What a Way to End 2015 Workshops!

I could not have asked for a more magical setting to wind up this year’s Get Down to Business Workshops. Thanks to the hard work of my colleague and teaching buddy Mark Weber, the fifth and final 2015 workshop took place at Leid Lodge & Conference Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Constructed of massive timbers and stone, the artistic tree-themed decor of the lodge pays homage to the beauty of trees and their importance to conservation and environmental stewardship. Its first-rate facilities and nearby attractions provided an exceptional venue for the final edition of this workshop series.

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Leid lodge sits adjacent to the estate of J. Sterling Morton, Secretary of Agriculture in the administration of President Grover Cleveland. Morton is celebrated as the founder of Arbor Day, the tree planter's' holiday. Widely respected as an agriculturalist, He was devoted to spreading the word about modern techniques of farming and forestry. Morton’s expansive estate allowed him to indulge his fascination with planting trees, especially rare varieties and heirloom apple trees. The 260-acre property, known today as Arbor Day Farm, is maintained as a State and National Historic Landmark. Among its activities are scenic trails that Mark, his daughter, Kelly, and I enjoyed on Sunday before setting up for the workshop.

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Thanks to Jason Deyo, president of Professional Photographers of Nebraska, and Karen Meinders, executive director of Professional Photographers of Iowa, for their support of the workshop. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching in both states before, so I knew to expect a great group of dedicated professionals and really fun people. I was not disappointed! Their questions, comments and active participation in the class were a joy for me and just the kind of encouragement I need to keep at the mission of helping photographers embrace the business side of photography.

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In the coming months I will be looking for partners to help make possible a series of brand-new business workshops to debut in 2016. In addition to developing new workshop content, I plan to continue work on some new educational resources for marketing and managing photography. I’m also looking forward to teaching a one-day management class in my home state for members of Professional Photographers of Pennsylvania on October 11. It will be followed on October 12 by a full-day marketing class to be taught by my colleague Ronnie Owings, who runs one of the most successful studios in the country. I’m most eager to learn from Ronnie! For more information about these two classes, click on this link.

Best wishes for a very happy summer!

Columbus Days . . .

It was so nice to be back in Columbus . . . at the Hyatt Regency that once was the site of so many Ohio and Mid-East conventions. It was great to be around photographers who were really serious about the business of photography, and it was lovely to see several who have attended classes before. I got to catch up on their progress to date, and it is extremely heartening to learn that their businesses are growing!

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Next stop . . . Nebraska City, Nebraska!

A Wonderful Time in Orange County!

It’s been two years since I’ve had the opportunity to teach a class in California, and this class was a pleasure indeed . . . very smart people and and very talented! It was especially nice to have several photographers with supportive parents attending the class as well.
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I was very happy that Mark Weber could join me as well. He was able to answer so many specific marketing questions because of his work with so many different types of studios.

My next stop is Charlotte, NC, on May 1-2, when the workshop will be held as a pre-convention class at the Southeastern PPA “Flash” May conference. It’s going to be a great convention, so take a look at this link.

2015 Workshops Off to a Great Start . . .

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So Happy To Be
IBack In Texas!
It’s no secret that I like to teach at least one workshop a year in Texas, and I try to schedule it when the weather is cold and snowy in Pennsylvania. This week I truly lucked out . . . When I left home it was minus two degrees. In spite of the rain on Monday, on Tuesday it was a sunny 55 degrees in San Antonio. Best of all was having a class full of fun people, which is always the case in Texas, and they really dug into the workshop contents. I was lucky also to have Mark Weber, director of Marathon’s Marketing Advantage Program (MAP), available to support the class and to answer marketing questions before, after and during class breaks. No one is better at sharing marketing wisdom than Mark, and I truly appreciate his help!
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After class, Mark and I had the pleasure of taking a short ride with MAP Members Hayward and Shannon Gaude to visit the couple’s retail studio, which they moved into over a year ago. Located in Old Town Helotes, the studio is nestled among several other boutique businesses. In addition to having plenty of attractive display and shooting space indoors, the business also features numerous rustic outdoor settings that are perfect for photography. Mark used my new iPhone to create several panoramics of the property.
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I’ve always said that Mark can do more with an iPhone than most photographers can accomplish with a load of expensive gear. Here’s one of his images that I “borrowed” to try out a with several Topaz filters. I like this one best. Thanks Mark!
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My next workshop stop is Orange Country, California on April 13-14. Don’t miss the $50-off early registration deadline of March 31!

Boston-Area Concludes 2014 Workshops

In spite of a running into the first snow of the season, which made traveling to the Boston area treacherous for some, we received a warm welcome from a wonderful group of photographers eager to increase their profitability in 2015. It was a delightful way to conclude the 2014 Get Down To Business! workshops.

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Special thanks to dear friends Fred Stiteler and Candace Pratt Stiteler who helped to make this workshop possible through the cooperation of Professional Photographers of New England (PPANE), of which Fred is Executive Secretary; and the New England Institute of Professional Photography (NEIPP), of which Candace is Director. With the support of the PPANE Board of Directors and the NEIPP Trustees, these organizations are providing professional photographers and aspiring professionals with vital resources for technical and business education and professional growth.

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Presently I am hoping to arrange my schedule so that I can attend NEIPP as a student next year on March 29 - April 2. Having taught there before, I know what an outstanding opportunity this PPA Affiliated School provides. As new technology provides us with so many more economic and artistic opportunities, continuing education is more important than ever to keep our businesses relevant . . . and continuing education is just as important to teachers, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than being on the receiving end of great education!

Framing Start-up Kit to Debut at
Boston Area Workshop - November 3-4

One of my biggest concerns about today's industry is that too many photographers are allowing images to leave the studio without being framed simply because they are not offering this service. This practice not only leaves money on the table for photographers, it also means that their images are either unlikely to be framed properly, or they will end up stuck in a closet or a drawer.

To make things easier for those who wish to offer quality framing to their clients, yesterday Jim and I took a trip to B&S Framing in Williamsport, PA, to finalize a Framing Starter Kit for photographers. I will have a sample of the kit with me at my Get Down to Business Workshop in Woburn, MA on November 3 and 4.

Jim and I have done business with B&S for as long as I can remember. It is a second-generation family business, which is now operated by Mike Corter and his wife, Jodi. Bill McGarvey, Jodi’s dad, bought the business in 1962, so the company has a long history of serving photographers.

Operating as a "chop service," B&S stocks hundreds of molding strips on site, allowing studios to purchase frames and mats on an as-needed basis in any designated size.

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Simply call or email your specifications, then B&S takes it from there; your frames are mitered and joined and shipped within 3 working days. Mats cut to size, as well as glass and a foam core backing also are available, and if you wish, B&S will insert the backing with flexible points, so that all you have to do is to bend down the points to remove the backing, insert your photograph with the backing, and push the points into place.

Mike Corter was very helpful in identifying some of the company’s most popular frames, and together we chose 18 moldings for the starter kit.

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Using a chop service has important managerial advantages:
  • Your cash flow is not tied up in sample frames, some of which inevitably go out of style.
  • You don't waste valuable storage space on sample frames.
  • Not only do your sales increase, you are assured that your work will be displayed in the homes of your clients, which helps to increase awareness of your business.
You can view the entire line of B&S frames, mats, and multi-opening products by logging on to http://bsframes.com.

If you have questions about B&S and/or wish to order a starter kit, contact Mike, or Jody, shown below, or any member of their customer service staff at 800-327-7961.

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About the B&S Framing Starter Kit

The $25 kit includes 18 sample corners and a full-color catalog. The $25 fee will be credited to your first order. For an additional $10, you can orders set of mat corners in a compact counter display that includes every mat-board color offered by B&S, the fee of which also will be credited to your first order.

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B&S and ProSelect

If you are a ProSelect user, you can add digital files of B&S frames to ProSelect, which allows you to project your images inside any B&S frame in the exact sizes you wish to sell. The combination of B&S frame corners and ProSelect’s many projection features provide an incredibly powerful sales tool that allows you to dramatically increase your bottom line.

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My Backyard . . . Continued

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The weather was great last weekend, so I found two hours to head out on a road close to my house that I’ve passed for years; it is off my beaten path, so I’ve never turned onto it. My new Lumix 45-200 zoom lens for the GH4 camera (effectively 90mm - 400mm) had arrived, and I was very eager to try it out, as its light weight, small size, and amazing price seemed almost too good to be true. I particularly wanted to see how the lens performed off tripod. Wow, was I amazed! It was a sunny day, so I had the luxury of shooting some of the images at 1/1000 sec. at between 200 and 400 ISO. The lowest shutter speed I used was 1/200 sec. At that speed I had to pay close attention to holding still, but even fully extended, the images where sharp as could be. There’s no way I could hand-hold a 400mm DSLR lens, and I’m not about to haul one around! My hands are small, so ergonomically, the GH4 is a dream come true, and it fits my husband’s much larger hands very comfortably. The photo above is the fully extended lens in my hand. When it is not racked out, it measures only 5 inches. I did a quick Fundy Blog Collage from last weekend’s short session, using a border that differs from my last post.

I’ll be heading for Ireland shortly with three lenses and the camera body in a small bag that has plenty of room for personal items as well, so packing will be a lot easier. It will be interesting to see how I get along with the new lighter gear during long days of shooting and hauling a tripod. Can’t wait!

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Right In My Own Backyard . . .

Today I had one of those “ah-hah!” moments that served as a reminder that every now and then all of us need to explore the world just outside our doorsteps.

I recently purchased a Lumix GH4 camera and several lenses, and I’m eager to give them a good workout while Jim and I are in Ireland on our annual fall vacation. I’ve read the manual and played with the camera at home, but I wanted to do some quick test shots to make sure I am totally comfortable with the new gear. So on Sunday, Jim and I spent two hours driving within a 10-mile radius of our home and studio to make some test images using my 14-140mm zoom and the 7-14mm lens.

Although I have lived in Annville ever since I graduated from college and got married, we took some side roads I had never explored. Soon I was less focused on the equipment and far more interested in the scenic vignettes of a soft summer afternoon in the country. Interestingly, the first image I processed was a panorama of a farm that I pass every time I make a trip on the Interstate. I had never stopped to take a good look at the gently rolling fields that surround the century-old farmstead. It looks so much like the farms portrayed in Currier and Ives prints that I want to come back again and explore it from different angles and focal lengths.

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I hadn’t planned on finishing the other images, as I merely needed to verify that the camera was indeed recording what I had intended. It took only a few minutes to know that it had exceeded my expectations in the image-quality department, and I was especially impressed by its versatility and ease of operation. Last evening I took a second look at the images and decided to finish a few more. Before I knew it, I had completed around 30 that were really fun to do. That’s when the “ah-hah!” moment hit me: Just outside my doorstep are delightful images to be made, and the only reason I made them was task-related. What else am I missing? I won’t know until I start allowing myself to get out of the office.

So I have a plan: I’m setting some “tasks” for me as a photographer, not a business owner: The first is to test the Lumix 45-200mm / F4.0-5.6 / zoom as soon as it arrives. Next, I plan to spend a day close to home once the fall leaves appear. When I get back from Ireland, I’ll also do some camera room tests, as I have a concept for a new pet portraiture product.

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Finishing the images above also gave me an opportunity to try out the Blog Collage module of Fundy Designer Software. I bought the software to use for album/book construction, but I’m so glad I added the Blog module, as it is a really great time saver. This makes me even more eager to start on a book. Now that I’m resolved to spend more time in my own backyard, perhaps I’ll create a book of images that I record there. A good lesson learned.

P.S. I’ll have information on both the Lumix system and Fundy software at my November 3-4 Workshop in Woburn, MA.

Get Down to Business Workshop Coming to the Boston Area on November 3-4

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I’m very pleased to announce that one more edition of my Get Down To Business Workshop is now scheduled for the Boston are (Woburn, MA) for November 3 / 4. This is the last workshop for 2014. A special thank-you to Professional Photographers Association of New England (PPANE) for sponsoring the workshop, which allows PPA members to receive 1 education merit for attending the workshop. PPANE members and PPA members will receive a special registration price of only $149 when they register by September 30. To register, click here.

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