As I wrote in an earlier post, I was really worried that a week away from my family, combined with the cost of a week in a hotel room (I did three days of pre-convention classes), would not be worth it when it was all said and done. I crossed my fingers that the classes and presentations at Imaging USA in Phoenix would be great.
Now that I am home, I could not be happier with the time and money spent at Imaging. The pre-con classes were incredible and the regular convention “classes” were helpful. I got to see Gregory Heisler speak about his career, I was able to get an autographed copy of his new book, and he was kind enough and approachable enough that after the crowd dispersed (which took at least an hour and a half), we chatted briefly and took a picture together.
The unparalleled resource that PPA offers its members is the Studio Management Services and the research that they have conducted over the years into the managerial accounting analysis of successful, profitable studios. My advice to any photographer who has not taken their business classes – after you read this post, go sign up for the next SMS class near you. There is no other trade organization that I know of in any field that provides the kind and extent of financial planning tools and access to business savvy minds that PPA does.
A run down of what I learned: A crash course in creating and running a successful (in this case, wedding) photography business; how to create, market, sell huge panoramic photographs and how doing so can have positive ripple effects in other areas of your photography business; a mind straining crash course further into branding. I’m still rereading those notes to attempt to grasp it further; how to utilize the PPA business resources through the web tools and the business research available online; and, finally, one of the classes that had less effect on my business plans and more effect on my gear led me to a new idea of how to make my strobe/lightstand/power source/camera gear far more mobile.
As for the tradeshow, I met great people ( shout out the the great folks from Bend, Oregon at the Asukabook booth), checked out lots of gear, was numbed by the somewhat pointless “celery-shooters” speaking at several of the larger booths, signed up for StickyAlbums, and got sucked in at the Sony booth by the new a7 and a7r. What? A full frame camera so small I thought it was a micro four thirds camera? Dripping with top shelf Sony techno-flashiness? Priced at…. wait for it… $1700 and $2300, respectively? WHAT? Yep, I’m sucked in.
So I was inspired in my business, inspired by an photography rock star, and had my techno fix filled.
The one huge frustration of the show was my (ongoing) interaction with Samy’s Camera. I placed an order for the Sony a7 with them at their booth, wanting the camera quickly and wanting to support a vendor. I assumed there was a good chance the camera would be waiting for me when I got home. I called them today, as I have received no email or any other communication from them. I was prepared to cancel my order and get one from Amazon, since, had I ordered from Amazon in the first place, I would definitely have my camera already. However, after wrestling my way through their almost useless phone tree, I spoke with a very friendly gentleman in their web orders division (I have no idea how I ended up there). He told me that the memory card (that they had included for free) was not in stock, so they had held my order… for four days… without contacting me. However, the guy told me he would give me two day shipping, and when I told him to forget the card, just send my camera, he promised me he would get back in touch with me today. He never called. I will call them first thing tomorrow. If the camera is not already on its way to me, I will cancel that order and get one through Amazon. That lack of service, combined with their nearly rude behavior at their booth guarantees that I will not be providing any more business to that company! I can’t stop thinking that, had I ordered the camera through Amazon, it literally may have gotten to my house before I did.
Other than the general unpleasantness that has been my dealings with Samys, I would say that Imaging was worth all the time and money. Kudos to the following instructors:
Bridget Jackson, CPA
Thanks to all of you for educating and inspiring me!
Keep loving life!