Friday, January 23, 2009

Get Connected: Join National Photography Associations

Yesterday, I finally got to do something I had been saving up my pennies for: I joined the National Association of Photoshop Professionals! You might be wondering why I’m so happy about that. Since I’ve been doing photography seriously as a side business, I’ve grown to understand the importance of networking and how it can contribute to not only your business growth but your personal growth as well. Some people may say the monthly or yearly fees are not worth it, but I say they are every bit worth it to me!

Last year, I joined the Professional Photographers of America and the PhotoVision Educational DVDs, and I can’t tell you how vital they were for my success. Membership to the PPA gave me access to a wealth of information that you just can’t get otherwise, including connections with insurance companies, attornies and CPAs who specialize in the photo industry, business development strategies and a sounding board when something difficult happens and you need some expert advice. I find out about special seminars, tours and workshops (and get great discounts for them) before other photographers know about them. People wonder how I get all the information I post on my own blog as well as here….well, it’s because I’ve taken the time to get connected.

Meanwhile, the monthly DVDs I received from PhotoVision always seemed to come exactly when I needed them. Watching professionals work in studio and on location for various assignments such as weddings, senior portraits and maternity shoots gave me the education and the confidence I needed to get similar assignments done. It was great to see what equipment and techniques these nationally recognized photographers used while they were working, as well as to hear in interviews what drives their passions. Even though I’ve never met them, I feel like they are my buddies. And if I’m ever in doubt, those CDs are readily at my disposal to review over and over again helping me craft out strategies for my upcoming photo shoots.

I’m expecting the same from my new NAPP membership. I’ve already started receiving daily “Layer” tips to improve my Photoshop usage. The online tutorials are great, and the forums are helpful as well. The freebies section is amazing with tons of brushes, styles and shortcuts to make post processing easier whether you are using Photoshop or Lightroom. And I can’t wait to get my first issue of Photoshop Magazine.

Basically what I’m trying to say is this: You can’t do this all alone. You will notice that I champion joining photography social clubs and organizations that will help you stay in touch with like-minded people as well as get you out there shooting more often because I think it’s a necessity. Last week I joined the Mile High Photographers group and was invited to a special boudoir session being taught by a local photographer. Only 10 people were chosen, and I was one of the 10! I would never have known about this opportunity had I not joined. Sometimes your success really is about the people you know and the opportunities you get access too. Make it work for you!

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