It was 2009, I had a toddler and was working full-time in my first career as a zoological animal trainer and manager when I knew that I was ready to move on to creating my own business.  As the path towards photography kept increasing it’s call to me, I thought I had it all figured out.  I was going to be a family and pet photographer (since I had no idea that pet photography could be a full-time niche) and I was going to charge $175 for a session and the files because “I wouldn’t have any costs associated, so that’s all profit!”.  

I figured I could replace my current salary without any problem!  Little did I know how wrong that was!

Thankfully, when I was moving in the direction of creating this business I wanted to get a little education about it so I did a google search for “professional photography conference” and stumbled upon PPA and Imaging USA. 

That little google search has done more for the trajectory of my career then I can even put into words. 

I attended the 2010 Imaging conference in Nashville, TN as a complete newbie who had a new camera and was ready to create this business and start bringing in my $175 per session clients!  It was at this conference that I attended a talk by a photographer talking about projecting their images and the value of in-person sales.  It was at this conference that I learned that a $175 all-inclusive session fee was not sustainable.  It was at this conference that I saw the Image Gallery from the International Print Competition and realized I had a lot to learn! 

I didn’t find any of this discouraging, I found it empowering.  I had a direction. 

I had a map of different areas that I needed to continue to educate myself on….and I had an organization that could help me do that. 

While I did have a handful of all-inclusive digital clients as I created a portfolio, thanks to attending Imaging USA 2010 I was able to open my doors officially in January 2011 as a full-service boutique photography studio.  I was creating artwork right out of the gate, setting the stage for four-figure sales and a sustainable business from the start.  Ironically, or maybe a bit of foreshadowing, my very first client under the new system was a pet client! 

This is a photo of PPA President, Lori Craft, Cr.Photog, myself now a M.Photog.Cr.,CPP, and my degree sponsor Christine Walsh-Newton, M.Photog.Cr.,CPP, she is the person responsible for helping me get started and succeed in print competition.

Fast forward to 2017, I am blessed to run a successful full-time pet photography business, have the opportunity to help so many other pet photographers follow their dreams, and have abundance and freedom in my life thanks to being self-employed.  I am incredibly proud that I have earned my Master of Photography degree and my Photographic Craftsman degree through PPA only 7 years after attending my very first conference.  I have also found incredible friends and mentors that will be part of my life for a very long time.

My quest for knowledge hasn’t slowed down since that first Imaging, if anything it’s even more vivacious.  I encourage all of you to seek knowledge and inspiration, no matter where you are on your photographic and business journey.  If you are looking to improve your craft of photography, may I suggest you consider competing in the International Print Competition.  You can read more about the world of print competition here, here, and here.

I promise you that it’s impossible to participate and not see massive improvements in your craft.  It has also encouraged this systems based mind of mine to start thinking outside of the box and I feel more creative than I ever have.  All thanks to that one google search in November of 2009!

Remember, all great journeys start with just one step.  The key is to just get started!