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Find Your Fire At Imaging USA - PPA Today

Find Your Fire At Imaging USA


By Joshua Payne (Guest Blogger)

I was like you.  At least I'm willing to bet we had a similar mindset about a year ago.  I was new to PPA, but didn't really know what to expect from it.  I joined PPA at the recommendation of Cris Duncan, who's very involved and well respected when it comes to empowering fellow photographers in the industry.  Did I really need this right now?  I mean, I'm doing photography part-time.  I'm getting lost in the 65 local folks with a nice camera who will shoot your family portraits for $35.  My online gallery is actually costing more money than I'm making back in online sales.   I'm not ready for this yet, right?

The First Spark

When you're new to Imaging USA, you'll hear from the amazing Angela Kurkian about your new-member session at Imaging USA.  Let me be the first to tell you that this is so much more than an orientation to the days ahead.  Sure, you'll get a few tips on what's coming up and a great summary of the benefits you can enjoy as a PPA member, but that's just a bonus to what you're truly getting from this session.  You'll find yourself in a room with scores of photographers of various ages, races, and backgrounds who are having the same fears, hang-ups, and excuses that are in your head right now.  Better yet, you'll hear all about those fears, hang-ups, and excuses from a presenter who also shared them, and overcame them in her own business.  While you'll find no shortage of enthusiastic professionals who know what you're going through, Angela stood out to me with her ability to break down the excuses I'd built up and spark the fire to consume as much knowledge and insight as I could for the rest of the week.

Finding Your Value

I was struggling.  We all know there's no shortage of cameras out there.  There's also no shortage of people who'd like to make a few dollars with their nice cameras.  I liked my work, I wasn't questioning the quality of photos, but something just wasn't keeping me fulfilled.  At the end of the day I'd think about how many hours I just spent on this shoot and sure hoped the client would order some prints from the online gallery I had posted the photos to.   I was chasing clients that didn't value my time or my work.  I wanted any client, no matter how little money they wanted to spend, no matter that they wouldn't appreciate the extra time I spent retouching details they may not notice.  I thought I would win them over and turn them into a client that would be profitable next time they booked with me.   Looking back, this sounds ridiculous, but at the time I had convinced myself that was normal.  I was just paying my dues and it would all pay off later.  If any of this sounds like you, it's very important that you break yourself of this mindset and learn to value your skill and your time.  You'll hear this a lot at Imaging USA, and it's just enough times that you'll leave believing it yourself.

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I was blown away by the number of offerings in beautiful, quality printing.  Seeing them all in person, being able to feel the paper choices and discover what really fits your brand is hugely inspiring.  Not only will you see all these wonderful print products you can sell, but you'll get some great direction on how to sell them!  As I mentioned before, I was struggling with sales.  Throwing photos into an online gallery and sending a friendly email encouraging clients to buy what they like whenever they get around to it may work for some people, but not for me.  I was cringing when the online gallery fees hit my credit card. I knew I wasn't selling enough to justify the costs.  Imaging USA set me on the path to sell my prints and be profitable.  My first sale after Imaging was the largest I ever had because I changed what wasn't working.  Sure, I had read about the way I should be selling prints, but I just didn't have that fire in me to make the change and actually be a profitable photographer.  I left Imaging with that fire and put it to use right away.

My first experience at Imaging USA was a great one.  I met some like-minded photographers finding their way into the industry like I was, I met some legends in the industry that I've looked up to for years, I met some great mentors that have helped me on my path to be a better entrepreneur and photographer, but my largest takeaway was the ability to take an honest look at what wasn't working and realize what needed to change.  I was given the fire to keep going, to put the time into those changes, and see the fruit of that labor. 

Is my business exactly where I want to be?  No, but at least I have a map of where I'm going and a mindset to find and fix potholes that I'll find along the journey.  And when I start to get discouraged or overwhelmed with new challenges, the next Imaging USA conference is right around to the corner to stoke that fire again.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on December 27, 2017 8:55 AM.

How You Learned Photography, and Delivery Formats: Hot Topics on theLoop! was the previous entry in this blog.

The PRINT Movement: Inspiring Photographers to Print More is the next entry in this blog.

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