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  • 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

  • 14 Apr 2022 1:48 PM | Laura Mansur, Cr. Photog., CPP (Administrator)

     Margaret Bourke-White was a respected industrial and social photographer during the 1930's until her death in 1971.  Her images of Mahandas Gandhi, Joseph Stalin and the liberation of concentration camps in Buchenwald, Germany provided her early notoriety.   Bourke-White was a woman of many firsts.  She was attached to the U.S. Army in Germany & Italy and became the first western photographer allowed in to the Soviet Union, and was also the first female war correspondent to travel into combat zones during World War ll.   She became a symbol of swashbuckling photography. 

    Bourke-White was born in New York City on June 24, 1904.   She studied photography under Clarence White at Columbia University, and began her career by specializing in architectural photography.   "Bourke- White had an excellent sense of simple, poster like design, perhaps the legacy of her apprenticeship in the demanding field of industrial reportage".   Where many would see industrial blights, she saw arabesque shapes and geometric figures. 

     With the onset of The Great Depression, her images chronicled  the course of the mid 1930's.  The Depression caused a steady deterioration of living conditions and quality of life for Americans through the United States, and she captured the images.   Bourke-White saw firsthand the effect of the economic downturn and became interested in politics.   The beginning of Bourke-White's photojournalistic style occurred when she decided to explore the human side of the changing world around her. 

    When Bourke-White joined the staff of Fortune magazine in 1929 at the age of twenty five, she made several trips to the Soviet Union and in 1931 published 'Eyes on Russia'.    In 1935, she met the Southern novelist Erskine Caldwell and during her brief marriage to him, she published three illustrated books: '

    You Have Seen Their Faces'( 1937), about Southern sharecroppers,

    'North of the Danube'1939), about life in Czechoslovakia before the Nazi takeover.

    'Say, Is this the U. S. A.'(1941) a documentary of the Dust Bowl.

    She was criticized for her portrayal of Southern whites as being racists, and her commitment to social causes became evident in her images. 

    The images she captured were and still are unforgettable: a line of black flood victims in Kentucky with a billboard of a happy white family in the background.   Mohandas Ghandi reading a newspaper with a spinning wheel in the foreground.  She actually interviewed and photographed him a few hours before he was assassinated, and had a knack of being in the right place at the right time enabling her to photograph world events. 

     In 1941 she traveled with special envoy, Harry Hopkins, who was sent by President Roosevelt to determine the Russian leader's commitment o fight Germany in WW ll.    Among her images are a rare "smiling Stalin" and Stalin's grandma in the republic of Georgia.  On this same trip, The German forces began invading Moscow and she was the only foreign photographer to capture images of the devastation.   Hopkins carried her film out of the country in a diplomatic pouch and into the photo labs of 'Life"'magazine. 

    In spring of 1945, she travelled through a war torn Germany with Patton's troops.   Entering the Buchenwald concentration camp with the liberation forces, she captured the first images of the surviving Holocaust victims.  "Using a camera was almost a relief.  It interposed a slight barrier between myself and the horror in front of me.", she said.

    Biographer and critic Vicky Goldberg referred to the portraits by Bourke-White as "the posed candid" because she preferred a classical composition to photograph everyday people when she worked outdoors.   Her husband Erskine Caldwell gives us insight into her ability to compose a scene. "She was in charge of everything, manipulating people and telling them where to sit and where to look and what not. That's how she achieved such a good effect. "

    In conclusion, Margaret Bourke-White was a fascinating woman, artist and photographer who documented world events and portrayed the human side of those events. 

    Respectfully submitted by:

    Laura Mansur Guerra

  • 01 Apr 2022 2:59 PM | Kathleen Kinser, CPP (Administrator)

    Lighting that Sells 

    presented by Sonia Ahmad

    Photo Credit Sonia Ahmad

    Sonia packed so much information & fun into this workshop.  We learned about dozens of lighting set-ups and techniques.  Sonia demonstrated different modifiers along with multiple lighting scenarios.  We also played with different gels and how they change the mood of the image.  

    During this workshop, it was obvious how well organized Sonia’s small studio is  & how every space is used to its best advantage.  It was a great example to see how every piece of equipment has its own special spot.  This was a great demonstration of how to use a small studio space to its best advantage.

    The level of organization that Sonia had for this workshop was great. The handout/cheat sheets she gave out for each set up were very helpful as a reference. There were no lulls in the blocks of instruction. She moved smoothly between each set up, each talking point and kept the momentum moving forward for the entire class period.

    Sonia invited participants to ask questions during the class.  She addressed each question and demonstrated  fixes for problems.

    If you missed this class, Sonia is giving a Off Camera Flash class in October!

    Review by Kathy Kinser

  • 17 Mar 2022 1:39 PM | Duane Blocker, CPP (Administrator)

    By Jordan Scheiner

    Its march 14, 2022 and in sitting down to write this article for the Viewfinder I realized it is almost two years to the day of the first covid lockdown. I remember that weekend we shut down vividly. I had two giant parties to photograph that got in right under the wire before the city shutdown. No one was wearing masks yet and no one was really freaking out as we didn’t really know much yet…kind of the calm before the storm.

    As a photographer who makes a good part of their living from giant fun parties I hadn’t really thought about what was coming as I have always been a pretty go with the flow dude. So, like most of us, I wasn’t really ready to watch my business come to a screeching halt over night.

    My clients were upset over their lost events, but also really great as we were able to reschedule most of the weddings and Bar Mitzvahs for 6 months later…and then a year later. It was nice to know that I had so many events ready to go in 2021, but now what about 2020?

    After going through the five stages of grief over my business: denial(its all good, covid is just a cold!), anger(this sucks!), bargaining(of course you will be able to have your wedding by May 5th, I mean June 1st, no, September 1st for sure!), depression(drinking) we finally came around to…Acceptance(yay!).

    I won’t lie, it took a while to get there. And that’s when I started talking to some of my other friends in the creative industries and saw that we were all in the same boat. Photographers, caterers, Dj’s, event planners, musicians, fine artists, we were all stuck in covid limbo.

    So, at this point you are wondering what this rant has to do with anything. It’s about community. I realized within these artistic industries we all move through, there is a great community of creatives of all kinds that we work with and may not know as well as we would like. My friends and I started getting together(outside, staying 10 feet apart, of course!) And once we got through the initial “my business is in the toilet” conversation we all got to know each other better and even started working together to figure some of this crazy covid stuff out. We started working on ideas for the future, fundraisers for those covid affected more than us and even started new businesses together.

    This idea of a community of creative people is the reason I joined PPGH in the first place and what makes it important. And what I have found in the last few years as I have gotten more involved in the guild(thanks Laura!) is that our photographers genuinely want to help each other grow and get better in their craft and business.

    So in a final rant. Now that we see the light at the end of the tunnel with this covid insanity we have all been living in, let’s remember how important our photography community is by coming to meetings and workshops and learning from our peers. Let’s welcome the new photographers and help them take their business and craft to the next level, while also welcoming back those members we haven’t seen in a while, and most of all let's keep being a community. 

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