Nearly every industry is shaped by the seasons, and photography is no exception, with significant events recurring every year. April sees the induction day for new MPA members at the familiar, and very effective, location of the Hilton Coventry. For the 50 new members in attendance, a quick kick-start, or even mid-life boost, to their professional career was available with a strong line up of speakers and trade support.
College leaver Charlotte Haines chats with MPA CEO Colin Buck
On display at the 2009 event for the newcomers were albums from GraphiStudio, Loxley and Acerboni, printing systems from Epson, camera systems from Nikon (including the newly announced D5000 model), the new Quadra portable flash system from Elinchrom, FotoSF’s management system and insurance from PhotoShield – as well as Chris Buck with an extensive range of products offered by the MPA.
Oz Kharawala takes a photographer through the workings of FotoSF management software, his Mac/PC compatible FileMaker Pro based program
The seminars got off to an informal start with Colin Buck, CEO, introducing the new members to the MPA and how the organisation can support and assist their business as a photographer. Fuji’s Easy Print Studio and Epson had quick presentations in rapid succession, before Darron Hartas gave a dynamic demonstration of the importance of PR and practical information on using the web for marketing before Chris Burfoot from The Flash Centre gave a quick lighting demonstration. Marketing continued to be the theme with Mark Lawrence’s in-depth seminar – emphasising the importance of local presence and continued, low-cost marketing effort as well as more practical commentary on using PR and the local press to good effect.
Darron Hartas talked about PR, marketing and websites
Chris and Jenny Wood held a Q&A session on insurance, including vital information on public liability and employer’s insurance (if you’re not up to date; the definition of an employee is now “someone paid and under your direction”, rather than “someone on the payroll” – a temporary assistant, even for one job, counts) before Claire Louise took to the stage with more experience and guidance for MPA members.
Mark Leightley talks heavy business in a big way
Following a break for lunch, during which videographers took time to interview a few of the members, Mark Leightley AMPA from Guernsey held the floor for the rest of the afternoon. His eclectic presentation covered much of the psychology of business – how he sees his work, and his customers – and provided a lot of the positive feedback the newer members would require when facing changing gear from “taking pictures” to “running a business with a six figure turnover”.
The excellent seminar really covered some wide-ranging topics, but with a lot of the little details that really make the difference between merely competent and genuinely pleasant experiences for the customer– and as such, create the sort of business that photographers would want to build.
Ending Leightley, with a song…
As if this were not enough for the new members, Mark ended the day on song (literally) with a quick and amusing live guitar piece. Apart from reinforcing the idea that creative people are often creative in more ways than one, it was a unique touch that will hopefully allow the lessons to stay with the delegates as they embark on a new phase of business development.
Whilst it’s often easy to assume that photographers attending the induction day are “new”, there are many established professionals looking to the MPA for guidance particularly with an eye to the current economic climate.
Phillipa Halliwell (http://www.phillipahalliwell.co.uk/) attended from Devon where she is already an established wedding photographer. “I joined when I first started out, but did not complete Licentiateship; having sold that studio 3 years ago, I’ve now re-entered the market and have joined the MPA to get re-acquainted with trade contacts and techniques”. And will Philippa be going for LPMA this time? “Yes”.
Whilst established photographers like Phillipa are finding a larger marketing drive and more resources compared to the MPA of 11 years ago, college leaver Charlotte Haines is looking for more creative input and the benefit of experience. Charlotte works with David De La Mott, and left college in September to go straight into the trade.
Mark Lawrence – an inspiration for new members
“Mark (Lawrence)’s marketing talk has helped me understand a lot about the business”, she told me. Charlotte is also aiming to attain LMPA.
As always leaving the seminars leaves me full of ideas and how these could be applied to a studio; a shame, since I return to my little office at home to write, rather than aim the camera at paying subjects!
Report and photographs/Richard Kilpatrick