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PPA Today: Imaging USA Archives

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This week on theLoop, PPA played host to Mary Fisk-Taylor, the second photographer in our ongoing Ask Me Anything (AMA) series. Inspired by Reddit, an AMA is a free flowing online conversation that gives you (the photographers) a chance to ask Mary anything you want about photography. It's an awesome way to get inside information from an incredibly thoughtful and talented photographer, and this week was certainly no exception. Check out Mary Fisk-Taylor's AMA here!

If you missed out on the live AMA session it's okay! We've got you covered with our five favorite highlights:

1. "I only share my failure with you because it is okay to fail, as long as you pick yourself up and move forward. "
2. "In order to maintain my work/life balance I am a nut about boundaries and setting them and sticking to them. I don't think that any of us are super humans but for some reason as photographers we expect ourselves to wear one million different hats and do it all well. This will not happen. We have to take care of ourselves first."
3. "My favorite images are the ones that my clients embrace and cherish and I know that every single time they look at that image they are brought back to that very moment in time and feel the pangs of emotion that memories often do."
4. "Movies! Oh how I love excellent movies and over the top cinematography. That can really get me super excited to create."
5. "Regardless of where the inspiration comes from, as long as your eyes are open you will probably find it." 

Check out the full conversation on theLoop if you'd like to learn the pros and cons of starting your own photography business, what it takes to create unique images, and how to come by inspiration with Mary Fisk-Taylor. And join Mary, live and in person at Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville for her presentation on #BeMoreSuccessful!

Registration information available here: ImagingUSA.org/register

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World-renowned studio photographer, Mary Fisk-Taylor, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API, is set to be the second host of theLoop's Ask Me Anything Series on September 22 & 23! We couldn't be more thrilled to have Mary on board to follow up to Booray Perry's inaugural eccentric and informative AMA

Mary Fisk-Taylor has been with PPA since 1998 and has been the recipient of numerous awards including Photographer of the Year in 2007, Best in Show, Kodak Gallery, and Fuji Masterpiece awards.

Mary will deliver her #BeMoreSuccessful program at ImagingUSA 2015, where she'll illuminate us on her effective marketing, sales and public relations practices. Consider this AMA as a chance to get to know an IUSA speaker before you get to the big show.

For the uninitiated, an AMA is a simple online conversation where you will have the opportunity to ask Mary anything you'd like (mostly photography stuff) and she'll be able to respond at her own pace! It's an awesome way to really get a sense of who someone is, and an even better way to ask a true professional anything your heart desires (mostly photography stuff). After the success of Booray's AMA we're extremely excited to see where this one goes!

On September 22, just start asking your questions, and let the conversation begin!

IUSA2016_callforspeakers_1200x1200_3.jpgYou can see it now can't you? You're up on stage in the lights. Dozens to hundreds of photographers stare up at you, wide-eyed with their pen to paper. You move one to tears. Another gives you a hug after your program.

Well quit dreaming and make it happen!

If you've got something to share with your fellow photographers, PPA is looking for speakers for Imaging USA 2016 in Atlanta! And why not you?

If you are a professional photographer that likes spreading the wisdom you've accumulated over the years in the trenches, we'd love to hear from you.

Imaging USA is one of the largest photography events of the year. You will speak to a crowd that genuinely wants new ideas and has a desire to learn all about the latest in the photography world. Think of this as a chance to gain exposure for yourself and to contribute your voice to an industry in need of your passion.

Some of the biggest names in photography speak each year at Imaging USA and yours could be among them. The Über-successful Allison Tyler Jones, CPP, of Allison Tyler Jones Photography in Mesa, Arizona, will return to Imaging USA to share her business knowledge. What's her motivation to give back?

"I wanted to cut through the typical hype of the one-size-fits-all promises of 'quick and easy tips to instant success,'" she said. "I want everyone who attends my lecture to leave with their heads bursting with ideas on how they can make their business better in their own, unique way."

So... think you have something to offer your fellow photographer? Do you have a passion to give back?

As an organization that's constantly working to raise the bar in the photographic industry, PPA wants to work with speakers who also embrace and project this image. If you are interested in speaking, please submit your application to ImagingUSA.org/Speaker-Application by Friday, October 3, 2014, 6 p.m. ET. Submissions will be reviewed by the speaker selection committee, with selections made in December.

Imaging USA 2016 will be held Jan. 10-12, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

As a professional photographer, you understand that continuing your education is imperative to stay competitive in today's changing landscape. Unfortunately, sometimes that education comes at a pretty high price--workshops can add up!

Fortunately PPA is offering scholarships for four lucky members to take in all of the ideas of Imaging USA pre-con workshops! These are the classes that happen Thursday, Friday and Saturday leading up to the show in Nashville. No matter where you are in your career, there's a class for you. Dive into some business basics, or get new ideas with posing, lighting, and business gurus from across the industry!

Many of these classes are hands-on, so instead of just watching from the audience, you'll be able to capture images of your own and learn firsthand what to do while shooting newborns, boudoir, and everything in between. In these smaller, more personal classes, your instructors are there to help you bridge the gap between passion and profession while having tons of fun. And, with the PPA Kickstart Scholarship, it's on the house!

Check out the wide range of pre-con classes here and see which one will help you kickstart your Imaging USA experience here!

To apply for the scholarship, you must be a PPA member and you can't have received a previous Kickstart Scholarship. Applications are due by November 21, 2014. We'll select the winners by December 5, 2014 and will announce them publicly on December 10. So hop to it!

To apply for the 2015 Kickstart Scholarship, visit http://www.ppa.com/scholarship2015

We're headed to Nashville, y'all! Join us for Imaging USA 2015 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort February 1 - 3. Now, we'd like to think the Gaylord Orpyland is pretty awesome, but instead of telling you about all of it's amazing features, we'd rather just show you! 

Meet John, he'll be your guide on this whirlwind tour of our 2015 home! 

Once you're done checking out the video, visit imagingusa.org/register to get signed up with an All Access pass! We can't wait to see you there!


Acclaimed wedding photographer and Imaging USA speaker Booray Perry stopped by PPA's member-only online community, theLoop, last week for an AMA and it was awesome. He waxes poetic about any and everything--from his "desire" to be a doctor to mastering bounce flash in order to shoot weddings more effectively. It's an awesome and illuminating conversation which you members should absolutely check out. (Sorry, members only!)

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We've selected 5 of our favorite quotes from the conversation if you missed out:

"I did not fake the moon landing. Not officially."

"I remember feeling pretty good when a fellow photographer asked me to shoot his wedding. I had a successful business already and happy clients but when a fellow pro trusts you with their wedding, that's a pretty good validation that you might know what you're doing."

"The first time I booked a Bar Mitzvah I told the client, "I've never shot a Bar Mitzvah." She said, "That's okay, I've seen your wedding work." I felt pretty good that she felt my expertise was such that I could be trusted with a job that was totally new to me."

"You have to sell yourself. It's hard to be a wedding photographer if you are the shy type. People want someone who they think will be good, but also fun to have around for 7 hours. I've talked to photographers who complain that they just aren't getting booked and I think, "Dude, I can't talk to you on the phone for 10 minutes without starting to pray for the sweet release of death to spare me from your uncanny Deputy Dog-like demeanor."

"This may sound hokey, but I like that I get paid to work at weddings and Bar Mitzvahs where there is fun and celebration and love. It's not a bad place to spend your time. " :)

If you want to learn from someone who is passionate about what he does and is willing to speak freely about his tips on being a successful photographer, check out the full conversation here. (theLoop is an exclusive, online community for photographers to discuss privately their problems and solutions. Join PPA to get in theLoop!)

And make sure you stop by Booray's program at Imaging USA!

 

booray_ask_me.jpgImaging USA 2015 speaker, Booray Perry, CPP has signed up for a dangerous assignment--he's going to be our very first subject in theLoop's Ask Me Anything on August 20 & 21! There are two really obvious questions you might have right off the bat: 

First, what's a Booray? (It's ok - he gets this all the time.) Booray is a Cajun name. This particular Booray is an accomplished wedding and portrait photographer based in Tampa, Florida. He started his journey in photography in 8th grade and started with football games and pep rallies for the yearbook. Now he's a Certified Professional Photographer that recently went Bronze at the International Photographic Competition. We'd like to think that's a bit of an improvement from Chess Club Vice-President. He's a fun-loving, ukulele-playing photography machine. Read up on his bio here.

On Monday at Imaging USA 2015, he'll deliver his "Wedding Photography: Prepare to Succeed" program (here's the link to the full course description)! 

Second, what's an Ask Me Anything (AMA)? An AMA is a simple conversation where you can ask the "me" anything. In this case, try to keep it  photography related, but really anything goes! We're excited to make a place for you to get to know your Imaging USA speakers before February. There will be a discussion in the ImagingUSA community on theLoop, and Booray will take all of your questions Wednesday, August 20 and Thursday, August 21st! 

Start asking your questions - we can't wait to see what sort of great things you'll have to ask one of the most fun-loving photographers at Imaging USA!

Written by guest blogger, Danielle Brooks 

It's crazy to think that six months ago I was wandering around the expo floor in Phoenix wondering about the future. If you had told me in January that come June I would be working full-time for Danielle Brooks Photography, I would have called you a liar. I honestly cannot believe that in six months' time, I went from a steady 9-5 job to the crazy world of being a business owner. It has been a good ride so far, but it would not have been possible without the lessons I learned at Imaging USA. 

There were 3 big takeaways for me at Imaging USA: 

1). Don't give away the digitals

This was a big one for me to learn. When I first started out doing photography part-time, I just had one price and that included everything. It worked for me and was easy. 

But then I heard a lot of controversy about this at Imaging. Most people frown on giving the digitals because your sale stops there. I didn't really understand it at the time because I had no way of selling prints to people. Over time, I found a printer I loved, and began showcasing photos to clients online so they can make purchases.  

I know most people with studios would say online sales isn't the way to go, but they work for me right now and it's a good way for me to get my feet wet in selling products. Plus I don't have a studio, and I would also argue that it's better than giving away the digitals. 

2). SEO is king

Most people find me via Google. My business is slowly spreading by word of mouth, but I am proud to say that I don't spend money to advertise on Google. I show up on page two thanks to a class I took on SEO at Imaging. The tips and tricks I learned there were key to getting my website to climb the Google ladder. I have done a lot of personal research beyond that class but it was the kick-start I needed. 

About 75% of my business comes from the work I've put into SEO and helping people find me before they find my competition. Researching SEO has also opened my eyes to all the classes PPAedu has for PPA members. I am currently working my way through classes on finance. This is a great resource for photographers. If you haven't looked into it, you're missing out.

3). One size does NOT fit all

Just because you take classes and learn from professionals in the field doesn't mean it's right for you or your business. It's almost like having a child. You can get advice from your parents and friends, but ultimately you know what's best for you and your child. 

I remember calling my husband from Imaging all freaked out because I didn't have studio and couldn't do in-person sales. We researched options for doing in-home sales, but the thought of doing that freaked me out. I wasn't ready, but I didn't say "never". 

Since then, I found a system that really works for me. I educate clients on print products from their first phone call through the last email. I can definitely see doing in-person sales in the future, but it has to be an organic growth and can't be forced or it will not be successful. 

I learned an incredible amount of information at Imaging USA and I cannot wait to go to Nashville next year. Who knows where I'll be in another six months! If you haven't already registered for Imaging USA in Nashville, do yourself a favor and do it now! It is such a great resource for photographers. You will not regret your decision. 
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Imaging USA 2015 is heading to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center in February! Although that's not exactly around the corner, it is 243 days away (at the time this post was uploaded) and we couldn't be more excited! (We apologize in advance if this blog has too many exclamation points.) 

Why this much enthusiasm so far in advance of the event? Maybe it's the amazing line up of speakers, or the range of topics they'll be teaching across the 12 tracks or because we're back in Nashville! And from what we can tell on Facebook and Twitter, a lot of us love it too! 

Not only will the programs be the best yet, but Opryland itself has some pretty nifty deals worked out for you. Did you know that if you stay at Opryland, not only will you be in the middle of all of the action, but included in your room rate is free (yes - FREE) in-room WIFI, two bottles of water each day, access to the fitness center, a complimentary shuttle to Grand Ole Opry House, General Jackson Showboat, Gaylord Springs Golf Course (the round of golf is not included) or the Opry Mills Mall next door! PLUS if you have a car on site, you'll be paying less than half the standard rate for parking (from $21 down to just $9 with super convenient in-and-out privileges). 

Now all of that stuff might be great, but one of our favorite (we have no shame) features of the hotel is that you can have your choice of country music star give you your wake up call! Love Trace Adkins? He'll be giving you a ring to make sure you're up in time to hit up one of the two coffee shops before your 8 a.m. session. More of a Kellie Pickler fan? She's also on the list, along with a slew of other famous country singers that'll make sure you're up and at 'em before all of the action! 

And to keep you on track, we'll have the nifty Imaging USA app for you (it's still in production, but when it's ready to download this summer, we'll let you know)! The app has a lot of the great features you may have enjoyed last year--like creating your own schedule, connecting with other attendees, or planning how to dominate the Expo floor--but there are more great options with this year's app, like a new game (details coming soon!) and an interactive map to help you find your way at Opryland! 

Registration for Imaging USA is already open at imagingusa.org/register. And remember - if you become a professional active PPA member, we'll waive the registration fee for your first Imaging USA (that alone is a $323 value)! 

We'll be bringing you periodic updates about the conference as we get closer, but there is a lot of action on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @imagingusa, so don't be left out! You can also hop on over to theLoop's Imaging USA community to find a roommate, catch a ride or just make new friends that will be in Nashville! We can't wait to see you there!

Did you read part one of Ty Swartz's Imaging USA blog on Monday? If not, check it out! Otherwise part two (below) won't make any sense! On Monday, he gave us a day-by-day breakdown of his Imaging USA. Now, learn where his business is at today thanks to what he learned at Imaging.

Afterword:

When I returned to Virginia, I took Bridget's advice and returned to "Square-One" by identifying my prices. The Business Basics workshop taught me that you have to know the value of the service you provide and then target the audience you want to market. Imaging USA allowed me to develop a twelve month action plan that first focuses on developing a brand, building an audience through relationships and then growing the brand.

While at Imaging USA I developed a relationship with Mark Weber from Marathon Press and we were able to develop my branding and marketing strategy. This month, Pashion Photography is sending our first direct mail advertisement to pre-screened targeted brides!

It took meeting Carrie, Bridget, Mark and Bruce to get the idea that working as a photographer is more than working countless hours, but developing a business model that focuses my talents. I am humbled at their patience and willingness to continue teaching long after class.

Since Imaging USA I keep in regular contact via email with Bruce, who has so much advice and guidance. Mark spends time talking on the phone with me to help identify what type of marketing I am able to do. Carrie created an SMS Superstars Group on Facebook and I am not only continuing to learn from her, but she has introduced me to a whole new level of professional networking. I now have a team of professionals to help me make business decisions. I'm not all alone anymore!

Thanks to their mentorship I've been able to bring my marketing and networking to a new level.  I have developed new partnerships and a highly effective constant contact email program that targets newly engaged brides.

We are now offering a "No Obligation" engagement session. It might sound crazy, but we don't charge the couple. And instead of following them around for hours, we now have them come to our studio. We even formed a relationship with a makeup artist and hair stylist to assist with the session.

After the couple arrives, she goes upstairs gets pampered and he gets to hangout and watch sports, relax and learn about our shooting style. By the time she is ready, the "Wow!" on his face says it all, and we start an intimate portrait session.

Once we are finished shooting, the images are edited in about 15 minutes. Yes, 15-minutes! Using what we learned at Imaging--consulting, getting the lighting right and stylized editing--our workflow is incredibly streamlined. We then give the couple a Sticky Album and Animoto Video--products we acquired at Imaging. 

We tell the couple that they owe us nothing because this is our interview as their wedding photographer. And believe it or not, we have not had one couple leave without making our minimum purchase of $400. It is a modest amount, remember we are just starting and we are using this as an interview to become their wedding photographer. We are still making money and developing relationships. The whole purpose is to educate and excite the couple to hire us for their wedding.

As my journey as a CPP continues, I am carving my niche and working toward my master of photography degree. I returned to school to finish an MBA program in Project Management and Marketing.  I will also teach my first Super 1 Day class on May 18. My talent as a public relations, marketing and social media analyst is allowing me to educate other photographers on the power of developing a marketing and social media management program. The class will help them manage their social media instead of having their social media manage them. 

I'm even entering competition! The Southeast District print judging is happening this month and I am hoping to achieve my first photographic merits. I have a lot to learn in this area but learning is the best part! I learned so much about what the judges are looking for at the VPPA print competition and am feeling confident! 

When I made the commitment to stop everything and attend Imaging USA I didn't know how I was going to afford the travel, hotel, food and all the cool photographic toys I required. Now two months later I am kicking myself for only seeing a monetary value to Imaging USA. The value is returning home with a list of quantifiable objectives coupled with the motivation to achieve and a network of mentors that want to see you succeed as a professional photographer.

The value that Bruce, Carrie, Bridget and Mark have brought into my life is nothing short of amazing. I now know what it means when I hear other say, "You can't afford not to go." I have been a member of PPA since February 2010 but it wasn't until January 2014, nearly four years later, did I realize that I am part of something bigger. I'm part of a family.

Before Imaging USA I was just happy to get a phone call from someone who wanted to hire me because they believed I could take pictures. But Imaging opened my eyes to the fact that I am part of a profession that is bigger than taking pictures. I am an artist that has a choice in what I create.

Two months later I have established a full-time, home-based studio with a consultation room. Our phone is ringing and we are booking because we are able to develop a product and service that is different from other wedding photographers in the area.

We are building the business from a brand point of view and it's working. We've created a network of vendors and a marketing program that is effective. I've been able to grow my Facebook audience from zero to nearly 1,200 people in about five months and am up to 600 Twitter followers in the same time period. In fact we just decided that we are able to grow and are now looking for a new home that will better support our photography business. I estimate that I will be able to switch over to photography full-time in the next 3 months. 

We've already passed our original goal of making $50K and our new goal is to double it. We hope to book 30 weddings and photograph 100 couples for engagement sessions. I can't wait to show Bridget the books when I attend the 3-day business course.

I'm already blocking out time for Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville!

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Ty Swartz, MBA, CPP, USN (Ret.)

Ty Swartz, owner of Pashion Photography, is an award-winning, internationally published Certified Professional Photographer (CPP). After serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy and traveling to more than 60 countries, Ty retired as a Public Relations Officer/Mass Communications Specialist Chief Petty Officer in 2011. He is a native of Greenville, Ohio, and currently lives in Chesapeake, Virginia, with his wife Nicole. 



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