November Meeting Wrap-up

10 Nov

Susan speaks to the group from the production suite.


To say that last night’s Photo Betties event was a success is a grave understatement. A better way to describe it: Every Betty that attended last night went home with a heart & soul filled with inspiration, ideas and unbridled excitement! It was held at the Susan Beard Design studio and featured products from WaxWorks Photo, both located in Manayunk.

Susan Beard Design studio


This was exactly what we had hoped for when we partnered with Susan Beard, Julia Lehman-McTigue and Leah MacDonald to bring their amazing products, expertise and artistic vision to light during our quarterly meeting. Each artist gave a presentation of their work (including a fascinating live demonstration of Leah’s encaustic painting process) and shared her own perspective on not only the industry and surviving as a photographer in today’s economy without losing sight of your passions and true talents but talked about the challenges and achievements this dynamic trio has faced and overcome after nearly 20 years in partnership together.

Leah demostrates the encaustic process WaxWorks Photo uses to create their unique products.

To witness the energy that exists between these women and the unique offerings the studio provides was exhilarating enough, but with so many years of success under their belts, the sage advice and wisdom that they were able to share had us all feeling invincible with regard to our individual visions for our businesses. We couldn’t have asked for anything more!

It would be impossible to convey all that was learned and absorbed last night, but here are some of the sound bites that came from the presentations that had us particularly intrigued:

1. “If you don’t show it, you can’t sell it.”

There is nothing like a finished piece of art, a beautifully executed album, a specialty product, a framed piece or an original design that moves a client emotionally. If you can invest in these things, your clients will invest in them too. If you only show low-end finished products, that’s exactly what they will buy. You have to show them the way and create a product line that reflects your own vision. How your work is displayed in your clients’ home is the best representation of your business. Make it the most impressive end-product you possibly can.

Photo Betties members experience WaxWork's beautiful products firsthand.

2. “My art is my art. My portraiture is my portraiture. You must create your own dividing line.”

Sometimes a photo is just a photo. You have to choose for yourselves what work is going to be your driving motivator and what is going to pay the bills. If you can separate the two, you will end up providing a better product to your clients and create an efficiency in your business that will allow you to be ultimately successful.

3. “Take care of your vendors and they will take care of you.”

The old phrase “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” isn’t a timeless adage for nothing. Think about all the networking opportunities you have within each job you perform and find ways to make your vendors work for you.

4. “There’s so little in art that is original anymore. Be original”

Find the one thing in your wheelhouse that can set you apart. The industry is a crowded marketplace and it’s not enough to just find your niche, you have to constantly reinvent yourself and your offering.

5. “Be your word.”

Nothing speaks like a broken promise. Keep your commitments to your clients, do everything you say you are going to do.

Julia discusses her portraiture style - a combination of striking photography combined with natural elements.

6. “Think about how you can create a marketplace for your business. You aren’t going to be able to shoot forever.”

The sad but ugly truth is we are going to get older and shooting 3 weddings every weekend is not suitable work for old ladies. But we’re not going to give up our passion! Make your mark with fresh ideas and products that can live beyond the life of your ability to physically work on your tired old knees for 12 hours a day. Art can live forever, if you find a way to continue to breathe life into it.

Get help. Look into hiring an Assistant or Studio Manager when you’re able to financially so you can focus on what you is most important to you. If you’re budget won’t allow it, look into getting an intern from a local high school or college. You’ll inspire and learn from one another and be able to get more things done too!

7. “Your brides are getting married for the first time. YOU are the experts. Educate them.”

Wise words that we can all relate to. Remember, you have done this a million times while your client is fumbling through it for the very first time – be a resource to your brides. Take them under your wing. The connection you’ll make as a result will be worth every extra mile you go for them.

Of all the priceless take-aways from last night, the most important one that rings true were the sentiments conveyed about the importance of collaboration – we must always be learning from each other. In the spirit and essence of Photo Betties, we couldn’t agree more!

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2 Responses to “November Meeting Wrap-up”

  1. Andrea November 12, 2010 at 3:20 pm #

    This meeting was my first encounter with Photo Betties (my friend Abbey brought me along) and I must say I had a fabulous time! Everyone was so friendly and I learned so much! Susan’s gallery was gorgeous, and her insight and art, along with Julia’s and Leah’s, was incredible. I was certainly inspired and look forward to more meetings and gatherings. Thank you!

  2. hdipiazza November 12, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    Thank you so much, Andrea, for taking time to write that thoughtful post! It was great to welcome you into the group and we’re elated you had a good time! Let us know what other things interest you so we can keep them in mind for future presenters!

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