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3 Things I Learned at Imaging USA – the must attend conference for photographers

When I say I love learning, I mean I really love learning. Each January, I try to make it to THE photography conference of the year — Imaging USA

This conference is presented by the Professional Photographers of America, and no matter where you are in your photography journey, it’s a great event to attend.

From classes on business and techniques to a show floor full of every type of photography equipment, tool, and software, this show has it all. 

The best part of all of the amazing photographers you meet while you’re there. 

Every year, I meet some of the most amazing people and learn so many wonderful things, I wanted to share some of my biggest takeaways with you! 

My Top 3 Takeaways from Imaging USA 2023: 

Friendships & Collaboration

I hit the jackpot this year meeting some absolutely amazing people this year at the conference. I got to meet some of Canon’s top trainers and experts, Peter Hurley, and many other photographers from around the country.

This crew right here made the trip extra special this year. 

I met Katie — a fellow brand or portrait photographer — from a suburb of Chicago in line while waiting for lunch, then we quickly met Shawna and Lorie from Bailey & B. Studio in Peduka, Kentucky. They specialize in senior photography and they are so much fun!! Shawna is the photographer and Lorie is her Studio Manager. 

Later that day we met Wyneka from Tampa, Florida. She was the queen celebrity work and took a step back to reevaluate her goals and is in the process of building her personal brand photography business. I can’t wait to help her along the way and watch her grow.

Not only were the endless laughs so much fun, the collaboration, and new group of women who can all lean on each other is what makes Imaging USA so amazing. 

If you’re thinking about attending a photography conference or any business conference for that matter … go! Make the friends! Build your network.

In the meantime, I highly recommend joining the Professional Photographers of America.

Click here to get $35 off your first year of membership!

How to Quickly Get Focused

My absolutely favorite class this year was taught by a lady named Debbie Patterson. She’s an expert on focus on when I saw her class “From Frustrated to Focused” I naturally had to go see what it’s all about with my company’s name being Focus Creative and all.

I’m fascinated by process improvement and learning better ways to do things. 

She did not disappoint. 

She covered all kinds of things in her class, but the main takeaway I had was her process on filtering through all the things and choosing the 1 thing you should do first. 

graphic of debbie patterson's focus method to help you figure out what your next step should be - shows 3 buckets, one red, one blue, and one green.

Grab a pen, a piece of paper, a timer, and let’s do this. 

Here’s how it works: 

  1. Set a timer for 2:00 minutes and write down all the things on your mind that you’re wanting to do in your business.
  2. Okay, now that you have that list, set a timer for 0:30 seconds and separate each of the items into one of the 3 buckets — things that will defintely make an impact and are super important, things that are important, and things that are great but you don’t have to do right now. ***The catch! You have to equally divide them between the 3 buckets. They all can’t go in the first one.
  3. Now that you have them sorted out, you probably have 1-3 in your first bucket. Your most important bucket. Set a timer for 0:05 and choose the 1 thing out of the first most important bucket that is going to move the needle most in your business. Put a star by this most important thing. 

Now you have your first thing to tackle!! 🎉

The next thing you’re going to do is map out an org chart, but instead of using the org chart like you would for managers in a business, you’re going to use it to map out all the things you need to do to pull off making this most important thing happen.

For me, my Most Important Thing is hiring a Studio Manager. I know I’ve needed help for a while, and going through this process made it super evident, that is where the bottle neck is occurring in growing my business. 

At the top of my org chart, was find a LoLo! Remember, Lorie I was telling you about that I met. She’s exactly what I need in my business.

I knew that hiring someone would include a few categories …

  • Admin
  • The Details
  • Hiring
  • ?? (knew there was more I needed to consider)

This helped me realize there are WAY more steps to something that I many times initially realize. 

This process also helped me realize the next step I need to take to make this a reality. 

She made us pick a date that we would accomplish our 1 thing. 

Mine is February 20th, and I’m happy to report, I’ve researched all the things, done the posting, and already held interviews, and found the perfect person. They start ___!!! 

Taking action can happen and you can accomplish those big things on your list. 

I’m so excited to take her method with me going forward, so I can stay super focused on what moves the needle forward in my business.

I can’t wait to hear … what is your next best focus?

Creative Ways to Increase Your Revenue & Serve Your Clients

The 3rd of my favorite takeaways from Imaging USA was definitely learning more creative ways to make more money AND serve my clients at the same time. 

Clients are so important to me, and I’m never going to add an extra offering that doesn’t benefit them. 

One of the wedding photographers I heard speak does something genius. When clients come back a few years later and need their photographer to unarchive photos from their big day, he offers them a re-edit with a more modern editing style. 

If you’ve been a photographer for any length of time, you know that editing styles change.

I feel like this could be a huge  opportunity for photographers in the commercial photography space as well, since our clients may have products that don’t change, but they could have had a re-brand that needs an updated edit or they could just use a refreshed look overall. 

Obviously, many times it will be better for us to re-shoot, but if that’s not in their budget, maybe an edit refresh is. 

This photographer mentioned he charges $1200 for this service. 

Could be a great offering that will help them be more relevant and make it worth tracking down the pictures on your hard drive all at the same time. 

Thinking about attending a photography conference? Here’s how you can make the most of it:  

Research the conference beforehand: Look into the conference’s schedule, speakers, and events ahead of time so that you can plan which sessions you want to attend and which speakers you want to hear from. I love to check out their facebook page to see what people wore to past events, and research the speakers to make sure to catch the one’s I want to learn from.

Pack appropriately: Bring a camera, plenty of memory cards, and batteries so that you can take lots of photos to build your portfolio. Also, dress comfortably and be prepared for long days of walking and standing. There are usually photo walks or other opportunities to hone your photography skills even more.

Network with other photographers: Use the conference as an opportunity to meet other photographers and exchange ideas and information. Attend available networking events, participate in workshops, and be open to meeting new people.

Take notes: Bring a notebook or use your phone to take notes during sessions and workshops so that you can refer back to them later. I loved having my iPad and GoodNotes app to take notes this year. I could erase and map out things easily. You don’t want to forget any valuable information that you learned. 

Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions during sessions and workshops. This is your chance to learn from experts in the field, so take advantage of it.

Have fun: Remember that a photography conference is also a chance to have fun and enjoy your passion for photography. Take time to explore the host city and take photos for yourself, in addition to attending the conference events. I love meeting up with other photographers to exchange photoshoots of each other.

As you can tell, I had a great time at Imaging! 

I learn and grow so much each time I attend. 

Now, I’m off to see what other conferences I’m going to attend in 2023. 🏃‍♀️💨

Little by little, I’m growing my business, and I’m excited to help you grow yours as well. 

If you’re looking for community and a proven plan to help you build your photography business, join the Focus Creative family or get our business course for photographers. In both places, you’ll find support and community. 

We weren’t meant to do life alone. 

Let’s build you a photography business you love!

– Kassady 

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