Imaging USA 2023 was definitely one of the most exciting photography conventions in the past few years. With a crowd estimated to be well over 10,000 attendees, IUSA 2023 did not disappoint. The conference offered over 90 classes alongside a trade show with over 130 vendors and plenty of opportunities to network. In attendance this year was Mark Zucker, Zookbinders’ CEO, along with other Zook team members. Here’s our Imaging USA 2023 recap!
We Are Back!
It’s been a while…In 2021, the convention was held virtually because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The online conference combined tradition and innovation. It provided education, entertainment, and fostered a strong sense of community, despite not being physically together.
In 2022 Imaging USA took place in National Harbor, Maryland just adjacent to Washington DC. Attendance in 2022 was moderate, as expected, due to the COVID-19 variants causing health concerns. Despite the more intimate crowd, it was a terrific show with wonderful opportunities to tour and photograph the nation’s capital.
In contrast to the past few years, Imaging USA 2023 hosted a record crowd. The eagerly anticipated in-person conference was bustling with creativity and connections. At the entrance of the show there was a huge sign that read, “Connect, Learn, Thrive.” It could have just as easily said, “WE ARE BACK!”
Mark Zucker noted, “The resilience of the photography industry is indisputable. Walking the trade show floor I could see the energy and enthusiasm of vendors and photographers alike. The variety of tangible printed products are endless and it is really a great time for photographers to shine by offering these options to clients.”
Experience is Everything
As tired as it might sound we’ve all been through a lot over the past three years. The photography industry took a hit during the pandemic along with many service industries. The great news is that the season seems to be in the rearview window.
However, over the last few years, customer satisfaction has reached an all-time low. Consumers’ interactions with service providers have not been up to par due to staffing shortages, supply chain issues, and low employee morale.
Imaging USA’s message: SEE THIS AS AN INVITATION TO DO BETTER! Step up and be there for your clients!!!
At IUSA 2023, class instructors and trade show floor speakers continually drove home this idea:
Delivering finished products to your clients, like wall art and professional photo albums, takes your clients from concept through to the finish line. Wow your customers with the help and knowledge you can deliver in your full-service photography business. Part of providing a service is helping people, and helping people translates into sales. It’s a win-win.
The messaging was clear throughout the convention. With all the technology, exceptional training, and professional products available, it’s time to rise up from the Covid hangover, and take the opportunity to do better! By delivering finished prints, folio boxes, canvases, and professional wedding albums to your clients you are delivering a great consumer experience. Many, many, many people have come to expect nothing more than digital files from photographers. While that exchange is expected, it’s average at best. Be a rock star and go beyond what’s expected.
a fixed attitude, disposition, or mood
an intention or inclination
Many presenters at IUSA talked about how keeping tabs on their overall mindset has helped them overcome both creative and business challenges. Focusing on negatives, complaining, and undervaluing what you’re worth will ultimately lead to frustration and burnout. The mindset of not settling for less than you are worth and knowing your ideal client is out there will set you on the path to success.
Within the very accessible photographic industry, there is a constant flow of newly minted ‘togs, seasoned professionals, and retiring veterans. While photography conventions like Imaging USA can provide education, insight, and equipment to all of the above, it’s what you do with the tools of the trade that counts. Ultimately dedication and tenacity along with a positive mindset are key to successfully creating quality images and servicing clients to the best of your ability.
Survey statistics provided by Professional Photographers of America, indicate that consumers do want finished products, and they do want exceptional services. It’s up to the artist, the business owner, a.k.a. you, to communicate everything that’s possible. Don’t be discouraged by the DIYers and the price shoppers because for every, “No,” you are moving closer to a “Yes.”
IUSA always offers engaging speakers with a wide variety of topics. This Imaging USA 2023 recap only touches on some of the recurring themes we took in. Whether your interests are portraiture, commercial work, weddings, digital artwork, or business development this conference has something for you. Programs at IUSA 2023 continue to meet the needs of an ever-changing and incredibly diverse industry.