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Nick’s Knack

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Nick Tsakiris has a knack for multitasking. He’s a photographer, a husband, a father to three kids (and two dogs!), a teacher and an entrepreneur. He’s also the Lightroom Dude!

Pounds How long h ave you been a photographer?
Nick Although I’ve played around with shooting for years, I shot my first wedding in 2006. I got serious a year later and have been in the business “officially” a little over four years.

Pounds Why did you become a photographer?
Nick I just loved the idea of being able to look at something, freeze that moment in time and take it to another level. Creative freedom is a powerful thing. I fell in love with photography, the sense of excitement it offers and being able to be creative in camera and on screen. I’m also a people person and enjoy meeting people from all walks of life, so it’s a perfect fit.

Pounds Why did you choose wedding photography?
Nick There was so much going on the first time I shot a wedding. I realized I was able to keep up with all of the action and the inherent challenges of a wedding. Never knowing what is really going to happen on the wedding day keeps me on my toes. There is always the unknown element that makes it even more exciting.

Photos by Nick Tsakiris, Protrography

Photos by Nick Tsakiris, Protography Studios

Pounds You’ve taken on another life as “The Lightroom Dude.” How did that come about?
Nick Well, it was not because I walked into a phone booth, took off glasses and put on a colorful outfit! I’ ve been using Lightroom since the first release. I saw the endless possibilities of the software. Attending workshops and seminars, I would hear people talk about how hard it was to use, but I saw the perfect opportunity to ease workflow and creativity. I came to the conclusion that it was just different and sometimes we fear change! Lightroom, to this day, has proven to be the photographer’s friend. I found that you could do more than the help file might show. The unseen possibilities became my incentive to make the program do cool things.

Pounds How did the workshops begin?
Nick Pounds asked me to do a workshop in Houston. I was pretty nervous! The excitement of teaching was awesome. However, the thought that people would be listening to my advice and possibly using it in their business was really nerve wracking! Fortunately, it all turned out great!

Pounds A star was born!
Nick I was asked to speak at SWPPA, then IMAGING USA and we packed the Pounds Booth at both shows. I saw a crowd that stayed and listened and at times would say, “OK, show me that again!” Then more workshops developed across Texas. Now I’ll be speaking at a pretty good number of the Guilds in Texas. I was also invited to speak in Kerrville.

Pounds This sounds like a challenge! How do you handle wearing all the different “hats”?
Nick It has taken off quickly! I had to figure out how to separate the teaching side of the business from the photography side. It was perplexing. Then while I was watching an episode of Photoshop TV, Matt Kloskowski mentioned that you could find him on Facebook under the title of “The Photoshop Guy.” A light bulb turned on above my head in a matter of seconds…”The Lightroom Dude.” So I used the name Lightroom of course and since everyone knows that one of the words I use the most is “Dude” well, it just sounded cool!

Pounds What do you love most about teaching?
Nick This one has a simple answer! I love to show people how to do things that will help them increase their knowledge and their business. It is one of the greatest feelings in the world!

Pounds How often are you able to schedule workshops?
Nick As often as possible. In May alone, I am in Fort Worth, Dallas, San Antonio and McAllen! I think Lightroom is just now getting the recognition it deserves. We haven’t seen it hit full force yet, so there is a perfect scenario for me to go out and teach. There are users who have stepped away from the program because they feel the learning curve is too much. Lightroom at first glance, can be intimidating. However, once you know how to use it, the possibilities are endless. I am always ready to conduct workshops. If you’re ready, then let me know and I’ll be there!

Pounds Where do you see yourself in five years?
Nick I plan to travel more and teach worldwide. I’ll have a larger studio and I see my photography pushing the limits and being a part of something bigger than just shooting.

Pounds What advice do you have for a photographer entering the business today?
Nick Learn your tools and be yourself! Remember that everything happens for a rea son, so live and learn!

The Competitive Edge

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

You’ve got a terrific website and great SEO. You’re on Linked In, Plaxo Plus and Facebook. You Twitter every day and belong to all of the professional organizations. Is it enough ? Every smart photographer looks for that competitive edge,that something extra that will take their studio to a new level of visibility and recognition. What’s the answer?

What about photography competitions?  It’s a guarantee you’ll get visibility. You don’t even have to win. Entering gives you something to Tweet about, something to post on Facebook, something to blog about. It’s news.

What if you win? Even better. You have a brilliant marketing tool. Create an email with your winning image and blast it out to your clients. Add your new “best in show” or “first place” title on to all of your marketing messages. Winning something usu ally results in an interview for a photography newsletter or industry magazine. If no one contacts you, then contact them! Call your local paper and offer to give them an “exclusive” about your award. Local morning TV shows are another great avenue for publicity. They love winners and are always looking for interesting people to feature.

If you’re just beginning in the business, competitions are a great way to gain immediate recognition. Whether you win, place or show, you’ll be out there meeting your peers and getting a better understanding of how the photo competitions work. If you’re an old hand, then it’s important to stay plugged in and not rest on your laurels. There’s a new kid waiting to take your place every day, so keep you hand in the game!

Not only are photo competitions an excellent marketing opportunity, they’re a great way to renew your artistic spirit.  When you aren’t shooting specifically for a client, you can get back to the reason you picked up a camera in the first place, love of photography! Shooting images purely for your own satisfaction generally takes a back seat when you are scrambling to keep your business healthy.  You have to have a reason to get back to shooting simply for the fun of it. Photographic competitions serve that purpose. If you get on a schedule of entering competitions you’ll actually be fine-tuning your craft on a regular basis. Think about competing like exercise. The more you do it the better you get. You are keeping your talent “in shape” and keeping that competitive edge!

PPA: What’s in it for YOU?

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

There are a lot of organizations out there vying for your attention and your money. Local, state, regional, category specific, sub category, the list goes on and on. Why choose the Professional Photographers of America (PPA)? What’s in it for you?

We took our questions to Eric Anundi of Eric John Photography . Eric has been a member of PPA since 1997.

“I remember joining specifically for the Indemnification Malpractice Coverage ,” he said.

This program covers photographers against malpractice lawsuits. Can you imagine losing a digital file from a wedding ? “ If I were to be sued for any reason, PPA would appoint and pay for local attorneys to represent me and pay for all damages awarded to my client,” Anundi said.

PPA has one main focus, to help photographers. It is the largest nonprofit association for professional photographers in the world. PPA is in 54 countries and has been around since 1880. It is the industry’s most powerful organization.

PPA offers a wide variety of services including education, discounts and copyright assistance.

“I love the copyright assistance,” Anundi said. “ In this day and age, copyright questions can be answered with precision by PPA staff.”

“We are a member of Studio Management Services (SMS) which has turned our business around,” he said. SMS gives members of PPA access to financial and business services designed to fit individual studio needs. Business advice from top consultants, bookkeeping services, live and online seminars are all included in SMS. This member benefit alone can get a new business off on the right foot as well as help an established studio that needs a tune up.

Business is largely based on perception. Pr ofessional associations create a level of comfort for clients. “I love the ability to use the PPA logo on my website and brochure which really states that I am a true professional,” Anundi said.

What’s in PPA for you? The answer is clear. Membership in PPA is one of the best investments you can make in your business!

Online Workshops

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Want to keep up to date with changes at Pounds Labs ? Pounds workshops offer a large range of topics including items like, insight on new products, how to speed your ordering in PROS, making your own templates for custom posters, calendars and more. With your feedback you can determine what the topics will be.

Most all meetings are presented with the aid of GoTo Meeting, giving you almost the same experience you would get in a live in person workshop but without leaving your studio or home.

Open line Friday is offered at least once each month. It gives everyone the opportunity to ask questions and kick around new ideas for marketing, website use, online sales, press books and much more. Need help creating and saving sports or school packages in PROS?  —-  or is monitor calibration something you need to worry about? Let’s discuss it and see if we can determine what you need to accomplish your goals.

For a complete month by month view of available workshops, simply go to the Pounds Labs web site and select community at the top and calendar on the left. If the current month is not displayed, you may need to select the correct month at the top of the calendar. If any of the workshops are of interest, make a selection and register. There is no fee and no commitment.

It’s Show Time!

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Why should you go to a tradeshow? If you’re an established photographer you might think,  “been there, done that”. If you’re just enter ing the business the idea of challenging your bottom line with an expensive trip might make you dismiss the thought completely.

Think again. Why do you suppose thousands of photographers make time in their busy schedules each year to attend not just one but several trade shows? Seasoned veterans and newbies alike flock to Imaging USA, WPPI, SPA and countless other shows. Last year WPPI’s 29th annual Convention and Tradeshow drew over 12,000 attendees and 365 exhibitors.

Tradeshows keep growing in popularity. They’re a lot like the mall on Christmas Eve; big, full of excitement and a lot of fun. If you haven’t been in awhile, you’re missing out. If you’ve never been, it’s time to give one a try.

Where else will you find hundreds of vendors gathered under one roof ready to tell you about products that have not yet hit the market? Staying ahead of the curve in a creative industry is essential in today’s economy. Your customers expect you to be up to date and offer the latest products.

Where else will you find workshops and seminars that will help you grow your business?  Head back to your studio with cutting edge knowledge, skills and information that will increase your profitability.

Where else can you network with people from all over the country? Sharing information and exchanging ideas leads to solutions and better ways to move your company forward. Networking in person is a great deal more effective than social networking. Make new friends, new contacts and watch your business expand.

Where else can you listen to industry leaders who can provide insights into trends, market forces and business strategies? We all need inspiration and motivation. Just one insight can change the way you look at your business model and lead you in an exciting new direction.

Tradeshows are a major educational opportunity. They present you with new ideas, stimulate creativity and challenge you to think out of the box.  M ake 2010 the year you
invest in your business by sampling a tradeshow or two!

Website 101

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Why do you need a website? An amazing number of professionals still don’t have one. Seriously. What if you’ve been in business for years and you have a great client base? Your customers know you and love your work. Repeat business is a non-issue. You’re coasting, doing fine. Why rock the boat?

Here’s why. Photography is a competitive business. Whether you specialize in sports, seniors, portraits or weddings, new photographers appear in the market place daily. For every seasoned photographer who knows running a successful business is not a piece of cake, there are ten more grabbing the latest camera, printing business cards and slapping a magnetic sign on their car doors eager to take business away from you. These new photographers have websites, you can bet on that.

The web has changed the way we do business, completely and forever. When was the last time you used the yellow pages to find something? Can you really afford to be complacent?

Here are the primary reasons why you need to have a website.

•    Establish credibility
•    Increase visibility
•    Showcase talent
•    Hold the attention of a prospect long enough to turn them into a client.

What’ s in a Name ?

The first step in the process is to get a domain name. This is the name that defines your website, like poundslabs.com. Domain names are inexpensive and yours forever, as long as you pay the annual bill. Check out Register.com or GoDaddy.com.

Doesn’t a “Host” hand out the appetizers?

No, but a web host will open the door for you. Host in web world means a company that opens the door to your site and gives it a place to call home. Try DogBark, GlowHost or GoDaddy.

Build it and they will come.

How do you “build” a website? Some web site hosts provide a web site builder.   All you need to do is click on a design you want and then add text and photos. There are many websites that give tutorials on how to build your own. Companies like Adobe Dreamweaver or MacWebsite Builder, offer packages of varying prices. You can also hire a designer who specializes in web sites.

What makes a “good” website?
•    Good layout and design
•    Easy navigation
•    Great content.
•    SEO friendly

Why am I doing this again?

•    Clients have 24/7 access to you and your work.
•    You’re global. Potential clients all over the world can now “see” you.
•    Targeted Marketing. Those two words alone m ake a website completely worthwhile.
•    It’s cost effective.
•    Your competitors already have websites!

If you’ve already got a website, stay tuned for Website 101.2 to make sure it’s really working as an effective tool for marketing your studio!

Teen Spirit – Connecting with Seniors to Create Awesome Images

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

How do you talk to teens these days?  If you are a Senior photographer, building rapport with your customers may be a challenge.  You know you have to get beyond the range of cheesy smiles and sulking stares kids use to disguise their true feelings.  But what does it take to break through these defenses?  How can you get teens to trust you so you can create authentic portraits of them?   Photographer John Ratchford writes about making connections and meeting his Seniors on common ground in the August issue of Rangefinder Magazine.  The Pounds Community team wanted to share this insightful and touching article with you.  Make sure you have plenty of tissues handy when you read the quotes from John’ s young customers!

Empower Your Seniors! by John Ratchford – August Rangefinder Magazine

Summer Reading: Fame, Fortune and Photography

Friday, July 17th, 2009

The Pounds Community team wanted to do something fun for our members this summer, so we decided to add a special bonus to our newsletter.  Our e-book supplement, “Fame Fortune and Photography” makes the Summer Reading issue of PCN sizzle with hot ideas for cool studio promotions.   We’ve got some great tips for marketing your studio and increasing your sales with products from Pounds.  Check out our e-book, and if you’ve got suggestions you’ d like to share, a dd your comments below.

Chris Wunder on Basic Training to Capture an Expanding Market

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Are you looking for ways to diversify your studio?  School Photography could be the solution.  If you’ve never considered it before, you might want to think about it now.  According to Schools and Events expert Chris Wunder, the market is expanding and studio photographers are capturing more of it.  Chris will present the basic training you need to sell, shoot, and manage high-volume workflow at the School Photography Boot Camp co-sponsored by Pounds. We asked Chris to tell the Pounds Community how Wedding, Portrait, Sports, and Event photographers can benefit from building their businesses with Underclass School Photography.

Is it best to specialize in Schools, or can Wedding and Portrait photographers diversify their studios to capture this market successfully ?
Undergrad School Photography is the perfect addition to any studio’s marketing plan.  Most of the work is done on weekdays during the morning hours, so it doesn’t conflict with the busy time in regular studio schedules.  Plus, as many traditional studio market segments are seeing declines (in-studio portrait sessions, weddings, commercial work, etc) there’s a continuing and growing market for School Photography.  When times get tough, consumers look the best values they know, and a traditional favorite is School Photography.

Another good reason to enter the Underclass market is the revenue potential.  School photographers routinely take in $1500 per hour in revenues.  An average elementary school with 450 students can generate over $20,000 per year in sales for photographers who take advantage of all the opportunities there; Fall and Spring Portrait programs, Groups and Composites, Special Events and Yearbooks.

Wh at kind of skills do you need to manage the post-production in a high-volume market like School Photography?
School Photography has the most developed and efficient workflow systems in photography.  You don’t have to be a computer whiz to manage it. These specialized workflows make it easy to match images of hundreds of students with corresponding student data provided by the school.  This is done using your laptop computer tethered to your camera, CamLynx capture software (provided thru Pounds Labs) and a barcode reader installed on your laptop.  Then, using special cards preprinted beforehand with student data and barcodes, you can easily link the images and purchase at the camera.  It’s easier than it sounds. After some practice, you can prepare 500 student orders for the lab in only 1- 2 hours.  That’s much less than the time required to process a wedding for the lab.

Can the techniques presented in the Boot Camp be used to build business in other high-volume markets?
The techniques learned at the Boot Camp in becoming a School Photographer are essential building blocks in understanding high-speed, volume workflow for many types of Event Photography including Youth Sports Team and Individual (T&I) photography, photography in Daycares and Pre-Schools, Dances and Proms and almost any “volume” photographic opportunity.  Anytime you need to do a lot of photos at an event, and be able to quickly track who you photographed and what they bought; you’ll need and use these basic techniques.

How can sole proprietors and small studio owners compete against school photography mega-companies that operate on a national level ?
Competing against the “national” companies is easier than you think. Many schools are looking for a change.  They just don’t have many choices.  Many would consider a local studio that has learned the specialized photography needs of schools, has done specialized training, and has developed the workflows needed to handle 400 students in less than three hours.  The School Photo Boot Camp can provide the skills necessary to start your School Photography business and help you build long-term relationships with local schools.  It also helps to know the “secrets” of the competition and how you can out-service them.  You’ll learn all this at the Boot Camp as well.

What do school photographers need to look for when choosing a professional imaging lab to fulfill their orders?
School Photographers require a number of specialized lab products and services to be competitive with the “national” companies. Most pro labs do not provide these specialized services.  You need to find a lab that specializes in “volume” work for School and Sports Photographers and who has the unique products and processes to help you be successful.  Our company uses Pounds Photographic Labs because of their high quality and commitment to service. They offer all the specialized products we need to grow our School Photography business.

The Pounds Community team thanks Chris for sharing his expertise in School Photography with us.
For Boot Camp details and registration see Orlando: June 23-27 or Dallas: July 27-31.  Attend either Boot Camp and receive a Pounds savings certificate for studio samples of school products.  Sign up for the Dallas Boot Camp, and you’ll be invited to a special tour of Pounds Labs. We look forward to seeing you here!

PDN 2009 Wedding Business Survey

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Wedding photographers, are you holding the line on your prices, or are you cutting them in response to the recession?  Photo District News, PDN, recently published an article with the results of their 2009 Wedding Business Survey.  In general terms, it seems studios are operating on a “glass half-full” or “glass half-empty” perception of how much they can charge for their photography and packages. That is –those that expected their income to rise this year, increased their prices.  The survey also took a look at how studios are reducing expenses, restructuring their packages, and allocating marketing budgets.  See the article at PDN Online, and let us know what you think. If you are a wedding photographer and would like to contribute to the Pounds Community as a guest blogger on this topic, contact us at community@poundslabs.com.