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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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#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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Busiest Event Photography Weekend

The first weekend in December is always the busiest event photography weekend of our year. It’s actually a madhouse! We do more revenue in the first two weeks of December than we do in the first or second quarter, so planning for them all takes a huge amount of focus and intentionality. This video shows what our portrait studio looks like when it has been taken over by the huge amount of equipment required to pull off the dozens of events coming up. Being a speaker, trainer, educator and coach is a lot of fun for me, and I really love it. But I am a professional photographer too, so this time of year is as busy for me as it is for all of you out there. Forgive me for my lack of videos lately, as I have been focused on working with my coaching clients, preparing presentations for upcoming speaking engagements, and prepping my businesses to serve my photography clients for the holiday season. After December 15th, things will slow down a bit, and I can rest up for the new year.

I can’t wait to see all of you in 2015! It’s going to be a fantastic year, and I hope you will come along with me for the ride.

 

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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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International Print Competition

If you are a member of PPA and haven’t been watching International Print Competition, now is your chance. IPC is streaming LIVE 8:15 AM – 6 PM ET August 4-7, 2014.

It’s easy to watch:

  1. Go to stream.theipc.org on your *desktop device.
  2. Log in with your PPA account or complete the short registration.

Whether you entered International Print Competition or not, you will learn a TON watching it. There is no faster way to improve your photography than to understand what goes into a merit worthy image, and the live streaming for International Print Competition only happens once a year. You don’t want to miss it!

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Photography Web Site Tip – Include testimonials

To increase the impact of your images, it’s always much more effective to include testimonials with your photographs. While the photographs are important and necessary to your photography web site, testimonials are what is really going to connect your potential client emotionally to you. They don’t care as much about the fact that you can create a pretty photograph as they do about what is in it for them. What will they get out of the experience of working with you? That’s what they want to know, and that’s what testimonials provide… a glimpse into the experience of being photographed by you. And… as you already know… it’s the experience that is going to elevate your photography business above the commodity based photographers who are all competing on price.

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Photography Tip – Only show your best images

Today’s photography tip is to always put your best foot forward by only showing your best work. Especially on your web site, it’s very important that the images you show are your very best. It’s not about quantity. It’s about quality. Your potential clients don’t have hours to dig through hundreds of images on your web site. They just need to get a feel for your ability and your style. They need to be able to trust you. And if you are showing tons and tons of photographs, some great, and some not so great, then they will get the impression that you are inconsistent. If you only show them your very best photographs, they will get the sense that you know what you are doing, and they will trust that you can provide them with consistent quality. Keep your images up to date. Remove photographs that look like they were taken 20 years ago. Yes… it is a good thing to be able to show that you have 20 years of experience, but you don’t need to do that with big hair and parachute pants adorned senior photos that are going to turn off your potential client. You do want to show some variety, but make sure you limit it to your very best work.

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In camera metering

If you don’t use a hand-held light meter, and prefer to use in camera metering, you may want to keep some things in mind to get a proper exposure. You camera’s meter works in such a way as to try to make your image neutral. Your camera’s meter wants to make everything 18% gray. This can cause issues for you, from an exposure perspective, when there are areas of your image that are white or black. If your camera is metering off white, it will try to make it look gray. This is going to darken your image and underexpose it. The opposite is true when the camera sees black. It tries to make the black gray, which will over expose your image. This can be especially tricky with weddings where you have a bride in white and a groom in black. (And… it’s another reason to photograph in manual mode, but that is a topic for another blog). So what do you do if you have this situation? The easiest way to resolve it is to go to manual mode, where you essentially override the camera’s metering by choosing the exposure yourself. Using a hand held meter in this situation will give you a consistent proper exposure. But let’s say you need to use an automatic mode (like program) or semi-automatic mode for some reason. For example, maybe it is a cloudy day, but the clouds are moving quickly, so the light is changing rapidly. In this case, you can keep your camera in program or aperture priority and use the camera’s meter by selecting spot metering. Then choose a spot to meter off of that is as close to 18% gray as possible. This will allow your camera to do what it does best… keep gray … gray…. and will result in a much more accurate exposure and better detail in your highlights and/or shadows.

I also need to add that this is another good reason to have a professional camera, as opposed to a consumer or pro-sumer camera… as pro cameras have the ability to spot meter, while some others do not.

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Photography Business Tips – Take a comedy break now and then

Today’s photography business tip is to take a comedy break every now and then. Now, I’m not suggesting you spend all day on Facebook, as seems to be the trend nowadays, but it’s also important not to be so serious all of the time. Make sure you take out some time to laugh. Laugh at yourself, and laugh at the things that strike you as funny. Laughter is incredibly good for your health and your mental attitude.

Here is the one that made me laugh today. I thought I would share it with you.

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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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