The President’s Message: It’s All About “Family”

Ross Benton,
TPPA President 2019

One of the things I love to do over summer holidays is go to the lake. The water is cool, the sun is bright, the food is fabulous, and the people are precious. I always go to the lake with my family where we meet my “family.”

Here’s what I mean.

I’m a proud husband to Brandyce and a father to two. They are my family. But when we go to the lake, we’re not only together as a family, we also spend time with people who are “like family.” These are people with whom I can share my joys, my hurts, my fears, and my secrets. My family is a great blessing to me – but so are the people who are “like family” to me. The same thing is true for the people of my church. I’ve fostered many close and abiding friendships there and know that I’m surrounded by people who not only share in faith, but also care for me – deeply.

The New Testament often describes the Church as a “family of faith” (e.g., Galatians 6:10). Part of what made the Church so attractive in its early days was how it looked like a loving, caring family. A second century historian named Tertullian said of these people, “See how they love one another!”

Like the Church is a family of faith, our industry is a family of photographers. We are here for each other. One of the reasons I count it such an honor to be president of the TPPA is that our mission revolves around supporting not only the practice of photography, but the people who are photographers. As much as the art of our craft matters, how we relate to each other and care for each other matters even more.

To that end, I hope to see you at our iHeart Photo Conference & Expo, October 11-13, in Grapevine, Texas. In addition to sessions on photography, we will have excursions for photographers where you will be able to get to know others better and develop and deepen friendships that can expand your professional family. I also want to “thank you” for helping make our Summerfest seminar such a success. Our image competition featured over 560 entries! Thanks for all your participation and support. Hopefully, you were able to gain and glean some takeaways from Summerfest to better serve your clients this fall.

I’m looking forward to what this fall has in store. Thanks for walking with me in this journey. It’s been a great one so far!

All the best,
Ross Benton
TPPA President

The President’s Message: It’s All About “Family”2019-11-19T10:47:27-06:00

The President’s Message: Opportunities for Growth

Ross Benton,
TPPA President 2019

If you’re anything like me, you probably have systems for just about everything you do. At my studio, we have a system for scheduling appointments, a system for reaching out to clients, a system for engaging new clients, and, of course, a system for delivering not only the best possible product to our clients, but for offering the best possible overall experience for our clients. Systems are critical to success!

There is a danger, however, inherent in our systems. Whenever we do the same things the same way each and every day, it’s all too easy for our systems to slip into ruts. We develop a system that works, so we stick with it because it works. But what works is often different from what’s best. Even if it’s not broken, it’s sometimes still worth fixing, because what we fix, we can also improve!

In the New Testament, a man named Peter invites us to grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18). I can’t think of two more important things in life than these. Being gracious to others – not only to the clients we serve, but to the family we love, to the friends we have, and even to those who have wronged us – is critical not only for the sake of our craft as photographers, but for the sake of our character as people. And the desire to grow in knowledge is critical if we hope to improve and remain competitive in the world of photography. It is critical in our personal lives as well. When was the last time you stopped to listen and to learn from your spouse, or to glean a new insight from your faith tradition? Every facet of our lives offers us an opportunity and a challenge to grow.

Ruts sap us of our graciousness and lure us into feeling comfortable with what we think we know instead of being curious about what we have yet to learn. My invitation to you, then, is this: Take intentional steps to identify ruts in your life and, then, step out of them. In everything we do, we want to be better today than we were yesterday!

At TPPA, we are devoted to your growth. This is why Summerfest is so important to us as photographers and our families. Save the date, June 30 through July 3, at the beautiful Inn of the Hills in Kerrville. This year’s event will feature world class presenters along with our annual photography competition, and, of course, plenty of social time so we can grow in our relationships with each other. For more information, and to register, visit tppa.org.

I hope to see you there!

All the best,
Ross Benton
TPPA President

The President’s Message: Opportunities for Growth2019-11-19T10:48:16-06:00

The President’s Message: Opportunities for Service

Ross Benton,
TPPA President 2019

As we head into this new year, it is my hope that you’re as excited as I am about all the opportunities that are on the horizon. In a fast-paced world like ours, we have the privilege of capturing moments in time for families and clients that they can treasure and that can help them slow down just enough to focus on what – and really who – matters most.

As 2019 gets going, I’ve been preparing for one of my personal favorite opportunities of the new year:  rodeo time in San Antonio! I have been putting in lots of extra hours reaching out to different donors and organizations to sponsor youth scholarships as part of my work on the Calf Scramble Committee, and have come to realize that people love being given the opportunity to make a difference. My stack of “thank you” notes to write is growing by the day as more and more people gladly and willingly sign up to give because they see the impact their donation can make in a child’s life.

Hopefully you can see the impact your photographs can make in a family’s life and in a business’s mission.  I have found that by approaching a session as a servant first and as a photographer second, my clients have a better experience, and I have a better time! Making a decision to approach every job as a servant reminds me that my calling is not primarily about how many tasks I can complete, but about how many people I can help. This is what makes a lasting impact.

Who can you serve in 2019?

As we seek to grow in our craft so that we can better serve our clients, I want to remind you that the Texas School of Professional Photography Conference is only a few months away. Mark your calendars for April 28 through May 3 at the Renaissance Hotel in Dallas. Last year, we had over 1,000 photographers attend. This year, we’re looking forward to seeing even more of you!  You can register for the conference by going to texasschool.org.

Please join me in looking for opportunities to serve in 2019. After all, there is nothing more fulfilling than using your gifts and talents to serve others. This year, make a resolution not only to capture beauty with your camera, but to create beauty in the lives of others with your spirit of service!

All the best,
Ross Benton
TPPA President

The President’s Message: Opportunities for Service2019-11-19T10:48:59-06:00

The President’s Message: Putting First Things First

Ross Benton,
TPPA President 2019

While beginning my term as TPPA President, I’m well aware of being an heir to a long and storied tradition of excellence in photography. This is a tradition I have witnessed close up during my previous years on the TPPA Executive Council, beginning as a counselor and moving up as secretary, treasurer, vice-president, and now as president. This is a position of honor which I take seriously and cherish dearly. While looking forward to continuing TPPA’s great tradition, I also look forward to discovering new ways to make us all better together.

A verse from the New Testament Book of Hebrews invites us to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” This ancient preacher invites anyone who will hear him to encourage one another – even to push one another to grow in what matters most in life… caring for and loving others, not just in what we say, but in what we do. When I think of what has led to the greatest growth in my own life and what has led me to get better, I think of three things.

First on the list is my faith. My highest goal in life is to live for something greater than this life. This changes the way I see everything. While snapping a picture, my faith encourages me to not only look at my work technically… lighting, shadowing, positioning, coloring… but also artistically. The purpose of photography is to capture beauty and I can’t help but think there is Someone behind that beauty who has worked caringly and lovingly to craft and to create a beauty that we could never have conceptualized or composed ourselves.

Secondly, my thoughts are of my family. Before I am a photographer, I am a husband and father. My wife, my son, and my daughter have taught me lessons about tenderness and strength, patience, and joy. The pictures I treasure most are not only the ones archived in my camera, but held in the deepest places of my heart.

Finally, I do think of my vocation. For me, photography is more than a job. It is a calling. Thinking back over what I’ve learned, how I’ve changed, the new friends that have been made, and the business I’ve built, and my experiences over these past few years, I am humbled to serve others by working in a craft I truly love.

One of my goals over the next few months is sharing with you things I’ve learned that will hopefully be of benefit to you. But I’m also looking forward to learning from you and walking with you as, together, we make each other better, not just in photography, but for the sake of all of the clients we serve.

All the best,
Ross Benton
TPPA President

The President’s Message: Putting First Things First2019-11-19T10:49:48-06:00

The President’s Message: I Heart Photography Conference and Expo

Tammy Graham, 2018 TPPA President

By now you may have heard that Texas PPA is hosting a new event this fall. The “I Heart Photography Conference and Expo” will be held October 12-14 at the Grapevine Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas.

The I Heart Photography Conference features two and a half days of programming for photographers with a wide range of interests. Pro photographers will enjoy an outstanding lineup of programs from marketing and inspiration and from babies to families in our Pro Track of programs designed to address the needs and expand the success of professional photographers.

Photographic enthusiasts as well as pros will enjoy our Inspiration Track of classes featuring a variety of programs to foster creativity and inspiration. Program topics include; street photography, photographing night skies, wildlife, landscapes, as well as flower and bird photography.

We are also excited about our lineup of “hands-on” Excursions that take place on Friday. These are on-location events which feature a coach who will help you understand what goes into capturing a dynamic image. Excursions require an additional fee that range from $57 to $89. Excursions offered include a trip to the Fort Worth Zoo with Dennis Kelley, a Real Estate shoot with Ethan Tweedie, Street Photography with Josh Jordan, Drone Photography with Justin Moore, and Food Photography with Malinda Julien.

We also have arranged a very special excursion to the home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium. This is a very unique event because the stadium does not usually allow cameras with detachable lenses or lenses longer than three inches. They are making an exception for I Heart Photography participants and allow us to photograph inside the stadium with generous access throughout. How cool is that?

One of the things that makes this event a little different than others we have hosted is that it will likely sell out due to the smaller meeting rooms at the Grapevine Convention Center. We are anticipating a complete sell out, so you are encouraged to register early!

Early registration for the conference is $127 and will cut off at 200 registrants. Registration for this super event is now open at www.iheartphotography.org.

Tammy Graham
TPPA President

The President’s Message: I Heart Photography Conference and Expo2019-08-25T15:25:38-05:00

The President’s Message: Cause and Effect

Vice-President
Tammy Graham
Ft. Worth

At Imaging USA this past January, PPA put out a message about the widening gap between photographers and their consumers.  The premise is that consumer habits and expectations are always shifting and that photographers may not be keeping up with the evolution of the consumer – and are stuck in their old way of doing business.

At TPPA, we agree with this premise.

As the largest PPA Affiliate, TPPA is positioning itself to be the leading association for helping its’ members succeed artistically and financially.  We continue to bring top educators to our events to show us how to get better at our craft and growing our business. Following PPA’s lead, we will also incorporate programming that includes:

  • Understanding the changing photographic marketspace
  • Connecting photographers to their consumers
  • Developing a healthy small business mindset
  • Understanding sales

“How is business?”  The answer to that question depends on who you talk to.

Every day, someone on social media is out there complaining about how bad things are and how people are not buying photographs.  For the photographers doing the complaining, that is probably their reality…but we can cite countless examples of photographers who are doing a tremendous amount of business and generating record numbers.  So, what makes these two photographer types so different?   We are going to dive into this at Summerfest.

Our first effort in addressing these topics will take place at our “Making Money Super Monday” event.  You will see and hear a number of presentations that will impact how you look at your business and how you respond to changing consumers.

We plan to dig deeper into the conversation and to provide you with the tools that can make a difference in how you connect with your customers.

The truth is, consumers have never had so much disposable income and they are willing to spend it in greater amounts than ever before.  We are going to show you how to develop a healthy small business mindset so that you can get your share.

Sir Isaac Newton stated, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.  To put this another way, we say, “spend the money so you can make money.”  We believe that your investment in attending Summerfest will come back to you in real dollars as you put what you learn into use.

Register now at www.tppa.org/summerfest.

The President’s Message: Cause and Effect2018-05-27T15:05:39-05:00

The President’s Message: The Power of Networking

Vice-President
Tammy Graham
Ft. Worth

With Texas School on our doorstep and Summerfest just waiting in the wings, I thought this would be a good time to talk about one of the unwritten benefits of your TPPA membership, “Networking”.

Networking: NOUN

  1. a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest:

 

It is impossible to put a price on the value of making connections within TPPA.  When you participate in a TPPA event, you not only get education from speakers and instructors, but you also have the opportunity to learn from other TPPA members.  At any given event, there are those in attendance who share the same struggles as you, have been where you are and have overcome difficult situations or hold a solution that will change the course of your business.

There is also a good chance that you might be the voice that a fellow member needs to hear.  You can be the voice of encouragement, provide sound advice, or simply share how you work around common obstacles.

How many of you look forward to seeing great friends at an event? Chances are you first met those friends at a TPPA event and become lifelong friends.  This still happens at every TPPA Event.

Now, you might be skeptical at how this would happen among competitors at an event. You may wonder why anyone would share their business insights with someone they do not know.  You may even feel a bit protective of your own “trade secrets”.  These are common feelings with those who are new to the association world.  The trick is to move past those fears and get plugged in.  Members who embrace the message of sharing soon realize that we are all better when all photographers are strong.

The hard part of all of this is that networking is not intuitive.  It requires deliberate action to take place.  Whether you are new to TPPA or you are a long-time member, networking begins with you!  For example, you are attending an event for the first time, you should make a point to introduce yourself to people and let them know you are new to TPPA.  Make sure you carry some business cards with you to exchange with people you meet and follow up with a simple e-mail letting them know you enjoyed meeting them.  Ask for advice on making the most of the event.  “Where is a good place for lunch?” or “Which speakers are you looking forward to hearing?” are great questions to start a conversation.

If you are a seasoned TPPA member, make sure to reach out to those you do not know.  Don’t pass by individuals sitting or standing by themselves to do so without saying hello or asking them if they have any questions.  Try to invite someone new to lunch or to sit with you in a program.  Go out of your way to make everyone feel welcome.

We are all part of the TPPA family who are working to improve our craft, grow our business and to find new solutions to becoming more efficient.  The fact that TPPA members are willing to share ideas and build each other up is one of the things that makes TPPA such a special organization.  I am thrilled you are part of our growing association.

The President’s Message: The Power of Networking2018-04-07T15:03:44-05:00

The President’s Message: The Year-Round Marketing Calendar

Vice-President
Tammy Graham
Ft. Worth

From what I have heard, it looks like many of you had a great finish to 2017. Congratulations!  I know I was especially busy with many more sessions and better than expected sales.  This got me thinking, “Why do some finish strong while others do not?” 

I think the answer is, “planning”.  Successful photographers plan to be successful.  I believe the key begins with creating a year-round marketing calendar.  A few hours of your time spent examining the marking and promotions that follow seasonal changes can pay big dividends.  Many photographers began their planning for 2018 back in the fall of 2017, but it is not too late to get started if you start right now.

The year-round calendar allows you to have a clear understanding of the cycle of sales that takes place during the year.  For example, spring is filled with sessions that take place outdoors.  From bluebonnets to azaleas, from amazing spring colors to Easter pastels, there are a lot of ways to get clients excited about portraits.  Have you already started encouraging spring sessions?

Summer is filled with excited kids who have finally reached their “Senior” year.  They are motivated and looking for a great senior portrait experience.  Have you planned how you will get their attention?

The fall brings so many opportunities for amazing outdoor color and the early appearance of Santa.  Many photographers cash in on this important time of year, but you can’t wait until September to get your clients ready…that process begins in July when you should be creating marketing materials and creating your promotions.

The year-round calendar is your guide to success.  I hope that you will spend at least a couple of hours this week working on yours.

Speaking of planning, TPPA members have a lot to look forward to in 2018.

The Texas 10 Workshops start up in late this month and run through March.  These are small workshops hosted by TPPA members who volunteer their time to share their talents and skills to help you become a better photographer.  Classes range from getting started with Lightroom to business and marketing and everything in between.  Learn more at tppa.org/texas10.

There is still time to register for Texas School.  Even though some of the classes have sold out, there are still plenty of outstanding classes.  Texas School is an immersion in photographic education with just the right amount of fun.  The trade show is always a hit as many of the vendors provide the best prices of the year on equipment and services at Texas School.  All the evening meals and entertainment is provided with your Texas School registration.  There is no better value in photographic education.  Learn more at texasschool.org.

have found that I accomplish more when I have a plan.  I hope that you have taken some time to plan an outstanding 2018. 

The President’s Message: The Year-Round Marketing Calendar2018-02-07T15:02:25-06:00

The President’s Message: “Plan for Success”

As we knock on the door of a new year, it is a great time to look ahead and start planning for success. I can honestly say that with my own business, success started when I joined TPPA. While many other associations are struggling, TPPA is thriving and growing and it is easy to see why.

TPPA gives us the opportunity to learn from countless others who were willing to share their knowledge to help our members learn the skills required of a professional photographer and to be able to earn a living doing what they love.

As the largest affiliate of PPA, TPPA sets the standards of education that others can only dream of and we have come to expect. For example, Texas School (April 22-27) is attended by over 1000 photographers from almost every state in the US. When you look at the value you receive for the cost to attend, there is nothing that can touch it. If you are a TPPA member, you should be at Texas School. Registration opens at 11PM CST on January 3rd.

While you are waiting for Texas School to get here, take one of the awesome Texas 10 workshops that take place in February and March. These workshops are held throughout the state and are taught by fellow TPPA members, usually in their studio. These workshops are kept very small so you are sure to get lots of individual attention.

TPPA also produces one of the most unique photographic education events, TPPA Summerfest. What makes this so special is that photographers can attend three and half days of photographic education and inspiration and include a fantastic getaway for the entire family. Summerfest takes place at the La Torretta Lakeside Resort on Lake Conroe where family members enjoy a water park, a championship golf course, boating and fishing and much more. Summerfest takes place June 24-27.

PhotoGenesis is our fall conference that will take place October 12-14 in Grapevine. Big changes are in store for PhotoGenesis 2018 including a number of unique excursions and an awesome trade show. There will be a lot of excitement with our new approach to PhotoGenesis, so make your plans to be there.

When I joined TPPA, I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to serve on the leadership team, much less as President. I am honored to be able to give back to this association I love, and I look forward to seeing you in person at one our wonderful TPPA events!

Tammy Graham
2018 TPPA President

The President’s Message: “Plan for Success”2017-12-01T17:14:01-06:00

President’s Message: “You Have a Skill Set!”

These were the words that David Boeck said to me when he invited me to serve as a Councilor at Large for TPPA.  That was his response when I said, “But I’m not a photographer.”

Each of us has talents that TPPA needs!  As I have mentioned before, event planning is not my strong suite….as a matter of fact, simple details like napkins and nametags seem to be out of my ability to remember.  But that is ok!  We have other members of TPPA that actually think planning something like Summerfest is fun (can you believe that?).   And that is my point.  You have a skill set that is very different from mine.  I actually enjoy reading by-laws, operations manuals and writing my “President’s Messages”…..my wife, well let’s just say she finds by-laws much more effective than Ambien.   We need these different skill sets to maintain our growth and to compensate for deficiencies when needed.

I encourage you to reach out and offer your skills.  We need people that enjoy event planning, carrying sound equipment, chauffeuring, by-law reading, socializing, FaceBooking, photographing (events), and…well you get my point.  This is your organization and you can help it become better.  You know what you can do, so reach out to a member of the Executive  Board and say, “I am here, use me!”

Trey Homan
TPPA President

President’s Message: “You Have a Skill Set!”2019-08-25T15:25:51-05:00