Monday, July 18, 2011

meet Sandy Puc'

Sandy Puc' is a leader in the photography world.  She has a very successful photography business but she also teaches others about the industry.  From her online training school, Sandy Puc' University, to her worldwide speaking and teaching tours, Sandy Puc' Tours, you can learn from one of the best!

I had the opportunity to interview Sandy about her business and what inspires her to do this.  Here is what she had to say.
What avenue did you take to pursue your career in photography? 

I started the way many people are starting their photography careers today. Back when I began, it was definitely a less conventional way of getting into photography. There wasn’t a lot of education available like there is now, unless you went to a formal school, which I did not do. I was very young, 17 years old and I basically just picked up a friend’s camera and started taking pictures of their kids. This completely fascinated me; it sparked something inside of me that I never knew was there. I started buying every book and consumed all of the information that I could, but ultimately, I practiced a lot. Just how everyone learns a new trade, you have to practice and make a lot of mistakes along the way and then fix them.

How long have you been in business? 
About 23 years, so basically my entire life! I started out in my master bedroom and have been at two studios (or building spaces), including the one I am currently at. Photography is literally the only job I’ve had my entire life. Unless Kentucky Fried Chicken counts as a major career move, then I did have one other job.

How would you describe your photography style? 
I would say that it’s kind of a mix between traditional and my own creative style. I had a more formal training, so I understand the control of posing and lighting, which is so important. However, my natural artistic instinct can be described as more freestyle. I appreciate the balance between creating a well-structured portrait while still keeping it fun, unique and different.

What inspires you as a photographer? 
The relationships I have, especially with the children I work with every single day. Photographing children is like a game for them (and me), it’s so refreshing and fun. It’s something I feel very passionate about. When I’m able to see the client’s reactions to what I do and how meaningful my work and the images I create are to them, it pushes me to want to do more, do better and go beyond where I’m currently at.

What is your favorite thing about being a photographer? 
Having the freedom to do what I want to do. I think photography is an amazing opportunity and so versatile as a career. Some people use it as a part-time hobby, others a part-time career and like myself, I run a full-time business. I love it! I love the freedom and lifestyle that it affords me. It’s amazing to be able to do what you love and be successful; it’s a unique thing. There are not many careers where you can be part-time and be so successful. You can take it as far as you want to go, or not.

         What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
Almost six years ago I had the honor of co-founding Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS). We had no idea it would reach so far in this world. Literally thousands of families have been serviced by this foundation and by all of the wonderful volunteer photographers out there. I know we are just a tiny drop of water in the giant bucket of goodwill, but being a part of the creation of this concept that affects people every day has been such a beautiful part of my life. The gift these families receive and the healing power of these images we create is something that will continue long after I’m gone, and I am proud to be a part of something that will become a legacy.

What do you feel makes your business so successful? 
I surround myself with the most talented and amazing people! I get a lot of the credit, but the truth is, I have a powerful group behind me who support me and are passionate about what they do. As a team, we get a lot done!
Another thing I have is the relationship with my clients. I feel so privileged to have been in this industry long enough to have clients that brought their babies to me 20 years ago and now they are all grown up and are bringing their families in for portraits. I was also able to capture the many memories in between! When you realize you’re a part of their entire life experience and that you capture the most important moments there are, it is an incredible honor to be that person. When they think of something important going on in their lives, they’re going to think of you.

What has been your best marketing idea for your business? 
A good referral program! Taking the time to thank your clients and letting them know that you really love them. I have found that our clients appreciate an incentive to talk about us; clients can be your number one marketers! They can say things about you that you would never say about yourself, and they will use powerful marketing words that you cannot use in your own materials.

Sandy Puc Tours and help educate other photographers… what is the biggest tip you can share to help new photographers?
Work from your heart. I know that sounds a little silly, but for us, being photographers means you need to stay connected to what you’re doing. If you put your all into it, you’ll keep that passion and fire. There are so many components to running a business: organizational management, marketing, customer service, etc. If your heart’s not in it, ultimately, you’re going to lose track of what you love. Writing things down is important way to make things happen.

Tell us about Sandy Puc Tours… 
I have been teaching photography for 12 years, and four years ago we decided to take our show on the road. Our commitment is to provide a brand new class, with brand new concepts and material, keeping it fresh every time we go out! It’s a fairly large production; we have attendance ranging from 150-400 people per show. There’s a lot of energy and it is a lot of fun! It’s an emotional journey; we really connect with the audience and provide great education. Everyone is able to walk away feeling like they have new ideas to implement into their business. The greatest thing that we hear is that we inspire people to get after it and not lose sight of what they really want.

Tell us about… 
Sandy Puc University was created as an incredibly economical way for my students to market their businesses. We completely layout a marketing structure and provide marketing campaigns. We do about six to eight full campaigns with videos, templates, programs, etc. at an insanely low price; it’s less than $25 a month. We’re currently working on completing a new structure on Social Media. Our goal is to not only help people understand, but make it easier for them by providing the content; they just have to fill in the blanks. All of the research and information is right at your fingertips!

What was your inspiration in starting these two ventures? 
Sandy Puc Tours was an opportunity to get me out there, to see people and meet them face to face and give them the best of what I have. SPU was really designed for those people and my students who wanted a consistent plan. I wanted to take that education from tour and provide a monthly service, so each time I come back they are further and further along and they can continue to improve and grow in their work.

You also have a marketing template website… what are your favorite products and why? 
The products from Ukandu that are most appealing to photographers are the marketing pieces, because they are so comprehensive. We don’t just create a postcard; we create an entire series of postcards, press releases, blogs etc. I personally love the fun things, like the birth announcements and cards. I really built the site so it would help people market, and photographers have really appreciated it and have had humungous success using those campaigns.

You are involved in a lot of charities. Tell us how photography allows you to be involved in these organizations. 
I learned early on how powerful the work we do really is. Each of us has had tragedies in our lives, we’ve all lost a loved one and so we can see how powerful those images become. We’ve been able to work with different charitable foundations like NILMDTS and Susan G Komen (SGK) and they have been wonderful experiences. We help create exposure for the organization, also enabling them to bring in much-needed funds, and it helps us grow in return. The goal behind all of it is that giving back is the right thing to do. The old saying, if you give, you get back ten fold, well charitable work has always been the foundation of my company and I feel I have been very blessed. It would be impossible for me to not do it because I would feel ungrateful for what I have.

Tell us a little about you… where are you from? Are you married? Do you have kids? What are their ages? 
I am originally from Orem, Utah. I have been married for 20 years to my amazing husband, Ed. We have four biological children and we have 42 foster children, who have even had children of their own – (which I guess makes me a grandma!) My eldest is Katie, who will be a sophomore in college; then Alek, who will be a senior in high school; Nik will be an 8th grader; and Julz will be in the 6th grade. I wrote a more detailed post on my blog about my family <>
I have found it interesting how things change as my children have grown up, I have a lot more freedom and I’m excited to take advantage ☺

What’s in your camera bag? 
5D Mark II
70-200mm f/2.8
Let’s see, a tremendous amount of lenses –
50mm 1.2, 24-105 and 85mm 1.8
Sekonic meter 258

What’s your favorite lens? 
Definitely my 70-200mm 2.8, it gives me the most bang for my buck and the most versatility. I work so much with kids, I really benefit from the control I have with that lens.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be? 
I would love to be able to sell everything and travel to other countries and provide services, whether it be building or feeding, I want to be able to help people. Just doing something where I can work with people and know what I am doing is really making a difference. In a nutshell, I’d love to do charitable work overseas.

What is your favorite Savvy Indulgence? 
I’m not really a girly girl (haha). I probably workout three hours a day and have a personal trainer travel with me. Health and stability are really important in my eyes. So, I put a lot of energy and time into my health and that would probably qualify as my indulgence. 

{Interview by Leslie Kerrigan}
Thank you Sandy for a wonderful interview and a big thank you to Leslie Kerrigan for interviewing her.

***When registering online for the Boutique Babies and Creative Edge Kids Tour, use the code PST30 for a $30 discount.


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