Photography Conference Stresses Need for Both Artistry and Profitability

Can I stay true to my artistic spirit and make money, too? That question has always bedeviled professional photographers and other creative souls who want to earn a decent living doing something they love. But finding a satisfactory answer has become more urgent as the recession has deepened and droves of newcomers and part-time photographers have entered the photography business.

Many photography pros are likely to be ready for some fresh ideas and inspiration come January when they start analyzing their financial results for 2009. That’s when some other tough questions tend to crop up: How can I do better financially next year? What can I do to bring in more revenues?

iusa_logoThat’s why it’s encouraging to review the conference program planned for the Professional Photographers of America’s Imaging USA Conference, Jan. 10-12 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, TN.  Along with sessions focusing on technical proficiency and photographic artistry, the PPA conference organizers have lined up sessions that explain how to differentiate yourself in a crowded market, sell new types of photo products, and update your marketing efforts.  The titles of some sessions are self-explanatory. For example:

  • Standing Out from the Crowd-Guaranteed
  • Achieve Amazing Results Against the Odds
  • Facebook was Made for Photographers
  • The One-Two Punch: Rockin’ Images + Social Networking = Business Explosion
  • Take Your Studio to the Next Level
  • What It Takes to Make the Salary You Need: New PPA Financial Benchmark Survey
  • Stop Wasting Your Time: Manage Your Workflow
  • Creating the Red-Hot Wedding Studio

In a session entitled Standing in the Shallow End of the Pool and Looking Good, Parker J Pfister will suggest many ways to differentiate your studio, including new shooting styles, unique products, and sales techniques.

During a session entitled Making the Most of Your Talents, photographers Tina and Michael Timmons of The Portrait Gallery will discuss how to diversify your portrait business by photographing, manipulating, and selling customizable portraits as interior décor. As they point out in the course description: “Every home and business is an opportunity—each has a need for imagery to be part of their surroundings.”

In the class called A Cut Above, Julie Klaasmeyer will talk about custom wall art and ways to create a demand for products that are cut above your competition.

And in the workshop entitled Product Design: Plain, Simple, and Profitable, Allison and Jeff Rodgers will discuss how to present clients with photo product designs that work in their own personal spaces.

If you start to feel overwhelmed by all of the business and sales advice, you can attend creativity-inspiring sessions such as Where Have All the Artists Gone? and The Portrait As an Art Form.  As always, one of the very best ways to differentiate yourself is to shoot visibly superior images that make a lasting impression and emotional connection.    

Newcomers to the photography business may want to arrive at Imaging USA early to attend half-day, one-day, or two-day sessions on topics such as:

  • Photographic Essentials When Turning Pro
  • The Business of Photography
  • Business and Financial Management
  • Sales and Customer Service
  • Marketing and Promotions

Other sessions cover specialties such as baby and children’s portraiture, wedding photography, and sports photography. There will also be an outstanding exhibition of award-winning prints and an expo of new equipment, software, and services.

You can keep up with all of the plans for Imaging USA 2010 through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the RSS Feed from the Imaging USA website.

In the meantime, if you’d like some personalized advice on fresh ways to grow your photography business and differentiate yourself in a crowded market, call one of the helpful account specialists at LexJet at 800-453-9538. We have a lot of ideas, too!

All of the Imaging USA events will be held in the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, the largest non-gaming facility in the continental US.
All of the Imaging USA events will be held in the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, the largest non-gaming facility in the continental US.

Why a Rising Young Photography Star Prints Her Own Work

By Eileen Fritsch

Catherine Hall
Catherine Hall

For the May/June issue of LexJet’s Great Output magazine, I interviewed Catherine Hall, the extremely talented and personable young photographer who operates Catherine Hall Studios in New York and the San Francisco Bay area. I wanted to find out more about some of the ideas she discussed during her outstanding presentation on Modern-Day Marketing Methods at the 2009 WPPI Conference.

The conference classroom in which Catherine Hall spoke was packed with photographers under the age of 30 who were just starting out. Many of them had never attended a national photography conference before. But there’s a strong possibility that many of the photographers in the room had already seen some of Hall’s images in photo-industry publications such as Rangefinder, PDN, American Photo, and Camera Arts or in the Epson booth at the WPPI Show. Many of the aspiring young photographers seemed eager to learn how someone close to their own age had already achieved such an extraordinary level of success and national recognition.

After gathering the details I needed for the marketing article, I told Catherine that I was happy to see that she actively promoted the importance of in-studio printing during her WPPI presentation. It is the same message that the enthusiastic digital-photography team at LexJet has been promoting ever since Epson introduced their first generation of Stylus Pro printers with UltraChrome pigment inks.

Catherine said she agreed with my perception that newcomers to the wedding and portrait photography business are being encouraged to let labs do all of their printing work for them so they can concentrate on shooting more images. While this advice might make sense in some scenarios, photographers who open their own studios and aspire to sell to more upscale clients probably need to know how to print more of their images themselves. She said that being able to control your vision from capture to final product can help set apart from the pack in a very competitive business.

Catherine Hall is proud to have her images featured in the Epson booth at a photo-industry trade show
Catherine Hall is proud to have her images featured in the Epson booth at a photo-industry trade show

Hall believes that knowing how to print is crucial to being able to present clients with her best work. She uses the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 in her studio for all prints bigger than 5 x 7. She especially likes using Epson Exhibition Fiber Paper so she can craft wedding prints that her clients immediately recognize as something distinctive.

Although Catherine agrees studios will always need to outsource some functions, printing shouldn’t automatically be one of them. “Sometimes when you get something back from the lab, you see things you wish you had done a little differently,” she told me. “And sometimes, when you print an 11 x 14, you’ll notice things you didn’t see on monitor. Having a printer in your studio lets you fix these things immediately.”

Hall was quick to point out that she would much rather do work that she is consistently proud of rather than simply shooting bunches of lesser-quality images.  She says printing images herself gives her ultimate control over how her artistic vision will be rendered: “There is no way to compare something I print for myself to what I get when I allow someone else to print my work.”

If you’re interested in learning more about how to print high-quality images that will dazzle your customers, call one of the helpful account specialists or technical support people on LexJet’s digital-photography team. If you call during regular business hours, you will always reach a live person who can answer questions about inkjet photo printing, whether you use an Epson, Canon, or HP printer.

If you weren’t able to see Catherine Hall’s outstanding presentation at WPPI, you can read many of the tips she presented in her Self-Promotion Resource Guide for photography professionals. It includes practical information on entering print competitions; publishing a blog; e-mail marketing; writing and submitting press releases; writing you bio; and social networking. The guide also includes a list of all of the major photography competitions and advice for contacting all of the editors at the top bridal magazines. To order the guide, e-mail:

Click here to read the Great Output article that summarizes Catherine’s excellent advice for aspiring professional photographers who want to jump-start their careers. This two-page article  is a part of a larger story that examines how professional photographers are refining their marketing strategies to reach new generations of customers.

A Good Deal on Mall Advertising for Photographers

At LexJet, we believe out-of-home advertising is a cost-effective way for wedding and portrait photography studios to make themselves more visible to potential customers. The term out-of-home advertising is what used to be called outdoor advertising.

But now it refers to all of those ads you see as you walk down the street, commute to work, or attend special events. One reason out-of-home advertising works is because you can present your message to tens of thousands of people of all ages who may be hard to reach through fragmented channels such as the Internet, newspapers, magazines, and TV.   

Mall Advertising

A particularly good out-of-home advertising venue for portrait photographers is the local mall. Most malls have a mix of clothing stores frequented by mothers of young children and high schoolers or jewelry stores visited by newly engaged couples. These are just the sorts of people who tend to buy the most portraits. 

Some entrepreneurial photo-studio owners have developed their own connections for getting some of their images displayed in local malls. But if you haven’t had much luck with this approach (or prefer spending your time on other pursuits), the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) can help.