President’s message: Celebrate your freedom

© Gregory Daniel

July 4 celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which gave us certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. As Americans we not only have the right to dream, but we have the right to establish our professional independence—to build a business that reflects our individual interests and values.

Starting a business involves risk, responsibility, and unexpected limitations. But if you seek knowledge in the right places, you’ll learn ways to overcome challenges, develop the skills you lack, and gather ideas from others who’ve travelled the same road.

The independence you gain from being your own boss means the freedom to set your own schedule. Never again will you miss important life events (or so you think). You can wander into your office or studio whenever it suits you. But as we all know, indulging too heavily in this freedom can mean falling behind on client work and missing out on inquiries. If time management is a skill you could improve on, check out the new PPA video by Andrew Mellen, “You Have Time, You Need Priorities”.

As entrepreneur photographers, we also have the freedom to be creative. Making images that others love is what inspired many of us to become photographic artists. But most successful photographers have non-creative days as well. Feeding your creativity should be on your daily to-do list, and you’ll find plenty of ideas in PPA videos. 

I attended the Wyoming Professional Photographers Association convention in March and met Jenni Knezovich, M.Photog.Cr.,CPP, who’s had a photography business for 20 years. After she joined PPA, everything improved, she said. “Growing and learning and competing only with myself has been the best lesson PPA has taught me. In the 20 years I’ve been in business, there were three that were clearly the worst financial years I’ve had to date. It isn’t a coincidence that during those three years I decided to take a break from PPA, my state affiliate, print competition, et cetera. A decision to save money had an adverse financial effect on my entire business. As soon as I rejoined and started attending conventions again, business started booming. I focused on a clear path to my CPP, then my master, then my craftsman [degrees], and business just keeps growing. You cannot become a worse photographer through print competition or a PPA degree path. Having that focus on improving my craft helps me improve myself as an individual, a business owner, even as a parent. My life is just better with PPA.”

Entrepreneurship is as American as apple pie and baseball. You have the freedom to choose whether to be ordinary or extraordinary. You have the freedom to take advantage of all the benefits PPA has to offer.