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PPA Today: Imaging USA: December 2013 Archives

Imaging USA: December 2013 Archives

Back in the fall, we launched the first-ever PPA Kickstart Scholarship. Four lucky PPA members have been selected to head to Imaging USA early for a pre-convention class--completely on the house! The winners were given the opportunity to choose between a full-day of hands on classes or a two-day Studio Management Services workshop.

Let's meet the lucky winners and learn what they hope to take back from Imaging USA in Phoenix.


Five-year member Mike Kemp of Mike Kemp Photography in Arkansas will attend his first Imaging USA thanks to the Kickstart scholarship. The longtime staff photographer hopes to start his own photography business with the help of knowledge gained at Imaging USA.

"I would love to be able to benefit from the mentorship of the Studio Management Services (SMS) classes," said Kemp. "I have a decent grip on my craft, but I definitely need help with the marketing, sales and business skills needed to attract clients and maintain a healthy business. By learning the ins and outs of financial planning, pricing schedules and marketing plans, I would be able to pair my photographic knowledge with sound business practices. I desperately need that skill set to make my leap to becoming a self-employed photographer."

Kemp will take the SMS Business Basics Portrait class.



Two years ago, Josiah Freeman quit his job in a call center in Washington and moved to Phoenix. Now he will get to attend his first Imaging USA in his new home city. Josiah will seek some assistance from the Business Basics class as well.

"While I have some traction in the art side of things, it always seems like I'm falling behind or flat on the business side of things," admitted Freeman. "I've always wanted to take an SMS class, so I can better explain to others what my prices are and why, and to be able to stick to them. I frequently find myself agreeing to discount my work and I need to find a way to stand up for myself and my pricing, and know that I am worth it. We manage to eke out a living, but I need to get to the point where I can actually be a success as a studio, and not stuck doing a ton of work for very little money."



Only 27-years-old, Indiana photographer Abigail Elizabeth Welch already feels like she is becoming out of touch with high school seniors and the latest trends. Abigail shared her photography journey thus far, and hopes the Business Basics class and the Imaging USA experience will help push her to the next level.

"In year two of owning my studio, I hit a wall. My studio had grown to the point that I could not keep up. I was doing it only with the help of my mom (she kept the books, and held my reflector.) I felt like I was working non-stop. I worked myself to pure exhaustion. I had penny pincher clients who didn't see the value in my work, and I even considered quitting all together. 

Around the same time, I married, and decided to join my husband in Italy to get away from my business. I literally ran away. After a few months, he encouraged me to shoot again. I was hesitant, but the culture in Italy is so laid back, the scenery is just beautiful, so I gave it a shot. I started shooting again, many times in Venice, and my love for photography quickly returned. 

We returned to the states in 2012, and I relaunched a new website to start fresh. I made guidelines for myself so that I could keep my sanity, and up until two months ago, it was working. Currently, I am starting to get so busy that I cannot keep up. I DO NOT want the past to repeat itself, but I feel that I do not have the business knowledge to successfully grow my business. I don't even know where to start. Hiring employees, finding a building, pricing to make sure I turn a profit; it is all a daunting task. 

I feel the Business Basics Workshop will give me the tools that I need to grow. I feel like I have the potential to build something amazing, but I have accepted that I cannot do it on my own. I have read wonderful things about the class and I imagine it will help save my business from taking over my life again. What I really love to do is be behind the camera, and I am hoping that I can learn how to grow my business so that I can spend more time shooting, and less time managing."



Tennessee photographer Ann K. Farrar, CPP, has attended Imaging USA every year since 2007, and thanks to the scholarship, will continue that streak in Phoenix. Ann will take a variety of pre-convention classes, and is even taking Tiffany Reed Briley's "Finding Freedom in Landscape Photography" on her own dime just because she'll be there early! That's the kind of "Be More" attitude we love to see!

"I think I have attended a pre-convention workshop every year. I find it a great way to learn, to have access to top talent when it is not as crowded as the convention, to network with other photographers. It has been very useful to me as I increase my skill.

Since I have attended many ImagingUSA conferences, I have first-hand experience at the expertise of instructors and what I can gain from the classes. I like the pre-convention classes because you really have an opportunity to learn and meet the instructors, as well as other photographers in the class. It gives me access to top-notch instructors that I might not encounter otherwise.

I just entered the International Print Competition (IPC) this year for the first time and had an image accepted into the General Collection. I never really thought that would happen and I have been bitten by the competition bug! I want to continue to learn and improve and take my photography to the next level. Earning this scholarship will help me do this. I have gotten so much out of PPA, Imaging USA, classes, earning my CPP and everything PPA has to offer. I am so glad I joined!"


When you think of Kenny Rogers, chances are you think of his long and impressive career as
a country musician. But did you know that Kenny is also an accomplished photographer? In fact, he'll be at Imaging USA in Phoenix this January to host a Q&A about his work as a photographer and to receive an Honorary Master of Photography degree!

On January 14, Kenny's "Places I've Been, Things I've Seen" Q&A will be held from 5 to 6 pm (you just need an expo pass, which you can get for free here, or your full conference badge). Kenny Rogers will share some of his favorite images as well as take your questions about his work during this exclusive session. If you want to read more about his photography, check out the "Kenny Rogers Storymaker: The Entertainer Earns Acclaim for his Images" feature story from the December 2013 issue of Professional Photographer magazine. 

Kenny brings a lot of passion for photography, so you won't want to miss his special guest presentation! Plus a lot of his work will be on display for our viewing pleasure.

Along with this memorable Q&A, there are other special events happening at Imaging USA you won't want to miss! After long days of learning and product browsing, the opening and closing parties are there for you to celebrate with your fellow photographers. You'll also have opportunities to receive critiques on your work and mentoring from successful pros with PPAedu Business Mentors and the Coach's Corner, AND you can view ALL the Loan Collection images from PPA's International Photographic Competition and the World Photographic Cup Images at the International Photographic Exhibit. 

Two more places you'll also want to be at: (1) the Grand Imaging Awards, where the top images from the International Photographic Competition will be announced, and (2) the Award & Degree Ceremony, where we'll honor professional photography and the individuals who set themselves apart in the industry by earning PPA degrees and awards. There are even special events just for Certified Professional Photographers and new PPA members! Find all the details for these events on the Imaging USA Event Highlights page. 

Of course, these special events at Imaging USA are just part of the overall conference. There's also the full line up of photography courses to help your business and your craft, and the Imaging Expo (that's the trade show), where you'll be able to check out, touch and demo all the latest photography products! 

It's all included with an Imaging USA full-access pass. So, register for Imaging USA now! If you register by December 31, you'll also be entered to win an all-expense paid trip to Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville, TN. See you in Phoenix! 

Read more about Imaging USA:

Image © Jay Fletcher
Written by guest blogger and Imaging USA first-timer, Danielle Brooks.

Every August when kids go back to school I get jealous. 

I used to love getting new pens, binders, notepads and best of all, having new classes. I loved school. Every year in college, when a new course catalog would come out, I would spend the afternoon reading the course selections. I got so excited looking forward to what I could study the next semester. It's okay, I can admit I'm a total nerd. 

However, the same is true of Imaging USA. As soon as I signed up to go, I immediately got excited about the dozens of classes being offered. And who wouldn't be excited about this opportunity to learn? There are so many great teachers and classes that it is seriously difficult to choose from them all. How do you pick? And more importantly, if this is your first time to IUSA, where do you start? 

I first started planning my classes based on seniors. They are the number one market I want to break into, and I want to be able to market myself to them effectively. However, after the initial "course catalog high" wore off I really started to question if those courses would be the most beneficial to me at this stage in my business. 

When you are first starting out at IUSA it is probably best to analyze your skill set and plan your courses accordingly. For me, IUSA is about kicking my business into high gear. No more playing games and wasting time. I want to focus on my skills and make my photos the best they can be. 

I sat down and took a hard look at my photos and determined that I need to focus on lighting and posing. I need to learn how to really SEE light. I need to focus on how to look for it, how to use it, and how to control it. Posing clients can always be a struggle. I have ideas, but how do I effectively communicate them to my clients? How can I constantly create new poses without my work looking the same? How can I make my clients look less awkward? All of these questions need to be answered before I can really take my business to the next level. 

Learning how to market to seniors won't help me when it comes to posing or lighting. I can have the best marketing plan in the world, but if my clients' pictures are subpar, no amount of advertising will help. 

As a newbie to IUSA it is my initial defense mechanism to puff myself up and pretend to be a better photographer than I really am. When I was coming to terms with my skills, I would tell myself, "I don't need help with lighting and posing, that stuff is for beginners." 

But the reality is: I am a beginner. That was a hard pill to swallow. 

We all have to start somewhere, and after a tough conversation (with myself) about my wants versus my needs, the answer was crystal clear. I'll probably take a few classes aimed at marketing to seniors, but the majority of my time will be spent in posing and lighting. 

I don't want to roll in to IUSA prideful, giving off the impression I don't need help. It might make me feel good in the short term, but it's just a mask for my insecurities and it wouldn't be beneficial to me in the long run. The reality is that the people I look up to in the field were in my shoes at some point in their career. So I will be as humble as possible; accepting help any way it comes. Even if I am the worst photographer at IUSA, I know that I wont leave with the same skill set I came in with. After all, when you are surrounded by greatness the only place left to go is up.

So sit down and really analyze your work. What are your wants versus your needs? My advice would be the 75/25 principle. Take 75% of the classes you know you need, and take 25% of the classes that you want to just for fun! IUSA is more than just learning. Yes, improve your skills, make the most of your time there, but don't overlook opportunities to have fun! Take the chance to meet new people and get some sweet swag! You chose photography as a career for a reason. Reconnect with your passion and remember why you fell in love with your camera in the first place. 

And if you're a veteran of IUSA you should look into the Alumni Program. They will sign you up with a newbie such as myself. It gives us first timers a chance to ask any questions we may have for a more seasoned individual. You would also be able to help us navigate the tradeshow floor and make sure we know where to spot good deals. What better way is there to spend a couple of hours at IUSA than imparting your knowledge and wisdom to the next generation? 

We need and want your expertise. We are hungry for it. After all a wise man once said, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." 

Not to say that we are children, but you get the picture. 

PPAedu strives to give photographers the best educational courses on photography techniques and business practices. Many members have already started exploring PPA's online education platform, watching videos and building a personalized program of business and photography courses. And that's just the tip of the iceberg: in addition to the on-demand programming, PPAedu offers live webinars and workshops! PP''s got several live webinars coming up in December and January, read on for all the details:

Live Webinars:

In December and January, we'll be covering a wide-range of topics including marketing, SEO and health insurance reform. You can watch these webinars from your own computer (or tablet!) and have an opportunity to ask questions. Better yet, if you're not a PPA member, you can get a taste of PPAedu by attending any live webinar for free. PPA members can access all recordings of the classes, but if you aren't a member, this is a great opportunity to learn a thing or two, on us (and maybe down the road you'll finally see why 26,500 photographers chose to operate with PPA)! So here's the upcoming schedule of live and (free!) webinars, open to all:

December 12, 2013 - 2 pm ET
With Angela Pointon

Do you have a great studio but need a little help marketing yourself? Pennsylvania photographer and marketing expert, Angela Pointon, will walk you through how to set up a marketing plan for your business. She'll discuss the elements of a killer marketing plan, how to build a plan and how to stick to the plan.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Imaging USA category from December 2013.

Imaging USA: November 2013 is the previous archive.

Imaging USA: January 2014 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

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