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From A to Z: SMS Has Photographers Covered for Business Education - PPA Today

From A to Z: SMS Has Photographers Covered for Business Education


Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is no different than most organizations in having its own set of acronyms. It's the PEC who manages the IPC, and if you want to show the world what you know, you'll get your CPP, or maybe your MEI. See what we mean?

One of the acronyms you'll hear most often (and which may be confusing, especially to new members), is SMS. With the last SMS workshops of the year coming up, we wanted to break the information down so that everyone can understand this exclusive PPA program.

Comprehensive Business Education
Studio Management Services (SMS, as it's often referred to) is unique to PPA and offers members comprehensive business education via 2-day and 3-day workshops throughout the year. In addition to the workshops, SMS also offers one-on-one consultations to help photographers improve their sales, marketing and financial planning strategies to maximize their studios' profitability and improve productivity. (One-on-one sessions can be included in the 3-Day workshop format, but add-on sessions can be purchased as well.)

2-Day Business Basics Workshops: So You Want to Be a Photographer?
"Don't go out there and flail around trying to figure out pricing, marketing and sales on your own," says Ann Monteith, a photographic business guru and SMS mentor. "This course was built to take years off the learning curve of how to run a profitable photography business."

The SMS 2-day workshop is designed for individuals considering professional photography as a career, as well as those who have already taken the plunge and need a better understanding of the pricing, financial management, marketing, selling and workflow fundamentals. For some attendees, this may be the first day they've picked up a camera. For others, it's the transition from part-time to full-time photography, or it's the moment they decided to put an all-out effort into making a go at being a pro. Regardless of how you find your way on to the road to photography as a career choice, one of your first rest stops should be the 2-Day Business Basics course.

Day one focuses on the business and financial aspects of establishing your studio, including business structures, pricing, accounting and taxes. Day two is a primer in selling and marketing strategies for photography studios. You'll learn about branding, building sales volume, creating a selling plan, understanding the marketing mix and creating your own unique image.

Business Basics workshops are taught by SMS managerial accountants and seasoned photography experts who have helped hundreds of PPA members build successful studios.

3-Day Business Workshops: This is Serious Business
3-Day workshops are the "senior-level" business courses for photographers; thus, they are limited to those studios with $50,000 or greater in annual sales. Why a limit on who can attend?

"When we first began the SMS classes, we learned that in order for attendees to get the most value from the 3-Day workshop, they needed to have already established the fundamentals," explains Scott Kurkian, CFO of PPA and founder of SMS. "While the Business Basics class is about giving photographers the information they need to set up and operate a successful business, the 3-Day workshop helps them take a business that's already established and fine-tune it to improve profitability, increase efficiencies and improve productivity."

Over the three days, classroom instruction focuses first on financial management planning and pricing, moves into the how-tos of effective branding, targeting and marketing, and concludes with techniques for maximizing sales. In addition to classroom instruction, attendees also have the option to participate in a one-on-one session with SMS mentors, where they're able to apply what they've learned in class to their own studios and develop an implementation plan for back home.

"We developed SMS because we saw an urgent need among PPA members for business education that applies specifically to photography studios. And it's backed by years of extensive research that we've done with and on behalf of photographers," adds Kurkian. "We know what works and what doesn't, and we help SMS clients develop successful studios based on that knowledge."

And, according to SMS client Courtney Matevey, if you work the program, the program works. "SMS is the only program that really breaks down the financial business portion of photography in great depth. They give you a formula for your individual business, and it works if you follow it. You are able to see where every dollar goes and how to get control over each dollar that comes in," she says. "You are also able to see where your mistakes are, so you can grow and change to be financially independent. Your business is truly treated as an individual--this happens at no other workshop! I can't say enough about SMS."

Matevey says she's paid off debt, while beating every sales goal she and her mentor set since participating in SMS. "I will be close to paying off $20,000 in three, most of my sales have been double my goal and some have been seven times my goal. I am just thrilled with where my business is right now!"

SMS workshops and consultations are only available to PPA members. Registration is open for the last SMS classes of 2010--November 2-day and 3-day sessions in Atlanta. To find out more, visit the Studio Management Services page on

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Professional Photographers of America (PPA) published on August 3, 2010 7:32 PM.

Super Monday Instructors: Hard Work Pays Off for Christopher Castaneda was the previous entry in this blog.

Michigan Supreme Court Decision May Affect Photographers is the next entry in this blog.

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