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Photogenesis 2015

I am just now catching up from my trip to SanMarcos, Texas to attend and speak at Photogenesis 2015. 2014 was my year to start this blog, and begin connecting with photographers and photography entrepreneurs around the world. And now… 2015 is my year to start speaking. Photogenesis was a great place to get my feet wet, since they needed speakers for walkup workshops. I did my 2015 Success Roadmap class, and it was so fun! There were several other walkup workshops happening simultaneously at Photogenesis, so I didn’t have a ton of people. But that was ok with me ’cause I had more time to spend with each photographer personally. If you were able to attend Photogenesis and see my class, thanks for attending! It’s wonderful to have attentive excited photographers listening to grab a bit of inspiration. If you weren’t able to be there… never fear. While getting your 2015 plan done in January is always ideal… February is a great time to put new systems in place as well. And I am going to videotape my presentation from Photogenesis (obviously I won’t actually BE at Photogenesis, but it will be that presentation) and put it up here on my blog. Anyone who wasn’t able to attend will have the opportunity to get a plan into action for 2015, and if you were lucky enough to have joined me, and hundreds of other photographers, at Photogenesis 2015, then you can watch the video and get a refresher.

This video will be packed with the big picture for your business for the year. This is the best place to start from… what you want your business to be, do and stand for. And it will get down to the details of your strategies and tactics for creating your vision in the real world. It’s going to be exciting, so stay tuned.

Happy New Year everybody!

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Choose Your Stand to grow your photography business

Today’s photography business tip is to choose your Stand. We have talked about creating your stand before, but I want to re-visit it today as we are on the precipice of a brand new year. Today we say goodbye to 2014, and we usher in 2015. Today is a great day to celebrate everything you have accomplished this year, and to ponder what is next for you… in your life and in your business. And that’s why I want to talk about choosing your Stand.

Millions of people will be making New Year’s Resolutions today and tomorrow. They will be creating grand promises… passionate goals for the upcoming year. And that is really cool! I love the idea of a fresh start, with a new year and new goals to get inspired. But I also believe that there is something far more powerful than any resolution or goal, and that is your Stand.

What is a Stand? It’s exactly what it sounds like… it’s what you stand for. It is who you are in the world, regardless of the role you are playing at the time. Your stand is timeless. It is Who you Are, not What You Do. It is not your career choice (photographer) or your goals (do a million dollars in sales), it is not your resolutions (lose 20 pounds). It is your Why. Why you exist in this world. What you exemplify with every particle of your being.

Getting clear on why you are here on this planet, and choosing a word that you can call upon to ignite your passion and inspire yourself and others is quite possibly THE most powerful thing that you can do for you, your clients, your family, and your business. When you can get clear on your Stand, people will rally around you to assist. People who are inspired by your why will be drawn to you. And people who don’t fit your why will start to fall away… leaving you surrounded by those who will add fuel to your passion and propel you toward your true purpose.

So why do I care about this so much right now? Well… because I have just recently realized that I have been disconnected from my why. I got caught up in the details, and I got sidetracked by trying to save something that I really needed to let go of. I was so busy stubbornly holding on to this thing that I thought was really important, and trying to get it to work, that I missed the fact that it simply wasn’t workable… and it never was going to be. When I looked up from my dogged pursuit of problem-solving, I realized that I had lost nearly everything that was important to me. I had let this thing do severe damage to my business, my family, my health, and my emotional well-being. And I had lost track of my stand… my purpose… my very being.

Maybe you feel a little like that too. Maybe there is something in your life that has been draining you of your energy and your passion, but you haven’t been willing to let it go. Or maybe, you just don’t feel lit up with passion about your life. Well… if that is so… Today is The Day! Today is the day for freedom and clarity. Today is the day to reconnect with who you are and what you stand for. Most of us were raised to think that much of what we are able to be, have or do in this world is limited. But it is not. We are unlimited beings, full of possibility, and able to choose who we want to be and what we want to create. So now is the time.

What do you stand for? Ask yourself this question, and think about what lights you up. What has always lit you up? If you could no longer be a photographer, what would still be there underneath “photographer” that is who you are… at your core? Find a word that lights you up.

For me that word is possibility. That is what I stand for. I stand for breaking through seeming impossibility myself, and assisting others to do the same for themselves. Whatever blocks seem to be in your way can be removed. They can be broken through. Your challenges can be overcome. And who I am is the person who will get you in touch with that belief, while, together, we clear away the fog that is obscuring your path.

The really cool thing about choosing a Stand is that it is who you are regardless of what you are doing. For example, above I explained how Possibility fits into my coaching practice. But what about when I am not coaching? What about when I am speaking, training or photographing clients? Because my Stand is not about What I am doing, it infuses everything I do. It inspires every action and gives me a strong foundation from which to make every decision and every choice. Remembering this is what eventually pulled me out of my recent situation. I thought that I was standing for possibility. But I was actually trying to force something, and force is the opposite of possibility. Force is a product of fear, and possibility is a product of love. I believed, while I was operating from fear, that I was doing everything I could to solve the problem. But I was actually perpetuating it by succumbing to fear and manipulation. When I was able to step back a bit and get in touch with my Stand of possibility, it became clear that the solution was to let it go. From my Stand of possibility, I am present, and I am clear. I am a better speaker, trainer, photographer and coach. Because I am focused on why I am doing what I do the What of what I do gets handled in the background. I am more connected to source energy, and best of all… I am free.

Having a clear Stand, or as some call it, Why,  can simplify everything in your business and your life. It can remove the distractions of the details that can become so overwhelming at times. Creating a marketing plan, setting up your chart of accounts, payroll, hiring and firing, all of the things that you need to handle in your business will become easier when you have an undercurrent of an amazing purpose for Why you do what you do. Your Stand is the rock on which to build your business foundation. So, if you haven’t already done so, create your Stand TODAY, and start 2015 with a strong foundation for success.

If you want to learn more about this, “Start with why” is an amazing book that can help you get even more clarity of purpose. I highly recommend the audio version, that you can carry with you on your phone to help remind you every day how to live from your Stand … or your Why.

Please share with me your Stand, so that I can support you in being who you have chosen to be in the world. Give me one word that speaks to you, and everyone around you, what you stand for and/or why you do what you do.

Happy New Year!!!

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#1 Habit of Successful Photographers – Focus on YOU to grow your photography business

Today I would like to share with you the #1 habit of successful photographers (as I see it). Obviously this is my opinion, and not based on some highly touted scientific research, but it is based on the 15+ years of running a profitable photography business. You are not going to read this anywhere else, because this is not what most people want to hear. There are lots of photography business gurus on the internet touting their “7 easy steps to” this and their “5 custom phases” for that.  And,  I am not saying that their steps are wrong or flawed in any way. Heck! I myself give away a 4 step process on my blog. However , the way that things are marketed these days has led us, as business owners, and as human beings, to be convinced that we can have instant success… instant results… and instantaneous prosperity. We have been duped into believing that instant is the way to go, and that is is preferred to the “old school” values of integrity and hard work. But unfortunately, that simply isn’t how the universe works. You can’t lose the 20 pounds you gained over a two year period, in two weeks. You can’t spontaneously manifest a skyscraper, and you can’t create a stable and profitable business overnight… using 5-9 easy steps.

If you really want to build something of value, you need to focus on the place where you  have the most amount of power and influence… on YOU. When you are a photography business owner, YOU are your business. You might have employees that work with you, but YOU are in charge of the vision for your company, and that means that you  have to work on YOU. You need to develop yourself into a leader if you want to lead a great organization. (Even if that organization only consists of one person). You need to develop yourself as an artist, if you want to be known for your art, and you need to create the mindset of prosperity and success, if you ever hope to manifest that in your life and in your business. And you have to take care of your mind and body so that you can have the energy and focus necessary to really make an impact on the world.

As we approach 2015, now is a great time to reflect on what’s missing. Not to focus on it, with fear. That will just create what you DON’T want. But to root out what is going wrong, so that you can focus on that which will transform it. January is a great time to plan out your year, and the end of December is a wonderful time to reflect on the previous year to help you create an effective plan.

Ask yourself, What is missing in ME, that if I developed it, my business in 2015 would create more success and prosperity? Whew! That’s a big question… right? Even with the level of success that I have been able to create, when I ask myself that question, I get lots of answers to “what’s missing?” So you probably will too. The list might even have you feeling overwhelmed. But that’s ok. After all… overwhelm is probably one of the things that you need to address. So, if overwhelm is your immediate feeling, then you have already rooted out a major issue. Facing that issue head on is going to start the process of transformation. The fact of the matter is that most photographers do not have the skills needed to run a successful photography business. Most photographers like to take pictures. It is, after all, what drew us to photography in the first place. But most photographers are not skilled business owners or leaders. And those skills are MORE important than photography skills in creating a successful business. Entrepreneurial skills are critical to building a business that works. And, for a creative person, those are probably the last things you want to focus on. But here is the good news. Those skills are the exact things that will free you up to do your photography. If you can build a stable business that works, you will have your time freed up to concentrate on your art. Unless you are extraordinarily talented as a photographer, you will never be a successful profitable photography business owner until you develop yourself. Even most of the incredibly talented and famous artists didn’t become popular until after their death. And, you certainly don’t want that!

I don’t usually share videos from other coaches, but this one is so good, so timely, and so relevant to you… and to me, that I had to.

If you can take some time to listen to, and implement the advice in this video, your 2015 could be AMAZING! Develop these 5 habits in YOU, and watch your business SOAR! (And lest you feel like I am contradicting myself… these aren’t 5 “easy steps”. Creating powerful “habits” is all about YOU. The time that you spend focusing on improving YOU will never be wasted. Even if you decide later that being a photography business owner is not for you. These powerful productive habits will be with you as long as you are on this earth. And, who knows, maybe they will even come in handy after that).

 

My thanks go out to Evan Carmichael for this video.

 

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Photography Business Tip – Set Boundaries

Photography Business Tip – Set Boundaries

I don’t have time to create a video today, but I wanted to get this post out there while I am thinking about it. It’s not often that you hear a photography speaker bring up the term boundaries. Typically that word is reserved for more personal matters… emotionally charged relationship issues, for instance. But after being in business for many years, both as an employee, manager and business owner, I have come to realize that many of the challenges photography business owners run into are actually boundary problems. Monday night, at our APPA (Austin Professional Photographers Association) meeting we had two amazing photographers and speakers present to our group. Mary Fisk-Taylor and Jamie Hayes, two incredibly knowledgable professional portrait photographers from Richmond Virginia gave us some terrific tips on sales, marketing, PR and setting up your portrait studio for success. And, during their presentation, Mary brought up boundaries. She mentioned that she and Jamie have really clear boundaries in their businesses (they own and operate two different types of portrait photography businesses… one high end, and one more mid-range). Her comments really got me to thinking about boundaries in business, and I have been mulling things over in my head since Monday about this concept.

Then today I got a call back from a potential client about an event we have been discussing. It was at this point that I came face to face with the legitimate difficulties that we, as professional photographers, face every day with setting business boundaries. This potential client wanted something from me, but it was something I had already determined I was unwilling to give… as a business owner. Giving her what she wanted was going to put me in a position where I would have to take a big risk, and that risk likely had no up side. So, what did I do? Well… first of all… I took a deep breath. Pausing and breathing helps me focus and relax for the difficult conversation ahead. Then I re-stated to her my original answer to her question, which was basically what I was willing to do, but which clearly gave her a “no” to what she was asking for. So it wasn’t an ultimate no… like I do not want to work with you, but it was a no to how she wanted to arrange things.

Now, if you are speaking with someone who accepts a “no”, then this is really all there is to setting a boundary. First off, you have policies that you stick to so that you don’t get thrown from the very beginning. Then, armed with the knowledge that the boundary is necessary, you state your answer, and you wait for their response. Often the response will be something along the lines of “I understand”, and I appreciate you considering my proposal. However, most folks will not give up this easily. And this particular lady works for a non-profit organization, and is especially adept at pulling on the heart strings. So she persisted. She explained why it needed to be done her way, and I listened. Luckily, I have many years of experience with folks asking for free photography, so I have learned a thing or two about how to handle it. This starts with being able to empathize with them and hear them out, so that they feel like I understand where they are coming from. This step is incredibly important, because our emotional response to someone asking for us to work for free, and attempting to (essentially) emotionally blackmail us into doing so, can cause us to emotionally react. The two most common emotional responses are to either 1. Call them on the carpet, and tell them why they are wrong, or 2. Give in. When your emotions are all triggered, these seem like the only two options. But, if you can breathe, slow down, hear them out, and repeat back to them what you hear them saying… if you can empathize with the fact that they don’t have a budget for a photographer, and that they really need your help. Then you can leave them in a space where they may be able to hear your response.

So back to the story. After hearing her out, and repeating back to her what she had said, and letting her know that I understand how difficult it must be for her to raise money for her organization… then I was ready to craft my own response. Again… deep breath. Whew! I won’t go into detail, because I don’t want to give away any personal information about this particular call. What I will say is that it went something like : “I would really love to help you, but this is why I am unable to do so.” Then I explained why the proposal was not a Win Win for me or my company. I explained that I have costs that need to be covered, and that this is a very busy time of year for us, and I cannot afford to risk paying events for events that likely will lose money. Then I did my best to offer her solutions to her problem that she might be able to live with. Solutions that would be a Win Win, for her and for me. I even made suggestions for how she might be able to raise her needed funds without me, and save herself a lot of time and heartache.  Then I asked her to think about my proposals and let me know by a certain date and time, and graciously attempted to end the call.

You would figure that the call ended here, but it didn’t. She and I went through this same process another two times, before she was willing to let me off of the phone. The solutions I offered her were not what she wanted, but they were what I needed. And they were fair. So eventually, she did allow me to get off of the phone, without either of us feeling taken advantage of.

Now… I don’t always handle things like this as well as I did today. It has taken me many years of practice… setting boundaries in business and in my personal life. And I fail to do so perfectly many times still. But, today was a success. And, for you, in your photography business, you won’t always do it perfectly either. But boundaries are a learnable skill. You have to be able to say no sometimes in business to be able to succeed. You have to be able to turn down business when it is not the right client for you. You have to be able to negotiate solutions that will work for all involved. You have to be able to deal with difficult personalities and people who are very persistent. Boundaries are one of the keys to being able to create a photography business that you love, and that supports everything you want to create.

There are lots of great books out on this subject if you want to learn more. My most recent favorite is called “Crucial Conversations”. There are also several books on boundaries by Townsend and Cloud. You can get one of their books by searching with the words “boundaries, townsend, cloud”. Any of these books, and many others are available on Amazon.com .

And now I’m off to go photograph a cool green screen event. Wish me luck! 🙂

 

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Join Professional Photography Organizations – Photography Business Tip

Even if you are brand new to the photography industry, you can greatly benefit from joining professional photography organizations. My husband Charles and myself are both members of Professional Photographers of America, Southwest Professional Photographer of America, Texas Professional Photographers of America and Austin Professional Photographers of America. And that doesn’t include memberships that we have held throughout the years with the National Association of Catering Executives, The Austin Chamber of Commerce, The Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The International Special Events Society and The Better Business Bureau. (Ok… that last one doesn’t really count. If you have been in business for any length of time you have probably already figured out that the Better Business Bureau is mostly just an organization that charges you to say that you are a member. There are not really any other real benefits to paying your dues. Don’t get me wrong… having an A+ rating with the BBB is a good thing to have, but when you first get into business, you usually don’t realize that you don’t need to pay the BBB membership dues to be listed with a rating. They have to rate the businesses fairly, and just because you aren’t a member doesn’t mean you don’t run a reputable business. I am proud of my A+ rating, but I no longer pay dues to the BBB) But I digress.

Being members of professional organizations, not just in photography, but in other areas of business like the chamber of commerce and networking groups, can really help build your business. Why? Because people don’t really trust easily these days. Marketing and advertising has many folks feeling leery. Most everyone has been burned at one time or another, and many of us don’t make decisions like choosing a photographer lightly. When you join an organization you get the opportunity to meet people and get to know them. You have a chance to build trust inside in a safe environment, where you aren’t trying to sell them anything. You get to know who people really are, and if they are the type of people that you want to do business with. Building relationships in these types of groups will help increase your referrals. Referrals from people who know, and like you are hugely powerful, and they will trump an ad or a social media post any day of the week.

As for the photographic organizations, well, you would think that you would never receive a referral from another photographer. But that simply isn’t true. Because photographers have their specialties, and because they want to take good care of their clients, if someone needs a photographer for a job they don’t feel comfortable with, it’s great to be the name on their lips. Building relationships with other photographers can be very rewarding, not just for referrals, but for many other reasons as well. Charles and I are both serving on the Austin Professional Photographers of America Board of Directors this year. The insights that you can gain from other pros are invaluable. And, the camaraderie can be especially powerful when times are tough. Serving on a board of directors in photography can open doors and opportunities for you, and it’s a great thing to put on your web site. Potential clients will view your serving on a photography board as a sign that you are a true professional. Plus it’s exciting to be a part of directing where your local photographic association is headed. I highly recommend it!

I know, as photography business owners, that we have a TON of things we have to handle on a daily basis. And, it may seem like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get out there and build relationships. But I promise you won’t be sorry if you do. Making money and running a business doing what you love is great, but you’ve got to remember to connect with people. At the end of the day, relationships are really what it’s all about.

 

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Photography Business Tips – Just do the next right thing… that supports your brand

I just returned from a fabulous week at the Texas School of Professional Photography, one of the best learning experiences for professional photographers in the country… maybe even the world!

Today’s photography business tip is for all those photographers out there that attend conferences and classes from time to time. Imaging USA, SWPPA, The Summer Roundup, TPPA and The Texas School of Professional Photography are all on our list each year for attendance. We love attending photography seminars and conferences, but it can be hard sometimes to be away from our photography business for a week at at time. Things pile up… AND… there are always so many great ideas to implement when we get home that sometimes it can be quite overwhelming. Today’s photography business tip is to take it one step at a time. Focus on doing the next right thing for your business. Go through your notes from whatever class or conference that you attended and boil things down to the very most important things. Then consider your own brand. Does this tip that you learned match your brand. After all… what good is it to take all the time, energy and money necessary to implement a business strategy or tactic if it doesn’t fit with your brand.
After you have decided which things match your brand… pick the best one… and start with that. After you have the one in place, you can move the number two thing to implement.
Photography classes and conferences can be a HUGE wealth of information, but don’t let the overwhelm overload your plate. Even if you only implement ONE thing from what you learned… if it’s the RIGHT THING, then it could change your photography business forever!

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How to grow your photography business – Photography Tips – Get continual feedback on your images

Today’s photography tip is on improving your photography through constant feedback from other professional photographers.

One of the best ways to grow in your photography skills and abilities is to get constant feedback from other professional photographers. Other pros will see things that you may have missed, and they will often come up with great suggestions for how an image can be improved in post or the next time you have a similar photography session.

You don’t have to take all the advice that you get, but if you are open to it, you can make some huge strides in your photography business.

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How to grow your photography business – Business Tip – Limit your client’s image selections

One of the best ways to speed up the photography ordering appointment and reduce overwhelm for your portrait client is to reduce the number of images that you show your client. If you want to be able to grow your photography business, year after year, and have it be profitable and contribute significantly to your clients… this is a MUST!

We try to keep the selections to only 1-3 images per pose. While this may seem like a disservice to your client at first, you need to realize that limiting a person’s selections actually increases their enjoyment and ability to make decisions. There was a study done with flavors of jelly where a large number of selections were made available to the shoppers… let’s say somewhere in the neighborhood of 24 different flavors. Then they reduced the number to just four flavors. When they did this, sales skyrocketed. Your photography clients will be much more likely to purchase and to purchase larger wall portraits if their choices are limited. If they see hundreds of images, they will never be able to choose, and you are going to end up losing that sale. Not to mention, that you client is going to lose out too. They came to you as a photographer to photograph their family and provide them with beautiful images that they will treasure. But if they can’t make a decision, they will not get their needs met.

It seems counterintuitive, but it’s really true… the less choices you give them, the happier your photography clients are going to be in the end… and so will you!

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How to start a photography business – business & photography tips – Bert Benke – PPA Charities

Join me at SWPPA as Bert Benke talks about the wonderful work that Professional Photographers of America does through the PPA charities.

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Photography Business Blog #40 – 12 Elements of a Merit Image – Color Balance

PPA’s definition of Color Balance: supplies harmony to an image. An image in which the tones work together, effectively supporting the image, can enhance it’s emotional appeal. Color balance is not always harmonious and can be used to evoke diverse feelings for effect.

A few tips:
1. Learn White Balance: This is hyper-critical to your success as a photographer. If you don’t understand white balance and how to get correct color in your images… go get help.
2. Play with using opposing colors on the color wheel to create nice color harmony.
3. Once you have your white balance figured out on your camera and your monitor calibrated … now you can play around with warming up or cooling down your images for effect. But you have to understand how to get correct color first, before you can break the rules effectively.

If you have an image that you feel demonstrates good color balance, please share it below.

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