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PPA Today: July 2013 Archives

July 2013 Archives

theLoop, PPA's exclusive social network for professional photographers, has been aflutter with the release of the new app for iPhone and Android devices! Now you can stay connected on-the-go with your pro photographer community, asking (and answering) questions, share ideas and even submit images for a peer critique! theLoop is only available to PPA members, so don't worry about asking those tough questions you wouldn't want your clients to see! 

For those of you who are new to theLoop, or those who haven't had a chance to check-in lately, there are some great discussion threads going for July. Here are 5 of our favorites:

1. PPA Members: How should I handle this with my client?
Getting stuck in the middle of a client's family strife? Check out how your fellow photographers navigate the muddy waters of family relations, threatened blackmail and bad press.
2. Marketing: FB Likes
If you're a newbie to Facebook, or just frustrated with a lack of likes and engagement, this thread is for you! See how your peers find their clients, increase their fan base and stay connected. We bet you'll "like" it!
3. PPA Members: Flaming Balls
Unfortunately, this one isn't nearly as inappropriate as you might think, but if you're a sports photographer, you might be interested in lighting your client's sporting equipment (i.e. balls) on fire. Debate the pros and cons of rubber cement, gelatinized fuel and more options to set your images apart!
4. PPA Members: What's the next big investment in your business?
Whether you've been in business for a month, a year or a decade, you're always looking to invest in your future. Join this thread to see where others are putting their resources for their next great move!
5. Post-Capture: Thoughts on editing services
What are your thoughts on getting away from the computer and spending more time behind the camera, doing what you love? Outsourcing your editing can be a touchy subject--weigh in with your opinions here!

So there's just a few of July's most-talked about discussions. If you don't see one that applies to your needs or interest, then dive in and find the right community or discussion for you! Or be a leader and start a new one!

Lisa Asp, CPP, owner of Tangerine House of Design in Edina, MN, was recently one of the first-ever winners of a Polaroid Prestige Award at the Northern Lights regional competition in St. Paul. Polaroid is supporting the professional photography industry with six new print competitions at PPA state and regional conventions. The Polaroid Prestige Awards are awarded to images that represent elite photographs and digital art in three categories: Portrait, Wedding and Illustrative.


Do you have something you want us to brag on? Tell us here.
Imaging USA might be 24 weeks away (yes, we are counting down), but we already have a stellar line up of industry professionals ready, willing and able to help you elevate the level of your photography. Steve Kozak,  M.Photog.Cr., CPP, of Steve Kozak, Photographic Artist, in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area will be back as one of our pre-convention speakers. 

Steve's class, "The Secrets to Success When Turning Pro" focuses on the transition to becoming a full-fledged professional starting a photography business. 

"I expect [attendees] to walk away with a clear understanding of their role in the craft of photography.  They will learn the pursuit of excellence is not optional and that the work we do has value--professional photographers can make a great living," said Steve. 

Like many of you, Steve doesn't take the term "professional photographer" lightly. 

"Being a professional photographer carries with it a responsibility to always deliver at the highest level of quality and service, and to never stop learning something new.  The rewards are greater than most can ever imagine and the personal satisfaction is over the top! I never take it for granted."

Some of that personal satisfaction comes from hearing about other photographer's successes. At Imaging USA, Steve's favorite interactions come from talking to former class attendees.

"I love those moments where I run into a former student who shares their success story and how far they have come after attending one of my classes." 

Steve has plenty of opportunity to find those students; he has been a leader in the photographic industry for over a decade. 

"This will be my 11th year speaking at Imaging USA and it is one of my career highlights. I love watching photographers learn how to take their passion and turn it into a profession. It is very gratifying watching others succeed while following my path towards success. I have been inspired by so many others before me, it is quite an honor to follow in their footsteps and give back to others."

So what keeps him coming back alongside newcomers and experienced pros alike? It's because Imaging USA combines the education you need to get started and stay on top with the networking and collaboration that the industry thrives on. Some folks go because they are starting out and need all the help they can get. Others, already in business, need some strategic help and guidance. And most everyone thrives on a triple shot of inspiration, creativity and energy boost. There are nine tracks during the conference, and a wide variety of pre-convention courses. This is THE only convention for all photographers, regardless of your specialty, location, or size. 

Networking is a key at Imaging USA (or any conference!). This is where you connect with real people who will later be able to help you from afar. There are plenty of opportunities to spark these connections, even before the conference. Check out the Imaging USA Facebook or Twitter pages or head to the Imaging USA Community on theLoop and start hunting for a roommate or a dinner partner. 

With all of the wonderful memories from so many years of experience - one moment stands out for Steve. 

"I think [my most memorable moment] might be the first time I walked through the print exhibit and saw some of my prints hanging in the show.  I knew then that I had made it and that I belonged," Steve said. "Getting my Master's Degree was pretty cool, too!"

We've been talking a lot about social media lately with our "Be More...Social" blog series. So far, we've provided some social media tips for photographers on why you should get involved with social media (and the lingo you should know), the top six social platforms to consider using and how to develop a social media strategy. 

We hope these blog posts have gotten you pumped up to be involved with social media (or if you're already involved, we hope you got some great ideas), but if you're looking for even more social media advice, consider watching the PPAedu online course "Best Practices for Social Networking." 

In this course, instructor Lindsay Adler, who authored the book "Social Networking Essentials for Photographers," will share her 10 best ways to be efficient and effective with your social networking efforts. Topics she'll cover include Search Engine Optimization (for more SEO advice, watch the "Pitfalls of SEO" course with Brett Snyder, Director of SEO at Nebo) and how to become a resource for your target audience. 

So what's PPAedu? It's the latest member benefit from PPA - a personalized, online education platform with over 150 HD videos available 24/7 and more being added every month! If you're a PPA member the video of the class is available to watch at your convenience 24/7... at no extra cost. For those who aren't PPA members, you can always subscribe to PPAedu and enjoy this big educational buffet. 

On the PPAedu dashboard, once you answer a series of questions that focus on your business, you'll get your personalized recommendations for courses in four technical and four business categories of online courses. You'll then be able to watch any of these courses, tutorials, classes, coaching sessions, etc. on-demand for free, as long as your PPA membership or PPAedu subscription is valid.

If you're still wondering if this is the right educational platform for you, check out how some PPAedu users feel about it:

"I am so excited about the educational videos being a part of our membership. I have purchased them in the past and they were getting costly to keep up. I really feel this value added benefit will make me a stronger photographer!" - Angela Singleton 

"It only took watching one video to get me hooked! I got a lot of what I have been wanting to learn. Very excited!" - Andrea Taylor, CPP

"The whole PPAedu experience is a lot of fun. It is hard to believe this is included as a member benefit. Wow!" - Stewart Powers, M.Photog.Cr., API

"I took the PPAedu self-assessment and I have to tell you that this is a fantastic idea. Thank you PPA and PPAedu instructors for sharing your knowledge with the rest of us. If you haven't seen this yet I highly suggest you take a look." - Paul Robinson

Ready to get started with PPAedu? Join PPA or subscribe to PPAedu to take the self-assessment now and access the courses. 
It's week three of our "Be More...Social" series! In week one, we covered why on earth you need to be on social media (and what's the proper lingo) and last week we discussed the top six platforms to consider utilizing in your social media strategy. Social media strategy you ask? Welcome to week three!

Social media strategy is the thorough process that goes into your posts, tweets, and shares. Think of social media as something that needs to continually be optimized--how can you improve your efforts when you have no way to track or measure them? That's where strategy comes in!

There are some pretty simple steps to create your strategy, and numerous websites to help you track your successes and opportunities for improvement (let's avoid the word "failure").

1. Determine Your Goals

What do you hope to get out of social media? What goals do you want to accomplish? 
If you're not sure where to start--here are some common goals and objectives small businesses usually turn to social media for:
  • Branding: General company/brand recognition is huge, especially for photographers. You don't want to be "that guy over on Main know...what's his name?"--You want to be you! You want (and need) to build a brand identity to get word-of-mouth recognition going. 
  • Attract new clients: Utilizing social media to drive traffic to your pages or website/blog will help attract new clients and customers. Also, by listening closely (we covered that week one) - you can see who is in the market for your work and seek them out. By handling social media in a professional manner, it will allow your personality and your work to shine. 
  • Build a following: By creating dynamic content, you'll be giving your customers a reason to talk (positively) about your brand! They will share your content and voila! Their friends become your fans and followers and you become a likeable, recommendable, in-demand photographer. 
Pro-tip: Make your goals as measurable and reasonable as possible. It would be ill-advised to say your goal should be to double your Twitter followers in a week (unless you only have a handful)--but increase by 5% over a month's time might not be a bad place to start! Or you can equate your goals with more inbound inquiries--more phone calls, emails or requests from your website can be tied back to building your brand and attracting new followers! Give them a reason to follow you. Peak their interest with behind the scenes shots or stories, promotions or special offers, color or dressing tips, etc. 

As time goes on, track your progress with spreadsheets or fun (free) infographics from places like! They allow you to see how your Facebook content has reached the masses, or how you're stacking up to your competition on Twitter. 

2. Know Your Clients (Both Present & Prospective)

Last week we discussed who is on what platform - and hopefully that directed what sites you're planning on leveraging. Now, drill deeper to see who your audience might be!
  • Understand your target market's point of view and activities: Think of your target demographics--age, gender, income, location, as well as interests and priorities. When you post on Facebook, you can segment by many of these demographics and really hone in on who your post reaches. 
  • Consider influencers, buyers and end users: This is key--especially with senior portraits! You have the senior (end user), buyers (parents) and influencers (senior's friends/social circles) to contend with! 
  • Consider your audience's social media behavior: Do they lurk? Do they share? Do they create? Each type of social media user can be engaged in a different way. Know your market to see how you can best leverage your reach.

3. Choose Your "Hot Buttons"

These are your studio's main content topics. Keep it to three - five different themes depending on your studio's product offering. They will differ from studio to studio, but remember to keep them relevant to the work you do so they are optimized for your market. 
  • Create an editorial calendar: We'll go into this more next week, but know you should have a place to create content in bulk so it's less work on the fly. 
  • Brainstorm ideas: Using these themes, bring in your most creative thinkers and collaborate how you can best utilize these themes in fun, interactive ways!
  • Offer a variety of content formats: Text posts are not nearly as popular as images. You're a photographer -use your work! Also consider utilizing your Instagram images on Facebook/Twitter or creating a YouTube video to share "behind-the-scenes" action. 
By sticking to your themes, it will help your pages develop a rich content source that will help you more dramatically achieve your target goals.

4. Set Your Limits

If you're not careful, social media can be a black hole of time. Ever start looking through your newsfeed to see what you're clients are up to and end up 15 pages deep on Buzzfeed? Don't worry, you're not alone. Set time limits and stick to them! Maybe set aside 30 minutes, twice a day to start. Or utilize services such as Meltwater an RSS feed--they scan the web for your company's name (or other key words) and bring the results to you!  It eliminates the time-suck that can happen when you hop over to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, but it also costs a pretty penny. 

5. Plan Your (Human) Resources

Next (big) question: who will handle your social media? If you're in business by yourself, with no additional help, this is a really easy answer! If you have a bit bigger of an operation, it's important to set clear expectations of who has access to the admin rights, how those rights are to be used and what happens if they blow it (they won't blow it, but just in case). It's usually not the best idea to have the intern running your image, so pick someone who knows you, knows your business and can handle some nonsense (FYI: people can be jerks on the internet). 

It's usually helpful to set some social media guidelines and rules for etiquette. We have our set of rules for PPA and if folks violate them there is a clear expectation of what happens. Same goes for your page! If someone is making inappropriate comments, don't be afraid to boot them off. Creating a process on how you handle these situations is key!

Note: If someone has something negative to say about your business that has some truth behind it, leave it and respond to it. Kill them with kindness, but try not to delete those comments. That will take away the transparency of your business and you will come across as much less authentic. 

6. Measure. Improve. Repeat.

We talked about creating measurable goals in step one. Make sure as you're implementing your strategy, you have all of the tools to make these measurements. Set aside time the first of the month to see how your number of fans/followers have grown, or make sure you ask how people heard of your company when you get a new client calling. 

There are also great free analytics on Facebook (click your "Insights" box in your admin panel) to see what posts reached the most individuals, gained the most likes/shares and worked the best. Explore what made those posts great and keep it up! You can also see what needs some help and tweak it for the future. 

Last, but not least, you can set up a special landing page on your website to see how many clicks convert from all of your social platforms. Talk to your web developer to set this up for an easy way to see what platforms are working and what needs some love!

So there are the six easy steps to create your strategy from the Social Media Examiner! They may be simple, but they can take some time to implement. Dedicate an hour a day to working through this list and see where the week takes you. Next week we'll cover the planning of your posts (think content types, timing, etc.)! 

How have you implemented what's been covered thus far? What questions do you have? What troubles (if any) have you run into? Leave them in the comments!

- Sarah

This is post 3 of 7 in the Be More...Social series. Read the other posts in the series using the links below:

Here at PPA, one of the biggest challenges we hear photographers talk about is making their business stand out from all the other photography studios out there. Many of these competitors actually fall under the hobbyists' category and lack the skills and dedication of trained professional photographers. 

Showing potential clients that you have the experience, skills, and recognized status of a pro can be a huge help in setting your business apart from the competition. How can you do this? Well, becoming a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) is one sure way to show potential clients that you are a professional photographer, guaranteeing that they'll receive high quality images, unlike with a hobbyist. It also helps justify why your prices may be higher than other folks out there. 

Earning your Certification is a process that definitely will require some effort on your part. After all, you're trying to show that you are a professional photographer at the top of your game and an expert in your field! 

In order to become certified, you must pass both a written exam that covers various technical topics of photography (technical things that every serious photographer should be fluent with) and an Image Submission Review, where you'll submit your own work and show that you understand the concepts covered by the exam. 

Anyone can declare their candidacy for the CPP exam and there are no requirements to prepare for the exam. However, the technicality and depth of information covered in the exam is not for the faint of heart or beginners in photography. This is why, for those seeking to earn the CPP credential, PPA highly recommends attending the Certification Preparation Class to review these topics. That way, the topics will be fresh in your mind when you take the CPP exam! Plus, there's an optional fourth day of the class that will cover the Image Submission Review. Remember, the CPP Image Submission Review is judged differently than the International Photographic Competition. It's helpful to hear how you'll be critiqued and to learn best strategies of what work to select. 

We hosted a Certification Preparation Class at our headquarters in Atlanta from July 15 - 18 and talked to several attendees about their motivation for starting the process and how the class helped them prepare for the exam and image review.

Why Attendees Want to Be a CPP:

"Certification gives me something I've never had, and that's showing I've gone through the gauntlet learning the high standards that are required of a professional photographer. I believe that there are so many people out there today with digital cameras who call themselves photographers and I really find that it's sad because so many people are just not producing the quality of work that I feel the profession deserves." - Jim McDonald, James McDonald Photography

"When I pass the certification process, it will be a stamp of approval for my clients showing that I know what I'm doing and that's why I charge what I do. It can also help me raise the bar for photography in our area, encouraging more people to pick a real pro!" - Bonnie Jean Berg, BJB Photography

"Certification will help my marketing efforts by saying to my clients 'I can give you a great product because I spent the time and money to be certified by a panel of highly experienced and educated photographers.'" - Lisa Shorts, ImagoModo Photography

"Everyone says they are a photographer but they really aren't. Not until they know the art, they know what they are doing and they know everything about exposures and the whole gamut. That's what's going to help set my business apart and explaining that to my clients will put me over the [competitive] edge." - Daniel Douglas, Daniel Douglas Photography

What Attendees Took Away From the Class

"I can apply everything I know about shooting a picture, but trying to regurgitate it for the exam is really more complicated than people think. I know instinctively what to do, but the prep class helped me to be able to know the technical steps behind making an image, so I can take the exam and make sure that I pass." - Lisa Shorts, ImagoModo Photography

"The instructor was very thorough and covered everything in the class to help us pass the exam, and I also learned a lot of information that will help my business to be better in general." - Denise Savage, Savage Photography

"You can never know too much about photography. Even though I'm a photography instructor, the class helped keep my skills sharp and keep me aware of the 'cutting-edge' of what's going on in photography." - Jim McDonald, James McDonald Photography

"The class gave me basic information about some of the aspects of photography I've never worked with before. I was surprised to find that some of the things I didn't think I knew, I actually did. It was a neat confidence boost." - Bonnie Jean Berg, BJB Photography

So, are you ready to become certified? You can do it! Learn more about the program in the brand-new Certified section of You can also sign up for the next Certification Preparation Class, taking place at PPA headquarters October 21-23 (with the optional Image Submission class on October 24). 

Stay tuned to the PPA blog for videos featuring the thoughts of Certification Preparation Class attendees! 
Last week we started our weekly "Be More...Social" series with a piece on just the basics of social media (need a quick refresher?). This week we'll use some of those keywords and dive into what the top platforms are to market your business. We'll cover who are the average users on such platforms and how you can start to effectively engage with them. 

Before we dive in, it's key to remember two things. First, just because a social media site exists, it doesn't mean you need to be on it. Second, if you're new to social media, start off with one or two platforms. You don't need to spread yourself too thin trying to be everywhere at once. 

So where to begin? It's helpful to start by exploring the top sites in terms of reach. Here is a list of the most popular social sites by unique monthly active users (more than 100 million users). Unique monthly active users just means it doesn't matter if a visitor came to a site once or a hundred times, they're only counted once:

  • Facebook: 1.11 billion
  • YouTube: 1 billion
  • Twitter: 550 million 
  • Google+: 343 million
  • LinkedIn: 225 million
  • Instagram: 130 million
It should come as no surprise that Facebook leads the pack, with YouTube in a close second (have you seen how many adorable cat videos there are?!).  Now, just because a site gets millions of users doesn't mean those users are who you need to be focusing your energy on. So who are the average users on the sites? Read on. It's not always who you might think it is!

67% of internet users are on Facebook (72% of women, 62% of men). The highest percentage of users falls between 18 - 29 and 30 - 49 years old. Income, education and location don't matter much in the world of Facebook. Facebook is the most used site by the widest range of people.  People share their personal lives, follow brands they love and stay up to date with words, images and even play games (Candy Crush anyone?)

What this means for your studio: Facebook is a great jumping off point to get the word out about your business, regardless of your specialty. Business pages are completely free to set up. Note: set your business up as a page, not as a person. There are a million reasons why...mainly if you set up your business as a person, you have to actively accept people as your friends (there will be a lag between when they want to start seeing your posts and when they actually get to see your content). Plus, you can't advertise as a person, only a business. Finally, Facebook said not to (and you don't want to get on their bad side). 
When it comes to starting a photography business, or when shifting from a part-time to aSMS Business Basics Workshop full-time career in photography, what are the first steps you need to take? 

Don't know the answer? Fear not, you aren't alone! While many photographers have great images, they often fall short on the business side of things. You can't afford (literally!) to ignore these issues! 

PPA recently hosted a group of photographers in Atlanta on June 29-30 for the Business Basics Workshops, led by accomplished photographer Lori Nordstrom, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, and PPA mentor, Bridget Jackson, CPA. The workshop is designed to give attendees a complete background on the financial, legal and tax requirements of running a business. Attendees learn how to evaluate their business' strengths and how that relates to a pricing structure. 

All the business information in the workshop is backed up by PPA's Benchmark Survey Results (a free membership benefit!), which compares your studio averages to the industry average. This helps photographers make smarter business decisions for long-term success. Attendees even immediately walk out with tangible marketing and promotional ideas to get their business moving in the right direction! 

As June workshop attendee, Jessica Dorris, of Jessica Williams Studio, told us, "My mentor suggested the workshop. She told me it was the best next step to take from doing photography as a part-time job to a full-time job.

"I learned things I wouldn't have understood without the help of PPA, like understanding the Benchmark Survey and how I can use it to determine my cost of sales."

The main goal of PPA's Business Basics Workshop is to help you form a sustainable business plan that will allow you to run a profitable studio for many years. According to recent attendee Ernie Strickland, this goal is definitely accomplished!

"Having an art background, I've learned how to create beautiful photography, but in order to sell that photography I had to understand the business side of things too," Strickland said. 

"The workshop overwhelmed me with information about being business-minded. It showed me that to get the financial end result I want; I have to have a plan. Which seems obvious, but in real life, who really follows through? The class has helped me build that backbone plan that I can actually follow and use, not just for the short term, but also for my whole career," he added. 

Interested in attending a Business Basics Workshop? View the upcoming schedule in the PPAedu section. Or, if your business is a little further along, check out the upcoming Business Breakthroughs Workshops. You've got to be a PPA member to participate in one of these workshops, so consider joining PPA now. And stay tuned to our blog for a video featuring a-ha moments and feedback from recent Business Basics Workshop attendees!
Copiers, scanners, screenshots and printers...oh MY! These days it's all too easy for your clients to use the available technology to reproduce your work. It may feel like you're fighting a losing battle, but you're not alone. You're a member of PPA, and we are staunchly in your corner with all the copyright information you need to protect your images. We're here to educate, advocate and, if necessary, help you litigate.

What Can You Do?
Remember: Copyright is a property right. Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976 (effective January 1, 1978 and amended when the U.S. joined the Berne Convention in 1989), your photographs are protected by copyright from the moment of creation. 

You are the first line of defense in your copyright protection. We are here to support you, but we also encourage you to take some simple steps to strengthen your position. We asked Maria Mathews, Manager of Copyright and Government Affairs at PPA, to help explain 10 ways you can protect your copyright:

1. Mark your images as copyrighted
This can be done on the front or back of a print, and you can either watermark a digital image or embed your copyright in the metadata. While it is not required by law (your images are protected from the moment of creation), it is a wise step.

Even though it's no longer required by law, don't risk "orphaning" your images for the sake of aesthetics. One of the best copyright reminders to clients and retailers alike is seeing your name or studio logo.

2. Let people know how to contact you
PPA Members may use their Member ID number and PPA's number, 800-786-6277. We regularly help consumers find the creator of an image.

No matter how rooted your business is, making yourself as accessible as possible will always play in your favor when time comes for people to look for copyright permissions.

Make our Member Care Professionals (MCPs) part of your customer service team. Even if you think you'll never relocate, you can make sure clients or potential image users can always find you through PPA's call center or Find-A-Photographer search tool. Our MCPs regularly bring together copyright owners and prospective licensees.

3. Educate and inform your customers 
Your images are protected by Federal Copyright Law.

Bottom line, you're the only person who can decide who, when, and how your images are used. This means you have just as much of a right to say "no" to a client and third-party requests to use your copyrighted content as you do to license your work.

4. Use PPA's "Copyright Insert" 
You can download the Copyright Insert. These can be posted in your studio and inserted into each print order. (You can also call 800-786-6277 to purchase printed packs of 50 inserts.)

Let PPA bear some of the burden of enforcing/explaining copyright law. Use our short and easy to understand statement to support your studio's copyright policy.

5. Include a statement about copyright in your contract or other sales agreements
Infringements can then be dealt with as a contract violation, not just as a Federal Copyright case.

You never want to have to sue a client. Make sure they understand the law and their commitment to you as a client. This means putting a copyright clause in your agreements. It's often much easier for a client to understand they've broken a promise to you as opposed to a law they're somewhat removed from. If you need examples or a second pair of eyes on your clause, PPA's Copyright and Government Affairs will help you out at no cost (that's a PPA-membership benefit)! 

6. Consider including a statement with every order
The statement should remind clients that photographs are protected by copyright and that they (the customers) agree that reprints will only be ordered from the original photographer or with the photographer's permission.

If you don't put a copyright statement in your contract, you should at minimum put it on the order form or invoice. Depending on your state's laws this may not have the same weight as the actual contract but, it will indeed serve as a reminder to your client.
Again, one of the advantages of your membership is that PPA's Copyright and Government Affairs can help you with samples and basic advice there.

7. Establish contacts at local photo retailers
Visit with local store managers and urge them to keep an eye out for your and other professionally created images. They may get their feathers ruffled if they aren't well-informed about copyright laws, so approach them in a very friendly manner and open a casual, non-confrontational conversation. Often times, people just don't know. Plus, in the longer run, good relationships foster the best advocates!  

The Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau may also be helpful allies, and local media is often willing to print press releases focused on consumer education. Grassroots efforts such as these CAN make a difference. Your images are your property, so assert yourself and take the bull by the horns!

A lot of photographers have found that informing others is a great way to protect yourself!

Letting retailers know that they can easily pick up the phone to call you, or PPA, with questions is a good way to extend your sphere of protection. Make sure that store and/or photo center managers are familiar with your studio's policies. It's an important boost to their general understanding of the law and their own corporate policy. Most people will be thankful for this information.
8. Register your images
We hope you never experience an infringement but, why not give yourself a better bargaining position by ensuring your images are fully protected under the law.

Photographers often postpone or choose not to register images thinking they'll never need to defend their work, but less than 1% of photographers actually register their work. Even though registration isn't always known (unless of course you indicate as much on the print or to the client), making sure you can take full advantage of the law tells infringers (or potential infringers) you're serious about your intellectual property rights.

9. Don't close the door to licensing requests
In addition to offering up basic copyright education, remain open to your client's usage requests. Extending usage rights could be an upsell or an additional sale.

When it comes to your client's usage needs, copyright education is never ending. Make sure your clients know they can come back to you with their questions at any time. And even if you plan on saying "no," hear them out! Who knows? You might be open to the additional revenue that comes with image licensing.

10. Get Your Licenses/Permissions in writing
That old adage of putting it in writing. Aside from being the law it's good for your own record keeping purposes and a reminder to clients of what types of uses are off limits.

A lot of photographers think in good faith that 'verbal agreements are worth their weight in paper'. But while you might feel comfortable doing certain things on a handshake, copyright protections should not be one of them. The law requires you to put in writing any transfer of rights, no matter how big or small they might be. Remember, no one is above the law, so be sure you take the time to do so. PPA even makes it easy for you by making samples available.

So there you have it! Make sure you visit the Copyright Resources section of for more useful downloads and copyright information.
We're past the halfway point on the calendar to Imaging USA 2014 in Phoenix!!! Since we already showed you some of the fun Phoenix has to offer, we figured we should probably tell you where to stay, how to get there, and before you do any of that, how to register. You know--the details! 

So let's dive right in.

Where Should I Stay?

Save yourself the trouble of searching for a lower rate! PPA's already done the work and negotiated discounted rates for you during Imaging USA. And we've got three options for you!

PPA's headquarters for Imaging USA 2014. Located just minutes from Sky Harbor International Airport and adjacent to the Phoenix Convention Center, this hotel is at the center of everything. This is also Phoenix's largest hotel and will place you just minutes away (walking!) from ample dining and entertainment options. Or if you're tired from so much conference activities, you can kick back on the pool deck or in their inviting lobby bar. Three blocks from the convention center, this hotel is ideally located between everything Imaging USA and the revitalized downtown Phoenix!

The Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel is an artful urban retreat, combining the comfort and convenience of a full-service business and convention hotel. It's a big hotel with a big brand name but with the soul of a boutique hotel. You're in for a treat! The Renaissance is even closer to the Convention Center than the Sheraton (1.5 blocks!), plus, it sports a rooftop pool and is within blocks of CityScape entertainment and dining district.

Location, location, location! The Hyatt is the CLOSEST of the three hotels. You can walk from all three, but this one is about 50 steps from the convention center. You just can't beat that! Like the other hotels, it has an outdoor pool, but where the Hyatt really stands out is up top, in the Compass Arizona Grill. This rotating restaurant will give you an unparalleled 360-degree view of Phoenix. Pretty cool!

We have a block of rooms already booked at each of these three hotels to guarantee you the Imaging USA discounted rates, so be sure you tell the hotel you're part of Imaging USA to get these great rates! Plus, most everyone prefers to be where the action is, right?! By staying at the Imaging USA hotels, you'll save money, have an incredibly short walk to the conference, and best of all, you'll have a better opportunity to network with your photography friends and remain at the center of all of the activities. That's why you're going to Phoenix after all, isn't it?

Besides, even if you find a cheaper hotel option, when you factor in time and travel fees associated with staying further away (let's not even get started on parking fees!), you won't benefit as much financially as you had planned. So why miss out on the action? Imaging USA is truly made and organized for you. PPA is not making anything on hotels. Instead, savings are passed directly on to you. So make the best of this experience and stay at a host hotel!

How Should I Get There?

All Imaging USA hotels are located within 0.25 to 3 blocks of the Phoenix Convention Center and convenient to several Valley Metro Light Rail stops. You can take the light rail from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to downtown Phoenix (approximately 4 miles) for just $2.00. If you're driving in, there are several city parking garages in the area as well (but remember, those garages are run by the city and they can adjust prices as they please).

Flying to Imaging USA
The Phoenix Convention Center is located just 4 miles from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and several transportation options are available. The Convention Center has provided a Transportation Guide for getting to and from the airport via Phoenix's METRO light rail. However, other options are available.

Taxi, Limousine & Shuttle Service
Taxi rates remain the same regardless of company, number of passengers and number of bags. The first mile is $5. Each additional mile is $2.30. Each hour of a traffic delay is $23. The minimum fare is $15. Each per trip airport surcharge is $1.
Limousine rates to the Convention Center are $35.

Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport also runs a shuttle service. The shuttle is $14 for the first passenger. Each additional passenger per reservation is $7.00 regardless of zone.

Visit the Imaging USA Hotel & Travel page for more taxi, limousine and shuttle service information.

Rental Cars
Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport offers service from 12 rental car agencies which are housed in their own building. A shuttle runs from the curb of each terminal's baggage claim area every 5-10 minutes. Check with each company for rates. Find more information on the Imaging USA Hotel & Travel Page. 

Public Transit
As outlined in the Phoenix Convention Center Transportation Guide, using public transit is an easy and inexpensive way to travel to and from the airport. A full-trip from the airport to the Convention Center takes roughly 43 minutes and costs a whopping $2.00. It's only four miles, so it's not super fast, but you can't beat that price! For more information, visit

Driving to Imaging USA
If you're driving to Imaging USA, download the Convention Center's driving directions as well as a map and parking guide.

How do I Register for Imaging USA?
Easy! There are several ways to experience Imaging USA 2014. Head to the Imaging USA registration page and find the best option for you! Remember, if you join PPA as a new Professional Active member, we waive the registration fee for your first Imaging USA. That's your #IUSA14 full-conference pass completely FREE! 

Now you've got some joining/registering/booking to do! See you in Phoenix!

Head to the Imaging USA Hotel & Travel page for more info.

PPA member D. Brent Walton, Cr.Photog., CPP, recently wrote and published 25 Things Business Owners Do To Undermine Their Business and how to avoid and correct them. 

This is a common sense book for business owners and people planning to start their own business. If you already own a business, this book can help you remedy a myriad of common errors. It's a must-read for anyone who wants to avoid making big mistakes that can put them out of business in an alarmingly short time. 

The book is intended to be used as a workbook to help you establish business goals and to follow up on them. Each chapter has action items and it is recommended you use the space in the book to record your action items, target dates and completion dates. 
Walton wrote the book for all business owners, but his experiences as owner of photography by db walton comes through in many of the book's examples.

"This book is a wonderful guide for the small business owner, easy to understand, easy to follow and it provides specific details on how to use the Internet to establish your business as one that is honest, competent, committed and professional," said Elizabeth Walton. "It helps small business owners recognize several common mistakes early in the game, and hopefully avoid the consequences of many errors that inhibit business growth. It is written clearly, compactly, with numerous examples (some of them quite funny!) I highly recommend it!"

Last week, we published a blog on the importance of getting involved in mobile marketing and some quick tips for how you can start out. Did that leave you hungry for more ideas? Well, you're in luck because this post will discuss another important facet of mobile marketing -- email optimization.

Chances are you're already using email as part of your marketing plan. But are you designing these emails with viewers who may read them on a smart phone or a tablet in mind? If you're not, you may be missing out on some valuable click-throughs for your email plan.

Why Optimize for Mobile?

The importance of having mobile-friendly emails has skyrocketed in the past few months. According to research by GetResponse, mobile email opens increased by more than 30% in the nine months between June 2012 and March 2013.

During this time, iPhone email opens increased from 3.88% to 17.50% while iPad email opens increased from 2.99% to 8.93%. Meanwhile, Android device email opens increased from 5.04% to 8.46%. Although these numbers are impressive, they aren't surprising. The study also discovered that 3 out of every 4 people use their smartphone to view emails.

Think about your typical morning routine -- what's the first thing you do? More than likely, it's grab your phone and glance at your email and social networking sites. If you schedule your emails to release early in the morning, you have a captive audience looking at your work before their feet hit the floor.

These numbers show that mobile viewing of email is on the rise, so now is the time to start considering how the emails you send look on a mobile device.

Keep It Simple

When designing emails so that they are easy to view on a mobile device it's important to infographic_mobile_email_optimization.jpg realize that your potential client will be viewing it on a screen that's much smaller than a desktop or laptop computer.

That means that cluttered subject lines, unfriendly copy and buried links will likely keep a client on a mobile device from actually reading the message in your email due to frustration with the viewing experience.

The best ways to avoid these issues are to keep your headlines and content as simple as possible. Consider keeping your subject line under 60 characters so users on mobile devices can quickly gather  what the email is about. Follow the general rule that the shorter an email is, the more return you can expect from it.

Infographic by GetResponse

Click Space

Have you ever been on a mobile website, and left because you couldn't easily tap on a link with your finger? The same thing will happen to your emails unless you make your links easily tapable. And if PPA's website comes to mind for that mobile experience hoopla, it's in our roadmap for changes (-;

Apple recommends using a target area size of at least 44x44 pixels for any links on an email to be easily tapped on a mobile device. That means you need to keep your call to actions clear and obvious, and you'll definitely want to keep them above the screen scroll point.

Apple mobile devices automatically resize emails to fit the size of the screen, but Android and non-Apple devices will break the page at 320 pixels, forcing the user to scroll down to continue reading. So, you'll want to keep your "Calls to Action" above the 320 pixel point to ensure an optimal view for all users across a variety of devices.

Font Size  

It's also important to consider your font size when building an email for mobile. Apple devices automatically re-size all text to 13 pixels, so be sure that your content is still easily read at this size. Meanwhile, Android and other non-Apple devices will size headlines at 22 pixels and all body content to 14 pixels. It's a great idea to make sure  the text of your email works for both mobile formats!

Test, and Then Test Again!

Once you've designed an email that you feel will work well with mobile, don't forget to test how it looks. Send it to your own phone or tablet and find a friend with a different type of phone or tablet than your own so you can see how it looks on several different mobile devices.

Keep these tips in mind for your next email campaign, and above all, remember to be engaging. Email only takes up 5.3% of the time a user spends on their mobile device, so you'll need to grab their attention quickly.

Mobile devices are here to stay, and optimizing your email for them may help you draw in even more business!

Looking for more mobile marketing advice? Read the "Reach More (Photography) Clients with Some Mobile Marketing" blog post and stay tuned to the PPA Today blog for more marketing tips! 

This is post two of two of the Mobile Marketing for Photographers series. Use the link below to read the other post in the series.

One of the top reasons many professional photographers join PPA, aside from the great educational and business benefits, is PhotoCare equipment insurance. PhotoCare offers up to $15,000 of photographic equipment insurance coverage, the premium  has been  paid for by PPA. PhotoCare covers loss due to fire, theft, water damage and breakage for U.S. and Puerto Rico-based Professional Active and Life members. This great member benefit protects you from the unexpected, but not the avoidable. And with summer in full swing, it seems like the prime time to share some theft prevention tips so you're not caught paying out of pocket for some pricey equipment.

Tip #1: Don't leave your windows open. That means your car, your office or your home. Seriously. We understand a cool breeze feels great on a warm afternoon and it's cheaper than air conditioning, but PhotoCare doesn't cover negligence.. Take preventative measures, such as closing (and locking) your windows to ensure your gear doesn't have an impromptu or mysterious disappearance. 

Tip #2: Lock your doors. Whether it's your studio, vehicle or house, locking your doors is imperative to keeping thieves at bay. Even if you're gone for a minute, your thousands of dollars' worth of equipment can walk off and you'll be left footing the hefty bill. 

Tip #3: Bring a trusted friend. Never leave your equipment out in the open, or with a stranger. If you're on location for an assignment, try leaving any piece of equipment you don't need right away in your (locked) vehicle or find a secure room on the property to leave your things. 

What's the big picture? Don't tempt thieves. Take all the preventative measures you can to ensure you have the strongest case, should anything happen. 

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for PhotoCare_VS_Flyer.jpg
What happens if despite your best efforts, the unfortunate does happen? Remember to keep a running list of your equipment (complete with serial numbers) and proof of purchase. Insurance claims will move much quicker if you're prepared with the necessary paperwork. 

If you've damaged your gear and have potentially lost data, file a claim with the Indemnification Trust. What's that? It's like malpractice insurance that will save you (potentially) thousands of dollars (check out our post about it here!) 

PhotoCare covers the most common things, over the broadest spectrum that can happen to a photographer. If you feel like your business needs more coverage, Lockton Affinity also offers PhotoCare Plus which includes up to a whopping $100,000 worth of insurance, PLUS mysterious disappearance and unlocked-door theft (yep!). See our handy-dandy chart for a side-by-side comparison to see which policy might be right for you! 

If you have any questions or comments about PhotoCare or PhotoCare Plus, do not hesitate to contact PPA! We are your advocates in this process and bear no judgment in the decisions made by Lockton Affinity (the brokers of the PhotoCare policy). Drop us an email at or call at 800.786.6277.

S.E.O. Those three letters can make a huge difference when it comes to driving traffic to your googlesmarterthanyou.jpgwebsite.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the key behind getting your website to rank highly in Google and other search engines, hopefully helping more people to find your photography business' site that you can convert to clients!

It's an ongoing process that involves many factors, some of which include seeding keywords into your website, building links from other sources back to your site, and some technical aspects to make sure that search engines are spotting your website.

There are companies that will promise quickly getting your page to the top of Google for a cheap fee, but be wary that these may only be short term results that won't hold up in the long term. SEO takes constant effort, but instead of thinking of it as a cost to your business, think of it as an investment to the overall health of your web marketing plan.

So, you know that SEO is important, but you're feeling a little daunted by starting the process. Where to begin?

Luckily, PPA is hosting "The Pitfalls of SEO" webinar on July 16 to help you along the path. To give you a comprehensive view of the SEO process and the details to be on the lookout for, PPAedu has brought in Brett Snyder, Director of SEO at Nebo Agency. Brett's a true SEO guru, so the webinar will be packed with great advice for photographers just starting out with it for their business, as well as some issues you may have never considered for those of you that have already started doing it!

During the class, Brett will cover how search engines find and rank pages and how you can develop a strategy that will help your website get those high-rankings. He'll discuss things like organic search, evaluating the keywords you want to rank for, on-page SEO factors (such as meta info and internal linking), and off-page SEO factors like link building and gaining authority for your site. If that all sounded like gibberish to you, don't worry, Brett's going to make it all very easy to understand.

In addition, he'll also talk about some of technical factors to be aware of (again, he'll make these easy to understand). After all, if Google can't find your site, it won't be ranked.

Finally, Brett will cover some of the penalties you can incur by trying to go the cheap and easy route that we talked about earlier.

As Brett says, "Google is smarter than you...if you try and cheat the system you will pay for it."

This will be a live webinar, which means that you will be able to watch it for free via the web as it occurs in real time, and best of all, you will have the opportunity to ask your own questions to Brett as well! This will be open to anyone (all you need to do is create a basic access account on before registering), as it kick-starts a SEO-For-Photographers online course series by PPAedu (available for PPA members and PPAedu subscribers!)

We hope you're excited about this comprehensive webinar as we are and that you're ready to get going with SEO. You can register for "The Pitfalls of SEO" webinar now, and stay tuned to the Live Webinars section of PPAedu for a full class description coming later this week!

Not a member? Join PPA now or subscribe to PPAedu and get 24/7 access to your online learning platform and all of the PPAedu classes, both live and on-demand. 
Social media is a beast. It has so many wonderful features, but if you're new to the game, it can be overwhelming, confusing and at times, just plain terrifying. 

We've heard your questions, comments and concerns about how to utilize social platforms to build your photography business (know you're not alone)! So we're starting a weekly blog series through August 20th called "Be More...Social" to help answer those questions and squash your concerns (and hopefully build your business along the way). 

Social media is a great way to expand your business for relatively low costs, stay connected with your current customer base, expand your referral network and, when used effectively, can have a wonderful, positive impact on your business! If you're on the fence about learning the ins and outs of a new marketing platform, check out these five stats provided by HubSpot:

  1. 27% of total U.S. internet time is spent on social networking sites. 
  2. Social media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail, or pay per click (PPC).
  3. Social media lead conversion rates are 13% higher than the average lead conversion rate. 
  4. 52% of all marketers have found a customer via Facebook in 2013. 
  5. 85% of fans of brands on Facebook recommend brands to others, compared to 60% of average users. 

So where to start? Let's begin by defining key terms you'll come across in your social media adventures. Like any specialty, once you learn the terminology, it'll be a lot less overwhelming. Bookmark this blog for a handy reference when you're building your social media marketing plans (yes, there is planning involved).   

Analytics - Analytics are the way you measure your social media impact. Always, always, always measure your data. How can you know where you're going if you don't know where you've been? It's not difficult, and there are plenty of websites out there to help you. We'll dive in deeper in a later blog about how to measure analytics and what exactly do they mean. 

Avatar - An avatar is an image or username that represents a person online within forums and social networks. It's also known as your "profile picture" for your personal sites. Generally it's great to use your logo as long as it looks good in such a small space. 

Blog - (You're already ahead of the game here - you're reading PPA's blog!) Blog is a word that was created from two words: web & log. Blogs are usually maintained with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog (like right now, I'm blogging!) 

Circles - Circles are clusters of a user's friends on Google+, meaning you can group certain people you choose to connect with on your Google+ into a certain Circle, such as clients, friends, family, etc. When you want to share content with only these individuals, you include that specific Circle in your post's sharing options. 

Comment - A comment is a response that is often provided as an answer or reaction to a social or blog post. Comments are a primary form of two-way communication on the social web, so you can respond to whoever commented on your work. It' opens up the dialogue and starts to build the relationship between you and your clients

Engagement - Engagement is a bit of a buzz word. At its heart it means to interact and build relationships with your fans & followers on a personal level. This will lead to having advocates, company loyalists, and brand ambassadors. We'll get to all of that later, but know that if you interact, or engage, with your clients, it will lead to huge payoffs. 

Follow Friday (#ff) - Follow Friday is a trend using the hashtag #ff every Friday on Twitter (what's a hashtag? See two down). Users select other usernames and tweet them with #ff in their post, meaning they recommend following those Twitter users. People tweet at their favorite companies, friends, brands--you name it! It's customary to retweet this to your followers (We'll get to that too!).

Hangout - A Hangout is a video service on Google+ that allows you to video chat with up to 10 Google+ users at a time. If you and your clients don't have time for a face-to-face meeting, Google+ Hangouts are the next best thing! 

Hashtag - A hashtag is a tag used on social networks as a way to sort the message by certain key words. A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a "#." Hashtags are commonly used to show that a message is related to an event or conference, online or offline. Although they originated with Twitter, they are searchable through Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Google+. Imaging USA has a special hashtag every year - #IUSA14! You can create a hashtag out of anything, like #escalatorsarescary or #ilovecutepuppies, but it doesn't mean they'll be effective. Incorporate hashtags that are both applicable to your business (i.e. #photography, #seniorphotographer or #weddings) and specific to your event or location. When your clients search those key terms, you'll be more likely to show up. 

Inbound Marketing - Inbound marketing is a style of marketing that essentially focuses permission-based marketing techniques that businesses can use to find potential customers, convert those prospects into leads and customers, and analyze the process along the way. It is in direct contrast to outbound marketing, which utilizes traditional interruptive marketing tactics such as direct mail, trade shows, print and TV advertising, and cold calling. Think of inbound marketing as creating a conversation with your clients instead of the traditional one-way communication approach.

Like - A "Like" is an action that can be made by a Facebook user. Instead of writing a comment for a message or a status update, a Facebook user can click the "Like" button as a quick way to show approval and share the message. It also refers to how many people follow your business page. 

Listen - Think of the act of listening like eaves dropping (but with your eyes, not your ears). The art of listening means you're staying on top of what's relevant in your community, your profession and with your clients. Listen to all of these sources (don't worry, it's not as overwhelming as it sounds) to make sure you're on the top of your game in every arena of business. 

Lurker - A lurker online is a person who reads discussions on a message board, newsgroup, social network, or other interactive system, but rarely or never participates in the discussion. They won't like, comment or share anything, but it doesn't mean they aren't paying attention. 

Meme - (pronounced meem...rhymes with dream) A meme on the internet is used to describe a thought, idea or joke to be shared online. It is typically an image with text above and below it, but can also come in video and link form. A popular example is the "I Can Has Cheezburger?" cat meme that turned into an entire site of memes.

News Feed - A news feed is literally a feed full of news. On Facebook, the News Feed is the homepage of your account where you can see all the latest updates from your friends. The news feed on Twitter is called Timeline (not to get confused with Facebook's new look, also called Timeline).

Retweet - A retweet (also known as an "RT") is when someone on Twitter sees your message and decides to share it with their followers. A retweet button allows them to quickly resend the message with attribution to the original sharer's name.

Search Engine Optimization - Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the traffic to a website from search engines like Google. The more relevant, keyword rich content you post on your blog and other social media outlets, the easier it is for Google (and other search engine sites) to find you for folks looking for your services. Google AdWords has a wonderful free keyword tool that you can utilize to see what words or phrases are driving the most traffic to your site, then utilize them appropriately. Not sure how to get started? We'll show you! 

Social Media Monitoring - Social media monitoring is a process of monitoring and responding to interactions on the social web. There are many web services that can help with your monitoring and tracking of social engagements, such as likes, retweets, mentions, comments or shares. We'll dive in to that deeper in a later post. 

Now when you see someone retweeted your #FF in your newsfeed, you know exactly what's happening (and why)! Next week we'll explore the various social media platforms, what each is best suited for and how that can help your target market! 

Did this glossary spur additional questions? Leave them in the comments. We can incorporate them into a future blog post!

- Sarah

Do you want your voice to be heard on the current look of the photographic industry? InfoTrends' 2013 Professional Photography and Video Survey offers an opportunity to do just that!

Some of you may remember participating in this survey last year. For those that didn't, InfoTrends conducts this annual industry review with imaging professionals (photographers and videographers alike) to better understand their use of technology, equipment requirements and new business services. Manufacturers then use the results to design new or better products and help fulfill the needs of photographers and videographers.

This survey also provides a panoramic view of the behaviors and demographics of professional photographers. You can read PPA's recap of the 2012 InfoTrend Professional Photography and Video Survey now.

If you are on the go, here are five interesting findings that show the shifts happening in the industry:

  1. The photographic industry has been historically dominated by older photographers, and predominantly male. However, the female demographic is growing strong. 33% of the survey respondents in 2012 were female, as opposed to 16% in the 2009 edition.

    We at PPA suspect that the difference is even larger, so we encourage the ladies to represent in this year's edition of the survey!

  2. Female photographers tend to be younger, averaging 41 years old, versus males' averaging 50.5.

    If you feel that this misrepresents the reality, consider participating in the survey (-;

  3. Participants shared taking an average of 2,584 photos a month, but only producing about 580 final prints per month, showing the dramatic shift to digital photography over the past few years. Fine art and nature photographers continue to capture the smallest amount of photographs, while printing the largest amount of images.

    What does this mean to you? Better efficiency? More business savvy? What's your take on such a difference of shots vs. prints ratio?

  4. 86% of photographers admitted using the web to promote their business. This is an all-time high.

    Over the years this has definitely been a drastic shift. How do you maintain and upkeep your website? And how about social media? Are you using this new media for business?

  5. Only 25% of photographers in 2012 offered video services.

    There are fusion classes and tips all over the places. What's your take on video? Why have you not made the jump and started offering some mixed media products?

  6. infortrendschartspecialties.jpg

    What will the 2013 results show? It's partly up to you. Consider taking the survey and contribute to InfoTrends (and the industry in general), so that better products and services suiting your photography needs can be created.

    As a heads-up, this InfoTrend survey is extensive and will take up a bit of your time (15-20 minutes), so as a thank you for investing your time, InfoTrends is entering all respondents into a drawing for $500. In addition, a $25 gift card will be sent to 100 randomly chosen respondents! So, if the warm, fuzzy feeling you'll get from contributing to the survey isn't enough, do it for a chance at the loot!

    Take the survey now. 

1. Dive deep & reinforce your photography specialty

You're good at what you do -- that's why you're a pro. But we all know the moment you stop challenging yourself is the moment business starts passing you by. Imaging USA offers tracks on everything from weddings and portraits to sports and software keep you on your game. Explore the latest posing and lighting techniques, update your post-processing routine, and save time and money. Your clients will love your evolving craft and keep coming back.

2. Challenge & expose yourself to something new

It's always good to break your routine. Attend a class or two (or more!) outside your specialtyiusatop10_blog.jpg area as a way to explore new horizons (and revenue sources), experiment with new products and check out some tools of the trade you might have never utilized before. Sitting in on sessions outside your comfort zone will force you to look at things differently and might create some unexpected a-ha moments. It's always a great way to expand your creativity and comfort your choices.

3. It's always easier with a little help (of your friends) -- network & enrich your connections

It's hard to make new friends when you're in your own studio all of the time! This is the perfect environment to meet lots of fellow photographers who care and are or have been on the same boat. Getting help from others is priceless and a natural way to get help with tough business decisions, challenge you creatively, or keep you focused on why you love doing what you do! Everyone has rough days in any profession, but it makes it a lot easier when you have other supportive photographers ready, willing and able to talk it out.

4. Try, compare & snatch photo gadgets & gizmos deals (while saving big bucks!)

The Imaging Expo is like the Mall of America for photography equipment. Lenses, props,iusatop10_blog1.jpg accessories, editing programs and more -- you'll find everything you wanted (and some stuff you didn't know you needed!) from hundreds of vendors. Try or test products in all the demo booths and ask the million and a half questions that you can't ask when shopping online. It's like your own testing grounds - everything is set up to help you explore all the options. If you need some instant gratification, in most cases, you can walk away with your purchases in hand. For the bigger orders, there are plenty of FedEx and UPS stops around the area to ship home your new found toys. AND last but not least: on Tuesday, the last day of the conference, there are always mind-boggling deals for those who stick around the tradeshow floor!  

5. Reconnect with your passion & get inspired

The exhibit for winning images of the International Photographic Competition (IPC) is held during Imaging USA. This competition is open to all professional photographers until July 12th (late fee required) and the top scoring images will be included in the PPA Loan collection. Interested in competing? Get all the details! You'll want to schedule a bit of time to view the images of those who have taken it to the next level and will have been awarded recognition for their entries. It's key to (re)connect with the Arts component of Photography. We all get pulled away running our business and not always finding time to create for ourselves, so in the middle of all the learning and shopping hustle and bustle, it's nice find a photographers' haven. That's why you have to take some time to experience what the best of the best are doing across the globe in photography. Who knows, you might even pick up some new inspiration along the way.

6. Boost your business & get ready for a mega jolt of ideas to kick off the year

Even in the long history if Imaging USA, it's safe to say that no one has left the conference less motivated than when they came. You'll leave energized, filled with great ideas and ready to utilize new skills and put those new thoughts into action! Your business will feel the boost in creative juices you've gained over the three days (or more if you register for pre-con classes)! There is no better way to start the year and put your business on a path to success. Continuing to connect with the instructors and connections you will have made will also keep you on cloud nine for the longest time. It's oh-so-worth it!

7. Earn your Merits

If you're pursuing a Master of Photography, Master of Artist or Photographic Craftsman degree, it's important to earn you Merits! There is no easier time than at Imaging USA! For attending the conference, any PPA member in good standing will earn one Service Merit. Interested in pre-con classes? A one-day session will earn you one additional Service Merit (for a total of two) or a multi-day session will earn you two Service Merits (for a total of three)! These Service Merits go towards the additional credits you need to earn any of your degrees - and earning three in one week is a sure fire way to keep on track!

8. 10,000 pros under one roof means someone's been there & done that. Don't be shy -- ask away!

With hands-on classes, live demos with small groups and instructors eager to share whatiusatop10_blog2.jpg they love, you'll have more resources than you'll know what to do with! If you need specific advice, there are portfolio reviews and the coach's corner to offer honest and transparent feedback. It's also easy to connect online - join the Imaging USA community on theLoop, Twitter or Facebook, and start the conversation with fellow attendees before your flight touches down in the desert!

9. No matter how successful or famous you are, we all need to fuel our passion & inspiration

There is an unmatched passion and intensity of everything-photo-related that goes on at Imaging USA. The amount of energy from attendees, speakers and vendors make it mind boggling place for inspiration, creativity and motivation. There are so many options with ten tracks, the IPC, Coach's Corner, hands-on sessions and Pre-Con classes (and more)! It's impossible to miss your quota of creative and business learning.  

10. Get a full dose of Vitamin D (sun!) & explore the new Phoenix

It's been five years since Imaging USA was held in Phoenix, and my oh my, has the city changed! There are dozens of new restaurants and attractions mixed in with your favorites of years' past. The new highlights include CityScape -- a mixed use development located only one block south of the Renaissance Hotel. CityScape offers a dozen restaurants, night life, live music, a bowling alley, comedy club and a CVS for sunscreen, ice cream and band aids! A few blocks from there, the Phoenix City Market has taken off, spurning a café and weekly food truck round-ups for your ever-changing tastes. Another project that was recently completed was the Phoenix Civic Space Park, including a modern art piece that lights up the night and moves with the breeze. Last but not least, it's now easier than ever (and super affordable) to get around town with the LightRail. At PPA, we're so excited to be going to Phoenix, we will be posting videos, photos and a bunch of tips to show how much the city has changed. Stay tuned!

There you have it! If you have more reasons why going to Imaging USA is the easiest decision of your year, please share these us! In the meantime, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (@ImagingUSA) to share your insight, ask questions, get great tips and tricks, or simply see behind the scenes action. 

For more information on the specifics of Imaging USA 2014 or to register, simply visit PPA's here to help you be more in photography, so don't be shy and reach out. 

We love how active you guys are over on theLoop, PPA's exclusive social network for professional photographers. If you haven't jumped in yet, theLoop is a safe place for photographers to chat, share ideas and worries, and discuss sensitive topics like customer service, demanding clients and more. In theLoop, you can do that without the fear of potential customers reading over your shoulder--you have to log in as a member of PPA to access it in the first place!

For those of you who haven't checked-in lately and new loopers alike, there are some great discussion threads going for June. Here are 5 of our favorites:

  1. PPA Members: Introduce yourself here!
    Well what a convenient way to start! If you're new to theLoop, pop in here and say hello By the looks of things, we'd say most of you sure aren't shy!

  2. PPA Members: Is working for free helping or destroying the industry?
    Join a healthy discussion on whether or not those working for free (or next to nothing) are helping or hurting the industry. We're not talking doing a little pro bono work here and there, the topic is more a look into if "fauxtographers" (one of our favorite terms) are watering down business. Is it worth the price for a true photographer or do you sacrifice quality? Do their poor-quality images make you professionals look even better? Discuss!

  3. PPA Members: What place will Creative Cloud have in your business?
    Adobe recently launched its Creative Cloud which will effectively merge all of your favorite Adobe tools into one, re-imagined, integrated platform. This thread discusses whether or not members will be making the transition, and if so, what purpose their current Adobe Suite will serve for their business, if any. Change is good, right?

  4. Sports Photography: Need a FX camera that shoots sports well
    Are you a sports photographer? Or interested in becoming one? Then this is the thread for you. Sports photography is fast-paced and requires the appropriate equipment to capture those game, and sometimes life-changing moments. Join in with your opinion or just read advice from the pros on what camera is best for sports photography.

  5. Post-Capture: Online data storage
    We'll admit it--this one isn't sexy, but it sure as heck is important! When your hard drive fills up, what's the next option? Get involved with this one--as it pertains to all of you!

So there's a few of June's most-involved discussions. If you don't see one that applies to your needs or interest, then dive in and find the right community or discussion for you! Or be a leader and start a new one!

Keep that loop interaction up!

Once you've established a web and social media presence for your photography business, what should you look at next to keep your marketing rolling?

One important part to add to your business' digital marketing strategy is mobile marketing. "Mobile marketing" is quite a buzz word these days, so you may have heard about it before (for those that haven't, mobile marketing is any marketing that leverages mobile devices, such as a smart phone or a tablet, as an additional means of communication with your target audience).

All in all, only a small proportion of photographers have started looking into mobile marketing for their business. Opportunities are immense and it's not that complicated. Plus, it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, yet it greatly helps to set you apart.

Why is mobile marketing so important? Consider these stats:

  • The Mobile Marketing Association says that there are 7 billion people on Earth. 5.1 billionmobiletoiletinfographic.jpg own a cell phone. 4.2 billion own a toothbrush. That's right, more people are connecting through their cell phones than using toothbrushes!

  • According to Morgan Stanley, 91% of all smart phone users have their phone within arm's reach 24/7.

  • What's more (no shame here, it's a factoid): three-fourths of the participants of an 11Mark study admitted to using their smartphones in the bathroom. That number reaches 91% for the Generation Y, confirming Morgan Stanley's survey.

From those stats alone, it's easy to see that a lot of us are missing out on a huge audience if we are not leveraging mobile marketing tools. Imagine the business you could create if even a tiny fraction of those smartphone owners found you using a mobile device.

Now that you understand the importance of mobile marketing, it's also worth keeping in mind that a client searching for you on a mobile device behaves very differently than one that found you on a traditional website. How so?

Here's some surprising behavior of users that find you on a mobile search:

  • Mobile Marketer says that 70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour. 70% of online searches result in action in one month. Meanwhile, mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons.

  • According to Search Engine Land, 9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to action, over half leading to purchase.

  • Google points out that 61% of local searches on a mobile phone result in a phone call.

  • There are more than 2.7 billion internet users on the planet, including close to 1+ billion Facebook.

These statistics show the trend that mobile searchers often make quicker decisions than potential clients using a traditional web search. By establishing a mobile presence, you'll be able to have users find your photography business and convert them to clients faster than you could just by being found on non-mobile web searches.

So, how can you get started? It's not nearly as difficult as you might think.

Adaptive/responsive design

A great place to begin your mobile marketing efforts is by building a site with an adaptive design. Adaptive design allows the display of your site to automatically fit any screen a potential client might view your site on. So, whether your site is being viewed on a desktop computer, a smart phone or a tablet a visitor will see information optimized for their current viewing screen.

Not only does this prevent a visitor from getting frustrated by having to re-size your site to fit their mobile screen (less scrolling and tapping around means a better customer experience), it also makes managing your website much easier as you won't have to worry about updating a separate mobile site in parallel.

Social from your mobile

When you consider the level of social media interaction occurring via mobile devices, it becomes blatant evidence that interacting socially with clients and prospects who are on their mobile devices is part of the way of doing business (and you might even be responding to them on the go from your phone). Facebook recently announced that close to 44% of their users access through a mobile device. These users are also twice as active on Facebook as non-mobile visitors.

These active users are the folks you'll really want to connect with, as they're more likely to share the content you've posted to social media outlets. However, if a blog post that you've shared does not adapt its display for mobile; you might miss out on some great opportunities for gaining web traffic. After all, if it can't be easily read by a user on a mobile device, it won't be shared.

Mobile compatible comments

It's also important to make sure that the comments feature on your blog will also work with a mobile device. This will allow you to consistently connect with mobile visitors to your site and respond to any of their questions or concerns.

Offers or contests

Along with using an adaptive design, another quick way to get involved with mobile marketing is by offering an exclusive offer or contest designed specifically for mobile devices. There are many companies that can help you set-up a contest that potential clients can enter via text message. It can be as simple as having a mobile user text you a keyword that enters them in the contest or gives them a special discount.

Perhaps the best part of a contest like this is it offers the opportunity for potential clients to share their contact information with you when entering, giving you a database to focus your future marketing efforts on! Just remember to keep the entry process as simple as possible so you'll receive a good amount of submissions.

Customer Service on the go

Another potential benefit of getting involved with mobile marketing can be the ability to provide better customer service to your clients by using mobile devices. For instance, say that you've been shooting on location and would like the ability to take orders while on location. There are many apps out there that will not only allow you to take and process the order using your own smart phone or tablet, but also generate an invoice that will go directly to your customers' mobile device. Some of these apps will even connect with your own book keeping software, making it easier on you to keep up with your sales.

Galleries & apps

Last but not least, many photographers also have created mobile apps for their business to share their work via smartphone or tablet. You can tell your clients to download the app and share it with their friends looking for a photographer, creating your own mobile referral network! There are many app providers out there, but if you're a PPA member check out your member benefit with StickyAlbums for a custom built app for your business.

Mobile marketing is truly the next frontier, so don't delay. Get started on your own mobile marketing plan today.

Already have a mobile marketing plan in place? We'd love to hear about it! Share your comments with us below or on theLoop.


This is post one of two of the Mobile Marketing for Photographers series. Use the link below to read the other post in the series.

Mobile Marketing for Photographers: Email Optimization

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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