is thrilling to me," he says.

He loves working with people like that, which is why he chose to focus on portrait photography. Andrew's  first session was for a high school senior almost 17 years ago, and he has run his own portrait business (Canfield Jenkins House of Photography in St. Johns, Michigan) since he graduated from college with a degree in photography.

Like many, Andrew admits that his biggest challenge is setting himself apart from the competition. While earning awards like the Michigan Photographer of the Year (2005 and 2007) and being named one of the Top Seven Michigan Photographers has helped set him apart, he knows the real key is making sure clients have a great experience.  

jenkins2.jpg"That's why I not only meet their expectations, but also take it a step further," he explains.

Sharing That Success with You
Do you want to surpass expectations like Andrew does? Do you want to keep the high school senior portrait portion of your business thriving like his is? Then come early to Imaging USA for one of his pre-convention classes.

On January 13, he'll share what has helped him succeed in the senior business (from products to sales tips and more) as one of the speakers for the "Ideas & Imagery to Make Senior Profits Soar" pre-convention class. The following day, he'll be one of the speakers for the "Hands-On Photography: Family, Children & Seniors" pre-convention class. This class will be a hands-on shooting demo that will help you understand the simplest ways to light and pose high school seniors in the studio and on location.  

"You'll learn how to give clients a great experience while keeping the shooting as simple asjenkins3.jpg you can so you have more time to connect with them," Jenkins adds about the latter. So register for Imaging USA now to give your senior photography business a boost with his help!

Read more about Andrew Jenkins here. Read more about Imaging USA here. Pre-convention classes are available for additional fees.

ALL IMAGES © ANDREW JENKINS
Competition is a great way to earn recognition for your work, and it can also be helpful for improving your skills as a photographer. It's a win-win! That's why you should consider entering PPA's annual International Photographic Competition (IPC).

Entries to IPC are judged based on a standard of excellence, not against each other. The guidelines for judging are known as the "12 Elements of a Merit Image." By following these guidelines, you're not only likely to do well in competition, but you'll also find yourself capturing better images more consistently.

"Without a doubt, participating in photographic competitions in an ongoing basis continues to hone my eye, my camera skills and my post-processing skills," adds Sam Gardner, M.Photog.Cr., CPP. "It is one of the most valuable returns on investment I can think of to grow skills as a professional image maker."

In addition to helping refine your skills, IPC can also help you earn a PPA degree. If your entry reaches a certain level, you will earn a merit (a point) toward a PPA degree. These degrees recognize a level of commitment and skill in photography that can help you to stand out from the competition. (Read more about PPA's merits and degrees here.)

Finally, if your image scores high enough at IPC, it could go "loan." Your image will then become part of the PPA Loan Collection, which is included in the International Photographic Exhibit at Imaging USA and is published in a book. It's a great way to earn recognition among your peers and customers alike!

So, start preparing those images for the next International Photographic Competition in 2012. You'll see for yourself how this competition is a true PPA benefit...good for more than just awards to hang on your wall.

Read more about the International Photographic Competition here, and don't miss "The Power of Competition" class at Imaging USA on January 15. 


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