Would Your Seniors Like to Be Supermodels? New Site for Photography Pros Can Help

When teens pose for senior portraits, the experience often allows them to imagine what it might be like to be a professional model. In fact, many clients often ask portrait photographer Cindi McDaniel: “What steps would I need to take in order to become a model?”

So when Cindi and her husband Ralph decided to joint develop a web-based enterprise as a sideline to their senior portrait business (Studio EnVogue), they came up with the concept for Supermodel Seniors.  The site will feature professionally photographed images of high-school seniors from all across the U.S. who dream of becoming models. The galleries on Supermodel Seniors will make it easy for modeling agencies to find fresh faces or a particular look that might be needed for a specific job.

Zimmerman Portrait Designs Displays Senior Portraits on Sunset Photo Metallic Paper

Last week, I received a nice note from Ric Zimmerman of Zimmerman Portrait Designs in Billings, MT saying how much he has enjoyed using LexJet’s Sunset Photo Metallic Paper.  Here’s what Ric wrote: “When I received it, I must admit that I wasn’t really excited to try it, so I walked around the box for a day or two. Then, I decided, what the heck, and wow, I was really blown away! The results that came off my Canon iPF8100 printer were fantastic!”

Zimmerman Portrait Designs just happened to be in the middle of changing all of their studio samples for the upcoming senior season, so Ric decided to print all the displays with Sunset Photo Metallic. Here are some of the photos he sent me.

“We’ve had so many comments on how my images just seem to pop and have a 3-D look to them,” says Ric. “We have added Sunset Photo Metallic to our product line and I am excited to see how sales go.” Because his sales staff is so excited about the metallic prints, he believes his customers will be too.

Ric closed his letter with these kind words: “Thanks for sending me the paper. LexJet is always on top of the newest and best. Keep up the good work guys. You and your staff are always a pleasure to work with.”

Thanks for the great letter, Ric! We’ll look forward to hearing more about how your senior customers react to seeing their portraits printed on this exciting new product.

PDN Offers Online Expo for Portrait and Wedding Photography

On May 24 and 25, PDN PhotoPlus Virtual Events is hosting a free wedding and portrait expo for imaging professionals.

From the comfort of your home and office you can visit virtual trade-show booths, and participate in keynotes and six different sessions dedicated to the wedding and portrait business. Sessions include The Fine Art of Wedding Photography, Reinventing Yourself and Building Your Wedding Business, SEM + SEO Marketing, and Fusion Photography—how to tell the story of the wedding day through video mixed with still photography.

In addition to learning new approaches to wedding shoots and refining your marketing techniques, you will get tips that can help you run a profitable business by increasing client purchases and mastering the art of album sales.

Why and How Pro Photographers Are Using Twitter

By Eileen Fritsch

PPElogo_mainAt PhotoPlus Expo today, I attended a fabulous session entitled The Twitter Revolution: Changing the Photographic World 140 Characters at a Time. It was a panel discussion, in which Jack Hollingsworth, Seshu Badrinath, Taylor Davidson, Jim Goldstein, and Rosh Sillars talked about why Twitter is such a powerful marketing tool for photographers and how it has changed the ways they think about branding and self-promotion. (I know this topic isn’t directly related to printing, but knowing how to connect to customers in different markets is important for photographers who want to get the most revenue from their wide-format inkjet printers.)

Hollingsworth noted that pro photographers can attract Twitter followers like rock stars because so many people are fascinated with photography. But he cautioned that you shouldn’t join the Twitter conversation” until you have a clear strategy in mind for what you’d like to accomplish. When you write your bio for your Twitter account, word it carefully so you’ll attract the type of followers you want. Consider your bio like a unique selling proposition, in which you define what makes you different.     

Here are some other tips the panelists provided:  

Twitter isn’t what you think it is. It’s not a time-sucking tool for mindless chatter, but rather a new media platform. If you like being on top of the latest news, trends, and ideas, tune into Twitter. It’s actually an enormous, searchable database, through which you are showing other people who you are. It’s also a database through which you can learn a great deal about what’s happening in the world and new markets you want to enter. As with any database, you can control what type of information you’d like to extract and use. For example, if you are an architectural photographer and want to learn more about how about architects think and what’s important to them, you can use search tools to find and follow architects on Twitter. (Then, when you see an opportunity to offer some advice and introduce yourself, you can do so.)

Use Twitter as a soft marketing tool to get referrals. Before you even get around to showing a client your work, you can use Twitter to let someone know who you are and how you think. Once you establish credibility, trust, and rapport, potential clients will invite you to show you them your work. But don’t overmarket and use Twitter simply to promote yourself. The more helpful you are to others and the more good information you provide, the more you’ll get noticed and trusted. One reason Twitter is so popular is because it humanizes communications and provides an escape from a world in which we’re constantly bombarded with marketing messages.  

Twitter creates an intimacy that doesn’t exist in direct mail. And it can be far more productive than making multiple phone calls to multiple prospects. Some photo buyers in the seminar audience said that they hate being interrupted during the day by phone calls from photographers and vendors. But since they’re toiling away at their computers anyway, they don’t mind interacting with photography pros through Twitter.

Use your real name instead of some sort of funky made-up name, because your name is your brand. Then, make sure that every tweet reflects how you want to be known. With social networking, a brand isn’t what you say about yourself, but what others say about you. Would you rather be known for continually making comments that are snide, hyper-promotional or self involved? Or would you rather earn a reputation as an expert who is helpful and generous with their knowledge?

You’re creating opportunities for the right people to find you. Even if you only have a few followers, you can potentially reach millions of people if your tweets are remarkable enough to be re-tweeted again and again. Plus, hashtags make it easy for non-followers to find your comments through searches. Major corporations and media organizations are following Twitter to find new sources of information and expertise about various topics.  

In effect, Twitter provides a platform through which you can connect with lots of other people and subtly give them reasons to buy from you. It allows your work to reach people who should know what you’re doing. One of the panelists observed that great work spreads better, faster, and cheaper than great marketing. But that doesn’t mean you should be posting your images on Twitter, because Twitter is actually more about your personality than your portfolio.   

I have lots more to report from PhotoPlus Expo, including news from HP, Canon and Epson and some interesting new suppliers of print-finishing services and equipment. I’ll be writing a complete wrap-up in the next issue of LexJet’s In Focus newsletter.

Small-Class, Hands-On Training for New Portrait Photographers

KAPA classes are kept small so there is plenty of opportunity for personalized advice.
KAPA classes are kept small so there is plenty of opportunity for personalized advice.

If you’re serious about getting into the portrait photography business, having a good camera and a passion for photography are important. But there’s so much more that must be learned. For example, in order to sell enough work to make a decent living, you should know how to pose and light your clients in the most flattering way, efficiently manage your workflow and costs, and market your services to different groups of clients.   

Although some of this knowledge can be acquired by reading books, joining online forums, and attending national and regional conferences, long-time portrait photographer Alan Davis recognized a need for more intensive, personalized instruction. So, he and his wife Saundra and their business partner Bob Rabold opened the Kentucky Academy of Photographic Arts (KAPA) in Bowling Green, KY and started offering hands-on instruction during one-, two-, and three-day classes.

“Almost anyone can make a perfectly exposed digital image,” says Davis. “But not everyone knows about composition, or how to use posing and lighting to emphasize the subject’s good features and de-emphasize the bad features.” He acknowledges there is room for experimentation in portrait photography, but says at the end of the day, “People really want portraits they can feel good about showing to their friends and families.”

Learn with Your Own Equipment: KAPA classes are held on the second floor of the historic building in which his own studio, Alan Davis Photography, is located. Attendees bring their own cameras and laptops so they can apply what they’ve learned using the equipment they use every day. Images shot during each class can be output on either the Epson Stylus Pro 9900 or Epson Stylus Pro 4880 that Davis uses to print his own photography. Class sizes are limited to 20 participants, allowing plenty of time for one-on-one advice and critiques.

 Classes are held on the second floor of the historic building that houses the Alan Davis Photography studio.
Classes are held on the second floor of the historic building that houses the Alan Davis Photography studio.

Classes have been taught by a variety of accomplished photographers, including Jen Hillenga, Fuzzy Duenkle, Beth Forrester, Jane Conner Ziser, Mike Fulton, Shawn Wright, and Gary and Pam Box. So far, sessions have focused primarily on lighting and posing techniques related to senior, family, and wedding photography.

In 2010, Davis is planning to branch out a bit and offer sessions on baby and children’s portraits, website design and SEO marketing.

Course on Profitable In-Studio Printing: Davis is also considering teaching a course on profitable workflows for in-studio printing because “We started doing all our own printing in-house about six months ago.” He calls it one of the best decisions they’ve made for their business in recent years. He uses the Epson 9900 and LexJet Sunset Select Gloss Canvas to produce enlargements on canvas and an Epson Stylus Pro 4880, the ImagePrint RIP, and LexJet Sunset Photo eSatin paper to output all of the studio’s 16 x 20 and smaller-size portraits.

Printing your own photos in-house isn’t for everyone, Davis acknowledges: “There is a learning curve, and you have to enjoy figuring things out and setting up a workflow that will be profitable for you.” But Davis loves having total control over every step of the process.  

KAPA is located in Bowling Green, about 60 miles north of Nashville, Tennessee in the gently rolling hills, and “cave country” of central Kentucky. According to Davis, KAPA has attracted students from as far away as Detroit. But most people who have attended KAPA classes are photographers who want to set up portrait-photography businesses in nearby states such as Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and Illinois.  

While Davis is a proud and active member of the PPA and a Master Photographer, he notes that KAPA is an independent, privately owned business, and isn’t affiliated with the KPPA (Kentucky Professional Photographers Association) or any other regional or national association. 

For more information about KAPA and classes being planned for 2010, visit www.kapaclasses.com. You can also connect with Alan Davis online. He contributes regularly to pro photography forums such as www.pro4um.com and the forum at Luminous Landscape.