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Impressions of Imaging USA 2020

– by Kristal Kraft

As a first time attendee of PPA Conference I must say I was pleasantly surprised or should I say, impressed! The quality of the speakers was outstanding. The organization of the conference was skillfully crafted from the ease of registration to having “hall monitors” strategically placed throughout the hotel to assist with directions and an occasional entertaining dance!

Each morning the sessions began at 8 am running for 90 minutes until noon when the exhibition hall opened. Then we had several hours to enjoy lunch and walk through the trade show taking in all the vendors.

The trade show also offered additional classes from various vendors. It was very easy to go from section to section, asking questions and getting demonstrations on everything photography!

The sessions were separated into several “tracks.” You were able to follow a track or bounce between topics that appealed to you. For the most part, the descriptions in the guide book accurately described the sessions, so there were no surprises on off topic time wasters.

The speakers with the exception of the keynote and closing speakers were all practicing photographers. Yes, they were real people who have practiced and honed their skills and have risen to the status of success. It’s hard not to have respect for those who actually “walk the walk.” What so impressed me is how open and willing they are to share their stories with everyone. Most weren’t selling something, they were in effect reaching down and offering a “hand up the ladder of success” to those in attendance.

Being new to this organization, I do find the system to be geared in abundance. So many of the experienced people offer their time and valuable expertise freely. It’s hard not to like!

My take a ways; Great Clients are Made not Found – Steve Saporino emphasized the importance of communicating with the client to find out what they like most about their spouse, child or whomever during the pre-photographing event. This consultation should go as deep as possible to make a human connection, so you as the professional can find a way to capture that special trait in the image. Doing so is a what to gain a client for life. NOTE: This speaker had that audience in tears. He really hit the heartstrings.

Keynote: Master Your Memory: How to Optimize your Brain Power – Jim Kwik Jim helped us remember a 10-item grocery list by association. He was interesting and fun, certainly worthy of listening to him on his PodCast and TedTalks. Multitasking isn’t an efficient means of working. Focus is the key.

Light Painting: The Art, The Science and the Money – John Hartman John is a long-time professional who has created a legacy business. His work includes light painting airplanes to John Deere tractors! His tools are amazingly simple and his work is outstanding. So are his prices! He doesn’t charge a session fee, but makes substantial fees when the owners see his images.

Environmental Portraiture: Learning to Use Light to Make Images – Not just Take Them ⁃ Ian Spanier.

Adding Adobe Stock to Your Revenue Stream – Mat Hayward Some of the simplest, everyday images sell well, i.e. Mat’s dog hanging out the window with a vanishing point road in the background. He cooks steak, photographs it for stock, writes it off and eats it too! (Not sure if this is true, check with your CPA please!).

Compositing and Storytelling – Ben Shirk Ben grew up in the middle of nowhere Iowa. He had no choice but to use is imagination and wow, does he ever have one! I am in awe of his work.

Increase Your Photoshop Productivity with Tip & Tricks for A to Z – Julieanne Kost Julieanne offers a plethora of FREE (that’s no cost) posts on her blog. She was very entertaining and had everyone laughing!

5 Keys to a Successful Headshot Business – Gary Hughes No nonsense business guy here. I liked the way he creates long term business customers by compositing the Corporate Team into a shoot in a way that only he can remove and insert new members. Brilliant! Gary’s philosophy is to build a great website that funnels people all the way through to scheduling their own appointment online. He publishes is working hours, takes weekends off and has found his email is non-existent on weekends!

Notes to Self – What I would have done differently:

  1. Bring an empty suitcase for taking home all the freebies and things I bought

  2. Plan ahead to take pre-convention classes

  3. Enter images in the contest!

  4. Attend the awards

Things I did right!

  1. Wore comfy shoes

  2. Went sightseeing – Nashville Downtown and The Hermitage – Pres. Andrew Jackson’s estate

  3. Attended as many classes as my brain would allow

  4. Met some nice people

Next year Imaging USA will be held in Grapevine, TX on January 17-19, 2021. I’m planning on going, are you?


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