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Family Portrait Month . . . All Year Long!

If you haven't signed up for Family Portrait Month, scheduled for October, it's not too late. In fact you can use this wonderful charity-driven marketing opportunity any time you want for either or both of these reasons: the altruistic reason of supporting one of the most appealing charities anywhere — Operation Smile — or for the practical purpose of building business for your studio while enhancing your community image. In my opinion you do both when you choose to raise funds for one of the most perfectly matched charities for portrait photographers who, after all, frequently make our livings by capturing the beautiful smiles of children.

You can sign up for Family Portrait Month by contributing only $25 to PPA Charities, which supports this cause-related marketing effort. Once you've registered, you'll receive a password that allows you to download marketing resources and read about how others have used the promotion to benefit their businesses. And as I said . . . it's not too late to use the promotion in 2008. In fact I'll be doing just that, because Jim and I will be vacationing in Ireland for most of October. So we're sending a sales letter to all clients who have spent $1,000 or more with us, explaining that during November and December, they will pay no session fee (unless they want to donate it to Operation Smile), and we will send 10% of their portrait sale to Operation Smile. Some of these payments will, of course, carry over to the 2009 Family Portrait Month campaign, but no matter . . . we are happy to participate at any time of the year: it's good business.

To learn about PPA Charities, Family Portrait Month, and Operation Smile,
click here.

If you don't want to waste any time getting started you can
click here to make your $25 (or more) donation. And whatever you do, take just a few moments to view some beautiful photographs, made by Dallas photographer Angie Weedon, who, as the top 2006 Family Portrait Month contributor, was privileged to photograph an Operation Smile Mission in Honduras. Please click here, and you'll see just exactly why your participation in Family Portrait Month is so important.

Don't Miss the PPA Charities Celebration at IUSA!

It's worth arriving at IUSA in time to attend the annual PPA Charities Celebration and Auction at ImagingUSA. This year the very special event will take place in Tampa on Saturday, January 5. The VIP Reception. For only $35, you can be a VIP and have the opportunity to enjoy an auction preview and delicious food with some really great people who support PPA Charities.

I hope you won't miss the great "Legend's Program." Last year Hanson Fong brought down the house with his wonderful tribute to Rocky Gunn, a true legend in our industry. This year Tony Corbell will do the same with his tribute to the awsome and incredible Dean Collins. Be with us for the presentation of a big check from Family Portrait Month to Operation Smile, and find out who is the top fund-raiser and the winner of a $2000 shopping spree. Of course you won't want to miss the fabulous Charities Auction!

For the 3rd year in a row, Jim and I are pleased to contribute a week at our Deep Creek, MD lake house to be sold at the live auction. The week we've chosen is May 5-11, 2008. The house has 5 bedrooms and 5 baths and 2 living rooms. So if you are looking for a great place for a spring vacation or a fun place to hang out with your photographer buddies, stop by and get into the bidding. The house is only a little over an hour from Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water, so it's worth the trip just to visit this architectural masterpiece. Here is a look at the house and the lake:


What a Beautiful New Smile!

In May I wrote about the Operation Smile medical mission to Honduras that was photographed by Dallas-area photographer Angela Weedon. Angie was the top fund-raiser for PPA Charity's Family Portrait Month in both 2005 and 2006. Operation Smile's Lisa Jones just visited Honduras and got to visit darling little Britany, whom Angie photographed as a 9-month-old before her surgery in February. Lisa was accompanied by photographer Marc Ascher, who took the "after" photograph of Britany that you see alongside her "before" photo below. What a beautiful little girl and what a real-life miracle for her loving family!

It literally gives me goose bumps to think that last year's Family Portrait Month donation of $40,000 to Operation Smile made possible 166 miracles for precious children such as Britany. It's not too late to participate in 2007's Family Portrait Month. You can learn more and register by clicking

Family Portrait Month Kits Are Ready!

Just got word from Marathon that the 2007 Family Portrait Month Membership Kits are now ready to ship. The kits include the new Family Portrait Month Journal shown above. This year's promotion provides even more opportunities for marketing your family portraiture. New for 2007 is a series of promotional card templates generously designed and donated by several studio owners who were the top 2006 Family Portrait Month fundraisers. Now you can choose your favorite template, then add your own photographs and back copy through Marathon's automated m-Print direct-to-print service, and your promotional cards will be ready to ship within five business days.

Once you have paid the $39 registration fee, your business information will be added to FamilyPortraitMonth.com, the promotion's national website, which has a brand new look for 2007.

You also will be mailed a 2007 Membership Kit, which includes your
Family Portrait Month Journal and a CD full of promotional items to assist your marketing efforts. One of the new CD items is a template for "Smile Cards," which Dallas photographer Angela Weedon sold in 2006 to benefit Operation Smile throughout the year, and which helped her to repeat as the year's top Family Portrait Month fundraiser.

Keep in mind that any studio collecting $500 or more for Operation Smile is eligible for a cash drawing of $500 to be held at the PPA Charities 2008 Celebration on Saturday evening, January 5, 2008 at
ImagingUSA in Tampa, Florida. A highlight of this annual event, which is held on the eve of PPA's annual convention, will be the announcement of 2007's top studio fundraiser.
Every $240 donation to Operation Smile makes it possible for another surgery to be performed by OpSmile's volunteer medical staff. Last year's PPA Charities' donation to Operation Smile of $40,000 translates into 166 operations made possible because photographers did what they do best: create images for families to treasure. Think of all the smiles these portraits made possible—in your hometown and throughout the world—and you'll know how important your efforts can be!

here register for 2007's Family Portrait Month. Have your PPA membership number ready. If you are not a PPA member, click here for membership information. Join today to participate in this wonderful opportunity!

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.


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