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See You In The Bahamas?

It's hard to believe that it's less than a month before PPA's first off-shore women's retreat. I've been lucky enough to attend all of these exceptional events, and I'm especially excited about this one: I'll be debuting a brand new program entitled "The Boutique Studio Revolution." I've spent over a year researching this emerging business model that is designed to appeal to the tastes of women. It is women, after all, who represent the vast majority of portrait/wedding studio clients.

Also debuting at The Bahamas conference is BellaGrafica, a brand-new division of Marathon Press. You've probably been hearing some buzz about this exciting new company that is being developed to serve the specific needs of Boutique Studios. The very first BellaGrafica products will be on display at the Conference.

Don't miss this great opportunity to learn from and network with some of the brightest minds in the business. To register for the conference, click the "Chicks" banner above. To read what BellaGrafica is all about, click the logo below.

BREAKING NEWS (added on 6-8-07): I just learned that if the U.S. Department of State has eased requirements for issuing passports to The Bahamas. Provided that you have already applied for your passport, you will be allowed to enter the country. To learn more, click here.

Something New at Deep Creek

If you've attended a class at my lake house, then you know what a great place Deep Creek Lake is. Well as of last weekend, Deep Creek became a nationally recognized Mecca for white water enthusiasts. Deep Creek's new Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI) is home to the world’s only mountain-top whitewater course and to a diverse array of adventure sports opportunities.

The Adventure Sports Center International concept had its beginnings after the 1989 World Championships which were held on Savage River, about ten miles from Deep Creek. It was a huge event for Maryland, but getting the necessary water appropriated for those championships was almost impossible, so event coordinators decided to host only one more already planned race at that location. Those were the 1992 Olympic trials for the Summer Olympics held in Barcelona, Spain. It was at the Olympics that the visionaries and founders of the Adventure Sports Center International saw the artificial whitewater facilities built for the games' whitewater events to assure that sufficient water would be available. They began to set the wheels in motion to do the same thing in Maryland. It took 15 years for the dream to come true on the top of Wisp Mountain above Deep Creek Lake.

The course features an entry pond and a huge reservoir that feeds water to it. Four massive pumps literally shoot water out horizontally, which creates the rapids right out of the rocks. "Wave shapers" in the form of pneumatically controlled air bladders underneath metal plates can literally raise the bottom of the river up and down so that the waves can be fine-tuned to create a hole or a wave. A conveyer belt take rafters from the lower pond to the upper pond as the ride begins. The course is about one-third of a mile long with over ten individual rapids along the way.

The Adventure Center also includes a climbing area that contains 65’ rock faces that sport climbing groups and adventure seekers love. Also under development is ten miles of mountain bike and running trails. The Center's goal is to be THE adventure sports destination for the region, and the ACSI is well on the way to achieving this lofty goal, as there are more class III, IV and V streams jammed together within the area than virtually any other part of the United States.

here if you want to see a video of the whitewater course in action. If you want to learn more about how this incredible facility was build, click here.

Here are some shots I grabbed on opening day. In the bottom image you can see just a few of the army of earth-moving vehicles that made the course possible.


Learn ProSelect Inside and Out!

Here's some great news for those who want to take advantage of the many benefits of
ProSelect, the leading sales and production software for portrait wedding studios: Digital workflow guru Ron Nichols has teamed up with the makers of ProSelect to produce a Video Tutorial Palette that helps you instantly understand the software's power as a time-saving, profit-building workflow management tool.

Ron Nichol's ProSelect Training Palette resides on your desktop as a quick reference, providing you with access to over 30 video chapters. Each presents click-by-click instruction by Ron, who not only shows you how to do it, he also explains how to apply it in real-life situations.
Ron has gained industry-wide acclaim for his innovative palette concept that allows you to dive right into and take control of a software such as Photoshop or to make use of techniques developed by some of the industry's leading photographers.

If you haven't already seen or purchased Ron's fantastic Production Retouching Palette, you can learn about it by clicking
here to view a movie that explains how the palette takes the complexity out of Photoshop by controling brush dynamics, adjusting blending modes and opacities, managing layers, and providing step-by-step video instruction. All you do is follow Ron's instructions, and Photoshop retouching becomes a simple matter of double-clicking, then painting. I can't say enough good things about this superb product!


Need Help Learning SuccessWare?

SuccessWare is an incredibly powerful management tool, but you can't be expected to learn to implement all of its features at once. The learning curve is far less when you familiarize yourself with the many resources SuccessWare has to help you along the way. The key to understanding which resources will be most helpful for your learning style can be found by clicking on the Support link of the SuccessWare website.

You'll find descriptions and links to every type of support that SuccessWare provides, including training movies, web demos and live web training, what's new movies and tours, tips and tricks, schedules for multi-day live training classes, and the opportunity to view SuccessWare's powerful User Guide information right on the web.

I find the User Guide to be a wonderful resource. It pays to take the time to browse through the wealth of information it contains. To do so, you can simply click on one or all of the links below:

Another excellent resource for SuccessWare users is the SuccessWare Support Forum. You can register for this active online community by clicking on the icon below:


Family Portrait Month Success Stories

As a member of the PPA Charities Board of Trustees, I'm working with fellow trustee Angela Weedon and Marathon Press to develop a new membership kit for the 2007 Family Portrait Month promotion. The kit will contain a new 16-page publication, the Family Portrait Month Journal, featuring information about the promotion and a series of great marketing ideas from studio owners who were among the top fund raisers for the 2006 promotion.

One of those photographers is Laura Novak, whose Wilmington, Delaware studio caters to upscale wedding and portrait clients. Laura used several different marketing strategies to attract clients during Family Portrait Month. This included her blog, which she used as a low-cost way to advertise a Halloween promotion that, at a lower price commitment, succeeded in introducing her studio to new clients, while also raising funds for
Operation Smile. Later she posted some of the darling Halloween images she created on her blog, which you can visit by clicking here.

You can discover more charitable marketing ideas in the
Family Portrait Month Journal by registering for the promotion here, providing that you are a PPA member. Click here for PPA membership information.


Inside ProSelect

It was such a pleasure to have Fran Howlett attend my February Guerrilla Management Workshop in Fredericksburg, VA. Fran and her husband Peter, developers of ProSelect, had come from Australia to participate in the Imaging USA trade show in San Antonio and do some skiing out west. Fran decided to stay on for the workshop after Peter headed home. She was kind enough to present a demonstration of the software to the class, and she also provided us with handouts, which she has given permission for me to post here. I think you'll find them to be helpful.

The first download will increase your understanding of the many functions of ProSelect. Fran tells me that most users really don't know how many different functions ProSelect accomplishes, so she has listed them—menu by menu—so that you can easily scan what they are.

The second download is a description of the ProSelect workflow that Fran uses in her portrait studio in Perth. I found it really helpful to know how the originators of this enormously helpful program use it to its best advantage.

Thanks, Fran!

What a Great Workshop!

Every Guerrilla Management Workshop takes on its own personality, and each one is memorable. I'll always remember the May 2007 Workshop at my lake house in Deep Creek, MD because the participants were especially smart, committed and personable . . . just the qualities needed to be successful in business. They also were a lot of fun!

I'll also remember them for suggesting that when workshops take place at Deep Creek, I should take the opportunity to host a creative coloring contest on the last night of class, when we gather at one of my favorite local restaurants, the Santa Fe Grill. I plan to take their advice, as the contest was a lot of fun.

For the record, the first contest winner was Renee Truett of Carrie Viohl Photography, Moultrie, GA.

Congratulations Renee!


SMS Illinois Workshop

Just got back from taking part in a wonderful three-day PPA Studio Management Services Workshop in Illinois. The workshop took place in Jed and Vicki Taufer's fabulous new "Haven" educational retreat facility, which they have added on to their gorgeous V Gallery studio in Morton, Illinois. The space is wonderful, and the Tauffers will be offering lots of educational offerings. Click here to take a look at this great facility.

The photo below shows
V Gallery, the Taufer's stylish boutique studio.

One evening the class was invited to visit Jeff and Julia Wood's amazing urban chic Portrait Life studio in Washington, Illinois, which is the site of their in-studio workshops. Visit their educational site to learn more.

The next night, we journeyed to Sarah Petty's whimsical studio in the capital city of Springfield. Sarah also hosts in-studio workshops, which are listed on her educational site.

It was fascinating to view three very different boutique studios that so very well reflect the personalities and business concepts of their dynamic studio owners. The workshop participants truly appreciated this special opportunity.

PPA's Studio Management Services Workshops are designed to help studios understand the financial side of their businesses. In addition to well-known studio owners, the workshop includes SMS accountants who work one-on-one with participants.
Click here for more information on the workshop series.


SuccessWare Leasing . . . The Way to Go!

I'm often asked whether it's best to lease or purchase SuccessWare. To me the answer is a no-brainer: Leasing is definitely the way to go. Leasing assures that you are always working on the current version of SuccessWare, which is preferable for software applications that are critical to your business operations. The monthly single-user leasing fee of $49 includes all future upgrades as well as continuous technical support. Multi-user is only $79 per month. Judy Grann, SuccessWare vice president, tells me that since the company introduced leasing in 2003, over 90% of their new clients have chosen the leasing option, and many other SuccessWare users have moved to leasing so that they are fully upgraded and also retain access to continued support.

If you have questions about leasing or wish to switch to leasing, you can email Successware at
info@successware.net or phone them at 800-593-3767.

Angela Weedon's Operation Smile Mission

When Dallas photographer Angela Weedon earned the opportunity to photograph an
Operation Smile mission to Honduras by becoming the top studio contributer to the PPA Charities Family Portrait Month fundraiser, the organization could not have asked for a more enthusiastic volunteer. The work that this inspiring organization does in healing the facial deformities of children around the word is especially meaningful to Angie and her husband Matt, as their nephew was born with a cleft palate that was repaired soon after birth.

I hope you will take a moment to view the heart-touching images that Angie made during the week-long mission. Just click
here to view the slideshow that she presented on the final night of the mission. Her photography presentation earned heartfelt praise from the medical staff and volunteers who had made possible some 100 surgeries that week.

©Angela Weedon

Perhaps Angie's photos will inspire you to participate in Family Portrait Month 2007. I hope so. It's a great way to call attention to your business in a very favorable light, as highly qualified consumers typically like to do business with studios who help to support charitable organizations such as Operation Smile. Last year participating PPA studios raised $40,000 for Operation Smile, while increasing their profits in the process. Angie and I have been working with Marathon Press to create the new Family Portrait Month membership kit, which includes "how-to" information from several of the top-grossing promotion participants.

Membership kits are expected to ship in July, but you can register for the 2007 Family Portrait Month promotion now by clicking

Check Out My New Article on Boutique Studios

The May issue of Professional Photographer contains an article I wrote on Boutique Studios. I've spent many months studying this emerging business model, which I believe is one of the most important trends I've observed since I became a photographer. I hope you enjoy the article and others in the issue that concern marketing to women, who, of course, represent the majority of our client base. So watch for your copy in the mail!