Earning my CPP

Certified Professional Photographer

Twenty eighteen ended with a bang when I earned my Certified Professional Photographer designation from Professional Photographers of America. I received the news via an email but wouldn’t believe it until Christmas Eve morning when I opened the front door of my house and found a tube with my certificate inside. This was truly the best gift I received this holiday season!

So what does it mean to be a CPP? Photographers must complete an intensive program that measures her artistic and technical competence. This includes passing a 100 question written exam and submitting a 15 image portfolio to be judged by a panel of judges on technical proficiency . Of these images, 6 are compulsory and 9 are from client work photographed within the last 2 years. Professional Photographers of America currently recognizes fewer than 2,500 CPPs. I am honored to join a prestigious group of photographers.

For me, earning my CPP was more than just the opportunity to add 3 letters to my name. I’m always striving to to learn and grow as a photographer. Going through this process helped me understand what I needed to do to take my work to a new and higher level. Not only has my work improved, but it also boosted confidence in myself as an artist. I began this journey almost 2 years ago when I signed up to take a CPP prep class. And I’m so grateful I did.

1st quarter goals check-in

I love the New Year. It's a time of beginnings, fresh starts and the opportunity to make new goals and resolutions. The first few weeks of the year are exciting as I make changes in my life and tackle my list of things I want to accomplish. Then like everything else in life, the novelty wears off, I get busy, or things happen and I don't stay committed. This year I decided was going to be different. And to help me really stick to my guns, I bought Design Aglow's The Big Picture Planner. What I love about this planner over all the other ones out there on the market is that they have pages devoted to yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. And aside from a couple of weeks in February where I had so many emotional things happening in my life, I've really made it a point to do the work and write it down. Sometimes my list is too ambitious, but for the most part, I found myself tackling many items on it. What I also like about this planner is that I can break tasks and set a time period for when I want to make them happen.

Like all the other years in my life, time flies and I can hardly believe we've just turned the calendar over to April. The start of the second quarter. Recently, I sat down with my planner and evaluated what I did and didn't accomplish in the first quarter and set goals for the next three months. It's so easy in the mundaneness of the day to day life to forget all the little things we've done. In my mind I really thought I hadn't made much progress, but sitting down with my notes, I realized that wasn't true. No, I didn't accomplish everything I had hoped to. But the year is not over, and there is still plenty of time to make those things happen. 

So here's a look back...and forward so far in 2018. Last year while I was in Florida, I signed up for a Certified Professional Photography prep class with Al Audelman. Sadly, Al passed away unexpectedly late last year. I didn't take the test in 2017, but it is high on my list for 2018. So I got out the study guide and have been studying almost on a daily basis. I've declared my candidacy and plan to take the written test in the next month or so. I also spent a lot of time, I mean hours, culling, organizing and editing photos I took in 2017. Since the winter months are a slow time for me with work, this was the perfect time to do this. I have a hard time keeping up during the year and I'm pleased to share that I have finished this task! And I finished organizing the rest of the files I hadn't gotten to from 2016! Man, what a good feeling it is to have this done!

I fell off the wagon last year when I only sent out one newsletter. My intention was to change that in 2018 and I'm pleased to share that I did send out the first edition in Feb. I plan to keep up, sending out a new edition every quarter. I also re-evaluated my product and pricing list. And I'm excited to announce that I have added a new product that I think my clients will love! While I love blogging, sometimes I find myself stressing out because I have nothing ready to share. In those moments, I end up writing something hours before I post. So I vowed I would get ahead and have posts ready to go as fas as a month in advance. I got ahead back in Jan, then fell behind, but once again, I have written several posts and hopefully won't find myself panicked on Tuesday and Thursday mornings anymore.

I've also made some changes to my website, updating some of the pages and photos. I have more work I want to do, but since it's a never ending process, I'm happy with what I've accomplished thus far. Last year I created a business Pinterest page and pretty much didn't touch it after that. It's been on my mind to learn how to set up my blog so I can share it on Pinterest effectively. I'm hearing from a lot of small business owners who are using Pinterest as a marketing tool and are having a lot of success. If you follow my blog, you may have noticed some new graphics I created specifically with Pinterest in mind. 

I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to. I had planned on writing a pdf download that all new subscribers to my newsletter would get when they sign up. I started writing the text, then just dropped the ball. I also intended to enter District Print Competition back in February. The deadline was just at the wrong time and apparently many other photographers felt the same way since entry numbers were down this year. I am, however, still planning on entering International Print Competition which takes place later this summer. I also wanted to set up a Limited Edition session that would take place in April. I've had this idea for a couple of years and told myself to just make it happen. And again, I did not. I'm not giving up on my idea. I just have to pick a new date and get to work on the details and marketing. 

Looking ahead to the next quarter, I have some goals to carry over as well as new ones to start working on. April gets started with a bang when I attend a workshop on studio lighting for pets. I also finish up a class I've been taking on preparing for print competition learning new editing and photoshop skills. I've learned a ton that I can't wait to start using in my workflow! I've already got a couple of sessions booked and I can't tell you how excited I am to get outdoors and behind the camera again. Winters are hard when the landscape is so blah and colorless. 

So, all in all, I'm pretty pleased with how 2018 has started. Looking forward to what the next three months brings! 

border.collie.looking.out.at.field

2017 Goals and check in

At the end of 2016, I wrote up a detailed business plan setting some goals for my photography business and myself for 2017. To keep myself on track, at the end of every month I also write monthly goals to focus on over the next 4 weeks. Doing this forces me to evaluate my plan and see where I am making progress and what I need to work on. Since we’re about ½ way through 2017 (can you believe it!), I thought I’d share what some of these aspirations are and tell you how it’s going.

One of my main goals for this year was to redo and update my website. If you’ve been reading my blog, then you know I worked on that while I was in Florida. I have a few more small changes to make, but overall, I’m really happy with how it turned out. While designing my new site, I also worked on my SEO. This has helped my page consistently show up on the first page in a search for pet photographers in State College as well as Southwest Florida.

Another goal of mine was to start offering coffee table albums for my clients. While I’m a big believer in creating wall art to showcase in my client’s homes, not everyone has the space nor the desire to hang a canvas or metal wall piece in their house. And some of my clients have a hard time narrowing their choice for which image to have framed. So a coffee table album is the perfect option for them. They are available in two sizes, 8x8 and 10x10. The smaller album includes up to 20 images in a 10 spread book, the larger album includes up to 35 images over 10 spreads. I am also offering a smaller companion album. Making a great gift, this cute 5x5 book includes 10 images in a five spread album. I ordered samples this winter and they are even better when seen in person.  

Earlier this year, I donated two sessions for silent auctions at two wonderful charities. It was the first time I worked with either of these charities and I was a little nervous at how well my donation would be received. While I’ve been shooting for a while, I’m still getting word out about my business. But that was all for nothing. I’m super excited to share that both auction items sold, earning almost $1000 for the causes. I can’t wait to meet the families who won the bids and photograph their fur-kids!

One goal I haven’t done very well with is booking paid client sessions. I’ve had several inquiries, but since I’ve been back in PA, I haven’t photographed a single client session. I’ve been keeping busy with other projects including working on my marketing plan so hopefully I can turn things around for the second half of the year.

I wrote in my business plan that I wanted to blog 3x/week this year. While blogging takes a lot of time and energy, it’s something I find I really enjoy. I was pretty good about blogging during my mini sabbatical in Florida over the winter, but after my return home, I didn’t write anything for almost two months.  At the end of April, I told myself it was time to stop slacking and start writing. Since then I’ve posted a blog twice a week and have found this is my happy place. Follow along with me! I'll be posting every Tuesday and Thursday morning. 

And finally, I made it a goal to be more active on social media this year. I'm finding Facebook's reach so inconsistent these days, so I share more on Instagram. I've been posting regularly, but sometimes I'll go a few weeks and not post anything. So I've made a plan to post 5 times a week for the rest of the year. If you're not following me, click HERE and then click "follow". While I post on Facebook, I find the same thing, sometimes I'll post several days or weeks in a row, then go stretches where I don't share anything. My new goal is to post 4 times a week. Twice a week I'll be sharing my most recent blog post. If you want to follow along, be sure you "like" my page. If you haven't you can click HERE

As always, thanks for reading!

2017 Goals

Having been a business owner for over 25 years, one thing I've learned is how important it is to have a business plan. The more detailed, the better. So when I officially opened Trina Bauer photography last year, I wrote out a plan and was amazed at how much of my list I accomplished. I didn't meet all of my goals, but that's ok. It gave me some challenges to work toward in 2016.

As this year winds down and I reflect on where I was a year ago, in some ways I've exceeded my hopes and in other ways I don't feel like I made much progress. Ah, such is the journey of any young business. 

Looking ahead to 2017, there's no doubt it's going to be an interesting year. My husband and I have had to face some tough challenges recently. This has forced us to think about making some big changes in our lives. We don't know where or how our future is going to shape up, but we know we're definitely in for quite an adventure! It all starts with an extended trip to Southwest Florida in early Jan. I'm really excited to be spending most of my winter in the sunshine state! If you missed my blog post explaining why, click HERE. It's more than just about escaping the cold and snow!

My trip to Florida will allow me to focus all of my time and attention on my photography business. I'm really looking forward to it! I've got lots of goals and plans I've been wanting to make happen, but sadly, I just haven't had enough time to follow up on them. So to make the most of this opportunity, over the last several weeks I've been busy writing out an extensive and detailed business plan. You'll see some new products offered, more blog posts (I'm planning on blogging 3x/week!) and a declaration to work toward earning my CPP (certified professional photographer) degree! Mostly though, I'm anxious to get my camera in front of your fur babies! The role pet sitting plays in my work life will be changing so I can get out and photograph more! 

It's going to be an exciting time! Bring on 2017!!