Thursday, May 25, 2017
By Darty Hines
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Today marks a new look and name for the SYNC Blog. (do people still name their blogs?)

Create. Evolve. Live. 

Those three simple words have had such an impact on our event/business especially in the past 3-4 years. Many people use a tagline, but how many actually live by the words that often sit below their company logo. Do you? When was the last time you actually read the words under your logo? Do they still represent your company? Does your tag line still speak to you? Does it tell a story about your company's culture? 


A tagline, according to some experts at Inc. should be three to five words that tell people what you do. One expert states: What is your story? Your tagline should communicate precisely that feeling. 


CREATE. EVOLVE. LIVE.  Three simple words that tell our story.


SYNC was designed with the creative industry in mind. Primarily for photographers, CREATE fits perfectly into our company's culture. Not only is the word ideal for our customer base, professional photographers, the word CREATE is something that resonates with our events. We strive to CREATE something new, exciting and unique each year. 


EVOLVE is our favorite of the three words in our tagline. According to The word EVOLVE is an action word (verb) that means: to develop gradually. For those of you who have attended SYNC events from the early days will know this fits us perfectly. When I look back to day one of SYNC 2009 and then reflect on day one of SYNC 2017, EVOLVE is the best word that tells our story. 


We have developed gradually. We have EVOLVED.


I am a strong believer that your business must EVOLVE to survive. When you make gradual steps in your business you get the chance to really think things out and plan for success. On occasion rushing into a decision might pan out for you, but more often than not, when you let things develop gradually, when you let your business EVOLVE, you will have a much greater success rate. 


LIVE. This can be translated in a million different ways, but to truly LIVE means to be happy in what you are doing on a day-to-day basis. Jon Acuff, the Keynote speaker for SYNC 2018 says this about your career; Great lives are very rarely created in great comfort. My interpretation of that statement from Jon's book Do Over is; you have one life to live and if you are going to be truly happy... do what you LOVE! Once you start doing what you love... you will start to genuinely LIVE. Do you LOVE what you do? If you don't I encourage you to find out what makes you sincerely happy... and do that. I did and it become one of the best decisions for me and my family. 


The CREATE. EVOLVE. LIVE. tagline has become such a substantial part of the SYNC brand that we even hear how our clients (friends) have embraced the tagline and are EVOLVING in their own way. Your tagline needs to become one of the elements of your brand. When people hear a trigger word like EVOLVE, I want them to think of SYNC. 


I hope your tagline tells a story about your business like ours does.  I also hope that you are so in love with your career that you are able to CREATE. EVOLVE. LIVE every day. 



PS - We love our tagline so much, we put it on a T-shirt. Get yours HERE


Share your tagline story in the comments below. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2017
By Thea Rentschler
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With permission we wanted to share with you a message we received from Thea Rentschler. THIS is why we produce events.... 


Darty and Michele, 

I love when someone sends me a message, an email, a text, telling me something I have said, done, or spoke about, no matter if it is my own personal life, my business, or my opinion, has helped them in some way. My heart bursts when I know that my own experiences, and sometimes struggles, can help someone else out. If that "help" means making their life a little easier, relating to something I've gone through, or seeing what works for me has helped someone in some way, I feel moved by God that it I was in the right place talking to the right person at the right time.

Enters SYNC - and YOU!

Thank you for this opportunity! Thank you for your hard work of gathering so much good knowledge and resources to help each of us strive to be a better person, photographer, and business person than we were before we went to SYNC. Know all your hard work is not in vein. I would LOVE to tell you how SYNC has changed my life, how I look at my industry, and how I look at my business post SYNC. So here it goes... (I get a little long-winded, so hopefully you read to the end)

When I was asked to attend SYNC with other local photographers, to be honest, I thought, "Sure! Florida? Tax right off? Girls week? Drinks and no kids? Sign me up!" I assumed it to be "another conference". Another meeting of the "Big-wigs" telling us how awesome they rock at their business and here I am in little old Iowa out in the sticks, off the grid. No way is there situation anything I can relate to. The only thing these people have in common with myself is that we both pick up a camera for a living. WOW! Was I ever wrong!

Before SYNC I got caught up in what everyone else was doing around me, what everyone else was shooting, how they were editing, what clients they had (we live in a very rural and small area, these towns run together so we know everyone!). I would get jealous and angry. Yes, I am embarrassed to say that now, but my thoughts were "Why did xxx go to her after they went to me? What did I do wrong?" and "Why is xxxx charging $50 for a cd of photos that suck? She is undercutting our business!" And I found myself feeling frustrated, burned out and angry....a lot! I would like to say it was the first night of SYNC that changed my mindset, but in all honesty, it was day 2. I listened to the Martens talk about their rural area and, of course, the high sales they get. I started thinking-"Gosh, here we we go again!" But I continued to listen. And then I listened to the next speaker, and the next, and the next. By Day 3 I was amazed how excited I was about my job again! I had spoken with a few print judges (NEVER have I EVER entered any of my prints in a competition, again, "little ole' me syndrome"), but found it to be one of the best things I ever did. I learned so much about what I was shooting and how I was shooting it! By Day 3, I realized this fire had lit under me.I had an epiphany-like HUGE epiphany! I didn't see our industry in the same way anymore. I was looking at my profession and what I did every single day for a living ALL wrong the WHOLE time!

I realized that my problem with my business was ME. And that was THE ONLY problem I had. I-ME-MYSELF was keeping me from being more successful and happy-not anyone else-and certainly not another photographer.

Here are the things I took from SYNC 2016:

1. Not everyone is MY client. This was probably one of the hardest to realize. But everyone values something different-and it isn't always photos or the way I take photos, or my style. And if I am going to be successful in my job, I need to be okay with this. AND I remember the "fist thing" you did on first night of SYNC. So I put this in my fist and POOF-I "LET IT GO"!!! Weight ONE lifted!

2. I no longer compete with other photographers. In fact, I really don't look at a lot of their social media pages anymore. I am more focused on what I can do better, not what someone else is doing. And I refuse to entertain the cattiness of other local photographers who are spiteful, Their views on photography, or competition isn't helping me be better at my profession so in the fists it went and POOF-let it GO! Weight TWO lifted!

3. AND THIS ONE IS THE BIGGEST CHANGES: I got the courage to OPEN MY OWN STORE FRONT! I got over the fear of pricing my work to my worth! I have been doing this for 8 years, successfully. No, I don't make Marten bank, and you know what? I don't want to. I want to be good enough to make a living to provide for my family! I don't need to be the highest paid in our industry. I needed to sell myself, not my photos. People pay for an experience, how you treat them and I need to add MY OWN touches to things. My new studio added this service touch! I listened to the business talk of SYNC and wrote my very fist ever business plan, and actually presented it to my husband before we both decided to move my studio to a store front. I now offer refreshments, recliners, payment plans, design service, and hand-written THANK YOU NOTES-seriously, the easiest, least expensive, and probably most appreciated gesture to my clients! Once I figured this out, instead of looking up my competitors social media pages and websites snooping, I was brainstorming ways to showcase myself, my strengths, and my talents. And now, my clients relate to me, trust me and I have watched my business not necessarily grow, but my relationships with my clients get stronger. They come back because I treat them well. Not because I am the cheapest. I FINALLY GET IT NOW!

So, because of SYNC I now have a studio on main street of my town. It isn't the best, most glamorous studio in the world. But its a growth for my business. Its something I have wanted to do for a while and SYNC made me realize I could! I am now more conscious of my business structure! How I look at money, and how I need to market to my ideal client. And this is because of SYNC! I don't make even close to what a lot of famous photographers make in our industry. That really isn't my goal. I just need a modest life. I don't have the newest gear or most props. BUT because of putting a few of the SYNC speakers' ideas to use, I am now going to make about $7000 more this year than I did last year with an extra $20,000 in curbside business expenses I didn't have last year. Not huge, but hey! Thats growth! And this, too, is because of SYNC!

We have two special needs children (one that has a life threatening illness), and we have lots of expenses with just this alone. Not to mention I have to run my business in the midst of my crazy "mom job". Because of SYNC I met Georgia McCabe and we have stayed in touch. We have the same personality and seriously our lives our so relatable! She is someone I admire greatly and God brought her into my life because of SYNC!

So Thank you Darty and Michele, for this AMAZING opportunity! Thank you for making me a better photographer, a better business person, and a better person. This experience is worth every penny.


Thea Rentschler


Thursday, December 08, 2016
By Mike Ridinger
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I've always told people that your relation with your lab is much like a marriage. It has its ups and downs, but in the end you are both mutually happy. Both sides make mistakes. It's important that whoever does so, acknowledges the mistakes so it can be rectified. As a business owner we learn very quick to admit a mistake. No cover up. No bologna. I expect the same from our vendors. At Ridinger's we deal with a lot of deadlines, some soft and some are rock solid. Sports and proms are solid. Missing a deadline is a quick way to lose an account. I once had a lab misspell the name Clarkston to Clackston. On top of it they shipped the job two days late while they tried to figure out a way that they could not have to reprint. If I got that right on the deadline, they thought I would think it was OK and let the job go. But missing the deadline AND misspelling cost me my 2nd largest account for almost 20 years. That came out to literally hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

Fast forward to a new relationship with H&H Color Lab. We make a mistake, we call and they try their best to fix it. We had a brand new account with a football league. It had the potential to bring in years of income to our studio. Seven teams of 15-20 players. Someone at the lab dropped the ball and they were going to miss the Saturday deadline. We would receive the order on Monday and miss the teams big Jamboree Day. So, on Thursday H&H reprinted the entire order and shipped it out that night. They even hired a driver to bring the order the last 100 miles to our studio. Now this is a fantastic example of customer service. 

Our client, totally unaware of the situation, commented as we delivered the boxes of sport photos, that the year before the photographer missed the deadline. WOW... We came just hours away from losing a major account. Even though we had some sleepless nights, H&H helped to pull it altogether for us. 

We have a wonderful relationship with H&H Color Lab. Ups and Downs, Good and Bad, at the end of the day, we are both happy. Just like a marriage. 


Guest Author: Mike Ridinger 

To learn more about building a relationship with H&H Color Lab, click here

Micah Solomon will be speaking on Customer Service at SYNC 2017. To learn more, click here

Thursday, November 17, 2016
By Darty Hines
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Remember when you were a kid and all of your friends would meet up at the local pond for a swim. You would grab ahold of the old frayed rope and prepare to jump into the icy cold water on that hot summer day. You knew that if you swung out above the water you would have to let go of the rope to get relief from the August heat. The hardest part was actually letting go. You knew that when your grip left that rope the cold water would rush over you in a matter of seconds. Your hands left the rope and for a fleeting moment you were floating in air. Nothing mattered. Not a care in the world. You could hear your friends cheering and the laughter echoed across the river. When you entered that refreshing cold water, you knew that letting go of that rope was the best part of the Summer.  


Recently, I think we have all felt the stress and drama of social media. There have been discussions and post that have felt like that Summer heat. At times it can burn, be hurtful and discouraging. We may not be able to go back in time and float down the river on a hot Summer day without a care in the world... but we can take a break from the craziness of social media. 



1. READ A BOOK. When is the last time you actually picked up a book, curled up by the fireplace and read a book? Romance novel, western, business book... it does not matter, just pick up a book and escape. Do you have a great book to share? Leave the title in the comments below. 


2. GO OUTSIDE. Take a walk. Breath. And if you are a photographer, leave your camera at home. Escape from your daily routine. 


3. TALK TO YOUR LOVED ONES. Here is a challenge: Have a conversation with someone and leave the phones and computers in a different room. We often have conversations but they lead to a comment like this: "Did you see on Facebook" ..... Next thing you know, you are opening your phone and leaving the real conversation for the digital world. Leaving your phones in a different room will force you to communicate and share with your loved ones. 


4. TURN IT OFF. This one is pretty simple. Just don't do it. Stay off social media. Even if it's for a couple days. It will still be there when you come back. We often set goals for our business or our personal growth ... why not set a goal to stay off social media for a few days. You may actually be more productive. (and happier)  


It's been a rough couple months on social media with all the drama that came with the election. Many of us are hurt. Some of us are disappointed. We have un-freinded and un-followed more than normal. We could all use a break. 


Maybe it's time you let go of the social media rope. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
By Chris Housdan
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In this video, Chris Housdan of Houston Photography in Harrisonburg, Virginia talks about adding Premium Products to increase his sales. Offering premium printed albums is just one way to service your clients. To find out additional ways photographers are increasing their sales, attend SYNC 2017

To learn more about the Printed Leather Album by H&H Color Lab, click HERE