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Today's Guest: Bob Coates of Arizona Professional Photographers Association in Phoenix, Arizona
Today's Host: Damien Allen

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ANNOUNCER: This VTalk Radio's Spotlight is sponsored by morephotos.com the online photo sales solution to professional photographers worldwide.  Welcome to the VTalk Radio's Photographer Spotlight with your host, Damien Allen. 

DAMIEN: Good afternoon and welcome to the VTalk Radio's Photography Spotlight.  My name is Damien Allen, and today we have with us via phone Mr. Bob Coates.  Bob is the former President and spokesperson of the Arizona Professional Photographers' Association.  Good afternoon and welcome to the program, Bob. 

BOB:  Hey, Damien.

DAMIEN:  So tell our listeners a little bit about the Arizona Professional Photographers' Association.

BOB:  Well it's an affiliate of the PPA National and basically it's to help promote education and fellowship among photographers.  It's been around for quite a while.  I think we're over 50 years...I think we celebrated our 50th year not to long ago.

DAMIEN:  What services and benefits are included with the Arizona Professional Photographers' Association?

BOB:  The association runs a monthly meeting and during the monthly meeting we could have anywhere from national speakers, occasionally, to local speakers.  We cover a lot of different subjects.  Networking, of courser, is a very big part of having an association like this.  We have over 200 members, and there's a lot of times when, you know, maybe you have a question about doing some sort of task within your business, and there's always somebody to ask and say, hey man, how do you do that, or how do you handle that type of a customer, that kind of thing.  So the networking is really good.  In the education neighborhood each monthly meeting has, you know, a different subject and it could be on business or the art of photography, or marketing.  And then the speakers can be anywhere like I say from national to local, and here in Arizona, it's amazing we have a tremendous number of national speakers that are based in and around Phoenix and Tucson and up into Sedona and stuff.

DAMIEN:  Along with the monthly meetings, do you have ongoing workshops or a yearly seminar that you also include with this?

BOB:  We do a convention every year.  This year it's February 17th and 18th, and we usually have quite a line up of speakers.  For example, this year, we have from PPA National, we have somebody coming in, Scott Kirkian, talking about business.  Angela Talintino will be talking about positioning and pricing.  So that's kind of a business part of it, but we also try and spread things out so we have Pete and Liliana Wright who will be doing a wedding program.  And then we'll also be doing a program on boosting your bottom line with album sales.  And then we also have Colleen and company who will be talking about seniors and one of the things that I found is very interesting is that even though the subject may not be something that you do, for example, if your studio doesn't do seniors, you can still take a lot of the information that you gather from there and put it to use in your business, or if you don't do weddings there's always information that kind of translates across all the different types of photography that's out there.

DAMIEN:  Does the association endorse any photo competitions at all?

BOB:  We do.  Twice a year we do an 8x10 print competition, and in there we are basically getting people a chance to very inexpensively have their prints viewed by people who have gone through the national judging school and they can make, you know, once the prints come up, we kind of talk about them and say, oooh this is really good, but here's a way for you to make it just a little bit better.  Maybe this needs to be dodged or burned or this kind of a print treatment would really help the image sing as far as judging goes.  The one thing that, you know, we need to be careful of is that there is two kinds of merits...or three kinds of merits.  You have your print merits which you get from your peers and from national and regional associations.  Then you have your green merits, and those are the ones that when your customer buys your prints and those aren't necessarily the same thing, but what I found is the people who participate in print competition end up earning higher and more green merits because they're work improves and, you know, the little tiny flaws that maybe don't matter to our clients so much, you know, our work just gets better and better as we do that kind of thing.  Also at our yearly convention we do one that gets you a lot of awards and they can be used, you know, if you become the wedding photographer of the year or the wedding album photographer of the year, portrait photographer of the year.  You can use that in your marketing and use it for sending out press releases.  Having the awards and stuff on your shelf can be helpful as your clients come in and visit your studio.

DAMIEN:  What are some of the criteria you would use for judging a photo competition like that?

BOB:  Well we go by the PPA national set-up and there's 12 different criteria.  I don't know if I can remember all 12, but basically the number one is impact.  When the print spins around and the judges see it for the first time, the impact of the image is really important.  Then, of course, you've got how well the print is printed, and you know, whether its composition, you know, all the way across the line there's a whole big line.  Boy, you'd think I never judged a competition before, and I've been to the school and stuff.  But basically it's everything from print quality to composition to how it affects people.  Now the impact can work really well for your as the prints spins and all the judges go, oh that's incredible, but then the print could go down if the actual print quality is not so good, or it's been, you can tell if the image was either over or under exposed, of course, that's going to bring the scoring down.

DAMIEN:  So if I wanted to become a member of the Arizona Professional Photographers' Association, what would I have to do?

BOB:  Very simply you can check out the website at www.arizonappa.com and there's a lot more information about the organization and how things work, and then also you can download an application form.  And if you haven't been to an APPA meeting before, you're more than welcome to join us and the address is posted on the website, and you're first meeting is free so you can kind of come down and see how things work, talk to some people before you make any kind of decision like that.

DAMIEN:  How long have you been involved with the Organization, Bob?

BOB:  Let's see I moved her from the Virgin Islands in, oh probably about 8 years ago, and I became a member as soon as I got here.  It's been really, really helpful to my career being part of the local organization, and of course, I'm also a member of the national organization and some others.  I find that it's extremely helpful, not only from an education standpoint and a networking standpoint I was talking about, but also the people who are involved and get on the board and serve as officers in the organization...it seems, I don't know if it's a bi-product of which comes first the chicken or the egg, whether the people who serve on the board get better as photographers or the better photographers tend to want to serve on the board.  I'm not sure which it is, but I usually see that the people who are involved and help out and work on committees and stuff tend to do better in their business.

DAMIEN:  How long have you been a photographer?

BOB:  Let's see, March of 95 was my first year as a pro.  I had mucked about with it for about 13 years before that, but officially said, ok I'm going to turn this into  a business and make my living from it, and that was my first time out.

DAMIEN:  So you've seen the transition from film to full digital then?

BOB:  Oh huge. I was never going to shoot digital, because oh my God that's, you know, that's o terrible.  And then in, let's see, 2001 I did a review for Professional Photographer Magazine on the Fuji S1, and I had it in my studio for testing and a client came up and said, Bob, we need an ad done by tomorrow morning, and normally, you know, if I'd shot my slide film and made the three photos that they needed and built the ad and everything else, I would, you know, by the time it got to the lab and back from the lab and scanned, I never would have been able to do that job.  And I said, well I can't, and then I went, let me give it a try.  So, I gave it a whack and 3 hours later I had the entire ad built with 3 studio shots done.

DAMIEN:  Isn't technology grand!

BOB:  That was the day I said, you know what, I's turnin digital.

DAMIEN:  Isn't technology grand!

BOB:  You know what, it's been amazing.  It's changed the way I do business immensely.

DAMIEN:  So how many members are currently seated in the Arizona Professional Photographers' Association right now, Bob?

BOB:  We're a little over 200 and it seems to stay around that neighborhood.  We'd sure like to see it increase, because what happens, you know, even if somebody doesn't attend every monthly meeting, if we have a larger member base, that means we can bring in more of a variety and, you know, bigger speakers and, you know, cause it does cost a speaker an awful lot of money to leave his studio.  And while we can't pay them what they would make if they stayed in their studio, we do need to cover all the expenses of, you know, flights and hotels, food, and some sort of fee for their services for coming to speak with us and share their knowledge.  So if we have a bigger member base, then we can bring in more people more often and really expand the educational opportunity.  I highly recommend anybody even if they don't plan to be there all the time to make it possible that we can bring in even more people. 

DAMIEN:  It certainly sounds like a great organization.

BOB:  It really is.  I've made some lifelong friends through the organization and it's definitely helped my career.

DAMIEN:  Well we'd like to thank you for joining us today, Mr. Coates, and telling us about your fine organization.

BOB:  It was my pleasure, Damien, and again if anybody who is in Arizona even across the state, we certainly highly appreciate them coming out and trying to visit with us if nothing else to just check out one or two meetings and see if it works for them.

DAMIEN:  And that website again was www.arizonappa.com.

BOB:   www.arizonappa.com and Arizona is spelled out.

DAMIEN:  Alright.  There you go, and if you want more information on this, that's where you go to check it out.  You have been listening to the VTalk Radio's Photography Spotlight.  I'm Damien Allen.  Have a great afternoon.

ANNOUNCER:  You have been listening to the VTalk Radio's Photographer Spotlight; only on www.vtalkradio.com Radio for the 21st Century.

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