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PPA Today: Photography Business Archives

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By Tristin Vaccaro
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Photographer Darren Roberts went from photographing 20 city weddings a year to more than 50 mountain weddings in 2016. The transition took two years, but his determination allowed him to build a career creating what he loves. He shares tips on brand consistency, search-based marketing, and establishing a niche in "Weddings With a Rocky View," only on PPmag.com

Image © Darren Roberts

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So far you've learned the basics of Marketing and figured out how to recognize your target audience. Now, what do you do with this information? You can't just willy-nilly start throwing ads out there or hitting social media without a plan! So, the next step is to get organized and create that plan. Just follow these easy steps, and you'll be ready to start marketing your photography business!

Step 1: Situation Analysis

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It's as simple as, what is your current situation? Where are you and where do you want to be? Start with a SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.


Strengths and Weaknesses are qualities that currently exist within your business. Is your photography great, but your bookkeeping could use work? Do you work really hard, but for too many hours? Are you strong with event photography, but need more practice in the portrait discipline? If you take a little time to reflect on your work, you will know where you excel and where you could use a little help. If you have outside mentors, friends, or even members of your business that you trust and respect, you can ask for their help in identifying some of these areas with you.

Opportunities and Threats are forces that are working outside of your business. Is there an opportunity to expand your market, but there's more competition in those markets? Can you include different types of photography, but maybe you aren't fully educated in that area? Think about what you want to accomplish as a business owner.  What conditions in the market are favorable or will help you reach those goals?  Opportunities are everywhere.  They can be relationships you're building with influencers in your area, a new photographic niche that's becoming popular or even technology advancements.    Finally, identify those outside forces that could hinder you.  Threats could be an economic downturn, discontinued product items and again, changes in technology.

Once you've done that, think about what makes your photography unique. How can you set yourself apart from your competition? Maybe you specialize in print photography. Maybe you're the only high school senior photographer in your area. You know what makes your work special, so just pause and identify what sets you apart from the rest.

Step 2: Describe Your Target Market

Lucky for you, you've probably already created an outline for this. If not, take some time to create your buyer persona. Once you've done that, you can write a short paragraph about your target market. Make sure to detail where (geographically) your audience resides, their age, gender, etc. Make sure to identify their wants and the challenges associated with providing solutions for said wants. Make it clear for yourself, and anyone else that might not be fully invested in your business (for example, a freelance marketing assistant).

Step 3: Identify Your Marketing Goals

When thinking about your marketing goals, remember that they need to fit into your overall business goals. Also, don't forget to create S.M.A.R.T. goals.

So, what are your studio's goals? To increase your bottom dollar? To expand the reach of your business? To tell clients about new products or services? Make a list of your goals, from most important to least important, and attack each goal individually. Make sure you are clear about each goal, so you have a clear path on how to effectively reach it.

Step 4: Decide on the Marketing Strategies You'll Use

Your buyer persona will again help you in this area. Many of these strategies will be based solely off of age. Does your audience relate to Facebook, or are they more Snapchat savvy? Would your target audience pick up a magazine, or would they be more likely to see a sign at the local coffee shop? By knowing the likes and recreation habits of your target audience, you can decide the best and most effective outlets for your message.

The most effective strategies will be multilevel. What do you mean MULTILEVEL?! Multilevel refers to engaging your potential client at every moment of their buying journey. You have probably made a decision about a big purchase before. Did you dive in and buy, let's say, the first car you came across? No, you probably did your research, picked your favorite kind, and then shopped your options. That's exactly what your potential clients are doing.

For example, maybe a potential client does a Google search for photographers in their area. There's your first outreach opportunity. Maybe that potential client then checks out your website, but then leaves to run an errand and forgets about their family portrait. Maybe the next thing they do is surf Facebook. Boom! There's your next opportunity to reach out. Maybe later that night your client goes to the local coffee shop to get a late night mochaccino. Did you remember to hang up a flyer there?

Think about all the paths that your buyer persona might take during their buying journey and plan accordingly.

Step 5: Set a Budget


Piggy.jpgIt's time to set some money aside. If you run the finances, make sure that you are putting the appropriate amount aside to achieve your marketing goals. Also, make sure you aren't setting too much aside in order to protect your profits. If you're a little nervous about creating a budget, the PPA Business Challenge and the Square One tool are great resources to get you on the confident budgeting track.


If you're the creative, and you have a partner or a financial advisor, they may be a huge help in this area. Talk over your plan with that person, and let them know your intent and your ideas on how much you might need for running a marketing campaign.

If you're just starting out, this may mean that you'll need to incur some costs up front. In this case, you should monitor your spending and still try to keep to a budget. If you see that some things are proving to be expensive with not much return on your investment (ROI), that's when you start adjusting your plan. Don't worry about keeping a hard line on the original plan; it should always be flexible and serve your business needs. As our marketing director at PPA always says: "Test, Test, Test!"

Once you've followed these steps you should have a clear outline of your next steps. If you're looking for additional marketing tools, check out the See The Difference© campaign and PRINT. The Movement campaign. If these intrigue you, find out more about becoming a PPA member today!

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Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.

By Autumn Rice

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The print movement is in full effect, and as a professional photographer you have to get involved and spread the world about the movement to your clients and peers!

The Resources page on PrintMovement.org offers great content to spread the word about what the print movement is, and how to get involved. All of these resources are easy to use and tap into the emotion of clients to help them understand the value of printed photography. 

The brochure template is tri-fold and customizable for your studio. Simply download the brochure, and add your photos, your studio information, and prices. The outreach content expounds on the movement and provides clients with credible information about the importance of the movement, and why they should be willing to pay more for printed work. The Print videos are a great way to promote the movement in your studio. All you have to do is download or stream the videos in the lobby of your studio. There are also logos for you to put on your official print materials. There are a variety of styles and colors, so choose the one that best fits your business! 

All of these resources are downloadable and customizable on the print resources page. Head over to PrintMovement.org/Resources to get your resources and be a part of the print movement today!

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By Tristin Vaccaro

Did you know that an alarming 53% of consumers haven't printed a photo in more than 12 months, 70% don't have photo albums, and 42% no longer print photos at all? Forgotten photos often sit on various digital devices, rarely to be looked at again. These same devices are sure to be outdated and replaced in just a few short years, meaning those photos could be lost forever.  

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Let's change that!

PRINT. The Movement was created to bring consumers and professional photographers together in an effort to get photos off of digital devices and into homes and hands where they belong. By getting involved in the PRINT movement, professional photographers have the opportunity to learn how to advance their business through the sale of high quality prints. PRINT. The Movement will provide you with marketing tools and sales techniques so you can convey to your clients the importance of having their photos professionally printed.

This year at Imaging USA 2017 in San Antonio attendees and vendors alike were all abuzz about PRINT. The word has gotten out and it is clear that this year is going to be a banner year for printed products. PRINT. The Movement champions the idea that photos weren't meant to just sit on a computer or smartphone. They're meant to be looked at, remembered, and cherished.

Those who visited the PRINT For Success Theater at this year's Imaging USA left filled with tons of inspiration, ready to take the message home and spread it among their clients. Theater attendees were treated to 30-minute sessions featuring top photographers sharing their sales tips for printed products. The PRINT For Success Theater was a highlight for many and proved to be one of the most popular installations at the convention. There were always eager participants in the theater, soaking up the info and sales technique tips from respected leaders in the industry. 

If you want to get involved, check out PRINT. The Movement at printmovement.org

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Your PPA family is getting bigger: the New York Institute of Photography is now offering their students certification through PPA's CPP program! This is a big deal and serves to expand and deepen both organization's missions to elevate the craft of photography and provide support to professionals. Check out the press release, reprinted below.

NYIP Adds Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) Designation to Online Photography Course Offerings    

The New York Institute of Photography (NYIP) has partnered with the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) to offer their students and graduates a widely recognized industry certification. The CPP (Certified Professional Photographer) designation is the official credential for photographers that want to set themselves apart within the highly competitive creative industry.

NEW YORK, NY-JANUARY 17, 2017
The New York Institute of Photography (NYIP) has partnered with the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) to offer their students and graduates a widely recognized industry certification. The CPP (Certified Professional Photographer) designation is the official credential for photographers that want to set themselves apart within the highly competitive creative industry.

The Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) program from PPA assures potential clients of a photographer's knowledge, experience and continuance to develop new skills and techniques. It is a declaration of professional competence and ability. Through this exclusive partnership, photographers who study with NYIP can qualify to take the CPP exam and earn their certification.

Photographers who earn their CPP credential do so for three primary reasons. First, it gives them an edge in advertising their services, as certification promotes trust in the minds of clients and consumers. Second, it is a way to justify the price of services offered by the world's top photographers. Finally, the peer validation step that is required to earn the certification signals to the photography world that you truly care about your craft.

"PPA is excited to bring the Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) credential to NYIP students and alumni through this exclusive partnership," says Julia Boyd, CAE, Director of Certification at PPA. "As the world's largest non-profit photography association PPA's mission of creating a vibrant community of successful professional photographers by providing education, resources and industry standards of excellence is in sync with NYIP's values and goals. We are eager to spread the power of Certification as both organizations continue to raise the bar in the photographic industry."

The CPP program can be added to any of NYIP's online photography classes at the time of enrollment for $473. This cost is $50 less than the price typically offered by PPA and includes one year of PPA membership. Students and graduates already enrolled in NYIP courses may purchase CPP directly for the same price.

After purchasing, the path to certification is a simple, 3-step process. First, students will declare their candidacy to PPA. Second, they will study for and pass the CPP exam. Finally, they will submit a set of images for official review. Once said images are approved, the photographer will have earned their CPP designation.

For more information or to get started on your path to photography certification, you may visit http://www.nyip.edu/courses/cpp-photography-certification.

About the New York Institute of Photography
The New York Institute of Photography offers ten great online photography courses. Founded in 1910, NYIP is the largest and longest running photography school in the world, having successfully trained thousands of photographers for more than 100 years. Located in the heart of the art capital of the world, New York City, NYIP brings high quality photography education straight to its students' doors. NYIP currently offers ten online photography courses in areas such as portraits, weddings, travel, nature, photojournalism, video making and Photoshop. NYIP is owned and operated by Distance Education Co., LLC, which also operates the New York Institute of Art and Design, the premier home-study school for creative professionals.

About Professional Photographers of America (PPA)
Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is the world's largest non-profit photography association organized for professional photographers, by professional photographers and with more than 29,000 creative members in more than 50 countries. Our mission is to create a vibrant community of successful professional photographers by providing education, resources and industry standards of excellence.

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Looking for some inspiration? PPA members know they have the benefit of over 350 tutorials and educational videos through PPAedu, but each month, one video is unlocked for everyone to enjoy, because we believe in sharing the power of education with all of our photography friends.  

The PPAedu library has tutorials to help you sharpen your photography techniques, marketing strategies, sales techniques, and business operations. These educational videos are available 24/7 to PPA members. 

Between PPAedu and PhotoVision, as a PPA member, you can tap into over 800 programs to help you Be More! (If you haven't checked out PhotoVisionVideo, take a look!)

For the month of January, the video "The Value of Emotion in Your Brand" with Tim Walden M.Photog.Hon.M.Photog.Cr., CPP, F-ASP and Beverly Walden M.Photog.Cr. has been unlocked! In this video, Tim and Beverly Walden discuss and demonstrate the value of emotion in your brand. It's not just about products or photographs, but how these make your clients feel. And, if you can make that connection with your work and your customers, you'll have a booming business! The Waldens share their brilliant insight, teaching you how to:

Build client connections that differentiate you from your competitors.
Tie emotion and feeling to your product lines.
Target clients who will love what you do.

The Waldens have built a career on learning and capturing people's stories and providing an emotional connection that clients love. Learn how they do it and how you can too!

If you're a member of PPA, just log in to watch the video anytime. Non-members will have access to this video this month only at PPA.com/FreeVideo. For full access to all the PPAedu and PhotoVision videos, join PPA today!

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By Lisa Sharer

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Are you looking for additional tools to help brand your photography business? There's a new exclusive marketing resource for PPA members. Check out the new postcards, which can be found under See The Difference©'s "Custom Brochures."

Many clients can appreciate the quality that comes from hiring a professional, but do they always see or understand it? These postcards can help to get the point across. PPA members submitted their images to give your clients an idea of the before and after when it comes to professional photography. Each specialty contains a unique postcard. Each postcard shows the contrast with professional changes in posing, location, lighting, and/or editing. These are the small changes that you as a professional might see, but it's not as obvious to the untrained eye.

Download these resources to show your current and potential clients just how important it is to hire a professional over an amateur. With these postcards, it's right in front of their eyes!

If you aren't already a PPA member, visit PPA.com to find out how you can join today!

Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.
by James Yates
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PPA's Business Challenge was born nearly one year ago, at Imaging USA 2016 in Atlanta. It was during the Studio Makeover class, dedicated to unveiling the results two studio owners had by implementing PPA's business advice, when Education Director Angela Kurkian began to realize the program could be scaled up. By adding the Challenge as a group on theLoop, all PPA members would have the chance to join and begin their 12-month, step-by-step program to profitability and sustainability for their photography businesses. 

It's been a huge success. There are now nine different Challenge Groups on theLoop, with over 900 members taking advice, implementing changes, sharing wisdom and holding each other accountable as they make the steps toward their studios becoming more financially sound! 

YOU can get a taste of the Business Challenge LIVE and IN PERSON with a class at Imaging USA 2017

Business Challenge mentors Gregory Daniel, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, F-ASP, Mary Fisk-Taylor, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API and Angela Kurkian, M.Photog.Cr., CPP will be presenting the platform program "4 Things You Need to Know to be Successful"  at Imaging USA 2017 in San Antonio, TX. 

The class will be held on January 8 and asks the question, "If you could make four changes to your business and your way of thinking that would help you be more profitable, add time to your day and move your life in the direction you dream of, would you do it?"  Full of great takeaways and business strategies you can start implementing right away, this class is the perfect introduction to the Business Challenge program, which can help you build your business on a strong foundation in 2017.

If you're not already using the Business Challenge to own your place in the photography industry and be more profitable, what are you waiting for?! Sign up now at PPA.com/Challenge! And be sure to register for Imaging USA and join us in San Antonio! 

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By Sidra Safri 
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Your PPA Advocacy team is heading to D.C today for a very busy and exciting week, beginning with the Visual Coalition Summit tomorrow. This will give PPA an opportunity to make sure everyone in the Visual Artist Coalition is on the same page for Copyright Small Claims, and talk about a few other things important to Visual Artists.

Wednesday will be the Creative Rights Caucus event. This will give PPA the opportunity to show members on Capitol Hill the importance of Small Claims and the impact it can have on small businesses, especially those in the photography and graphic artists' world. This is also one of the few opportunities to reach the mass amount of staffers and members on Capitol Hill and share your stories. During this briefing, Anne Geddes, Denis Reggie, and Michael Grecco will share their journeys in becoming a photographer, including the education, time and investment they had to make to be where they are today. They will also touch on the importance of a small claims process for copyright protection and how it is necessary to all creative artists.

Following the CRC event we have meetings lined up to help us reinforce the necessity of small claims. These meetings will be attended by PPA and other members of the Visual Coalition. Attending these meetings in a larger number shows the importance and impact a small claims copyright bill will have.

Stay tuned throughout the week for further updates. And be sure to SIGN UP to lend your name and voice in support of our efforts to improve copyright protection for artists. 

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by James Yates

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Your PPA Advocacy team will be in Washington D.C. next week to join the Creative Rights Caucus for a "lunch and learn" event to be held on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 at 12pm. 

"The Art of Photography: Behind the Lens" will be a chance for House members to gather and learn about the importance of modernizing and strengthening copyright protection for small business creators. Creative Rights Caucus co-chairs, Representatives Judy Chu and Doug Collins, will present panelists giving their stories of how they established themselves, their current challenges with infringement and the lack of remedy for photographers who are infringed upon, highlighting the need for a small claims process within the current U.S. copyright system. 

The panel will be moderated by PPA CEO, David Trust, and will include: 

Anne Geddes - renowned photographer known for capturing the purity and innocence of children, Anne became successful in 1992 when she first published a greeting card collection in New Zealand, eventually leading to calendars which would be sold internationally. She specializes in capturing the beauty, purity, and vulnerability of children, while emphasizing that each child must be "protected, nurtured, and loved". She is responsible for the photographs of children dressed up as various flora and fauna that are seen worldwide. Anne has dealt with international copyright infringement on various levels, therefore understanding how important a small claims process is to photographers. 

Michael Grecco - internationally renowned celebrity portrait and commercial photographer, Michael is a multiple-award-winning industry leader best known for his iconic celebrity portraits and visionary magazine covers, editorials, and advertising spreads for NBC/Universal, GA, Pfizer, HBO, Kodak, ABC, IBM, Yahoo!, ESPN, and more. His distinguished work is regularly featured in prestigious galleries such as Louis Stern, G.Ray Hawkins, Stephen Cohen and Fahey Klein. Michael understands the impact an image can have on society and believes it is important to give credit where credit is due, which can be insured through a small claims process.

Denis Reggie - hailed by Town & Country as "The Great Wedding Photographer of Our Day", Denis got his start as a student at Tulane University, where he took photographs for the yearbook and local newspaper. From there he made his jump to wedding photography, when he realized how posed and unnatural many wedding photos tended to look. As his popularity grew, he had the opportunity to photograph various Kennedy Family weddings, among other Hollywood stars. Denis understands the hard work and skill it takes to capture the true beauty in a photograph, and believes that all photographers, big and small, should be given their credit. Without receiving his rightful credit, Denis would not be where he is today, and therefore is an avid advocate for small claims.

At the end of the event, the professional panelists will help House members discover how to take the "perfect selfie" It's expected to be a fun, yet informative and important, meeting on the Hill.

This event has been planned in accordance to House and Senate Gift Rules by the Creative Rights Caucus in partnership with American Photographic Artists (APA), American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA), Graphic Artists Guild (GAG), National Press Photographers of America (NPPA), Photographic Licensing Universal System (PLUS) and Professional Photographers of America (PPA).

To learn more about PPA's efforts to fight for better copyrights, head to PPA.com/Advocacy and don't forget to join PPA.com/Grassroots to add your name to the list of supporters. 



About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Photography Business category.

Inspiration is the previous category.

PPA Advocacy is the next category.

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