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PPA Today: Photography Business Archives

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Here's your latest guest column from none other than Bridget Jackson, resident guru for all things numbers and profitability. Bridget is the manager of PPA Business (formerly known as SMS) and also a CPA. She's helped hundreds of photography studios owners be more profitable and will address some common questions each month. Heed her advice folks--this lady knows her stuff!

Do the Work...
By Bridget Jackson

Educating yourself is only half the battle. You have to actually roll up your sleeves and do the work. 

I'm not talking about taking pictures (although you have to do that too). I'm talking about coming up with the elements of a marketing plan, a sales strategy, a documented workflow and a financial management plan. 

That's right. It's not enough for you to just understand what they are. You need to have them well documented so you not only have a strategy to guide you, but so you can update those strategies based on your strengths and weaknesses. Successful studios assess what worked, what didn't work and what needs to be changed so they can continue to stay on a path to reach their goals. 
Here's your latest guest column from none other than Bridget Jackson, resident guru for all things numbers and profitability. Bridget is the manager of PPA Business and also a CPA. She's helped hundreds of photography studios be more profitable and will address some common questions each month. Heed her advice folks--this lady knows her stuff!

frage.jpg7 Questions to Ask Before You Start a Business

Most people think that the barrier to entering the photography business is low. All you need is to buy a camera, create a Facebook page, and start taking pictures. But consider the odds: 25 percent of new business start-ups close in the first year, and another 25 percent fail in the next four years. How do you beat the odds? You have to set your business up to succeed by asking and answering the following critical questions:

1). What products and services will you provide?

Your business plan should clearly define what you are offering in terms of products and services and how that compares to competitors in your market. It is important for you to carve out a piece of the market to make a profitable and sustainable business.

2). Who is your target client and how will you reach them?

In other words, it's not only important to identify your target client, but you also need to reach them through different marketing mediums. Your integrated marketing strategy should include a blend of marketing mediums such as print, digital and interactive and social media. The results of these efforts should determine if you have an adequate population of potential customers to reach your sales goals.

3). How does your business stand out?

Your one unique selling proposition is YOU. It's who you are that makes all the difference. It's the reason that the one product or service you provide is different from and better than that of the competition. This is where you need to shine through your art, product offerings and customer service. You must be distinguishably different from your competition.

4). Where will business be conducted, and how many employees will you need to provide the level of customer service your ideal client will expect?

It's important for your physical presence, the way you present yourself, where you conduct business and how you conduct business to be an extension of your brand and should resonate with your ideal client. Initially, the number of employees you need to deliver the level of customer service you want to project might not be ideal, but don't compromise. Find ways to outsource workflow in seasonal times so customer service isn't neglected.

5). How much start-up money will it take to open the doors and keep them open until you turn a profit?

I mentioned the barrier to a photography business is relatively low; however, after answering the first four questions, I'm confident you have realized that the barrier is misleading. It requires an investment of money and time to set up a photography business to achieve profitability. Prepare a conservative five-year projection of income and expenses, and re-evaluate yearly to confirm you are on track as most businesses are to show a profit in the in the first year of business.

6). What will be the source of the funds needed for start-up and sustainability?

Consider how much you are willing to invest and potentially lose, how much is needed from outside sources and how much you can generate in profits to reinvest in the business. Clearly identify these sources and include in your five-year projection a plan to pay back yourself and anyone else.

7). What type of business structure will you choose?

What forms do you need to file, and which licenses do you need to obtain to assure compliance? The type of business structure you have will depend on two factors: liability and taxation. PPA recommends when you are just starting out and you have substantial personal assets to be a LLC.

Your business can also benefit from business advisors and mentors. You should develop relationships with a banker, an accountant and an attorney before you start. Additionally, as a PPA member, you can get malpractice insurance, up to $15,000 of free equipment insurance, free education, connections to industry mentors, certification and other vital resources to help you run a profitable business. The Benchmark Survey and its principles are also helpful when setting up prices and measuring your business' growth.

There are no assurances that a business will succeed, let alone be profitable, but setting yourself up for success through planning certainly can help.

It's a shameless plug, but after all, we're here to help: Join instructor Jen Basford, Cr.Photog., November 15-16 in Atlanta for PPA's Business Basics Workshop. You'll learn strong business principles that will help you create a solid foundation for your business. The class will give you the information and confidence you need as you plan for a profitable and sustainable business.

Say hello to your newest guest column! It comes to you from none other than Bridget Jackson, resident guru for all things numbers and profitability. Bridget is the manager of PPA Business and also a CPA. She's helped hundreds of photography studios be more profitable and will address some common questions each month. Heed her advice folks--this lady knows her stuff!

What do all entrepreneurs need to know?

By Bridget Jackson, CPA

This is a question I receive frequently, and see it all over the place on other sources of photography advice. Some of it is good, but some, well, you know...

I've read through multiple columns on what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and here I present you an abbreviated list of often-overlooked qualifications. It's not a be-all-end-all list by any means, but these are some takeaways that seem relative in light of the fact that I am a numbers person and a consumer.

1). If you don't know your numbers and how to read them, you've got one foot in the proverbial grave of a failed business.

That might seem harsh, but did you know that according to the Small Business Administration (SBA), only 2/3 of small businesses survive two years? The reason they flop is poor accounting.

Let me take that one step further and say that it's not enough to have your tax return prepared once a year. You have to understand what your numbers mean.

PPA is here to help you understand the principles of sound financial management, and it starts with managerial accounting. PPA provides resources to members to help you implement, understand and manage your business based on these principles. If you are not practicing, I encourage you to follow in the footsteps of what many successful studios have done before you and embrace managerial accounting today.

An added benefit of visiting the Benchmark Resources is participating in the current survey. Not only will you feel an overwhelming sense of community knowing that you contributed to the only industry-wide financial survey, but that you helped shape the results of the survey. PPA will release preliminary numbers at Imaging USA 2015.

2). Company culture drives a successful business

As the boss it is your job to define, provide the resources and participate in the implementation of your company's culture. Businesses that succeed in this area have an increase in overall employee satisfaction and retention.

For those of you who don't have employees; don't feel left out. I have one for you too!

2A). As the sole employee of your studio, you need to be prepared to "take out the trash."

That's right, although you won't have a boss to answer to, you will be left with the potentially unwanted tasks of answering the phones, cleaning, etc. So prepare yourself mentally for these roles. It's up to you to take care of the dirty work too!

3). Know your competition and treat them with respect.

Just because someone is a photographer doesn't mean they are your competition. Continue to evolve yourself as an artist by entering print competitions and by continuing to update your product offerings. Cultivate a professional relationship and level of respect among your peers. Their opinion of you and your business often outweighs others.  As a consumer, negative comments by one entrepreneur about another actually have detrimental effects on the business owner making the comments. One way to rise above is to become an industry expert in your market and lead by example.

Of course, it takes much more than this to create a successful business. But taking these small steps can make a huge difference along the way!

 

 

It should be no surprise that February flew by. Fast. Didn't have a chance to check in on theLoop this month? We'll we've got the top five discussions right here! Check them out, chime in and see where you fall in these popular topics:

Are you contemplating switching lighting systems? It can be a challenging and mind -boggling task! Weigh in to see what the best fit is for you and your fellow photogs. 

Do business cards make a difference? What designs work well and what designs might drive potential clients away? See if your cards are helping or hurting your business here

Sometimes Google doesn't even have the right answer. Talk turkey with F-stops and DOF while using an 85mm. 

Do you work with large groups in the out of doors? Discuss how to use fill light to correct those spots where the natural light falls short here!

This is always a hot topic. What do you do when a client asks for digital files? What are some good alternatives? What's some key language to use to drive your point home? Get in on this topic that impacts almost every photographer here. 

Don't forget, theLoop is PPA's safe and secure online community where members can discuss various photography topics! Not a PPA member? It's easy: join today!
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By Mariah Ashley

You know that feeling when you act really badly and you're ashamed of yourself?

In the words of Grumpy Cat, I had that feeling last week. It was awful.

Allow me to set the scene...

It's the end of a long week, Friday evening and it's past my bed time. My daughter returns from the middle school dance complains that she isn't feeling well. She's prone to low blood sugar, so I insist rather unsympathetically that she eat something. She feebly protests that she can't eat because she's nauseous. I bark, "You're nauseous because you haven't eaten!" and send her whimpering to her room. I begrudgingly prepare a snack of orange juice and a granola bar.

Meanwhile, my sweet, concerned husband enters the kitchen and asks what's wrong with our daughter and why am I slamming the orange juice around? I have no answer for why I am angry so I just rant about no one listening to me.

"Why are you yelling at me?" he asks.

To which I reply, {in a demon voice} "Because I'm a {blank}!" I knew that was a mistake as soon as it left my evil little lips. "Good night," says my husband with hurt and disgust and then closes the door to our bedroom, and is not seen until the next morning.

Incidentally, my child with "low blood sugar" actually has a hideous stomach virus that keeps her vomiting for four hours straight and me stripping bedding and holding her hair out of the toilet right alongside her. These many hours on the bathroom floor give me plenty of time to think about my bad behavior. Truthfully, I am shocked at what came out of my mouth and I honestly don't know why I feel so mad.

Around four in the morning I have my answer. While my daughter is sleeping, I go downstairs to my office, and with one sleep deprived look at my desk, my mini rage episode makes sense. Piles of notes on ideas and projects I want to start cover the entire surface of my workspace. Grandiose-itis, brought on by my recent trip to Imaging USA has reared its ugly head once more.

Grandiose-itis is a hereditary disease which was passed on to me from my father, a farmer and part-time mad scientist. A person suffering from Grandiose-itis is compelled to take any spark of creativity he or she has and immediately mentally turn that spark into a grand money making or life-changing scheme.

The victim is then compelled to incessantly and obsessively work to make the grandiose idea into a reality, regardless of whether the idea is even a viable one. Generally people who suffer from grandiose-itis juggle dozens of these ideas/schemes at the same time, inadvertently sucking the people around them into their vortex of crazy. Because I had filled two notebooks with ideas and to-do lists while I was at Imaging in Phoenix, my vortex had reached cyclonic proportions.

When you have Grandiose-itis you are incapable of doing anything small. For instance, when I was growing up my dad decided it would be fun to throw and annual Labor Day party. Then he decided it would be fun to make it a fish-fry. My family lives in Cape Cod where Fish & Chips is a big thing. My father built a fish fry shack (think Tiki bar meets sea shanty), bought an industrial restaurant fry-a-later, vats of oil, sacks of batter, 50 pounds of codfish, 75 pounds of French fries, and then invited the entire town to partake.

Of course, the kiddos need something to do so he built them a wooden waterslide lined with plastic. The top of the slide came out of the top of our barn and the bottom of the slide ended in an inflatable boat filled with water. A hose running at the top kept everyone from plastic friction burns. Epic fun, but hitting the bottom of that rubber boat at 10 miles an hour is probably the reason I have a flat butt to this day. Ouch!

And that was just the first year of the fish fry, every year the party got bigger, live entertainment, a fishing contest, a Ferris wheel he purchased from a defunct amusement park (this grand idea ended up rusting behind the barn, probably vetoed by my mother).

The fish fry was a successful example of Grandiose-itis, and there are many other examples of my father's ingenious ideas that solved the constant problems of farm life. Once and a while though, my father had less than successful ideas. For instance, the day my father spread two tons of chicken manure on our property and singlehandedly killed any chance of popularity for me at the bus stop on my first day of middle school. Then there was his all pickle diet.

Pickle Pic.jpg

Pickles (a natural superfood haven't you heard?) were apparently all my dad thought he needed to ingest for survival. For weeks my mother made constant trips to purchase oversized barrels of dill pickles for my father. Then there was the all fruit diet, this idea ended badly... in the hospital. Another slimy idea that thankfully never made it past the drawing board: the "frog-leg" farm.

The last time my own Grandiose-itis was this out of control it nearly resulted in my own death... by cow. I was on a tropical vacation with my husband and children on a remote island in the Grenadines. After an already adventure packed day I insisted my husband drive us up and over a mountain in our rental jeep so we could take the "scenic route."

A harrowing thirty minutes of rutted, washed-out road later we were off-road for real with a flat tire and no spare. Nighttime was approaching and rain threatened and it was all my fault. Determined to make things right, I set off running in flip flops down the jungle road to find civilization. That's when I heard it. Jungle cow stampede.

Running at top speed I glanced over my shoulder to see a hulking brown beast bearing down on me. So naturally I stopped. Surprisingly the beast stopped too. It's no fun to chase a flat butt if it's not running I guess. The beast lumbered off, shaken I limped back to my traumatized family. Later that night as the kids drifted off into recurring cow induced nightmares, my husband asked me, "Why when we were already in OZ did I need to go looking for hyper-OZ?" Grandiose-itis that's why.

So now here I find myself again suffering from a bout of Grandiose-itis. Only this time, much like the deranged jungle cow I am mowing down my own family. This madness must stop! I sat, realizing in the still of my pre-dawn surrounding that I might not be able to stop myself from generating ideas but I need to figure out how to wield them. I don't ever want my big ideas for business to interfere with caring for my family or even for my clients. I don't want to be the kind of mother who is unsympathetic to her sick child or the kind of wife who is cranky to her very patient husband because I am stressed from self imposed lunacy. I don't want to ignore the needs of my clients because I am busy with yet another new business venture.

Just then, a thought hit me like a runaway cow. The thought was a mission statement for my business. A small business with a big heart.

After tending to my child and begging my husband's forgiveness I went to work the next day to rid myself of some of the Grandiosity. Trish and I decided that any project or idea that didn't fit our new statement could be immediately discarded. A book idea, two inventions, a few educational goals, a marketing scheme and a partridge in pear tree left my desk and went into the trash. I felt much lighter and much less cranky. After slicing and dicing the grand idea list we ended up with several ideas for charity, a few ideas for caring for our clients and a big project that will help our fellow photographers. All grand yet doable projects that fit our new mission statement of big heartedness.

Does any of this tale sound uncomfortably familiar? Do you think that you too may suffer from Grandiose-itis? Take a look at your desk. If it looks like the photo of mine, then you might. Do you feel constant pressure and crankiness like I did? Are you ready to explode? Are you drowning in your own ideas? Stop suffering needlessly! All those pickles ideas can drive a person to madness.

Break the awful chains of Granidose-it is! Save yourself and the ones you love. It's great to have grand ideas, it means you are a visionary! Remember though, you are only one person. You can't do it all. Stop and ask yourself about your vision for your business. Don't let your ideas carry you away like a bovine on the loose.

Do you have a mission statement? A simple guideline that you can weigh all those big ideas against? That's step one. Once you have your statement, start making room on that desk. If the big idea doesn't support the mission it doesn't deserve to take up real-estate on your desk or in your head. Good luck!

P.S. Love you dad. I'm a chip off the old pickle.

 

About the author:

Thumbnail image for winter.jpg
Mariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van,  grew up on a cranberry farm and is happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree.

 

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.

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?

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    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 Amazon.com 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. 

As a professional photographer, you had to start somewhere. That "somewhere" came with a learning curve and plenty of missteps to get to where you are today.

We asked people on theLoop to share their top rookie moves. What were your biggest learning moments in your early career? Color prints, under-charging and equipment malfunctions are only the tip of the iceberg.

Our top ten opportunities for improvement are below. Many of these stories are cringe-worthy to seasoned vets, but they provide a great example of how we've all had our struggles in the beginning. If you have mistakes worth sharing, post them on "What mistakes did you make when you began as a pro photographer?" thread or send them to us at theLoop@ppa.com.

  1. "The biggest rookie mistake I made was right after I graduated from school. I had a job to photograph the interior of a new house being built for the CEO of TJ Maxx. This was back in the film days, but the mistake I made still applies to today's digital cameras. Check and then double check that you have all of your camera settings right. The mistake was I didn't check to make sure the shutter speed was synced right with the lights. Big mistake on my part and when I got the film and print back I nearly dropped to the floor. Then the worst came when I had to call the client and ask for a re-shoot. "Not on your life" was their reply. Needless to say, I have not repeated that mistake." - Paul Robinson 

  2. "My/Our biggest mistake was getting into photography without fully understanding the business side of things. We were very "green" and should have taken some classes prior to jumping in with both feet. We quickly realized that only being a photographer in a photography business wasn't going to cut it. Thankfully, things improved dramatically once we started to educate ourselves. I don't think most start-ups realize how many aspects there are to running a business. You need to be proficient in photography, marketing, sales, design, AND business to make it and I only walked in with two of those skills." - T. Blair Wright

  3. "Attempting to do my own color prints, this was back in the day of film only, rolling the color print in a black plastic tube, one at a time, colors came out way to bright and rich so I then sent them to a lab. I wasted time (and money) doing it that first time." - Peter Farrar

  4. "One of the growing pains I had to deal with was choosing the proper lens to use for a shoot. Also, taking my time to get the composite and get it right before the shot is taken. Learning the hard way of quality vs. low price on gear. Long story on that but I learned you get what you pay for." - Michael Ali

  5. "Thinking I could teach myself. I knew nothing about composition, lighting, posing and everything else that anyone that picks up a camera thinks at first. I lost every model I had and every client. I wish I had a peer back then to show me the ropes. You cannot do it on your own and education is a major in what we do. Knowing what I know now, I wish I could start over and do things the right way from day one." - Jason Grass

  6. "What mistakes did I make when I began as a photographer? ALL of them! But, I learned from every single one and it has helped me be the image maker that I am today... You should learn from others but the mistakes you make are lessons you'll learn the deepest and best (if you pay attention). Don't be afraid to try new things after doing the research. If it doesn't work, go at it again. It pays off." - Bob Coates, M. Photog.Cr., CPP

  7. "My big mistake was starting out under-financed. It took me three years to get firmly on my feet. If I had been supporting a family I would probably not have made it. " - Mark Houde

  8. "Not charging enough was my biggest rookie mistake. Setting prices too low isn't a sustainable business model." - Elizabeth McConchie

  9. "The very first wedding I ever shot was 36 years ago. I decided that I was smarter than everyone else, so I shot the wedding on Ektachrome film because I wanted to project the images in the sales room. Images turned out fine (by my standards at the time), but I never checked on the actual cost of printing from slides. It was so expensive back then that I lost a lot of money preparing the order. Of course, I charged a crazy low price so I could get the job. The more the clients ordered, the more I lost. Long story short, when you first start and know nothing about the [photography] business, everything you learn by mistake is tremendously important - and costly. Result for me: I never used slide film for a wedding ever again." - Paul D'Aigle

  10. "My biggest mistake so far...aside from starting out so "green" (and not the cool kind of "eco-green" either) was when I did my first paid assignment with studio lights. I hadn't done my homework on print labs yet, so I offered the CD...but offering it for way too low was not the worst of my mistakes.. The worst was not following through on my own work. Thankfully, through the conditioning I had received from PPA, theLoop & other pros, I switched immediately to in-person sales (even though these were portfolio building/learning sessions for me). I'm so thankful to have set up that standard for my business early on...even though it was in our living room on the flat screen TV, it still worked! I've been getting great sales! But there's another part to my story... I had lunch with that same client (who printed her own images from the CD) and finally had the opportunity to see the prints she had made. Oh horrors!!! They were awful!!! Terrible cropping...color & white balance all off...and one was put into an 8x10 frame with the wrong crop ratio, so there was a white border on each side! The worst part of it all was that she thought they were so great! I bit my tongue (these were photos of her grandchildren...) and promised to order an 8x10 that I would edit to help her "see the difference"...and apologized for my lack of knowledge back then." - Ann Brenny

brokencamera_blog.jpgAs a professional photographer, you know that the unexpected can (and will) happen during a photo shoot.

We asked you to share your stories of some of the strangest occurrences while photographing on theLoop, the social network just for PPA members! Ten of our favorite stories are below. While these stories can be hilarious, they also highlight the need for things like equipment and malpractice insurance for your photography business (both of which are available through PPA as part of your membership!).

Fainting brides! Fire ant attacks! Mother Nature! And excrement! You'll find all these situations and more in these stories.

1). "I managed to break my camera and my 35mm three minutes before the bride walked down the aisle. I have no clue what happened to cause it either. The top plastic grid thing of the mirror fell off. Literally broke and just fell off. It was like a quantum leap into suckdom! I almost cried. Thank GOD (or a brain) for insurance AND backup equipment. Being without my 35mm was so hard though. Sigh!" - Jessica Williams Dorris

2). "While taking photos of Girl Scouts at a farm, the peacocks started mating. We were so happy that the male peacock was showing his beautiful feathers for our photo shoot. Well, he was trying to attract Mrs. Peacock and it worked!" - Karen Hoglund

3). "I stepped in dog poop! Matter of fact, It was a dog photo shoot. I'm usually careful about such things but I backed up to get a shot and...squish. I didn't have another pair of shoes either. Needless to say, I took off my shoes when I went in their house later!" -  Karen Hoglund

4). "I was on a shoot outside a decommissioned Air Force (Loring AFB) in northern Maine. On the base is a place where old military vehicles go for upgrades and repairs. I used to do lingerie or swimwear photos on the old trucks that were placed just outside the gate and were either scrap or awaiting repairs. The model went to change and I informed her I would be waiting on the back of one of the trucks, it had been a long day of shooting and I was not watching where I was going, I also did not see the pipe that the cable of winch went through nor did I realize that it had been welded in place.  

"As I jumped on the back of the truck and turned I rammed my left temple into the end of said pipe. I didn't think much of it until I felt a bit of blood on the side of my face... Yep, I drew blood... That caused the saying that 'No one but me is allowed to get injured during shoots', although I have learned to make sure of where I am going before I leap to it." - Jason Grass

5). "I had a bird poop on my face while shooting an engagement once. Not fun...right down my face." -  T. Blair Wright
You might remember receiving a survey from InfoTrends sometime last summer. Some of yousurveyimageblog.jpg might even remember filling it out! It was long, but for a good purpose and well, the results are in! They paint an interesting picture of the photographic industry. See where you fit...

In the published report entitled Digital Imaging and Professional Photographers: 2012 Results, InfoTrends examined the behaviors of 2,315 full-time and part-time professional photographers in the U.S. The results uncovered some of today's key opportunities for photographers.

Photographers' Demographics
Sorry fellas, but we have to give some props to the ladies here. The photography industry has historically been dominated by older males, but it looks like that is starting to change. InfoTrends conducted a similar survey in 2009, and only 16% of those who responded were female. In the 2012 edition, that number more than doubled to 33%. You GO girls! Turns out the female photographers also tend to be younger, clocking in at an average of 41.0 years old to the males' 50.5.

Out of those brave men and women who completed the survey (thank you!), 60% were full-time photographers and 40% were part-time.

Photography Specialties
The results here demonstrated that most professional photographers identify multiple specializations. That tells us that many pros are doing a good job of being well-rounded! On average, professional photographers specialized in five different types of photography, and here's where InfoTrends got crafty.

Because photographers identify themselves in multiple areas of specialization (see:  well-rounded), InfoTrends asked them to indicate the percentage of their business that was devoted to the various categories. If his or her company generated more than 40% of their business from one particular type, they were determined to have a concentration in that area.

The most popular areas of specialization were:

infortrendschartspecialties.jpg



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