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Happy as a Pig in a Peach Orchard - PPA Today

Happy as a Pig in a Peach Orchard


By Mariah Ashley

I'm sitting here in Massachusetts with a blizzard bearing down on my house and all I can think is, This better not mess up my plans to go to Imaging USA in Nashville on Friday!

It's colder than a frosted frog here so in the spirit of Nashville, I'm passing the time researching country and western idioms. What I've discovered is that we're pretty boring here in New England, at least in terms of color phrases. You know, one of the best things you can do when visiting a new place is to learn some local lingo. I've included a bunch in this post so that you can fit in too. You're welcome.

Anyway... What a difference two years can make! It was just two years ago that I tried to fake a flu to get out of the trip to Atlanta for my first Imaging USA. My business had two speeds at that time: slow and stop. Yep, my crick had run dry. True story. I had $79 in my bank account. Coming up with enough money each week to make payroll was like trying to put socks on a rooster.

I couldn't see mustering the energy, let alone the money to make the trip. Fortunately for me, my business partner Trish is as bright as a new penny and saw right through my lame faux-flu. She insisted I get on the plane. Never in my wildest imagination (and trust me it gets crazy as a bed bug in there) did I imagine how much that trip would change my life. When we arrived in Atlanta we were desperate--desperate for inspiration, desperate for answers. We had nothing to lose so we went with open minds and empty pockets and found everything we were looking for.

Imaging USA 2013 took me from feeling as low as a bow legged caterpillar to as excited as a tornado in a trailer park.

We went to see speakers like Sarah Petty who gave us invaluable insight about the importance of branding. Listening to her explain the evils of discounting especially in times of desperation was truly a defining moment of our future success. Celebrity photographer Greg Gorman, who that year received the Lifetime Achievement Award, inspired us to specialize in one genre as he had over his impressive four decades of work.


We took off like a herd of turtles from IUSA13, slowly, painfully and methodically implementing all we had learned. Determined not to waiver from the sage advice of the speakers, we dug in our heels and rolled up our sleeves, doing the dirty work of untarnishing our brand. The hardest thing to do was to turn away work instead of giving people a deal to get them in the door, because although we desperately needed the money, we learned that giving a discount was nothing more than puttin' lipstick on a pig. In the long term it would be just about as useful as a trap door on a canoe to the health of our bottom line, so we held our ground for a whole year and slowly started to heal.

I went to Imaging USA the following year without kicking and screaming or trying to claw my way off the plane. After all, the gems I uncovered at IUSA 2013 were tested and true. I knew we still had a fur piece to go but I was spurred on by excitement to uncover how to take my business to the next level.

There were so many amazing speakers at IUSA14; it was frustrating not to be able to hear them all. We experienced an awakening when listening to Anna Kuperberg speak about defining your style. We felt motivated by Roberto Valenzuela to hone our craft, and encouraged by Jeffrey Shaw to face the fears blocking us from reaching the next level of success.

We left IUSA14 ready once more to get to work and all year long we've been busier than a one-legged man in a butt kickin' contest. In this scenario though, the butt has been failure and fear and we've been givin' those two jerks a major whoopin'.

That being said, the biggest game changer was not in what we took from the conventions but in the revelation of what we could give. It all started at the PPA charities party that we attended by sheer accident. After all, we were at the convention because we had needs. We weren't in a position or the mindset to give anyone anything. Dried crick... $79... remember? However, moved by the Operation Smile speakers we decided to get involved and give what we could. We may have been down to 79 bucks, but we certainly didn't have it as bad as the kids who needed Operation Smile... and our help.

Two years later we've been able to donate $25,000 dollars to Operation Smile. I'm not telling you that so I can break my own arm pattin' myself on the back. I'm telling you because I can't think of a better testament to how far we've come thanks to attending Imaging USA.

Without a shred of doubt, the things we learned at Imaging, thanks to the wisdom and generosity of the speakers has made all the difference in our business.

So what's next for the Snap Girls? Continuing in the spirit of giving, we will ourselves be speaking in Nashville. Let me tell you, I'm as nervous as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs to get up on stage but I'm also thrilled to think that I could help someone else the way that I've been helped by the speakers before me.

If you want to know exactly how we managed it you can come see us talk on Tuesday at 3:30 for "Ten Steps to Get Your Business Booming and Cash Flowing." It will be honest and informative, we'll be awkward and maybe a little inappropriate but most of all we'll be there for you. Oh, and we'd be happier than a pig in a peach orchard if what we share helps you in any way.

As long as we've got a biscuit, you got half.

You can bet the farm on it.

Easy as pie.

Oh boy I can't stop...

See you in Nashville!


About the author:

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for winter.jpgMariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van,  grew up on a cranberry farm and is happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on January 28, 2015 12:28 AM.

Northeast Photographic Competition Open For Submissions was the previous entry in this blog.

See The Difference: Photographing High School Seniors is the next entry in this blog.

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