Presidents Message: It Is In The Journey

Cris Duncan, 2021 TPPA President

Every human being has a desire, a picture of the place they wish to be and the dreams they want consummated. However, when encountered by challenges and struggles, the common tendency is to give up and assume that it wasn’t meant to be. All the while, it is in the journey of trials and obstacles that our true wealth and greatness is discovered.

Refer back to some visionaries of the past. Columbus encountered tempest of the seas, death and came ashore hundreds of miles from his planned destination. Edison failed over 1000 times while trying to create the light bulb. The Wright bothers were told constantly they could not achieve flight and after hundreds of failed attempts finally proved it possible for a mere 97 seconds. The first manned Apollo mission ended in tragedy as 3 men lost their lives before ever leaving Earth.

I believe it safe to assume you are reading this using electric light in the New World. I assume you have flown for more than a few minutes and you can probably recite Neil Armstrong’s words as he set foot on the moon. All dreams, all challenged and ultimately, all successes.

This page isn’t large enough to list the countless other examples of men and women who have faced burdens they eventually conquered. My fear is that there are just as many who gave up not realizing their goal was just around the corner, just within the grasp of triumph.

The final message I wish to leave with you is— “Don’t Despise the Pursuit.”

The past few years have showed us that we are not immune from trials, that we are not free from failure and disappointments. The key is to remember that these failures and disappointments are not what define us but rather what refines us. It is within the journey that the skills and knowledge are developed and we can come through on the other side.

In the historical examples above it is too easy to remember the final outcomes and not the processes along the way. After all, that is what we tend to celebrate, the successful outcomes. I believe we should also celebrate the pursuit and the journey. The trials that we face are nothing more that gifts— gifts sent to increase your skill, knowledge and leadership. They are the catalyst that allow you to develop and release your unique gift in the world. My friends, embrace these moments. You are too valuable to give up. The world needs what you have to offer and the journey has just begun.

I close with a quote from Winston Churchill that I believe sums it up better than I ever could.
“Every day you make progress. Every step may be fruitful, yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know that you will never get to the end of the journey, but this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

Happy Creating,

Cris Duncan
TPPA President

Presidents Message: It Is In The Journey2021-11-23T12:20:13-06:00

President’s Message: It’s All in Your Head

Cris Duncan, 2021 TPPA President

Your mind -It can be a powerful ally or a fierce enemy. All too often we forget the power of our mind and the effect it has upon us, our behavior and our beliefs.

While your heart is the key, the heart is influenced by your words, your thoughts and actions. For example, a beautiful senior comes to your studio. You photograph her perfectly! You can already see wall samples, marketing pieces and competition images. Of course, she can’t wait to see the images you created and you are excited to reveal your masterpiece.

The time comes and, with much anticipation, the images are unveiled… “I don’t like myself” are her words that shatter the excitement. While this may be extreme, we all have experienced a situation similar to this. The fact of the matter is that she truly believes she is not beautiful. Did you tell her that? Of course not. Her friends? I doubt it. A parent? Who then? Whoever or whenever may not be known, but to her, the past wound is deep and real. Her mindset shaped her reality.

The question is, what do you think of yourself? The underlying issue is whatever we hear or think about ourselves, whether from our own mind or the carless words or others, will find its way into our heart. It is from our heart that we operate and this deep place that we act and think. Therefore, please do not discount the words you speak as meaningless! Just as you would never tell that senior girl she is not beautiful, you should never tell yourself that are not good enough, capable, talented, smart, loved beautiful or successful.

Before you today are two choices. You have two ways to think- Scarcity or Abundance. How will you choose to live? To create? To react, to give or to take? The scarcity (There is not enough, I can’t, I’ll fail) minded person is typically thinking in terms of negativity. They will face each decision with the cons rather before the pros. Scarcity has a way of showing us doubt before belief. This mindset convinces one of failure before success, defeat before triumph and will ultimately lead to a place with no reward.

Contrast this to the person with an abundance (There is enough, I am able, I will) mindset- The positive thinking individual. This person will see things around them as an opportunity to grow, achieve and bless. The abundance mindset person does not fear failure because they do not doubt their ability. To them, the reward is worth the risk. Each challenge is an opportunity to grow and learn. The abundance mindset realizes that what they think and say has tremendous effects on how they act and succeed. This principle is the backbone of your mindset. You can operate from a place of scarcity or thrive in a world of abundance.

I wish I could say that you can flip a switch and the mindset will change. That is rarely the case. It will and does make a conscious choice to choose abundance. Choose wisely. You have a special gift, a purpose only you can fulfill. Start speaking words of life and not death, of blessings and not curses, of success and not failure. Start today and begin your journey into the place you are meant to be. A place filled with abundance. A placed filled with positivity and life. Start today. Believe in yourself and your heart will soon follow.

Happy Creating,

President’s Message: It’s All in Your Head2021-11-23T12:20:57-06:00

President’s Message: One In A Row

Cris Duncan, 2021 TPPA President

Half of the year is behind us as is Texas School, Districts, The Mark Bryant event and many other educational opportunities. While many set New Year’s Resolutions and use January 1 as a precipice, some use July 1 to mark the progress of the year and course correct for the year ahead. Others may do this monthly, weekly or daily. The great thing is that there is really no “right” way. There is, however, “your way.”

It occured to me that it is all too easy to compare ourselves to others, what they do and the way they do it, and how we convince ourselves that they must be right. Yes, we can learn from others. We get inspired. We can emulate and implement. But we cannot be someone else. Be careful of celebrating sameness. I believe the world is better when we all can accept our differences and salute our distinctions.

You can only be you and the only person to compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday.  I often say and will say again, “It does not matter where you start, but where you go.” With that sentiment, it is time to take a step… a step into success… a step in a new direction… a step forward. All it takes is one step. That is your “One In A Row.”

Any success only takes “One In A Row.” Do one thing and do it well… “One In A Row.” Do another, then another. Do one thing, do it well, do it over and over again until you get it. Then, start over with a new “One In A Row.”

We tend to think long term. Setting goals is important. Striving for a destination is good practice. The trap is not knowing the destination, but rather how to get there. The process is the education. The journey is where wisdom is discovered and we soon find that the destination is just another stop on the trail and we begin again… “One In A Row.”

I do not know where you are today… your talent, circumstance, success or failure. However, what I do know is that you do not have to stay there. It is okay to be okay, but it is not okay to stay that way. Start today. Take a step that only you can take. You don’t have to know the destination at this moment, but you can’t get there by staying where you are.

Today is your day… a day to move forward. All you need for momentum is “One In A Row.”

Happy Creating,

Cris Duncan
TPPA President

President’s Message: One In A Row2021-11-23T12:21:05-06:00

President’s Message: Course Corrections

Cris Duncan, 2021 TPPA President

When we first started our business, we photographed weddings…  a LOT of weddings. From March until September, we had one or two weddings every single weekend. I’m not going to lie. We thought we were pretty good. Then we went to Imaging USA and were exposed to what was possible.

I went home and took an honest look at our work. We needed a course correction and, if you are in the same spot, here is a plan:

Step 1 – Gain Knowledge. As my dad always says, “You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.” We didn’t know on-location lighting. Sometimes we would get it right, but we couldn’t get it right all the time. I didn’t understand some of the laws of light enough to be able to manipulate them to create the same image more than once. So, I started looking at images, breaking down the light patterns, and figuring out how they were created. Basically, I started to learn lighting. Things like Texas School and in-person workshops were game changers.

Step 2 – Get over your Fear. This is a hard one. It’s comfortable to stay where you are. You know what results you can produce and it has worked in the past. However, if you are going to change the trajectory of your work and business, you have to do new, often scary things. Here is a little comfort for you… Your windshield is bigger than your rear view mirror.

Let that sink in. It’s deliberate. We can’t navigate our business by focusing on the past, where we came from, and what boundaries we set for ourselves. Instead, we look through the giant windshield that stretches from both sides of our vehicle and gives us a panoramic view of the possibilities. Excitement trumps fear every day of the week, so embrace it.

Step 3 – Apply the Knowledge. Practice. Do it during sessions. Change your course. Deanna will tell you that the first year when we tried to utilize off-camera flash for our outdoor work, it was rough. Instead of joking with the clients and putting them at ease, I was doing calculations in my head and working with the triggers. However, at the end of that year, our work was at a new level, my confidence returned, and our business was on a new trajectory.

I want that for you. I want you to be looking out of your front windshield so you don’t miss any exits – or opportunities to grow your craft. Speaking of that, I have the perfect exit for you to take… I-27.

Come and join myself and my lovely bride, Deanna, for the “Light from the Shadows” event with Mark Bryant on June 11-12 in Lubbock, Texas. We have a fun weekend planned for you, filled with opportunities to gain and apply knowledge. Plus, it’s going to be in our backyard. Literally. The evening social events will include a backyard BBQ and a taste of what we share with our friends (that’s you), family and clients – movies under the starlight. It will be a “can’t miss” weekend and we hope that you embrace the wisdom shared by Mac Davis – “Happiness is  Lubbock, Texas, growing nearer and dearer.”  Can’t wait to see you, my friend.

Until then, Happy Creating,

Cris Duncan
TPPA President

President’s Message: Course Corrections2021-11-23T12:21:22-06:00

President’s Message: Just Be Yourself

Cris Duncan, 2021 TPPA President

Just Be Yourself

I felt like a fraud. As I walked into Imaging USA, I was surrounded by REAL professional photographers, not wannabes like myself who still had another full-time job so they could pay the mortgage. The first program I went to just confirmed my belief that I wasn’t “real.” I was tempted to just leave. However, during the second program, something changed. It was a couple on stage—a big stage. Their work looked a little bit like what Dee and I had been doing and he talked about how he still had another job. I felt my wife’s hand grasp mine and give a little squeeze. Their story was just like ours.

So it began. Dee and I tried to be just like this couple. We didn’t know what we didn’t know, but we knew we liked what they were doing, so we copied them. We bought all their educational materials; we duplicated their actions. All of our marketing used their templates. A few months later, we went to a wedding program and did the same thing. We memorized the pose book and the wedding we photographed the following weekend was shot-for-shot just like the speaker’s last wedding.

Sometimes I look back on those early senior sessions and weddings and feel a bit sorry for our clients. You see, the problem wasn’t with the stage couple or the wedding guru. While they each had great styles, great photographic skills and gave great advice on how to run a business, those things were great for THEIR clients.  In our attempt to become their clones, it fell a little flat because it wasn’t truly us. For something to be truly amazing, it has to come from your heart and yours alone.

You have a unique gift to share with others. There is only one of you. Your talents, passions, heart and character are not duplicated anywhere else in the world. When you hide behind other’s creativity or try to emulate someone else’s style, you are robbing humanity of the gift that only you can offer.

Maya Angelou said it perfectly, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When we simply act as clones of another photographer and use their words and techniques, our true selves can never shine through. In return, we rob those around us.

You are creative. You can come up with YOUR way of doing things—from lighting to sales to affirming others.  With your ability to see others, you can tease out their very best selves. Please understand, I’m not saying you should be satisfied at your current level.  We all should be constantly growing in our craft.  That is the key. You should be growing… growing in a way that is unique to you.

Last month I challenged you to be great. Now, I’m challenging you to be yourself. What unique gift do you offer the world? How do you make people feel? Are you ready to stop being a clone and be the best photographer for your clients? Remember, it doesn’t matter.

Happy Creating,

Cris Duncan
TPPA President

President’s Message: Just Be Yourself2021-11-23T12:21:28-06:00

President’s Message: You Have Permission to be Great!

Cris Duncan
2021 TPPA President

Zig Ziglar once said, “In times of change, the learner shall inherit the earth, while the learned finds themselves well equipped for a world that no longer exists.”

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that anything can change.  In just a few days, to steal a quote from Hamilton, “The world turned upside down.”

We adapted and developed new ways to work, do school, shop, dine, socialize, worship, and communicate with those we love the most.  In all aspects of our lives, we had to be creative and learn new skills and workflows to continue to grow and exist.

Just as you had to pivot, the industry did as well. TPPA was not excluded and early on in 2020, TPPA took the lead in the industry and was the first affiliate to host an entirely online remote image competition. Texas School looked different as well and had not one, but two, incredible online events loaded with education and fun. It looked different, it was not exactly what we wanted, but we found that we were able to reach new groups of people through the virtual format.  Suddenly, those who could not travel or take a week off from other obligations could join in the “Best Little School in Texas.”  People were able to discover new instructors and businesses grew.  That makes me so excited.

As 2021 begins, we get to continue to be creative in how we communicate and work. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the commitment TPPA has to you, your craft and the industry. As President, I can promise that I will do whatever I can to make sure that you continue to thrive and grow. Being a part of a photographic community such as TPPA is so much more than paying dues and receiving member benefits. It is about collaboration, group learning, bonding through wins and failures, sharing a common interest and being better than before. That is our role in your story.

I do not know where you may be in your photographic journey.  Some reading this are veterans that have had successful careers for decades and others may have just booked their first client. I celebrate with each of you.

You see, it is not where you start that matters, it’s where you go that makes the difference. TPPA is dedicated to helping you get to where you want to go—to helping you be a life-long learner.  You have an incredible opportunity to make an impact on someone’s life. Today you have the choice to take a step, a step into success. Never hold back on what makes you special and unique. You have permission to grow. You have permission to learn and be better than before. You have permission to be great!

Happy Creating,

Cris Duncan
TPPA President

President’s Message: You Have Permission to be Great!2020-12-31T15:18:05-06:00

The President’s Message: ‘Tis the Season

Jenny Eisenhauer
2020 TPPA President

‘Tis the Season

Texas is experiencing it’s first real FALL at the appropriate time for the first time in years!  Thank you for the change up 2020~

As photographers wrap up fall sessions, schools and sports, and are about to jump in full throttle to the Holiday Season with Christmas Card and Santa sessions, I would like to ask, “How are you?”

How ARE you?

Photographers, usually being small business owners, have seen the best of times and the worst of times in 2020.  We have ridden the wave, been sucked under, ridden high, and paddled our way through unprecedented times.  Please take a moment to congratulate yourself on MAKING IT to today!

Whether you have “pivoted” (I hate that word), found another job, hired help, changed focus, took a break, or just SURVIVED the last 6 months, WE ARE HERE. We have made it to today! Today is a day to be celebrated.

November and December are typically the busiest and best time for photographers as families celebrate together and share with others.  I hope this is true for you. May your calendar be booked.  May your phone only ring with qualified clients. May your sleep be deep. May your computer be fast and secure. May your memory cards be full of smiles. May your planning be wise.  May you be more productive than you have been in months. May your hand sanitizer be like the loaves and fishes and just keep on pumping.

Our industry is filled with people who love our craft, who excel and share their knowledge, and those who choose to be heros every day. I am thankful for photographers like you.

It has been a pleasure to be your President through this tumultuous year.  Writing these articles remind me that we all need a positive force in our lives to encourage us when we aren’t able to do that for ourselves.  I hope you have met someone in the TPPA Family of Photographers who can be your cheerleader.  What a joy it is to see each other at events and get these positive “bumps” along our year.  For me, these bumps happen in January @ Imaging USA, February @ TPPA Image Competition, April @ Texas School, and October @ iHeart Photography Conference.  I have missed seeing you and it is my prayer that I will be able to see you all soon! Good news: Texas School Registration will be here before we know it! Mark your calendars for January 3, 2021, at 11:00 pm.  Texas School 2021 is April 25-30.

May we see the end of the 2020 Covid-19 quarantine season and celebrate together soon!

All the best,
Jenny Rhea Eisenhauer
TPPA President

The President’s Message: ‘Tis the Season2020-10-27T13:26:03-05:00

The President’s Message: It Was The Best of Times…The Worst of Times

Jenny Eisenhauer
2020 TPPA President

Sophia Lane, a past Texas School instructor, posted on her Facebook page this week, “What has been the best thing AND the worst thing for you since the start of COVID?” For me, the best was the fact that the family now eats at home. Sure, I could say I love to cook and we eat near gourmet meals (or did at first when we could find meat to buy at the store) or maybe that we enjoyed saving money from not grabbing quick meals while racing from one event to another. Honestly though, it is sometimes overwhelming to know that two teenage boys are expecting to NOT be hungry at the end of the day, and I prefer that they not mow through six boxes of Lucky Charms each day. But we are together, at home, and sometimes they cook for me. Life can be pretty darn amazing.

So, if the worst part of this “2020 Pandemic” could also be the best part of the pandemic, how are you managing? Have you taken time to refocus, rework, and possibly change your business model in these changing times? Have you used this time to update, revamp, or catch up? Did you find yourself keeping the computer off and spending time with family, cleaning, and making improvements on your home and studio?

My hope for you is that you are not just surviving, but thriving. 2020 may be the year of the pandemic but it may also be the year of the family. More people have purchased bikes, gone camping, spent time at the lake, started home improvement projects together, learned to play an instrument, gone on day trips, and spent more time with their family than probably ever before. May we as storytellers be ready to etch these moments for all time. May we be mentally prepared to do our best for our clients. May our skills be sharp, our equipment be dusted off, and our batteries be charged.

I have come to hate the word “pivot.” Seeming overused in these changing times, it doesn’t do justice in my mind to our industries business owners. Some have planned for such a time as this. Others have been imaginative with how to boost sales online. Many have lost weddings, events, and volume business as people just can’t be together. Whatever your situation, now is a great time to reach out to your TPPA fellow members and ask questions, find solutions and make adjustments to your business to prepare for the future.

Wishing you joy and peace as we all do our best to navigate these trying times.

All the best,
Jenny Rhea Eisenhauer
TPPA President

The President’s Message: It Was The Best of Times…The Worst of Times2020-10-27T13:24:55-05:00

The President’s Message: I Don’t Know My Name

Jenny Eisenhauer
2020 TPPA President

I was sitting on the couch recently with one of my kids while perusing YouTube Videos and we stumbled across the “America’s Got Talent” audition with Grace VanderWaal. You may have seen it by now… the little girl with the Ukulele who sings “I Don’t Know My Name.” It is a song with a story of trying to find your way. In some way, we as photographers are much like this young woman, trying to ride the trends and find the very popular wave that will take us THERE.

The song is beautiful and the truth behind the reality is that sometimes it takes awhile to find ourselves when we hang that “OPEN” sign on our photography business door. Heck, many businesses find they need to revamp, reinvent, or check their trajectory even if they are a solid company. Your story as a photographer may change through the years but holding true to your goals, even if they change, will give you a sense of purpose and plan through it all.

If the words above strike a chord with you in any way, please consider attending the Texas School of Professional Photography coming up Sunday, August 30 through Friday, September 4, 2020. More than 1,000 photographers will call this place home for the week and it truly is a coming home for many of us. Whether last year was your first year or this is your 50th year, there is such a sense of camaraderie, enjoyment of learning, awe of understanding, expanse of knowledge, intensity of sharing, and outpouring of support. But the best part is the welcoming of the first timers!

If you know me, you know my heart for Texas School. This year feels like a coming of age for me because it is my 21st year to attend the school. My Texas School friends have seen me graduate from college, get married, have kids, and make some of the best memories. Texas School friends have also seen me open a business, review my business plan, and we’ve had too many conversations to count about marketing, volume photography, and “what if I did this…”

I didn’t know my name the first few years of my photography business. Many thanks to those of you who have helped me find my way.

In addition to the Texas School of Professional Photography, Texas PPA has many other great events coming up including workshops, day trips, and even a three day event in New Mexico. Please check our website at for events that are happening in your area. We have a new calendar with all new events!

See you soon at the best little photography school in Texas, TEXAS SCHOOL!  I would love to meet you there, so please catch me and introduce yourself.

All the best,
Jenny Rhea Eisenhauer
TPPA President

The President’s Message: I Don’t Know My Name2021-07-06T09:55:32-05:00

The President’s Message: This Too Shall Pass

Jenny Eisenhauer
2020 TPPA President

Photography businesses have already conquered a tumultuous change. We’ve overcome a decline in what our perceived value is as an industry and have seen newcomers climb into the market with little training or investment and be successful. In response, we have revamped and refocused. Each one of us has already overcome so much.

Now is a trying time, no doubt. Even as I write this, we are still in free fall. By the time you read it, I can’t even make an educated guess as to what will be going on in the world. Even so, there are truths that have been proved over time.

“There is no try, do.” (Yoda)  This is no time for us to sit back on our haunches. What we would have given a year ago to have one week in our home with or without family, possibly uninterrupted. Do not sit back. Catch up! Spend time with family, relax, and sleep. Use your time purposefully to clean out the studio, plan, and create. Plan. Prepare for the flood of clients. I do believe the wave that is coming will be spectacular.

“Prior proper planning prevents poor performance,” Gary Snead, my cousin, said early and often. Can you sit down and honestly evaluate your business?  Interview your family. What are their priorities and goals and how does that affect your business? Look at your time spent “working.” Look at your expenses and look at your costs. Research new ideas, new labs, new products, new clients, business models, and marketing ideas. Follow your dreams down the rabbit trail to imagine where changes might take you. This time could change your life! Make changes to increase your value, your profits, your time at home with family. As for the future, plan your success now and watch it unfold as you work toward your goals.

“If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.” (Lee Iacocca)  I moved about as slow as a sloth when I was a kid. My mom said I had two modes: slow and slower. I have no idea why, even now. But if you know me, you know this has changed over time. You can change how you use your time as well. You can learn how to be more productive, to narrow your focus, and move faster toward goals. You can attack your plans with gusto and confidence, knowing where it might take you. The investment is real and the rewards can be tremendous.

“Help” anyone who has ever lived. We all need help at some point. My favorite thing about TPPA, beyond great educational opportunities and fantastic events, is the fact that I make friends here. Even more so, I have known some of these friends so long that I would consider them family. They have called me on the carpet. They have seen through any facade.  They have called to check on me. They have showed up to help second shoot or photograph beside me. TPPA is my village. These are my people.

The Texas School of Professional Photography is an incredible opportunity to have your empty cup filled, strength renewed, and creativity fueled. Don Dickson has been able to move the dates and keep your hotel arrangements. Most instructors have responded that they are all in.  Won’t you join us for an incredible and memorable year? Those new dates are August 30 thru September 4, 2020, in Addison, Texas. Pre-con classes will be on Saturday, August 29. Register online at

During this time, I hope you will reach out to your village if you need help. Photographers are not alone. All small businesses are vulnerable and no man is an island in our efforts to move through this. Our strength comes from learning from each other, growing together, and rising together. An incredible opportunity is before us. Society is being brought back to core values of kindness, relationships and doing good.  Let us be prepared to capture these beautiful new relationships, these precious moments.

May we stay ever hopeful,
Jenny Rhea Eisenhauer
TPPA President

The President’s Message: This Too Shall Pass2020-07-13T19:30:39-05:00
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