PPA Today: Photography Business Archives
Recently in Photography Business Category
By John Owens
This year PPA is working with two lucky studios in all areas of their business, to give them a total "makeover". Every facet of their businesses will be scrutinized to help them be more profitable. The makeover will touch on and improve their business model, branding, pricing, marketing, sales strategy, workflow efficiency and overall profitability--all based on the tools, information and resources set by PPA's Benchmark!
Follow these two studios' progress, challenges and changes. Updates will be posted right here on the blog and you will be able to watch monthly webinar updates to track this year-long process. It's a series worth paying attention to, as there will be strategies and business tactics you can apply to your business too.
In the previous post 2 Studios Are Getting a Full Business Makeover This Year! you met PPA Studio Makeover recipients, Wes Roberts and Krista Newbill and read the overview of the makeover process.
Now that the makeovers are underway, you can follow along with their progress! First up is Wes as he and the PPA mentor team dove into the financials of his business.
Wes was super excited to get started. He's been working with PPA's Business Consultant and CPA, Bridget Jackson, to get a handle on where he is currently and the best way to move forward.
First, we always did a complete financial analysis of the studio. It's important to know what's working and what's not. We did this by comparing Wes' studio's numbers to PPA's Benchmark Survey. By comparing his cost of sales, overhead and net profit we started to get a good picture of the pitfalls that are causing monetary loss. We also uncovered potential opportunities for savings.
Wes' numbers looked better than the average benchmark studios in 2013 and 2014. However, his 20% cost of sales percentage doubled between 2013 and 2014. While, in general, 20% is a great number to achieve (below the recommended 25%), we had to figure out what has changed to cause such a drastic uptick and put everything in place to ensure that trend would not continue in 2015.
Second, PPA mentors helped Wes develop a photography business plan for 2015 that included three goals:
- the number of sessions he wants to photograph (broken down by month)
- the sales average of each session
- his net profit
Prom season is coming up! For a photographer, prom can be a tricky setting to work in - not to mention the formality of the portraits. So how do you survive a prom photo session? Read up on these tips from theLoop! Don't wait; it's just around the corner.
1. Make sure you communicate with the coordinator often to ensure you both are on the same page. You will want to discuss backgrounds, props, times, etc. Prior to the prom, drop off advertisements for the school to distribute to the students including prepayment information, brochures, samples, etc. This will let students know of your services, pre-pay, or ask questions. Also, bring extras to the event.
2. Arrive early to allow plenty of time to set up. Odds are the venue won't have all the supplies you need like a nearby wall outlet. Bring extension cords, pens, paperclips, a stapler, change, and a secure place to store money. If you can, bring along an assistant to help process the paperwork and payments. Make sure to let your assistant know the image number for each couple, so he/she can write it on their paperwork. High school is full of awkward moments, which may make for awkward photos. If possible, bring sample photos of poses.
3. Make sure to clarify for each shot if the participating students are just friends or are a romantic couple. It's not uncommon to see a few same-sex couples come up for photos. Some of the time, they are just friends, but others may be an actual couple. If it is a same sex couple, pose them just as you would a heterosexual couple. This can be a sensitive subject, but if you're open and accepting about it, the students are much more comfortable. Considering you're a professional, it is most appropriate to keep your personal beliefs to yourself when on the job.
4. It is important to have a reasonable turnaround time. It shouldn't take more than a few weeks max to get back to photos returned to the school. Notify the school and students of your estimated turnaround time ensuring your quality work.
Thank you to Crystal Prahl at Forever Me Photography for your contributions on theLoop. Have any further tips or opinion about prom photography? Check out the thread on theLoop.
By: Lauren Walters
How do you compete with amateur photographers? You have good resources at PPA to help! The See The Difference consumer-focused campaign aims at showing consumers "the difference" when evaluating photographers...and realize the importance of hiring a pro like you. It may seem hard to differentiate yourself, but you can stand out from the crowd by putting the tools and resources PPA developed for its members to work for you. This See The Difference toolbox can show your clients the difference it makes when hiring a PPA photographer. If you are with PPA, you can download videos, logos, customizable brochures, and other marketing materials to educate your clients. It's marketing help and sales pitch that support YOU as PPA photographers.
The video below is a reminder that when it comes to weddings, the day happens so quickly that you barely remember all the details. A PPA photographer not only stays focused, but captures the emotion - not just the composition. (If you do not photograph weddings, no worries: there are more videos for other specialties on the See The Difference Resource page!)
Watch this video then consider sharing it with your wedding clients so they can see why they should hire a PPA photographer like you!
There are a lot more videos on the See The Difference Resources page including some showing the importance of hiring professional Family and High School Senior photographers. If you're a PPA photographer, grab the embed codes for your own website today. There are other resources you can download/embed/use and share to spread the work and make a more compelling case for your professional status:
- side-by-side comparisons
- Facebook tab
- other tools
Go ahead, show the difference hiring a professional photographer makes. Remember: the more photographers spread the word, the more successful and more powerful the "See The Difference" message becomes, which benefits ALL professional photographers!
By: Lauren Walters
Are you getting back into the swing of things after Imaging? Put those ideas to work! ...After you check out our top blogs for the week.
OSCAR WORTHY: After dying in a Chicago nursing home, a woman leaves behind her hidden collection of photographs. Celebrating her life, this article delves into the story behind her Oscar nominated photos. The full documentary is available in some movie theaters and on iTunes, Amazon Prime and YouTube.
EMOTIONAL COST: Traveling to a different country for original images is normal, but would you put yourself in danger to obtain that shot? This photojournalist thinks so. Take a look at her photos and judge for yourself.
MAKING YOUR MARK: This documentary features photography of African-Americans making history. Appreciate the difference these photos made and learn about the filmmaker's intent to showcase the evolution of professional photography!
BRANDING: How do multi-talented photographers brand their work? Instead of keeping up with 2 or 3 separate brands for each talent such as a writer, photographer and painter, just keep up with one; your personal brand!
PORTFOLIO HELP: When putting together a portfolio, your included pieces need to showcase a diverse range of skills and professionalism. Follow this short checklist to see if your portfolio work best represents you as a professional photographer.
INDUSTRY: Photographers were thrown a curve ball when the digital technology evolved. After this struggle, a few photographers were left in the dust because everyone with a smart phone considers themselves a photographer. With this new found struggle, what's a fair price range for professional photography?
SOFTWARE: How long have you been using Adobe Photoshop? The software has been helping photographers plunge into the digital age of photography for the past 25 years. What does Adobe hold for the future?
ETHICS: Baby Amari's life was lost 30 minutes after birth due to medical complications. Photographer Faith Massey's photos of Amari were stolen a month after they were taken, but returned shortly thereafter?
There you have it ladies and gents, our top blogs selection for the week! If you have any suggestions for our next round, please contact us on the Loop.
By: Lauren Walters
Ready to take the plunge into Imaging USA? First, stay up to date with what's happening in the world of photography. Read our top ten favorite blog posts and use them as conversation starters at the convention!
PERSONAL BRAND: Headed to Imaging USA next week? Get a head start! Learn how to market yourself successfully for when you're walking around at the Expo. The first step is to plan, plan, and plan again!
LAYOFFS: For a magazine so heavily reliant on its high-quality images, we were surprised to learn that Sports Illustrated laid off their entire staff of six photographers. A cut of photographers of this scale hasn't happened since The Chicago Sun-Times cut their 28-staffed photographers in 2013. Is history repeating itself?
DESTINATION PHOTOGRAPHER: PPA photographer Joshua Kane gets paid to travel the world and photograph destination weddings. Although Joshua is living the dream, it's not always a vacation. Read about the challenges and benefits of a destination photography business.
MIXED MEDIA: How would a printmaker involve photography in their process? After mixing digital and print mediums, a hybrid medium was born. Check out a lithographer's approach to digital photography.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: India has always been rich in imagery, but not so involved in the art of photography. After their first photography festival four years ago in New Deli, India has become more present in the photography scene. Check out breath-taking images showcasing the exotic Indian lifestyle.
DUH! (THANKFULLY): According to the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), people can distinguish a professional from an amateur photographer. The researcher who conducted this study used special equipment to record the subject's eye movements when exposed to photographs. Check out other conclusions they drew from this experiment.
ARCHIVES: Hoping to raise funds, the publisher of Ebony magazine is selling their entire photo archive. This collection dates back to 1945 including historic and award-winning photography. Find out more about this collection.
EDITING: As a street photographer, you can shoot anytime, anywhere! Where the structured schedule is lacking, the photographer picks up the slack when it comes to editing. Why would one have to heavily edit street photography? Read more to find out!
COPYRIGHT: Learn about Nike's "jumpman" logo legend. Was there a photograph behind this genius design for inspiration? If so, does the photographer deserve to be compensated?
INSPIRATION: We all know those beloved fairytales from our childhood. How about capturing the landscapes that inspired the original Grimm's fairy tales?
Check back with us next week for more top blogs. Any interesting blogs you'd like us to check out, let us know on theLoop!
By: Lauren Walters
Itching for news in the world of photography? Here are our top ten blog posts for this week. From tips and tutorials to adventure and high art, this week's top ten is a creative cluster.
EVENT: Become more knowledgeable, connected, and confident by attending Imaging USA. This convention hosted by PPA takes place on Sunday, Feb. 1 - Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, in Nashville, Tennessee. Read this article to find out about all the benefits it has to offer. Come join the fun at Imaging USA!
Relating the life of a photographer to a life of a circus performer, this blog
shares a few concepts of working the circus life that seem all too familiar to
us photographers. There is no publicity value in working for free. North
America has a silly belief system that work should not be enjoyable, therefore
we should only be paid if there isn't enjoyment. But, don't sell your skills
for free just yet! Value your work and yourself as a professional.
Interested in expanding your portfolio with creative pieces? Try a multiple
exposure piece! From abstract to artistic portraits, regardless of the medium,
this tutorial covers it all when it comes to multiple exposures. Have fun
SHIFT: Going from taking photos to making art can be a huge step. A common
struggle among learning photographers can be focusing on a shallow depth of
field. As soon as you start to learn that photography is a story telling device
is when you start "making" photos instead of "taking" them.
ARTISTS vs. PROFESSIONALS: As a photographer, do you consider yourself an artist? This blog distinguishes creative individuals as craftsmen, artists, professionals and finally entrepreneurs. Furthermore, this blog explains that true artistic geniuses such as Beethoven no longer exist. Instead of artists, we've become professionals.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The featured photograph dates
back to 1956 in an Atlanta airport. Relations of race and gender are assumed
through this intimate photograph. Although, the details of this photo still
remain a mystery today.
PROTECTION: After signing a release, participating in the shoot and getting
paid, a model decides to sue the photographer for the photos getting stolen.
The model signed a release allowing her photos to be used as stock, but they
got stolen off her personal Facebook page after posting them herself. You won't
believe where the images wound up!
AERIAL, BY NIGHT: "Gotham From Above" was shot from a helicopter 7,500 feet above the ground of New York. Capturing aerial photographs can be quite a challenge; helicopters vibrate, so the photographer had to use a relatively high shutter speed. This project showcases the scale of New York City.
-50C AURORA BOREALIS: Into the Siberian wilderness, a Russian photographer ventured to capture images of the Northern Lights. Because of temperatures (as low as -50C), the photographer designed a coat to protect his camera. We applaud this photographer for braving such harsh conditions for the sake of art. Take a look at the results!
COMMERCIAL VS. FINE ART: Check out this high art marketing campaign. An acrobat dances in a cloud of powdered milk to create the most stunning photography designed to sell creamer. Did this approach make you crave creamer?
Enjoy this week's blog posts? Check back next
week for more excitement! If you have a blog you want us to check out, let us
know on theLoop!
By Bridget Jackson, CPA, PPA Business manager
As you look to 2015, it's important to assess where you've been and where you want to go. It's impossible to achieve your goals if you don't have a plan to get there.Here are 6 things you can do in 2015 to meet your financial goals: