Blog Post

President’s Message: It’s Reward Time

Ahhh, can you sense it? The cooler weather is almost here! We have successfully navigated the molten Texas summer! Congratulations! It’s reward time! The reward? Take the time to sit and do nothing for at least 5 minutes every day. I encourage us all to seek some peace and quiet in our day, to incorporate a small period of restorative calm.

Throughout the summer, I got up just before the sun to go sit on my front porch with my coffee. I got up at that insane time because it was the only cool time of the day, but I don’t talk to anyone…that would be beyond my early morning capabilities. When I turned off the earbuds and the fan, I was astounded at the variety of birdsong going on around me.

I was totally clueless as to all the bustling activity right next to me. I have found that I get a lot of joy from listening to and watching the birds, and the wind rustling through the leaves has almost an immediate calming effect on me.

So, I want this for you. Find 5 minutes in your day to go sit on your front porch, or your back porch, or your balcony, and soak in some natural peace. I know some of you are saying that you don’t have that sort of peaceful place at your home. If so, perhaps you can take a break via YouTube and go to the beach to hear the crashing waves or to the mountains and hear the waterfall. Just close your eyes and pretend you are there for 5 minutes. Maybe you are not a fan of birds or not thrilled with the wind, and you do not wish to find peace through social media. Then, perhaps, a great piece of calming music would work for you?

However, choose to find your moments of calm. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Listening to the sounds of nature or a great work of music can have a significant effect on our well-being. Even just a few minutes of intentional peace can make a difference in how we feel and how we cope with our daily responsibilities, and it can allow sparks of creativity to grow.

Whether we are bearing up under relentless heat, knee-deep in busy season, or navigating through the sometimes overwhelming holiday season, it is important to pause, breathe, and reset.

Take care of yourselves! I am looking forward to seeing you at the iHeart Photo Conference in October.

Teri Whittaker, TPPA President

President’s Message: It’s Reward Time2023-10-05T10:28:03-05:00

President’s Message: TPPA Resources for 2023

TPPA 2023 President Teri Whittaker

We are well into 2023! How are you doing? Have you identified a business practice that you would like to implement this year? Maybe you have determined that you need to revamp your workflow, or you want to dip your toes into mixed-media art. Whatever your goals are for the year, I hope you are well on your way to developing a game plan to accomplish them. Once you have a plan of action, find a friend who would be willing to keep you accountable, or hire a coach to help you follow through!

Remember that TPPA also has resources to help you out online such as TPPA 365 and our online events. Be sure to check out our TPPA Spring Workshops and, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to register for Texas School. It’s not too late.

Each resource or event has its own benefits. Online resources are great when you need a quick way to access information on a particular immediate need or, at your convenience, you can spend a little time learning something new. I have really appreciated TPPA online events such as Guy T’s “What’s New In Lightroom” and the iHeart ‘preview programing’ as a way to share information and connect us all at one time in this very large state of ours. We don’t have to wait until Texas School or I-Heart to see each other’s faces and say “Hi!” A plus is that, if you can’t make the online event, they are recorded and you can watch them later.

While online opportunities are great and have their place, in-person opportunities are still very important. Not only do you get valuable information from the speakers and instructors, you also learn many useful tips in random conversations with other attendees. There have been many times when I’ve commented about something I want to do or something I’m struggling with and someone will tell me, “Oh, I do this and it works great for me!” In-person events are a great place to meet and know people in a way that is just not possible online. Over the years, I’ve grown as a person and as an artist because of the encouragement from these same people that I am now honored to call friend. That is what I want for each of you… to find lifelong friends and encouragers! A virtual hug will never compare to the real thing.

Before I close, I wanted to give a big “THANK YOU” to our advertisers who support this magazine and to Bill Hedrick, our editor, who does an incredible job on every issue. Now, I want you all to GO FORTH AND CONQUER! You got this!

Best regards,

Teri Whittaker, TPPA President

President’s Message: TPPA Resources for 20232023-03-09T14:22:47-06:00

The President’s Message: A Joyous Season

Jenny Eisenhauer
Chairman of the Board

It’s the most wonderful time of year! The hustle and bustle all around us as people prepare for spending time with family and friends over the holidays can be overwhelming. Most photographers are trying to squeeze in just a few more family sessions, planning their own holiday break, or wrapping up their projects to prepare for the new year. But it is also a great time of year for photographers.

Speaking of 2020, what are your plans? Many of the most successful photographers will tell you that having a business plan was their ticket to success. You should be thinking WHEN to have studio specials, usually during your slow time of the year. You should be planning HOW to schedule your sessions so you are not constantly moving lights, backgrounds, and props in during sessions. You should also be evaluating your return on investments of new lights, equipment, and education. You should be focusing on marketing: who are your clients, what do they want, how will you deliver it to them? There is SO MUCH to think about, and yet, all are steps to your success.

The Professional Photographers of America will host Imaging USA in Nashville, Tennessee, January 19-21, 2020. I love being able to see so many familiar faces and meet new friends at this event. This is a great way for me to start the year and to learn some things that I am doing right. It is where I find trends for our industry so I can fine tune areas and goals to address in next year’s business plan.

Texas PPA has an exciting lineup of programs and events for 2020. The concept of “Texas 10 Workshops” has been expanded to include more of them throughout the year. These events are usually small groups where people can soak up information about almost any topic. Each one is an opportunity to put the pedal to the metal. The goal is to learn it, practice it, take it home, and work on it! These TPPA events are wise investments for any photographer. Plus, they are a lot of fun! For more information, go to the Texas PPA website at

The Texas School of Professional Photography is also just around the corner. In fact, registration for this event is coming up on January 3, 2020, at 11:00 pm CST. If you’ve never attended “Texas School,” you have missed out on a week-long event with 36 classes and about 1,000 other photographers. It will literally change your life!

2020 is going to be a great year for Texas PPA and its members. We are excited about some changes for next year’s calendar and new opportunities for our members.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your president for this year, I hope to see you at an event, guild meeting, or excursion soon!

All the best,
Jenny Rhea Eisenhauer
TPPA President

The President’s Message: A Joyous Season2021-11-03T12:15:26-05:00

The President’s Message: People Working Together

Ross Benton,
TPPA President 2019

It’s difficult to believe that my time as TPPA President is already drawing to a close!  It’s been an honor to serve as your president. During my time in this position, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some awesome people at TPPA, attend some great events and most importantly make some new friends. I have loved getting to know so many of my fellow photographers across the state of Texas and even beyond.

As my term draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the many experiences and people that have blessed me and I simply want to say in my final letter to you, “Thank you. I couldn’t have done this without you.” Working together, we’ve all become better.

In my career as a photographer, I have the opportunity to travel over a fairly sizable swatch of the state to photograph different things for different clients. Sometimes, a photo shoot is a one-person job. Other times, I need some reinforcement! Thankfully, I have found a group of five photographers who serve as my partners and supporters when I’m asked to photograph a larger event. They will travel to help me as needed and I will travel to help them. Not only do we help each other professionally, we also invest in each other personally. We learn from each other’s successes and failures and we talk with each other about our lives and families. Working together, we have all become better.

In the creation story at the beginning of the Bible, God delights in all He has made. One of the refrains in the opening chapter of Genesis is this: “It was very good” (Genesis 1:31). But when God created the first man Adam, He expressed a concern. “It is not good for the man to be alone,” He said (Genesis 2:18).  So, God made Eve. Why? Because He knew that working together, things go better. At the end of the Bible, there is a man named John who sees a vision of heaven. What does he see? “I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language,” John says (Revelation 7:9). John sees a huge crowd of people! Why? Because he knows that working together, things go better. The story of the Bible, from beginning to end, is the story of people working together.

This fall, we will have the opportunity to work together at the iHeart Photography Conference at the Grapevine Convention Center, October 11-13. If you just need some fresh inspiration and encouragement, there will be something there for you. If you’re a pro but you know you still need to grow, there will also be something there for you. If you’re looking to grow your business and learn some of the latest tricks and tools of our trade, there will be something there for you as well. For more information, and to register, just go to I hope to see you there because I know that working together, we can all become better!

Thank you again for the opportunity to serve as your president. Even as my role changes, my commitment to our industry – and to you – will not. I count it a privilege to call you my colleagues and my friends.

All the best,
Ross Benton
TPPA President

The President’s Message: People Working Together2020-09-01T17:19:18-05:00

TPPA: Your Home Away From Home

by Guy T Phillips

When I first started out too few years ago, I had what I thought was a good foundation and a good idea of what was needed to be a professional photographer.  As time rapidly passed, it became evident that, no, I did not.

Thankfully I made at least one good decision, in joining the TPPA.   The friendships I have come to enjoy and the fellowship that I have come to look forward to have made for a great experience that cannot be measured in conventional ways.  It’s as if there is a massive family, scattered all over the Great State of Texas, who will gladly stop what they are doing to help, who will guide you towards your success, and who will become friends who are always just a smile away.  I know that whatever success I can claim, it will be because of the TPPA and the many wonderful members who have enriched my life.

Thanks to the TPPA, I’ve come into my ‘comfort zone’!  As a newbie to the world of ‘Professional Photographer’, my anxiety levels used to be off the charts at times.

“How do I do this?” 

“What’s the best way to do that?” 

Now I know I can depend on the time, talent and treasure that is the TPPA.  Educational opportunities year round, gifted artists with open arms and minds, and resources aplenty have allowed me to rapidly advance my career, isolate and eliminate doubts and fears, and focus on what I do best!

Whether you’re looking to expand your basic skill sets, take your advanced knowledge to another level, participate alongside the best-of-best in image or print competition, or find yourself giving back to the organization through selfless service, the TPPA can be your home away from home!


TPPA: Your Home Away From Home2021-11-03T12:10:33-05:00

It’s National Peanut Butter Day!

Image by Matt Kozak

Today is also, “National Compliment Day”.  Go ahead and celebrate.  You will look good doing it!

February brings us, “National Pet Dental Awareness Week” and I always make sure to enjoy, “National Pancake Day”!

These efforts work because they rise above the noise and clutter of the endless parade of ads and commercials that are constantly in our faces.

This sort of marketing works because it is also narrowly focused.  If you happen to like pancakes, you HEAR the messages because you like pancakes.

I believe this is also a great way to market photography!

For photographers, each month could feature some new reason to celebrate life with outstanding photographs. Maybe February is, “Elegance in Black & White Month”?  March could be, “I Love My Harley” month.  Or how about, “Get Out of the 80’s and Freshen Up Your Headshot” month?

Each month of the year provides us with the opportunity to get above the “noise” and offer consumers a targeted reason to do business with us.  Dancers.  Musicians. Dad’s and Daughters.  People with Poodles. The more targeted the focus, the more likely the message will be heard by those who relate.

If you did this sort of targeted marketing for the next 12 months and only got 1.5 additional sessions a month for your efforts, that would be 18 sessions that you would have likely not photographed!

If you attended Imaging USA earlier this month, then you heard a lot about the “Gap” that exists between professional photographers and consumers.  We at TPPA think this is an important message to all professional photographers to understand how to close that gap and relate the benefits to consumers of having professional photography hanging on the walls in their home and offices.

Photographers can no longer sit around and wait for people to NEED photographs and call us!  We have to create the need for our wonderful images.  It is our job to inspire folks with unique ideas and compelling reasons to have photographs created.

TPPA’s Summerfest is going to have a very specific emphasis on closing the gap between photographers and consumers and helping photographers generate better sales.  I hope you will plan on joining us June 24-27.

We have to learn how to market our craft or we may find ourselves participating in “I Don’t Have Enough Business so I Have to Get a Job” year.

Steve Kozak
TPPA Executive Director

It’s National Peanut Butter Day!2020-09-01T17:30:51-05:00

Are You Missing Out?

It’s that time of year when a small group of individuals embark on a journey of service and vision for the future.  This group works tirelessly to make sure that photographers who want to succeed have the opportunity to succeed.  They spend hours planning meetings, making phone calls, writing emails and making sure there is money left over in the account.  We call these individuals, “Presidents”.

All across Texas, and at TPPA, Affiliate Presidents do their best to provide an outstanding experience and to help others learn how to create better images, become better business people and to find a network of reliable and trusted friendships.

They do this because they love the profession and they love to give back to the associations that have given them so much. It really is an honor for them to serve and they never loose sight of that.

Now, YOU have to do your part!

How?  By stopping whatever you are doing right now and paying your membership dues and getting involved.  If you are reading this note, you should invest and participate in the activities of your local guild, your state association and PPA.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much you will gain by getting involved.  Just last night, I visited the Dallas PPA to be a part of their “end of year” awards.  Everyone in that room was welcoming, warm and excited to be there.  Even if they were not in the running for a trophy, they cheered and encouraged those who were called to come forward.

Attendees also got to hear a very inspirational message from PPA CEO, David Trust.  This remarkable man is one of those individuals that have so much to share and to teach.  We are lucky to have him fighting for copyright reform for each of us.  His program earned a standing ovation.  I wish you could have heard it.

Texas School Executive Director, Don Dickson was there to add excitement in our anticipation to January 3rd at 11PM.  He also gave away a couple of scholarships.

It was also announced that they would have the one and only Tony Corbell in the house in January.

If you think this note is about the Dallas PPA – It is not!

It is about you.  That’s right, YOU!  What happened in Dallas last night happens all across Texas.  Presidents, officers and committees work hard each month to bring in speakers, hold print evaluations, present trophies, award fellowships, share ideas, network, acknowledge volunteers and to make sure YOU get plugged in.

All you have to do is pay your dues and show up.

If you are not in guild or a member of TPPA and your business is crashing and burning, stop right now and join your local guild and TPPA.

If you are working way too hard and not making the money you should be making, stop right now and join your local guild and TPPA.

If you are lonesome out there with no one who understands how much you want your photography business to work, stop right now and join your local guild and TPPA.

If you think you will never be able to enter print competition or earn your PPA Certification, stop now and join your local guild and TPPA.

If you ARE in a guild and a member of TPPA, make sure you are a participating member and not just standing on the sidelines. Get those monthly meetings and the TPPA events in your calendar and go!

If you are a participating member and attend meetings and events regularly, then let me simply say, “Thank you”. We appreciate you more that you know.

One last thing.  I would like to encourage you to give a nice shout out to your president.  They will appreciate it.

Linda Bauer – Austin
Mark Sykes – Brazos Valley
Rolf Kasper – Dallas
Malinda Julien – Ft. Worth
Cecy Ayala – Heart of Texas (Waco)
Kevin Falcon – Houston
Chrystina Straughn – San Antonio
Dusty Gorman – South Plains
Tammy Graham – 2018 President, Texas PPA

Are You Missing Out?2020-09-01T17:31:56-05:00

What is a Dinosaur Supposed to Do?

By Steve Kozak

It’s simple math, really. Let’s see how you do on the following:
110/5 = ?
110/10 = ?
110/20 = ?

Now, was that really so hard? If you round the answers to a number that corresponds to the nearest f-stop on your lens, then you are ready to create extremely accurate exposures with your portable flash.

Yes, you just learned how to use “guide numbers”.

Guide number/distance = f-stop.

But no more.

I just learned that this timeless, dare I say, “elegant” way of calculating the exposure of a portable flash – without having to use a light meter, has been removed from the test specifications for the CPP exam.

I’m guessing with the proliferation of photographers using TTL and flashes that have become so “easy” for anyone to use if they can put it on the camera facing in the right direction, they will get “acceptable” images. I just never strived for “acceptable”. As a wedding photographer, I hated under-exposed bridal portraits and over exposed groomsmen all because TTL tries to give an “average 18% grey” exposure. That is why in 33 years as professional photographer, I NEVER used TTL.

I tolerated the laughs and teasing I took because I use guide numbers. “Who still uses guide numbers?”, I would often hear. “I guess, photographers who like proper exposure.”, I would quip.

Now, I am not griping about guide numbers being removed from the exam, I am really questioning my own existence. I have taught thousands of photographers how to use a flash in manual mode the same way I learned to use a flash. It always worked. It never failed. Images were never over or under-exposed. All I had to do was quick, easy math.

But now, we are taking guide numbers off the CPP exam.

I once heard, “If you don’t like change, you’re going to hate extinction.”

Do I have to change my teaching because our industry feels guide numbers are no longer relevant? Or do I go the way of the dinosaur and just let them die off with me and keep pressing young photographers to learn the ways of their forefathers?

What should this dinosaur do?

Steve Kozak

What is a Dinosaur Supposed to Do?2020-09-01T17:35:57-05:00
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