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  • 03 Nov 2022 4:40 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Workshop Review by Melissa Matyiko

    Our Here Comes Santa Claus Workshop was last Saturday, December 3rd from 9 am to 4 pm.

    It took place at Kieso's Keepsakes Photography Studio. We learned how to set up, prepare for, book, photograph, edit and deliver Santa Mini sessions.

      Each session lasted thirty minutes. We had two sessions to observe and photograph. The children loved their time with Santa!

    They each were given a gift to unwrap from Santa. Our students were able to observe the magic between Santa and the children. The workshop was amazing! We all left there with the spirit of Christmas on our minds.

      I am looking forward to our session. My daughter and my three grandsons Carson 5 years old, Benny 3 years old, and Walker 2 months old are going to see Santa at Kieso's Keepsakes this weekend! I can't wait!

  • 20 Oct 2022 2:04 PM | Laura Mansur, Cr. Photog., CPP (Administrator)

     I was so pleased and grateful to have been a recipient of a $500 Scholarship through PPGH. The funny part is, I wasn’t even aware until Laura Mansur Guerra got in touch with me to let me know. This was great timing because working during Covid had made me neglect my photography and I was ready to get back in! 

    I recently attended the I Heart Photography Conference for the first time, and except for me getting ill, it was amazing! 

    On day one, I attended a Pre-Con class, “Photographing All Women” presented by Maria Arellano. If you don’t know, Maria is an amazing women’s photographer. She is Cypress, Texas based and also an award winning photographer specializing in family, child and goddess Fine Art Portraits. As a Boudoir, Maternity and Glam Photographer, this was right up my alley! 

    Maria focused on knowing the value of including women of ALL ages, sizes and ethnicities. Social media has shown us that women are embracing their femininity and stepping in front of cameras. This provides confidence and empowerment along with an unforgettable experience. 

    We covered the Target Market (attracting the clients you want and repelling those you don’t), body types, posing, lighting, hair and makeup, styling, and client closets. Maria also covered the business side as well as incorporating social media. You must check out her TikTok, she is a master! Even if you are an introvert like I am, Maria’s TikTok will give you the courage to put yourself out there. Believe me, it works! Prospective clients want to see who their photographer is. 

    Maria had one of her clients share her story of tragedy that put her into a deep depression. It was quite emotional. She spoke of how her life has changed after her session and how she now values herself. After her story, she was our model and you would think she was a pro! Her confidence was evident in her expressions. 

    Maria went over how to pose and photograph every woman by giving her professional and sincere directions, since these sessions can be vulnerable and intimate. We were able to use these as we photographed her as well. 

    Maria also picked me out of the class to sort of strip down and model! I must tell you, I was nervous at first, but through Maria’s guidance, I felt very comfortable to let Maria and the other students photograph me. I think this opportunity was imperative to me and other boudoir photographers, as it helps you to feel how a client will feel during a session. The important factor is comfort. 

    If you ever get the opportunity to attend one of Maria’s workshops or her online academy, I promise you won’t be sorry. Maria is not only a great photographer that loves educating, sharing and nurturing, she’s a lot of fun! 

    By Donna Frazier

  • 08 Oct 2022 10:34 AM | Duane Blocker, CPP (Administrator)

    Putting together a family portrait session can be time-consuming and stressful, especially when deciding what to wear, who to include in the photo and how to pose. Planning for family portraits can take up so much time and hassle, especially with all the other things families have going on at this time of year. Many clients are trying to get their professional photographer before it's too late. They want a professional photographer to capture their holiday magic.

    As professional photographers with years of experience, we can offer stress-free portrait sessions and high-quality portrait products so that clients can enjoy the large wall art in their homes or give a gift to their family members as a holiday gift. We can assure the clients to have a stress-free photo session and provide high-quality photographs that will last a lifetime.

    Here are few tips that can help your clients with family portrait session.

    Choose a location that is special to the family that you are working with:

    Studios typically offer a variety of backdrop and lighting options, as well as props, so you can create unique and memorable photographs. A professional portrait studio is an excellent option if the family celebrates a special occasion or wants to have some updated family portraits taken. As we are skilled photographers, we will be able to capture the family's personalities and spirit in their photos. So if the clients are looking for something special, I would consider booking a session at my portrait studio with various backdrop options, maybe canvas or modern backdrop, and also skilled in lighting them in the best possible way.

    What if the clients are you looking for a unique way to capture their family's memories? Why not have their portraits taken in their home? A client's home can be excellent for family portraits because it is full of personal memories and sentimental value. Plus, it's a setting that the family is probably familiar with and comfortable in.

    Were the clients looking for an exciting location for family portraits? Think outside the box and choose a place special to the family. Maybe it's their grandparents' farm, the spot where mom and dad of the family got married, or the place where the kids were born. Whatever it is, pick a place where your client will have fond memories of being together. By choosing a unique location, your photos will be sure to stand out from the rest!

    Dress in coordinating colors or patterns

    When it comes to family portraits, there are so many things to think about. What should they wear? How do they pose? Which background looks best? But one of your most important decisions is what the family will wear. Coordinating colors or color schemes can make the photos look polished and professional.

    Pose in creative ways that show your personality as a family

    Are you looking for a way to show their personality as a family? Why not try posing in creative ways? This can be a fun way to express themselves and help you connect with them. As professional photographers, we can help with this and even give tips on how to pose themselves; when your clients are looking to have a family portrait taken, whether it is for their Christmas card, you will want to make sure that they are posed in the best way possible.

    Create wall portrait and hang them in your home for everyone to enjoy 

    When creating a wall portrait, the sky is the limit! One crucial tip when building a wall portrait is to hang it at eye level. This will ensure that your client can appreciate the artwork without straining their necks. You can also offer a digital painting or get creative with mixed media.

    Another tip is to use a frame that compliments the artwork. A simple frame can make all the difference in the overall look of your portrait. Having various framing options in your studio can help your clients decide on the spot.

    Regarding the quality of the print or large artwork, archival quality prints are a great way to preserve memories. Not only will they last for years, but they also provide a high-quality option for displaying their photos on the wall. Unlike regular prints from the local drug store, archival prints are resistant to fading and discoloration, making them an excellent choice for keepsakes. This could be a perfect topic during the sales process.

    And lastly, don't be afraid to get creative! This is your chance to show off your expertise and style. So have fun with your clients!

    Sonia Ahmad

  • 03 Sep 2022 2:01 PM | Laura Mansur, Cr. Photog., CPP (Administrator)

    Did you know that our PPGH  board awards scholarships to our members?

    Scholarships are awarded by the PPGH Board of Directors and is a benefit of guild membership.  The Guild awards at least three $500 scholarships for continuing education, and one $750 scholarship for the Judges Workshop.

    Application Deadline: November 15th , 2022 (Midnight)


    $500 PPGH Scholarships are open to all Professional Active members who meet all of the following requirements:

    ·       Must have attended 3 PPGH events in the last year (meetings or workshops).

    ·       Have been an active member for two (2) years.

    ·       Have not received a scholarship from PPGH in the previous three (3) years.

    ·       Have paid your current dues for the year of the scholarship application.

    $750 Judges Workshop Scholarship is available for Professional Active or Lifetime members who meet the following requirements:

    ·       Must have attended 3 PPGH events in the last year (meetings or workshops).

    ·       Have been an active member for three (3) years.

    ·       Hold a PPA Degree or Certification (priority is given to Master Degree applications).

    ·       Have not received a scholarship from PPGH in the previous three (3) years.

    ·       Have paid your current dues for the year of the scholarship application.

    Learn more about the PPA Judges Workshop.

    To find the application and more details go to Members Only tab on our web site : Chose Scholarships in the drop down menu.


  • 31 Aug 2022 1:20 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Building a Business that Reflects You

    Presented by Colt Melrose, CPP

    Colt Melrose hosted his workshop “Colt”ivating Great Clients on Saturday, August 27, 2022 in his photography studio at the Sawyer Yards. He began his workshop by asking each of the attendees to ponder some key questions that would help them analyze themselves as photographers and business owners. Understanding simple yet not so simple aspects of their personality helps set the foundation of each individual to succeed professionally.

    Not only knowing your personality, but understanding it and how it serves and communicates with others is helpful in building your business. Time was given to self-reflect and then discussion ensued regarding participant’s answers. An open discussion revealed there are many ways to communicate with clients, but are we being clear with our message? Ultimately, are we attracting the clients we wish and are we serving them to the best of our ability with the goals we have set for ourselves?  

    GOALS…Yes, those were discussed too. In order to make progress, one must learn from our own experiences, reflecting on why things went so well, or the contrary where things could have gone better. We must realize what makes each of us unique and special in that because, let’s state the obvious, only YOU can be you ;). Therefore, the things that someone else can do that don’t make your business have “your touch” source it out, if possible. The time saved will give you more time to do only what “you” can do best for your clients.

    Taking action is key with any goal in life. So since we discussed goals at the workshop, we took action by building a storyboard of our current process identifying key elements needed to achieve certain goals. So many eye-opening tactics were shared by Colt that he even made participants think of key elements that define their business to create a mission statement. He followed it up by sharing his personal family mission statement, demonstrating that key values important to his family are at the front of his business model to maintain focus and joy in life.

    For lunch, we walked over to Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. and we networked with each other while Colt addressed several questions participants had from the morning presentation.

    After lunch, sales was the topic for the afternoon. Keeping the sales process clear and simple will help the client understand and make decisions easier. It was evident that many business owners struggle with the same mind blocks. Learning ways to keep the process simple and consistent will help overcome these mind blocks.  

    The business process from how we see ourselves to what we want to do and who we want to serve all help improve our current business management. If we have a better understanding of ourselves and this process, then creating or rather “colt”ivating great clients will be easier.

    Overcoming objections is a process, one that can be broken down by educating our clients.

    But first, we must educate ourselves and always invest in our own education.  

    Simple take aways from this workshop are:

    1)    Be YOU because nobody else can!

    2)    Price simply. If you can’t understand your pricing, neither will your client.

    3)    Keep learning by attending workshops, reading, listening to podcasts.

    4)    Surround yourself with positive people who support you.

    5)    Be confident. Mirror the clients you want to attract.

    6)    What does your website say about YOU and what you offer? Is it clear?

    7)    New problems aren’t bad, they bring growth.

    8)  Train your brain to say “you choose to” instead of “you have to.”

    Participants standing (left to right):  Stephanie Albers, Denzal Lovett, Ron Vachon, Scott Holleman  

    Sitting: Colt Melrose, and Douglas Burns

    Review and photos by Cari McFarlane

  • 18 Aug 2022 2:08 PM | Duane Blocker, CPP (Administrator)

    Monthly Meeting Recap – Brittni Schroeder – How to Price your Photography

    We enjoyed a wonderful presentation last night from Brittni, who lives right here in Spring, TX, with her husband and 2 teens. She was an open book in sharing with us the logical means and methods she used to both market herself and price her work in a brand new market, when she moved to El Paso, TX, a few years back.

    I want to share several links that she encouraged all of us to go to, and work through, to get a much better grasp of our own “money mindset” and “pricing guide”, as well as her email and social media links:

    Instagram – brittni.schroeder

    Facebook – redefine your business

    Email –

    Here are some great “takeaways” from her presentation:

    1 – The way you think about money (ie your “money mindset”) is what will determine what you think you are worth.

    2 – There is money everywhere…you just have to find it!

    3 – Create your ideal client “avatar”…name her…who is she? Where does she hang out? Who are her friends? What products does she use? 

    4 – If your prices are too low, potential clients may conclude that what you’re offering doesn’t offer a supreme value.

    5 – Simplify your price list! Too much is overwhelming!

    6 – If you offer packages/collections, make your most expensive/top one, your “anchor price”….it makes the next collection look that much more valuable in comparison (and its this “next” one…middle one…that you want to drive clients to!)

    7 – Don’t put any digital files in your lowest/bottom collection/package (because that’s what they all want)…make them go to the next level package to get them.

    Again, Brittni’s program was wonderful! All her points were so valid and applicable, and she’d applied every one of them in her real life situation as a professional photographer in the El Paso area.

    She told us all to contact her anytime if we had additional questions. Take a look at her links above!

    Happy pricing!!

    Maryanne Keeling

  • 31 Jul 2022 6:02 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Comets, Meteors & the Milky Way, Oh My!
    We learned so much about photographing the night sky!

    Michael Crawley Night Sky Photography Class reviewed by Shelly England

    We learned so much in our day workshop with Michael Crawley! When it was over my head was spinning like a star trail! He covered it from A - Z and we could have gone for many more days.

    We went over equipment. Carbon is worth it, sturdy is key. And oh, reflective tape might help thee. Lenses, filters and settings too. Color gels, battery packs and whatever you lack. Other essentials: Friends, water and Buc-ees Beaver Nuggets but remember whatever you pack, you must lug it!

    We learned about apps and how to use them - Photo Pills is worth the ten dollar bill.

    Michael also covered:

    • Light pollution and how to find dark places. In Houston, this means not many spaces.
    • Lunar photography and settings to shoot the moon,
    • Processing your photos in Adobe Light Room.

    Light painting looks like so much fun - take a flash or a flashlight and paint like the sun.

    Astronomical twilight and, ah, there are too many things to highlight. Alas, if you want to know, off to Michael's class you should go!

    With all of our knowledge, we are off to see the sky, the wonderful Night Sky!

  • 25 Jun 2022 2:25 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Michael Crawley hosted his workshop “Creating Historic Portraits” on Saturday, June 18, 2022. He began with a detailed slide presentation discussing creating impactful images that tell a story, evoke emotion, and introduce wonderment about a specific time period in history.

    In order to create accurate historical photos many elements need to be considered such as: props, backgrounds, outfits, gun safety, lighting, and which editing software to use for finishing touches on the photo. Michael shared several examples where changing one prop could make the photo more realistic and credible, and other examples where one incorrect prop could discredit the authenticity of the photo. Using correct historical props is especially important if the images will be entered and judged for print competitions.

    Safety is an important element during any reenactment, including at photo sessions. Michael discussed how he handles clients who wish to bring their own weapons as props, whether they be authentic or a replica.

    Planning is paramount when creating historical photos and Michael shared several ways he plans for a session. Both the library and internet are good places to source reliable information about the time period related to your photo session. When creating historical photographs, Michael advises to use reference photos to select the correct props and backgrounds to match the time period. Michael shared several places to find these references at no cost and demonstrated his flow and ways of organizing his personal collection.

    Historic portraits require paying close attention to small details. Items such as the buttons on an outfit, choice of shoes, tablecloth colors and patterns, and even the style of carving on wood chairs are all important to portraying correct and accurate historic photos.

    Michael arranged for two reenactment models that belong to historical groups in Houston to attend and bring multiple outfits and props to help create historical scenes for the workshop. Attendees were able to watch and photograph the models in different outfits with various props to match.

    In addition to being a photographer, Michael Crawley is an avid historical enthusiast who brings his passion for history and love of photography together to create historic portraits.

    Afterward, Michael introduced how to give each photo an aged and realistic look using the Nik Collection of filters. He discussed how various software tools were used and how to create special effects by combining several at a time.

    We would like to give special thanks to two models that shared their time and talent bringing multiple outfits and props to allow attendees to capture and create historic photos. Pictured in the group photo below, Michael Toppeto represented a WWII-US Navy Sailor wearing his great uncle’s uniform and Roland Salazar represented a Mexican Army Soldier 1836 Dragoon.

    L-R: Robert Guillemette, Michael Toppeto, Cari McFarlane, Michael Crawley, Roland Salazar and Duane Blocker.

    Review and photos by Cari McFarlane

  • 09 Jun 2022 11:16 AM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Nikky LaWell opened her home to host her workshop “Refining and Operating a Home Studio” on Sunday, May 22, 2022. She shared how she communicates with her clients before they come to her personal home for their photography session. Good communication sets expectations, avoids confusion and adds to the experience. Maintaining good records and staying organized keeps the business running smoothly. Posting mantras and reminders to quickly refer to while answering phone calls is a great daily visual. A workspace with a purpose helps keep the work flow running and avoids distractions, and a design board keeps the creativity flowing.

    (L-R) Megan Murray, Douglas Burns, Aric Hoek and workshop host Nikky LaWell discussing how to manage using your home as your studio space while keeping your business professional.

    Nikky shares how she has a variety of backdrops hanging around the room on rails to make every spot usable while still displaying her artwork for clients to see in the oneroom studio. Walls painted different colors within the room helps with glare and provides additional backdrop options. A variety of seating is available for consultations with potential clients and also serves as props to help with larger family photo sessions. She has created a family portrait that included twenty-two members in this room, demonstrating that being creative with posing and lens choices allows flexibility and opens many possibilities. Her favorite lens is the 24-70mm, although she also really enjoys photographing at 105mm.


    Nikky shares how she has several backdrops installed around her studio room to maximize every wall. She states that everything in her studio space must have a stated purpose.

    As a mother of a college student, her home studio adapts to her family needs. The bed in the middle of her studio is a temporary addition for this summer while her daughter visits to spend time together during the summer. This does not close down her home studio, it opens other possibilities such as outside photo sessions or taking the studio to corporate locations to accommodate clients who prefer to have photos on location.

    Having the bed on wheels allows mobility and greater possibilities for different types of clientele (i.e. boudoir or lifestyle). Light stands can be used as a clothes rod and a modifier helps give some privacy while keeping photo equipment out and easily accessible.The dresser holds albums to share with clients at a moment’s notice. Stacked stools in the corner create an interesting table that holds a bouquet of flowers all within reach. Nikky shared how different poses on the front porch using different angles creates different backdrops and textures for a variety of looks that clients can choose from. Using the outdoors for certain looks provides variety in her portraits offering natural light which contrasts her studio portraits. She invites clients to feel comfortable in her home by giving them a small tour upon their arrival showing them where they can help themselves to beverages and snacks as well as the bathroom.

    Nikky shares how she keeps her business going with a home studio even when her daughter returns home from college for the summer (hence the bed in the picture :) .  

    In addition to showing us nooks and crannies throughout her home to help her keep her home photography business organized and flowing, Nikky surprised attendees at the end with a packet of information that included highly recommended books to further your business, many phone scripts, important questions every photographer should have an answer for “at the ready,” mantras, examples of how to create our own posing binder, as well as suggesting we keep a binder with business proposals for a quick reference. Attendees shared networking ideas with each other throughout the afternoon. The workshop was a conducive environment for sharing and growing your personal business while building friendships.

    Review and photos by Cari McFarlane


  • 09 May 2022 3:43 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Do you use multiple software programs to run different facets of your business? 17hats ambassador, Leslie Cervantez, held a full day workshop with a team of fellow photographers last Thursday to share how 17hats could become a one-stop solution for many of your business needs. For example, did you know 17hats has a bookkeeping module that will connect to your bank account and payment platform, automate your invoicing process, and track your income and expenses just like Quickbooks? It’s true, when you set up the bookkeeping module, you can say goodbye to that extra subscription for Quickbooks, which should save you several hundred dollars a year! That fact alone was worth the price of admission!

    However, Leslie shared so much more about how 17hats can help improve your client experience while relieving you of some monotonous procedures. 17hats centers around the four stages of a client experience – leads, booking, onboarding, and fulfillment.  Leslie walked through each of these modules demonstrating how easy it is to set up 17hats for repetitive tasks. Using a system of templates and workflows, the program is fully customizable to your business.  

    Another exciting feature of the program is the built-in scheduling calendar that allows you to cross reference all calendars in your life so you never overbook yourself. Plus, she introduced an amazing consultant who can assist with setting up the 17hats experience for yourself and your clients. By the end of the day, all attendees, even some who already use 17hats, had more than enough information to begin implementing immediately. Leslie broke the information up into bite-sized pieces to make it easy to understand and covered a ton of content.

    If you get the opportunity to attend this workshop in the future, do not hesitate. It was extremely informative and will undoubtedly help all who attended run a more efficient, organized business.

    Reviewed by Theresa Campbell

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