This past week, Kirsten and I were in Atlanta for the annual Imaging USA Conference. The event is sponsored by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). As you can tell from many of the posts, I am a huge believer in professional organizations and what they do for their members.
Just what do they do? Imaging USA is all about education. Every day was packed with classes on a variety of subjects. From portraiture and weddings, business and studio management, to keeping life balanced and prioritized between work and family, Imaging USA offers something for everyone. Photographers from all over the US attend, as well as photographers from other countries across the globe. PPA truly is an organization with International scope!
However, it's not all about work. Saturday evening opened Imaging USA with the PPA Charities Celebration Event. This "opening night party" brought people together for a common cause - supporting PPA Charities and their work with charitable partner Operation Smile. The evening featured a silent auction with photographers bidding on great items donated by generous vendors and sponsors. There were also giveaways and other ways for people to help out.
I'm especially proud of this evening and its success because as one of the co-chairs of the event, I had a personal investment. It takes a lot of hard work and cooperation from a great group of people to make an event like this happen. You can see that we had an amazing crew to make sure the evening ran smoothly!
Of course, there's a huge trade show with aisles and aisles of vendors. There's probably as much education available in the trade show as there is in the actual programming itself. Being able to actually see new products in person helps us make decisions about what we will offer in the studio. They look so much different in your hand than they do on a website! It's also great to be able to speak directly with the vendors and ask all the questions pertaining to their products.
Tuesday morning, I had the honor of participating in a panel on "The Power of Charitable Marketing". We spoke about how doing good for others in our own businesses makes things a win-win for everyone. (Watch for the "Celebration of Smiles Day" promotion coming in April!) It was a humbling experience to share the platform with so many talented individuals.
The fellowship and networking at events such as Imaging USA is incredible. I have always teased about it being my annual "family reunion" with photographer friends from across the country. Every year we meet new friends as well. It's a chance to connect an actual person to the Facebook name and picture you see daily. Photographers are such a warm group of people and we truly enjoy spending the time together.
Granted, it wasn't as much of a pleasure to return home to the sub-zero temps, but Imaging USA sends us back to the studio with a renewed sense of energy and some great ideas. 2013 is going to be a great year!