Ad image

PPA Today: How They Did It Archives

Recently in How They Did It Category

Each year at the International Photographic Competition (IPC), a panel of jurors votes on whether or not an entry will earn a merit based on the 12 elements of a merit image (read more about the elements on PPA.com). Why are merits important? Well, they're needed for you to earn your PPA degree, showing your dedication to professional photography. Beyond that, earning a merit at IPC is a sign that your image-making skills are improving, which can only help to improve your business! 

Once the jurors determine if an image deserves a merit, the next step is to take any merited images and decide if they become part of PPA's loan collection. Only a small percentage of all the entries to the IPC become part of the loan collection, so it's definitely a big achievement! Loan collection images are exhibited at Imaging USA in the International Photographic Exhibit. The Photographer of the Year awards are also determined by the IPC results, and the winners are recognized at the Award & Degree ceremony held during Imaging USA.

To show you how some past loan images were created, we'll be sharing some images from PPA's loan collection and how the photographer created them. This is "Bandit" by Mona Sadler. M.Photog., CPP, owner of Coastal Pet Portraits in Alliance, N.C. (coastalpetportraits.com)


Mona created "Bandit" during a pet photo special on behalf of Spay Today, an organization that provides free pet spaying. 

"The look on the dog's face was as special as he is," says Sadler. "His owner suffers from MS, and he is a certified service dog. Although living with pain and disability, she and Bandit
give to others." 

1066-1.jpgCAMERA & LENS: Canon EOS 5D camera; Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L
USM lens shot at 100mm
EXPOSURE: 1/200 second at f/8, ISO 200.
LIGHTING: Two Photogenic PowerLights, a 2500DR and a 1500SL, modified
by a 3x4 Aurora soft box and an Aurora Lite Bank; a Larson reflector
bounced in fill light
POST-CAPTURE: Says Mona, "Bandit was being held by his owner when I took
the photo. I painted her out and let the background go white. The painting was
done first in Photoshop then finished in Corel Painter to add texture and brush
strokes. It was my goal to make the portrait look very classical, soft and tender."

Stay tuned for more loan images and the stories behind them. In the meantime, you can view the 2013 results on PPA.com. Plus, look for an online gallery of IPC images coming to PPA.com soon! 

And don't forget to stop by the International Photographic Exhibit at Imaging USA in Phoenix January 12 - 14, 2014 to see loan images from this year's IPC in person. 

IMAGE © Mona Sadler

petty_pet_1.jpgOur pets are adorable, but it's rather hard to capture that adorableness in the camera, even if you're a pro. So how do you light, pose and work with Fido?

Photographers must figure out the best ways to get the shots that pet parents pay the big bucks for. That's why PPA spoke with three of our pet photographer members - Sarah Petty, Teresa Berg and Leesia Teh - to get their advice on what pet images sell the best and how to capture them. PPA members can read the full article now.

IMAGE © SARAH PETTY PHOTOGRAPHY
winslow_ppatoday_1.JPGBaby and child portraits are the bread and butter for many portrait studios, but are they right for you? This work requires a certain personality, a HIGH level of patience and a good understanding of the marketplace, among other things. To gain some insider insights, we talked to two well-established child portrait artists--Kimberly Wylie, M.Photog., of Dallas, TX, and Laura Winslow of Gilbert, AZ--about what it takes to rise above the fray.

Read the interview with Wylie and Winslow here.


IMAGE © LAURA WINSLOW PHOTOGRAPHY

Hakamaki_David.JPGLocation, location, location. It's a mantra of real estate agents, but it applies to many other types of businesses. Photographers in very rural areas, for example, can have more difficulties in building a client base than urban/suburban photographers. However, David Hakamaki of Cutting Edge Photography has found a way to turn those rural, small-town challenges into opportunities.

David turned his studio in Iron Mountain, Michigan--with a population of only 7,500 and the closest city 70 miles away--into a hot spot for a variety of clients. It took trial and error and a business mind, but his studio has exploded in growth and profits over the last 10 years.

Read the full article here.

tibbilis_headshot_2012.JPGPhotography can go from passionate pastime to career choice if handled correctly. Michelle Tibbils of Bugs and Butterflies Photography in California knows that well. Always focused on evolving and the best business practices, she learned to juggle art with business structure, time with her clients and time with her family.

"There's not one perfect way to run a photography business, but you can perfect your way...as long as it is right for you," adds Michelle. So what helped her find her way?

Choosing Her Path
"It's not a unique story," Michelle says. "Same as so many mothers, I fell in love with taking portraits once my first child was born." Photographing her son helped her realize how much she liked creating images of children, so she started taking photos of the other children in her extended family. "They'd put the images on their walls, and then their friends started asking if I could photograph their children."

While on maternity leave with her second child, she decided that if she was going to stay in the working world, she wanted to love what she was doing for a living. She returned to her then-current employer (a software company) as expected when her maternity leave was up. However, she began to envision starting a small, part-time photography business. 

Read the full article.


tibbils_image_2012.jpg
Image © Bugs and Butterflies Photography
About 15 years ago, Beth Forester, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, created a part-time home studio in Madison, W.V., to explore her interest in the art of photography. Today, she juggles Forester Photography--which has cornered the senior portrait market in her area and moved into a modern downtown facility--and photoDUDs, a drag-and-drop design software company for photographers. She's happy, profitable and doing what she loves.

But how did she navigate those difficult early years and keep growing? "I think the key to my success is that I'm always looking ahead," says Beth.

Growth of a Business
Like most, Beth's photography business grew in stages. Rarely does anyone decide to become a photographer and--bam!--start up a smoothly running full-time studio the next day. There are hard decisions to be made and, more often than not, the business you start out with will change significantly.

For example, Beth's photographic passion increased with her daughter's birth. But photography (especially film, which she started in) is not cheap, and she needed to support her hobby somehow! That led her to take on small jobs and charge for them. She even taught tennis lessons for an entire summer, just to buy the medium-format camera she wanted!

Later, at a crossroads in her life, Beth needed a job, needed to support herself. She looked at her history degree and wondered if she should teach. Then she looked at her photography again. More and more people wanted to hire her...could she do this full time? Beth decided on the photography path, but within a year and a half, she realized she had to change a lot of things if she was going to do more than pay her bills.

Read the full profile of Beth Forester.
How many of you know a photographer who got into the business as a career change? Chances are, we all know someone like that (and it might even be yourself!). It doesn't matter where you come from; what matters is where you go with your photography in the end. Does it remain a hobby, does it take over your life, or can you balance it as a career you love?

Jen Basford of 3 girls photography in Edmond, Okla., went through a successful career change herself, and she knows the importance of getting your photography business established the right way (for you).

Making the Change

Jen had no photographic aspirations in school--she wanted to be an astronaut! That lasted about two weeks into her college career, though, which was how long it took to get her major changed. She ended up earning an MBA and working for Accenture. After several moves and her second daughter's birth, Jen's interest in photography was born.

"I didn't have any intentions of making a business out of photography, but I did want to learn how to do things right," she admits. Her MBA experience led her to study photography through courses and workshops...and to join PPA in 2005, way before she went into business as a photographer.

"I knew through business school that belonging to professional organizations was important in whatever profession you chose," Jen explains. "So, I searched out national photography associations and immediately joined PPA as a student."

Read the full article here.
wildes_carrie_2012.JPGOn a 2004 mission trip to the Philippines, Carrie Wildes was dubbed the "official photographer" because she was the only one with a nice camera. But she had skills, as her fellow travelers soon saw. Back in Chicago, Carrie Wildes struck up a conversation with a studio owner about an apprenticeship. She started assisting at weddings on weekends, while sticking with her "real" job--an industrial engineer in the pharmaceutical industry--as her passion for photography grew.

Building It the SMS Way
Carrie was still doing wedding photography part time when her husband was transferred to Florida in 2007. The move was the catalyst for asking herself if she could make a decent living as a photographer.

"Then, one of my friends gave me the Professional Photographer magazine subscription as a gift, and I was hooked," Carrie notes, saying she joined PPA shortly afterwards. She knew there were (and are!) so many photography businesses out there--some successful, some not so much--and she wanted to avoid the pitfalls and learn from best practices.

She was hard-nosed about the money, too. "Being a photographer is wonderful, but I was making good money already and didn't want to go backward financially."

So, she talked her way into PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) Business Breakthroughs workshop to figure out her plan. "I didn't meet one of the qualifications for the class, but they made an exception for my work experience and it was exactly what I needed. SMS helped me apply all the things I already knew about business to studio management, and they taught me everything I didn't know about wedding photography."

Most importantly, SMS mentors helped Carrie build a sales and financial plan that convinced her she could make a go of it as a full-time photographer. 

Read the full article here.


About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the How They Did It category.

Helpful Hints is the previous category.

Imaging USA is the next category.

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

Live Chat is closed