Join professional organizations. One of the largest organizations are PPA. Its membership fee is $323 a year. http://www.ppa.com/ One of the most important membership benefits is the indemnification trust. Below is a direct quote form PPA’s site discussing the indemnification trust.
” coverage (our Indemnification Trust) in case something goes wrong that is generally considered your responsibility, such as equipment malfunction, an error or unsatisfied clients (like the infamous Bridezilla).”
With the Indemnification Trust you:
Call PPA’s customer service center (800-786-6277) and report a claim.
Set up the claim with the agent, who contacts the law firm of Meadows & Macie, the most experienced attorneys in the world at defending professional photographers.
You will be contacted by the attorneys really quickly, usually within a single business day, and they help covered members with their expert advice and guidance.
We’ll never raise your rates or drop your coverage because you have to file a claim.
If your problem cannot be resolved without litigation:
The Trust will appoint and pay for local attorneys to defend you.
The Trust will pay any damages awarded to your client.
You only pay a small deductible.
You will never pay an attorney’s bill. ”
PPA also has a yearly national convention called Imaging USA. As an aspiring professional you will learn a lot at the conventions. PPA also publishes a monthly magazine which is part of your membership. Image competitions are held during each convention. You can learn a great deal by sitting in on a judging session. The speakers at the conventions are leaders in their field. You often will have options to buy additional materials from speakers at the convention. Be judicious on what you buy because you can overdo it. Information overload can be very confusing. If you really like what a specific speaker is doing you may want to focus on that rather than scattering your focus among too many different speakers. Take good notes, highlight ideas you wish to incorporate and review notes once you get home. Act immediately on ideas you wish to incorporate. If you procrastinate on this you will never incorporate those important things you need to. One other thing, Be sure to sit in on sessions covering business and marketing. If all you do is sit in on lighting and posing sessions you only have half of the information you need to run a business.
WPPI (wedding and portrait photographers international) is also a good organization to join. http://www.wppionline.com/index.shtml WPPI is offering 2 day photography workshops May- August in Chicago, Atlantic City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. WPPI also publish a magazine called Rangefinder. It a good magazine with lots of good ideas. Basic membership is $125/ year. WPPI also has a national convention every year.
One of the nice things about conventions is that they all have trade shows. As a newer photographer you can learn a lot from the vendors. If you are looking for a professional photo lab this is a great place to find one. You have to have some personal control at these trade shows or you may spend more than your studio operation can afford. The goal of your business is to show a profit. That won’t happen if you buy more equipment than your studio volume can justify. You don’t need all the latest equipment to be an effective photographer. Consider buying some used equipment. There is plenty of it out there.