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PWP-ism

Using Technology to “Make it Easy”

By | Jobs with PWP, PWP-ism, Techie Talk | No Comments

When a daydream or happy event captivates us, we’re said to have “our head in the clouds”… the reality is, unaware as we may be, clouds are always around us. Businesses send out memorandums via email, students type and save research papers on laptops, and families use internet sites like Facebook and Photobucket to keep up with children and friends in faraway places. Documents, contacts, and images are all things that can now exist solely in the cloud, a technology safehouse. When we can trust that our emails will be sent, our papers saved, and our images are stored, our minds can rest easy that our work and memories are safe.

Everyone has heard of and likely dabbled in the could by now, but many are still curious – how can a business run in the clouds? Where are the workers, the product, the interaction? Why even go there? How does the cloud solve problems?

Having a business in the cloud is not as difficult as it seems. In fact, that is what PWP Studio strives to do to not only save on the green, but to make it easy for employees and clients alike. Here is an overview of what I have done with PWP Studio-and why!

A little background first: in 2010,  I was running a ‘typical studio’ (one man show with a couple of part-time helpers – struggling to manage cashflow and processes), I cut my business in half by leaving weddings, and my largest corporate client made internal/leadership changes that eliminated half of my remaining corporate business! By January of 2011, we were in serious trouble!! I was rebuilding and numbers were headed in the right direction, but not quickly enough – I needed waaaay more!

I was half-buried in the ground – my head in the clouds of “what could be” – dreaming of a better life, but not too sure how to get there.

The challenges:

1. I needed an easier way to do business when out of the office traveling + shooting.

2. It had to be as easy as possible for partners and planners to secure my studio’s services – no faxes, scans, or paper to send back and forth.

3. I had to have immediate + significant + sustained growth to replace the wedding business I intentionally left behind and the corporate business I lost.

4. I needed the model to scale – handle the load if/when the business grew as fast as I needed and as big as I wanted!

I needed a totally new way of operating, but we were in a bad place; there are only so many hours in the day and I couldn’t do it all or know it all myself. Oh, and I was broke. I brainstormed ways to streamline processes, make booking and service easy and consistent, enable remote access to documents and images, and in the process – gain labor hours with as little investment as possible. Interns were not the answer; short term help would not work for long term goals and gains. Hiring locally and custom coded software solutions were not an option because there was little to no budget.

I pulled my head out of the sand and looked up, way up. I envisioned how my business would look and operate if it satisfied all my requirements. The answer kept popping up: it was cloud time…

Piece by piece and solution by solution, we began moving to the cloud. It started with using the Google apps suite for email and document management (spreadsheets, user manuals, and tasks) and ShootQ for studio management (online paperless contracts, invoicing, calendar, and CRM) to solve #1 and #2. With the improved internal and client-facing cloud-based solutions in place, it was time to find (cheap) help for #3 and #4. I used Odesk to find remote contractors to help manage these solutions and implement the next cloud-based solutions: Quickbooks Online for the bookkeeping piece, Manymoon for project management, FTP for large data transfer, and Evernote for idea capture.

The studio’s continued use of the cloud not only enables efficiency between offices, but has also enabled speedy delivery and turnaround time for clients. By utilizing FTP, we can transfer images captured in Las Vegas last night to the production in the Atlanta studio today. With solutions like Dropbox and ShootProof, we upload images for clients to have in just minutes. We elminated the wait for that delivery truck that may or may not arrive in 3 to 5 business days (twice), and can revise a contract while someone 1000 miles away is watching!

With efficient processes and great contractors, the ‘move to the clouds’ also positively impacted the our core challenges of growth and scalability. In 2011 we were 90% overseas and 10% stateside – paying an average of $3.00 per hour for our ‘back of the house’ labor for everything from contract-writing to retouching – while I invested every dime we saved to grow the business. These days it looks much different – 75% stateside and 25% overseas with everyone making a fair wage. Our internal team ranges from its base in Atlanta to Philadelphia to the Philippines; more is getting done faster with lower overhead – which means I can afford to do less of the busy work and more development.

I have always endeavored to find better, easier, and faster ways for my business WHILE being more of a planning asset to my partners. We have to make it easy because our target clients are always on the go – with lists of tasks a mile long for each program they are planning. We provide the easiest booking, the easiest delivery, and extremely consistent and reliable service.

The results speak volumes: PWP photographers captured more than 300 events in 2013 versus 70 in 2010 – with a 99.8% “arrive on time” rate and a 98% “deliver images on time” rate, and I can make that happen from a shoot in spain… or a beach chair in Panama City 😉 We’ve become an incredible work force that proudly stands on the promise, “the only thing better than our images is our service.

I hope this post helps you in some way – understand who we are, how to tackle challenges in your own business, or just gain a glimmer of hope when ‘all seems lost’ because we have been there! There IS a happy ending when you start daydreaming in the clouds!!

PWP Studio is hiring!

By | Jobs with PWP, PWP-ism | No Comments

It is true – we are looking for a new studio manager! Want to travel the world, meet interesting people, and work in a creative industry?? GREAT – we can help you out with at last two of those! 😉

PWP Studio is a media company with an emphasis on corporate event photography. We are at the top end of event service providers in our market and provide photography services to a stellar list of clients including: Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Cox Media, and many many more. We provide excellent service to our clients whom are split equally between event industry professionals (event designers, production companies, etc.) and corporate planners for medium and large sized corporations.

Our ‘perfect candidate’ cocktail is made of the following:
one part office manager + one part inside sales + one part social media manager + a dash of photography experience (in a studio as an admin and/or behind the camera) shaken with a smile and served with a garnish of personality over ice (ice = no drama)!

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In addition, here are some skills that would be a bonus: interest in attending networking events, experience with ShootQ/Photo Mechanic/Photoshop CS3 or later, desktop support experience, and/or image management experience.

Interested? Shoot me an email at patrick@pwpstudio.com with the following:
– Resume’
– cover letter with the most fun/wittiest reason why the job is yours

What do Leather and Motorcycles Have to do with The Best $100 I Ever Spent!?

By | Charity, Personal Favorites, PWP-ism | No Comments

Gary Adams and his wonderful wife, Kathy, are great friends of ours and of the studio. Gary was our studio manager many moons ago, and we have remained great friends since. In addition to being friends of ours, he is also a military veteran, a photo buff, and a strong supporter of the Patriot Guard Riders.

Patriot Guard RidersPatriot Guard Riders

I noticed a very interesting story on Gary’s Facebook page not so long ago — it was an inspiring story about Cpl. Todd Love, a triple amputee and recent recipient of a “smart home”. You can find out more about the Smart home here. These homes are provided to veterans whom have been catastrophically injured while serving their country! It is an amazing program set up for amazing people whom have paid a hefty price to defend our freedom.

Cpl. Love was not happy to just receive one of the homes and disappear into happily ever after — he made it his mission to raise money so other brave service members could benefit. Of course, Gary participated in this effort on Cpl. Love’s team and posted a general solicitation for support on Facebook.

That is where I come into the story!  I had heard that my “old” friend had signed up for a 5K to support the cause, and I made an offer to Gary that he couldn’t refuse – read more about it on the Warning Order he sent to the Patriot Guard Riders requesting assistance.

 

WARNING ORDER!

1. Situation.

a.  Enemy Forces: None
b.  Friendly Forces:  Patriot Guard Riders / American Legion Riders and anyone and everyone who is committed to honoring the Men & Women of this Great Nation who has stood in the gap to protect our families and friends from those who would wish us harm!
c.  Attachments and Detachments.  There are no Attachments or Detachments.  As far as I’m concerned, anyone who continues to stand when Old Glory passes by, salutes or places their hand over their heart when they  hear the Star Spangled Banner, I consider them Family!  For those that pray for the safety of our Armed Forces as they serve in the far corners of this world, I consider them Family!  For those who respects and honors the officers dressed in Blue as they protect us here on American soil, I consider them family.  For those who admire & support the firefighters as they put their lives on the line to protect us and our belongings from disaster, I consider Family!  And finally, the Emergency Medical Technicians who fight valiantly to preserve our lives when we or our loved ones encounter a medical emergency, I consider them Family!

2.  Mission.

b.  My mission is to raise funds to help those who suffered catastrophic casualties while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan to someday be able to live in a “smart home.”  I am a member of Corporal Todd Love’s Team.  As a result of an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan, CPL Love is a triple amputee.  He is or will be a recipient of a smart home.  CPL Love is not content to “receive” a smart home, he is on a mission to raise funds so that others can also lead a more normal life. Please watch:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3K2amZ7_aE
c.  I have a good friend by the name of Patrick Williams.  Patrick is a world class photographer and he is the owner of Atlanta’s premiere “event photography” business, PWP Studio.   I had the pleasure of working with him for close to a year.  Patrick pledged $10 for this worthy cause which I am extremely grateful.  HOWEVER, Patrick told me that if I WOULD RUN IN FRONT OF HIS HOUSE IN FULL LEATHER GEAR WITH A MOTORCYCLE ESCORT…. he will increase the $10 to $100.00.  So…. I need HELP!

3.  Execution.

a.  Date of my mighty run:  Saturday, July 13, 2013.

b.  Staging area: QUICK TRIP located at I-85 & Pleasantdale Road

4086 PLEASANTDALE RD.
DORAVILLE, GA 30340
c.  Staging Time:  0930 hrs. (9:30 am)
d.  Kick Stand UP (KSU): 0955 hrs (9:55 am),  Quick Trip is approximately 2 miles from Patrick’s home.

 4.  Service Support.

a.  I will provide water / soda’s at Patrick’s home upon successful completion of my run the length of his property line.
b.  If anyone could bring some flags, sure would be nice to prep his yard with a bunch of American Flags!!!
c.  Dolores Thrash can bring your ambulance if it’s available.  I might need oxygen, air conditioning, fluids etc. to bring me back to life.
d.  A motorcycle with a loud sound system playing “gung ho” music might help me make it the length of his property…. Just sayin…..
e.  Large flags would be GREAT!!

 5.  Command and Signal.

a.  The Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer will be said prior to the start of the mission.  Should I complete the run I will be saying a private prayer of “thanks” at the conclusion of the run.

b.  For those who plan on going to the HOTH mission at the VA Center at Clairmont on Saturday, this would be a great opportunity to do two great missions in a short period of time.  Following this escapade, it’s a short ride to to the VA Center!!!
c.  Seriously, anybody that can come by and help me out on this mission, I will be eternally grateful.  In fact, if you participate I will give you a 30 day grace period in which I won’t post any embarrassing photo’s of you!!!
d.   Donations can be made at the following link: https://www.t2trun.org/campaign/display/profile.do?campaignId=16682

 

This past Saturday – guess who went running by my house in full leathers with a full motorcycle escort, sirens screaming, engines roaring, and neighbors wondering,

“What the hell is all that noise, and why is that old biker dude running down the street with a flag?!”

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I had promised him a $100 donation if he ran down the street in full leathers with a motorcycle escort, but little did I know, one of the folks in the Patriot Guard Riders told him they would donate another $200 if he turned around and ran right back up the hill!

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It was an incredible day and incredible gesture! I met some really colorful characters with huge hearts wrapped in black leather – and all of us would love to raise $1000 for Gary, Cpl. Todd Love, and all of the service members who have given so much to protect us!

**Will you click the link and make a donation??**

—> https://www.t2trun.org/campaign/display/profile.do?campaignId=16682 <—

 I can’t promise a ‘drive by’ in full leathers, but I promise you will feel amazingly good about spending that $100!

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Thank you,
Patrick

It’s 2013: What is your time worth?

By | Event Industry, PWP-ism, Techie Talk | 2 Comments

I’ve been talking to a lot of meeting planners lately – because that is what I do – and it is funny how many DON’T have New Year’s resolutions! I mean, c’mon, how will anyone get anything done in this business without planning?

I digress.

A frequent theme for New Year’s resolutions that seems to come up quite a bit in my conversations with events industry professionals is time management: working less, working more efficiently, getting more things done, focusing, and the list goes on and on. The bottom line is: people in the event industry have a lot to do on a day-to-day basis, and are constantly looking to find ways to get more done and get back to LIVING! Well, I get it too – I am secretly working on cloning myself – moo-whah-hahhhh!!!!

One of the ways you can guard your time is to start doing business with other industry professionals who respect their own. When someone is doing ‘good business’ consistently it shows, whether it be by organizing themselves, replying to correspondence promptly, or updating their technology and systems to keep up with today’s tools.

This is where we come in. Our entire brand/business/identity is set up for people in the events industry with 1 million things to do and limited time. Sound familiar? So, instead of trying to create a photography studio that offers some sort of unique whizbang technology solution, or claims to be the best at a myriad of different services – we set ours up to be easy and efficient. Period.

We believe we are the best (after 20 years in the industry and multiple awards – I better be!!), but our focus is on being the most efficient. Our booking process is quick and easy (and all online!), and our contracts can be completely executed in an office or on the road while traveling. In fact, the average time our clients spend dealing with us and all of the details of the photography for their events is usually less than 30 minutes!

Stop and think about that for a second – and the experience you may be having with your current vendor(s). A total of 30 minutes of your time will cover all aspects of booking photography for your event or your client: initial contact, discovery conversation, contracting, invoicing, AND deliverables! No faxing. No printing. No email follow-ups. No jumping through hoops. Everything is smooth, efficient, online, and accessible from anywhere – because we designed it to be quick and easy.

Rarely do our clients have to call or email us to check up on things because we follow-up on the front end and we keep a tight schedule on the post-production. You get what you need from us before it occurs to you to follow up! Even in our peak of peak times, our image delivery might get stretched to four business days (normally three business days for every event we capture!) Can your photographer consistently maintain a three or four day delivery schedule? Based on what we have seen of our industry peers, we hear that window for other photographers approach two to three weeks on a very frequent basis. When you think about it, imagine the delivery delay and how it affects your personal time – that means a lot of back and forth emailing between you, your client and the photographer about the images, repackaging the images for your client, and not to mention all the waiting for replies. What if all that craziness went away?

Here’s another thing you may not know: “we” is actually a we – not just a “me” saying “we” to seem bigger and better than one person can be! Our business is not a one-man operation. We actually have a studio manager, a graphic designer, and an image production manager – that means things are getting done and emails are getting answered even when “the photographer” is traveling for a shoot or buried in shoots in peak season!

All in all, if you have read this entire piece, it is clear that saving time appeals to you. Let us help you with your next event and see how easy it can really be. Our rates may not be as cheap as your current provider, but I bet our team can consistently do it better! Not to mention this little ditty, what is YOUR time worth??

 

Shooting Just The Decor

By | Corporate Events, Decor, Event Industry, Food, PWP-ism | No Comments

I was shocked today when one of my fav event industry friends asked me if I would consider shooting JUST THE DECOR for an amazing event!?

WHAT!?

Clearly I have not been doing my job because decor photography is one of the core offerings of our business – probably 20% of what we do!!

We shoot the decor shots many of our event industry vendor friends use for awards and sales/marketing materials – we are frequently hired separately in addition to the primary photographer for the event!

We have custom packages set up just for our industry where our vendor friends can gain fully licensed images for their business at a fraction of the cost of hiring me on a retail basis.

Curious about what that looks like? See below. Curious about how it works – GIVE US A CALL!!!!!! [+1 678-457-4578]

Beautiful outdoor setup

blue lighting plus decor

Food table setup

Christmas decor - 2012

Flower vase

Signature Slushies

Overhead shot of an event

Decor Photography 117

decor photography 116

Wine Cellar Event Setup

Phoenix 2012

Dinner Setup

Finger Foods at Maui

Pink Power Moms at High Museum

Casino Night at WOCC

Decor Photography - great purple lighting

“Today I’m doin’ business like it’s 19-9-9.” Err, not.

By | Event Industry, Green Things, PWP-ism, Techie Talk | No Comments

Yesterday morning, it hit me like a brick wall just how much of a tangible impact being a cloud-based work environment has had on my studio, and I wanted to share. I started typing this in Facebook and 30 minutes later…I guess I had more to share than I thought – it evolved into much more than just a blurb!

Here at PWP Studio, providing fantastic images is the baseline we build on – not the sum total of our goal. Internally, we talk a lot about doing better business via green practices, the global workplace, and technology; leveraging those pieces to increase our line of products and level of service. We fly in the cloud. We recycle. We directly hire wonderful people stateside AND overseas – our 10 employees are equally split here and there. We are constantly evaluating new technology in and outside the scope of photography!

With all of those areas of exploration, nothing seems to be more relevant in our current super-competitive small business environment than cloud-based technology. I have been sitting here [in pajamas] at my desk in Atlanta transcribing interview notes for a production manager candidate I interviewed via Skype – a candidate whom will be managing gigabytes of data on a daily basis and likely not have to ‘come to work’ more than once a month. These interview notes can be viewed by my studio manager *as I type them* – did I mention she’s in UK for a friend’s wedding? Meanwhile, at this same moment there is a PWP employee in Manila creating a contract in our booking system that a prospective client in Cali will have access to view and sign on her mobile phone 30 seconds after it is ready. Finally, RIGHT NOW there is a PWP photographer shooting an event in Seattle with a shot list on his phone I can modify while he captures the keynote.

This is all possible because of cloud-based apps like Google Apps, Quickbooks Online, ShootQ, GQueues, Dropbox, Skype, and Evernote – and those apps have allowed us to grow, thrive, and overcome some pretty significant obstacles (we will call those obstacles “2009-2011”!)

Although much bigger than you probably thought, my business is still just a small business. We embrace technology like a big business. We embrace a global workforce like a big business. We do this to serve our clients better than is expected from a small business – because every single one of our clients is important to our survival!

Are YOU taking advantage of what technology can do for your business?? If not, what is it costing you in lost revenue, unnecessary workplace overhead, training, faxing, etc.? Never mind lost revenue – how much of your LIFE is being wasted on inefficiency? Get onboard, leave the 90’s and join me here in 2012!!

If you are a fan of the “how it looks”, but are curious (or even a bit scared) about the “how to get there” in all of this, call me. I can be available to directly help you accomplish your goals, or even speak to your colleagues or group.

Bored with your current gig? Good news – PWP Studio is hiring!

By | Jobs with PWP, PWP-ism | 4 Comments

It is true – we are headed into busy season with a full plate and we need some solid help with image post-production! We want someone ready to hit the ground running and be available to process anywhere from 1000 to 5,000 images per week. Culling, color correction, cropping, renaming, and resizing are the primary responsibilities – with an occasional layered file if we bracket exposures or a clone stamp to remove an artifact. We hire top-notch photographers to capture solid images with a creative ‘eye’, and the creativity in our workflow is in the selection of images. You must have ‘the eye’ to recognize the difference between an okay shot and a great shot! After selection, the rest of the job is simply to “make them look good, and make them look gone”.

Do’s and Don’ts
– We don’t require creative ‘editing’ (no sepia or b/w conversion, pixel pushing, or art pieces).
– We do have a portrait retoucher on staff to handle retouching, so that skill is not required (but is useful if you have it!)
– We do have an office manager to handle physical deliverables.
– We don’t usually shoot raw – our workflow is based on JPEG.
– We do function out of the cloud, so transportation is not required; this is a ‘work from home with a stout Internet connection’ kind of job.
– We do prefer someone to be in the Atlanta metro area in case physical movement of files (for large multi-shooter events) needs to happen.
– We do require you have a color calibrated monitor, image sorting software, and image editing software. Photo Mechanic and Photoshop products are a plus in our world.
– We DO require someone capable of scheduling their time in an efficient and professional manner. We have fairly tight deadlines with our clients which translate to fairly tight deadlines for our production.
– We do everything we can to make certain you have plenty of lead time on jobs and can schedule your workload accordingly.
– We don’t handle blown deadlines very well. #justsayin’
– We don’t require someone with stellar phone skills

What is cool about this job:
– Cool is looking at photos all day!
– Cool is when those photos are of sensational events, pretty people, stellar venues, exotic destinations, annnd the occasional drunk.
– Cool is working with fun creative people all over the world!
– Cool is having 24/7 access to a team of great photography mentors, if you are into that.
– Cool is having the freedom to manage your own schedule and your own time. What time of the day or night you work is of no concern to us as long as the deadline comes and the work is finished.
– Cool is working in your pajamas…at your house…with your cat. ZERO client interaction – no complaints, no customer service, and no calls. You ARE the wizard behind the curtain!!

As far as money is concerned, this position will range between $10 – 20 an hour depending on your speed/experience with sorting and editing software. Some weeks we will require five or six hours, and some weeks during peak time it may jump to 20 or more hours.

Want to know more, or have someone in mind?? GET IN TOUCH!!
Patrick and the PWP Studio Team

Jobs and Champagne

By | PWP-ism | No Comments

Who is this lovely lady?

Our summer intern, Amanda! Amanda wanted to share a little bit more about internships…and champagne.

A self-described “communications major with a little artistic pizzazz [and] a graphic design student that loves to write and create” she saw PWP Studio’s “off the wall” job posting and just had to see what all the fuss was about. She was first introduced to the studio while PWP still photographed weddings (Patrick took the pictures for her sister’s big day!) and never thought she “would be jamming to cool jazz in his studio while looking at awesome images, researching and writing to get him more famous, or learning how to open a bottle of champagne with a sword.  Yes, that last little ditty was actually in my job description!”

That’s right. Boss-man promised right there in the job description that he’d teach the intern how to sabre a champagne bottle open. Since we have more camera equipment than swords lying around, he made do with a kitchen knife:

Our awesome office manager Melanie took over photo-taking duties, while PW’s fam looked on.

Murphy had a blast pouring out the bubbles!

If you want to watch it live and in person with a real sword, head on over to the St. Regis Hotel Buckhead here in Atlanta. It’s how they pop the cork for their daily toast at 6pm!

Thanks for a wonderful summer Amanda, and to those who also have champagne wishes– stay tuned for  more info about internships with PWP…

Join the PWP Studio Team

By | Event Industry, PWP-ism | No Comments

Are you bored? Under-utilized? Over-sanitized? Looking for the next awesome thing in your life? Do you like popcorn? Wait, popcorn…?

Uhh, never mind popcorn, but do focus on the prize – PWP Studio is officially hunting a new INTERN!!

Candidates must be:
– fluent in the language of positivity
– available at least 10 hours per week
– capable of walking/rolling/dragging their own weight 1/3 mile from the studio to the nearest Marta station if they do not have reliable transportation.
– able to learn

Tasks expected:
– looking at pretty pictures all day
– general correspondence (answering phones, emailing, writing thank you notes, mailing letters)
– prepping/organizing for shoots (gear, instructions, directions, etc)
– handling stuff when stuff needs to get handled (you know, stuff stuff)

We will teach the right person how to:
– take AMAZING IMAGES IN AMAZING PLACES, if that is your thing.
– run/grow a creative business in a competitive economy
– meet, dazzle, and work with the best and the brightest in the events industry
– do all the things they never taught in school
– open champagne with a sword.
– make a small business run like a big business using technology and the global work force.
– use Photo Mechanic, Photoshop, Google Apps, Manymoon, PC, and Nikon like a whiz kid.
– appreciate the value in working for peanuts and knowledge.

Although this is a photography studio and we are capable of teaching you about every nuance of digital photography – this internship is not just for the budding photographers you may know (or BE). If you are into marketing, small biz management, technology, or just want to get your foot in the door at the top of the event industry – our TEAM uses the latest technology, works with the best vendors in the world for the biggest/best clients in the world, and travels the world while we do it!

Touch base with us and have references ready – we won’t even consider you if you haven’t WOW’ed at least one other person.