PHOTO COPYRIGHT © ASHLEY GOODWIN
Just got back from WPPI U at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta and already I’m yearning to go back for more—more riveting classes; more incredibly knowledgeable and personable speakers; and more eager, energized students, myself included.
It was a full house from start to finish for the 2 1/2 day workshop (September 25-27) that had just over 300 attendees soaking up all of the essentials new and emerging photographers need to help establish and expand their business.
Host Tamara Lackey was a welcoming face and enthusiastic personality as she presented her own class “The Fusion of Work & Life” on Day One and also introduced the other top names in the industry who were giving presentations, including Lindsay Adler, Suzette Allen, Tim Meyer, Blair and Suzanne Phillips, Doug Gordon, Michael Gibert and Gene Ho, among many others.
Marketing genius/wedding photographer Jasmine Star helped kick off Day Two and when she walked into the room all eyes, and ears, were on her. Not only is she gorgeous, she’s also incredibly warm and funny, and was more than willing to share her personal and professional struggles early on in her career during her presentation, “Untold Stories,” which broke down how photographers can restructure their lives and businesses. She did it, and assured everyone in the audience they could too.
“In 2007, my first year in business, I booked 38 weddings,” Star told us. “My clients were happy but I was artistically stifled. I needed to take a step back and look at everything I liked, and didn’t like, about my images and about the way I ran my business.” One thing Star didn’t like was how long she spent editing images and answering emails. “Caressing a mouse at midnight with not keep you warm,” she joked as she reinforced the importance of finding a balance between your life and your business. Her most recent website, which was launched in November 2010, is more her voice than was the first one that went live in 2008 she said. “This one is more ‘me being me.’ And if you don’t like me, I don’t care.” (We like you Jasmine, we like you a lot, as witnessed by the throngs of attendees waiting to talk to you and have their picture taken with you after your talk.)
Every speaker was incredibly engaging and gracious when it came to sharing information, and the students were thrilled to be in the presence of greatness for a few days. Sue Bryce, who was recently named 2011 AIPP Australian Portrait Photographer of the Year talked about building a portrait studio from the ground up. “I’m not a trust fund baby or a rich wife,” she told the audience, “but I built a successful portrait studio with my bare hands. I took my business from zero to $20,000 per week in the first four months, and exceeded every idea and dream I had.” The key, she told us, is simplicity: “Create a brand, simplify your product, add a large amount of marketing and apply with great gusto.”
Of course no WPPI event would be complete without the dynamic stylings of Sal Cincotta, whose mantra is “Do it right or don’t do it at all.” Cincotta’s seminar, “Creating Value for the Client & Maximizing Your Profit Margins,” emphasized how photographers need to understand the process when it comes to creating packages that are priced for profit. His biggest piece of advice: “Don’t give away the house in your first package.” Instead, he stressed, use pull-throughs to your advantage. “For example,” he said, “all of my packages come with albums but I use size [amount of pages] as the pull through.”
By the end of WPPI U, not only did every attendee walk away with more knowledge, business savvy and great new friendships, we all wanted to enroll on the spot for the next event!