"There is something seriously wrong with the teenage brain," states my 16-year-old son as we sit in my warm car in the pouring rain waiting for his bus.
"Agreed." I nod, watching his fellow high-schoolers trudge up to the top of the street in flimsy hoodies. Every single one of them is standing in utter misery without a coat, an umbrella, or common sense between them. The rain is beating down on them cold and relentless.
"They look like a bunch of wet lemmings," adds my son.
They do. Pathetic wet little rodents with plastered hair, every last one of them. Pride surges for my son for having the good sense not to join them in their damp collectiveness. (When you have a teenager it's important to celebrate the small things.)
But then again, if you follow my posts you know that my son is a six-foot-one, cowboy-hat-wearing original. Don't forget, we live in a New England suburb, and the cowboy hat is not commonplace in these parts.
Sarah Ackerman is known around PPA as #Sarah in part because she handles all things social media and in order to differentiate herself from the other Sarah's in the office. Sarah loves improv comedy (think "Whose Line") and routinely performs with Witless Protection around the Atlanta area and at Dad's Garage Theatre Company. When she's not tweeting/instagramming/facebooking all of the action at PPA, she can be found gallivanting around the world or wandering around the woods with her pup, but more than likely she's on stage making people giggle.
Hopefully you will get a chance to check out the International Photographic Exhibit (right next to the Expo) at Imaging USA in Nashville. When you do, you might wonder where those beautiful images come from. You might even daydream a bit about seeing your own work up there at Imaging USA 2016 in Atlanta.
You can make it happen. The displayed images make up PPA's Loan Collection and are chosen by a panel of judges at the International Photographic Competition (IPC), held each year in August. Only the top images make it to the prestigious Loan Collection each year, but don't let that intimidate you.
If you're feeling inspired and want to be more recognized, a good place to start is your local district competition. Take a look at the 2015 dates. Entries for the Southwest District competition open next week!
Who's excited for some Turkey? Thanksgiving is right around the corner, in the meantime, stuff yourself with our favorite photography blogs of the week:
1. Deleted but Not Gone: How to Keep Your Photos and Files From Falling Into the Wrong Hands
PROTECTING DATA: Having to recover accidentally deleted photos is a nightmare for most photographers, but what about when you've deleted an image on purpose? Don't throw away or donate your memory card until you watch this video on PetaPixel.
2. Custom Photo-Printed Adidas Sneakers
JUST BECAUSE IT'S COOL: PopPhoto breaks the news about a unique way to use photography! Adidas is now allowing people to create custom shoes printed with photos they choose. What would you put on your shoes?
3. 11 Incredible Photography Tips That Have Nothing to Do with the Camera You Use
PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS: Fstoppers has compiled a list of quick tips that all photographers should keep in mind, regardless of what camera you use. There's good advice for beginners, as well as some useful reminders for the seasoned pro.
4. Photography Mysteries: Cycling Lights
LIGHTING: If you've ever shot indoors with available light, you know how tricky it can be. This post from PhotoFocus provides some great tips for how to deal with lighting that's less than ideal.
5. Advice for Photographers from a Model's Perspective
WORKING WITH MODELS: PPA member Skip Cohen is back in the round-up this week with a great podcast. If you work with models, you don't want to miss it. You'll hear some great advice on building a relationship with your models for the best results.
6. Photographer's Blocks
ADVICE: Do you feel like your photography is stuck in a rut? This post on Luminous Landscape offers advice on how you can get your creativity going again!
7. What is Boudoir Photography and How to Approach It?
BOUDOIR: If you're thinking of getting into the boudoir photography market, this post from Virtual Photography Studio is a good place to start! It offers tips for those just starting out on how to do it right and put your clients at ease.
8. Use Photo Drones for Fun Family Portraits
INSPIRATION: We've heard a lot about using aerial drones for landscape photography, but have you ever thought of how you can use one in family portraits? Check out these ideas from Photojojo.
9. The Most Useful Filters for Nature Photography
EQUIPMENT: If you enjoy nature photography, the Photo Naturalist has put together a list of filters you should have for the best images possible. Take a look and see if their advice can improve your nature photography.
10. This Wedding Was Shot in an Abandoned Detroit Warehouse
INSPIRATION: Here's some wedding photography that (we bet) is unlike any other you've seen before. Check out Hillebrand Photography's images of a wedding session they did in an abandoned warehouse. You may just get some new ideas.
There you have it, our favorite posts of the week! What photography blogs do you enjoy? Let us know on theLoop.
Bring Your Party Shoes--PPA Charities Celebration
(Sat. 1/31, 8 - 10pm)
The festivities start the night before Imaging USA opens with the PPA Charities Celebration. Kick off your week in good spirits and come enjoy the fun and browse the PPA Charities auctions. This is open to any Imaging USA attendee.
Bring Your Running Shoes--PPA Charities 5K Fun Run
(Sun. 2/1, registration 6:30am, race begins 7am)
It's healthy to give back! The race begins and ends (it's a loop) at the Convention Center's entrance near the Presidential Portico--don't be late!
Bring Your Old Shoes--PPA Charities Shoe Drive for Dando Amor
Your old shoes can be upcycled to help those that have none! Bring an old pair or two to Imaging USA and they'll be re-purposed for orphanages in South America and Africa. Handy drop-off bins will be located by the Expo entrance and by the registration kiosks.
Image ©Dan Phillips Photography, Cedar Falls, Iowa
PPA's CEO, David Trust, is on Capitol Hill today for several meetings with key people in the ongoing talks on issues that affect photographers. Much of today's meetings center upon the commercial use of drone photography. As previously reported here on the blog, PPA has begun discussions for exemptions to be made which would allow PPA photographers to use drones on commercial shoots.
We'll update you as more information trickles down from D.C.!
This morning, David met with Brian Northcutt and Chris Grieco of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security.
Said David, "It's interesting how many different issues and concerns the drone photography discussion crosses. It's becoming more apparent that this is a complex issue that will require a complex fix."
To help you get rid of some of your fears, and maybe even encourage you to request a critique at the next District Competition, here's an example of what you can expect! This is "Rustic Cabin" by David Bair, critiqued by Jon Allyn. Take a look!
Have you ever read something and thought to yourself, I could have written that! Today is that day for me. In fact, the entire article could have been my quotes.
The article was 7 Ways to Help Ensure Your Business Succeeds by Donald Todrin. He points out business fundamentals have not changed, but new strategies are required in light of the changing economic conditions. The information is poignant when applied to photography business owners, so I decided to do just that! Here are his seven ways to succeed in business tweaked for what I believe to be strategies for the photography industry.
1) Have a written plan that should include the following:
a. A financial plan detailing how many sessions you plan to conduct at a certain sales average, an estimate of how much it will take to produce your products (cost of sales), and an estimate of what your fixed expenses will be.
b. A source of initial financing until the business is self-sufficient. On average, per the SBA, it takes some businesses 3-5 years until they are sustainably self-sufficient. Knowing this, if you plan to use your personal resources, go at it fully understanding that it will take time to replenish.
c. A sales plan to achieve your sales average goal. The plan should include a strategy and a price list set up to achieve the goal.
d. A marketing plan to attract the amount of sessions you need to satisfy your financial plan. The plan should identify your ideal paying client and the appropriate strategy to attract such defined target clientele. Also develop your marketing calendar, detailing the tools to be used, when to use them, and how you will measure your results. (PPA's Square One tool is a great place to start developing your plan.)
e. Detailed workflow from the initial phone call to the delivery of the products. Outlining each step of your process doesn't only help identify the time required for each session, but it will also help you define outsourcing/employee opportunities.
2) Don't marry your plan. Even the best laid-out plans can eventually go awry. Think of it this way; it's not necessarily the plan that is important, but what we learn from the planning process and how it shapes and guides our future actions.
3) Keep your ego in check and listen to others. The photography industry is unique in some ways in that there are plenty of mentors out there to help guide you. Find one whose business is a reflection of what YOU would like your business to be. Look past the "flashy stuff" towards finding a mentor who is dedicated to their craft and their photography business.
4) Keep track of everything, and manage your numbers. In order to be successful, it is imperative as a studio that you know how many sessions you need to hold in order to reach your goals. The results of this analysis can tell you if your sales and marketing plans are working. It's that plain simple. And if they are not working, it may be time to reassess. PPA has made it easy for you to evaluate your numbers. Just go check the online tools, Square One in particular, that will help you establish the basis of managerial accounting.
5) Delegate and avoid micromanaging. This is where your detailed workflow (see 1e) comes into play. It is important for you to remember that you don't have to do everything. In the beginning, it might make sense, but as your business grows, carve out specific outsourcing opportunities using your detailed workflow. The photography business tends to be seasonal so keep that in mind as well when you are creating your plan. If you find yourself needing help year round, then it is time to take the steps needed to hire on an additional employee.
6) Use the internet! Social media is one marketing tool that is inexpensive but vitally important to building your business. It takes time and effort but if you schedule it ahead of time and take advantage of off-season opportunities to pre-post, it will become easier. More importantly, it is pertinent that you do it consistently in order to be effective. Look outside of our industry to see how profitable companies take advantage of free marketing tools.
7) Reinvent your business. Seriously. If you don't like what your numbers are telling you, make a change. Of course, map out your change, but always remember that it is ok to take calculated risks. It's not about what you gross, but what you keep in our pockets. Assess your business from a different perspective. Ask yourself what your competitive advantage is. What niche could you carve out of your competitive market, and how could you provide better customer service to elevate your value? Discounting brings down your market's perception of your value so instead of playing the pricing war, exceed your clients' expectations by delivering more!
You have made a conscious choice to be a photographer, one that requires time and money. Always give yourself the best chance to succeed in this ever-changing profession. Knowledge is power--and as an entrepreneur, you are on an endless path to discover what you don't know. This is what PPA is here for: to help you be more profitable by continuing to learn about the photography business!
About the author:
Bridget Jackson is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and PPA Business manager. Over the years, Bridget has helped hundreds of photography studios become more profitable.
Imaging USA 2015 is only 75 days away! With that in mind, I'd like to encourage you to download today (it's free!) so you can be more prepared for all the good stuff coming your way in Nashville. It's the best way to be connected with all the latest news and updates while you're there!
With the mobile app, you'll be able to:
- View and favorite all the details on classes, sessions, speakers, special events and even the exhibitors at the Imaging Expo.
- Build your own schedule by simply adding the sessions or events you want to your agenda.
- Message and arrange private meetings with other attendees (even if you have all their contact info: the app will connect you!)
- Earn points and take your chance at daily prizes by playing with the in-app game.
- See what other attendees are saying on Twitter and Facebook (and add to the conversation!)
- Give feedback and help make this a better conference by taking the in-app session surveys after each class.
- Use the maps to find your way around the convention center and throughout the Imaging Expo.
- And more!
If you're attending Imaging USA, this app will be your best friend during the convention. It's available now for iPhone and iPad, Android devices and there's also a web version for those of you that don't own an Apple or Android phone or tablet.
Find all the information on how to download for your device here. Stay-tuned to PPA's blog and ImagingUSA.org for videos demonstrating how to use the different features of the app.
Of course, if you haven't registered for Imaging USA yet, do it today! Find all the different options on the registration page.
See you in Nashville!