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Happy New Year! Catch up on the new blog posts of 2015 (thus far!).
Take a look at the newly released statistics about employed professional
photographers in 2013. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated about 54,830
professional photographers were employed in the US in 2013, excluding self-employed photographers
(which from our stand point significantly skews the data, but that's why
there's the Benchmark). Also, a few of the top cities for employed photographers are Los
Angeles, Orlando, New York, Atlanta, and Chicago. Can you believe that
Washington D.C. has the highest average annual pay for professional
Climbing the 3,000-foot El Cap is hard enough, but capturing the action is
quite the challenge. National Geographic photographer and filmmaker Corey Rich
attempts to capture rock climbers Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell scale El
Cap. Read more about the struggle and similarities between the photographers
and the climbers.
Developing a file structure can keep your work easily accessible. In Adobe
Lightroom, you can use their built-in template if you like. The author of this
blog uses a similar structure. Renaming your photos can be helpful when you've
been shooting for multiple days with multiple cameras.
GROWTH: Consider some of the following tips to feel refreshed for the New
Year: Calibrate your monitor, install a new hard drive, re-print some new
studio samples, implement email filters, restock office supplies, and check
your credit card statements. Continue reading this blog for more ways to relax
and start fresh in 2015! Well, of course, all of that is on top of coming to Imaging USA!
TO: Is your studio mobile? Learn how to effectively pack your supplies on
the go! Every photographer carries different supplies and in varying
quantities. No matter the variance, one will need a rolling storage bin that is
padded on the inside such as a Stanley mobile tool box from Home Depot. Bungee
cords and a rolling cart are also used for efficient transportation.
VIBES: Do unfortunate events leave you feeling unproductive? Next time you
have a bad day, don't throw in the towel. As creative people, photographers
have the gift of capturing emotion. Channel your negative energy into a
DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE: As a photographer, running a business can be difficult when you're being pulled toward creative endeavors. Try setting a time limit to your sessions, and plan out your creativity. Most importantly, learn to say no to yourself and others by making financially sound choices. Get this advice and more from the Law Tog!
OWLS: Love to shoot at night? Learn how to sharpen your focus! Most cameras
use contrast detection to focus; aim for an area of high contrast. Instead of
focusing on the midpoint of the frame, focus on the edge of the frame to regain
COPYRIGHT: Violation of the First Amendment has led to photographers being wrongly accused. Because of this conundrum, a state of Texas representative brought the Ansel Adams Act to light intending to reinstate the First Amendment. On January 2, 2015 Congress was confronted with the Ansel Adams Act outlining the need for clarity for photographer's rights.
TECHNICALLY SOUND: Make the most out of Lightroom for those significant details. The described method entails intentional overexposure of the photos. This overexposure picks up the shadows and details making your blacks blacker.
Enjoy the new blog posts of 2015! Have specific blogs or topics in mind that you'd like us to feature? Tell us 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:
Need your weekly photography blog fix? You're in luck! Here it is...
COPYRIGHT: PPA was all over this one so we're giving ourselves a little pat on the back. If you have followed the ongoing discussions for copyright reform, you might be interested in how the election results will affect the movement. Well here you go! Who wrote this by the way? That guy is good...
NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY: You might have seen this one from the Huffington Post making the rounds on Facebook among your new mom friends. A C-section might not have the glamour of a traditional birth, but Canadian newborn photographer Jessica Bender was up to the challenge. She captured beautiful images and is now helping to debunk some fears about photographing of C-section births. Now that's a win, win!
EARNING POINTS WITH YOUR CLIENTS: Surely you know those "before and after" photos hawking the latest diet or nutritional supplement are the product of clever lighting and posing tricks (granted, a lot of Photoshop actions too). But what's cool about this video is how confident and happy the subjects of the experiment seem after they see the difference working with a pro who knows how to work with lighting and any body type. This is a cool piece to share if you want to show people what a difference it makes to hire a pro. Plus, you might get a few ideas from the shoot itself too ;-)
to empower photographers, hairstylists and makeup artists to use their skills, tools and expertise to give back to their local community. It's your chance to use your talents to help someone in need of a smile. This year's event is December 6th. Click through to learn how to participate!Help-Portrait is only a month away! Past Imaging USA speaker Jeremy Cowart co-founded Help-Portrait
TECHNIQUE: Drones... so hot right now. Drones. A lot of you already have had clients ask if you use one by now. And while it might just seem like a cool toy (and it is), how can you use one to effectively tell a story? The folks at photofocus offer some tips.
TECHNIQUE: The Holidays are approaching, which = happy, happy bellies. Gear up for your Instagram feed to blow up with everyone's tasty, Pinterest-approved creations! But you're better than Instagram--you're a pro! Check out these tips on how to make that turkey or fancy pinkies-out cocktail drink the envy of all your friends.
In part two of the San Diego throwdown with Levy Moroshan and Dan Hughes, the photographers battle it out under high pressure situations. Check out the video and see who won!
PODCAST/HELPFUL HINTS: Got 30 minutes? Actually, just 27! photofocus sat down with two of the industry's best, including past Imaging USA speaker Joel Grimes, Cr.Photog., for a chat on their lives behind the camera. It's not just a fluff piece, they dig pretty deep!
INSPIRATION: Looking for advice on how to be a successful photographer... from a truly successful photographer? Then check out this video featuring Steve McCurry, one of the best portrait artists in the business. The video also shows his new exhibit in Italy coming together, showcasing some of his best work from all over the world.
INSPIRATION: Let's wrap things up with the most rad time-lapse this blogger has ever seen--from SPACE! French photographer Guillaume Juin put together this video from hundreds of thousands of images taken from the International Space Station. The results are out of this world! Enjoy.
That's, that y'all! The top 10 photography blog posts from around the web this week. What photography blogs have you been enjoying? Let us know on theLoop!
World-renowned studio photographer, Mary Fisk-Taylor, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API, is set to
Mary Fisk-Taylor has been with PPA since 1998 and has been the recipient of numerous awards including Photographer of the Year in 2007, Best in Show, Kodak Gallery, and Fuji Masterpiece awards.
Mary will deliver her #BeMoreSuccessful program at ImagingUSA 2015, where she'll illuminate us on her effective marketing, sales and public relations practices. Consider this AMA as a chance to get to know an IUSA speaker before you get to the big show.
For the uninitiated, an AMA is a simple online conversation where you will have the opportunity to ask Mary anything you'd like (mostly photography stuff) and she'll be able to respond at her own pace! It's an awesome way to really get a sense of who someone is, and an even better way to ask a true professional anything your heart desires (mostly photography stuff). After the success of Booray's AMA we're extremely excited to see where this one goes!
On September 22, just start asking your questions, and let the conversation begin!
7 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!
We love hearing stories from our members, and this is one we couldn't resist sharing. And seriously... what's cuter than baby ducks?!
But before you get your ducks in a row (ha! duck pun!), make sure you read about Georgia photographer Judith Ann's first time using ducklings in a portrait session. Hilarity will ensue!
Baby Ducks Don't Swim...
By: Judith Ann
When I say baby ducks don't swim, it's partially correct and incorrect at the same time, because they do, they just didn't swim in the conditions I provided for them.
What am I talking about you ask? Let me back up and tell you about the large class I attended by a well-known photographer that taught how to build detailed sets for children. I was particularly interested in the set that included an indoor pond with live baby ducks that swam around at the feet of a child sitting on the end of a pier. I had to try it out myself!
So here's my story...
The day of my sessions, my mail-order ducks arrived at my post office with a morning call from the postmaster telling me to come pick up the little quackers immediately. He said he was not sure what I had ordered but they were screaming their little hearts out and wanted to know how fast I could get there to pick them up.
I returned to my studio baby ducks in hand with a short time before my first child client would arrive. I was totally pumped to get my photography shoot into motion. I had four 8-foot, 2 by 4's nailed together with a piece of pond liner that held the water in with plants, reeds and a pier that jutted out into the water, along with a basket and cane pole for "fishing," which made my set look "pond authentic."
We began the session by putting a three-year-old boy near the edge of the pier with a cane pole in his hand. My assistant was standing by waiting for my order to release the baby ducks onto the pier. I readied my camera for an adorable moment and with the nod of my head the ducks began their march toward the child.
The chaos erupted in a matter of seconds.
The little boy was freaked out by the ducklings heading his way and started whipping the cane pole at them. The first little quacker panicked and jumped into the water with the other five following him off the end of the pier.
As the ducks entered the water, some turned belly-up in reaction to the cold water. Others frantically tried to climb up the plastic reeds to escape the obviously too cold water and the cane pole that had become the boy's weapon as he attempted to save himself. My assistant frantically tried to pull the ducklings out of the water, while I ran to grab some towels and a blow dryer to hopefully help them recover from their unexpected hypothermia. The flurry of activity caused me to point toward the shocked mother and give non-understandable orders to apprehend the weapon and secure her ballistic son.
Miraculously, no ducks were harmed (other than being cold).
So what did I learn from the experience? First off, after you build the set, have playtime and a practice run. Warm the water with an aquarium heater at least 24-hours in advance of your photography session. Allow the child to warm up to the ducks and get to know them before sending them in his/her direction. Buy a dozen ducks and rotate six at a time to give them time for recover.
Oh and pro tip: Ducks by nature love to jump into baskets, so put a basket on one side of the pier so they will cross over and jump into the basket or put them in the basket and allow the child a moment of surprise (or horror) as they open it and find these adorable, fuzzy little quackers greeting them.
Despite the early chaos, by the end of the day I felt like I was a baby duck whisperer and did get some truly great images.
*NOTE: Please make sure you are in compliance with all state and local laws when using live animals during a session.
About Judith Ann:
Judith Ann is originally from Texas but calls Georgia home. A full-time photographer, she owns and operates Judith Ann Photography, with two studio locations. A self-described "photo-storygrapher," she brings her own unique flair and energy to the mix that keeps her clients coming back for more. Her personal journey into photography has been an eclectic gathering of lifelong experiences from many different artistic mediums, including painting with oils and pastels to set design and handling black tie galas. When she discovered photography over 20 years ago her instincts told her she would make this her lifelong passion and career.