26th of October

Photographers SEO Website Design Marketing Champaign IL Photographers CILPP November Program

November Meeting

Monday, November 7, 2016, 6-8 p.m.
Dinner Meeting in Champaign IL
Topic: Web Marketing, Design, Branding, SEO
Location: Destihl Restaurant
301 N. Neil St.
Champaign, IL 61820
Speaker: Katie Goulet, Katie G Design

“Web Marketing, Branding, SEO, Website Design”

Photographers in Champaign Urbana November speaker

Katie Goulet, Online Media Designer

Do you have big dreams, but NO IDEA how to put them online?
Our Central Illinois Professional Photographers speaker will help you with that. Katie Goulet of Katie G Design is a graphic designer turned online media designer. Katie loves working with photographers just like us to make beautiful online spaces where you can share your words and ideas, and expand your mission. Whether you’re just starting out, want to offer more online,
or you are ready to expand your brand, you will want to attend this program.
Some of the  topics to be covered include branding, online marketing, website design, SEO and blogging, which are all very important subjects for portrait and wedding photographers.

This meeting is included FREE for 2016 paid members of Central Illinois Professional Photographers.
Non-members only $20 to attend.  Sign up and pay for the meeting here!

25th of June

Photography Prices Roundtable Photographers in Clinton IL Dinner Meeting

Photography pricing is certainly one of the most difficult challenges that faces photographers in their businesses. For several years, the Central Illinois Professional Photographers have devoted one meeting a year to pricing, and it is always very well attended and one of the most requested meetings.

This year, the meeting was held in time for photographers to get a good jump on planning prices for next year. The Central Illinois Professional Photographers met on a foggy, rainy, chilly night on December 7, 2015. It was the first time to host a meeting in Clinton, Illinois, and everyone met at Snappers on the Square in downtown Clinton. It was great to have several new members join this time.

The meeting started off with introductions and getting to know all the new photographers attending, while everyone ordered dinner. Then announcements of the upcoming events planned for 2016 were made by Bloomington Clinton Photographer Denis Harsh, CILPP Vice-President. Next, members began asking questions about some of the general challenges that photographers have been facing in the area of pricing with great feedback from the members. It was an open and friendly exchange of ideas during the business dinner.

Following that, the photographers then broke into two smaller groups for some more specialized discussions. There are several areas that photographers specialize in, and each requires quite different pricing structures.

Photography pricing is discussed at two roundtables of photographers.

Photographers of Central Illinois casual dinner meeting in Clinton.

Quite a number of CILPP members either photograph weddings or specialize in weddings. Champaign Urbana Photographer Holly Birch Smith, CILPP Treasurer, headed up the group of photographers working with wedding photography pricing. Holly photographs a good number of weddings, and is well able to testify to her many experiences with current wedding photography pricing methods. Many brought their price lists to the meeting to receive further input.

Photography pricing is discussed by eight CILPP photographers.

Holly Smith, CILPP Secretary, leads a wedding photography roundtable.

At the same time, Emily Donohoe, our recently installed CILPP Treasurer, held another roundtable discussion for those seeking information and help with portrait pricing, which is vastly different from wedding photography pricing. With her previous career as a licensed CPA practicing public accounting, Emily is especially astute and diligent when it comes to pricing for profit.

Portrait pricing is discussed at roundtable.

Emily Donohoe (with laptop) CILPP Treasurer and CPA, leads portrait pricing roundtable.

Several members spent time with each of our photography pricing roundtables to get help and advice for both wedding and portrait photography pricing. As evident in the photographs of the meeting, everyone was deeply involved in the discussions, and everyone attending was able to receive some of the help they were looking for, plus meet some new friends. The pricing meeting is so valuable to CILPP members that another is planned already for 2016.

Three photographers talk about pricing at CILPP meeting.


27th of January

Wedding Photography – How to pose big groups CILPP educational photography class and meeting in Normal IL

Photographers of Central IL met on a perfect summer evening on June 15th for an educational photography program and hands-on demonstration on the posing of large wedding party groups, couples and individuals held at the First United Methodist Church in Normal IL. What better place to demonstrate posing large wedding party groups than at a church altar where this type of photography is most often done. It was most beneficial to be able to do this at a large church where many weddings have taken place. Posing large groups is an area where many photographers struggle, and there was an excellent turnout for this educational photography program. Members from as far away as Jacksonville IL and Taylorville IL were in attendance. CILPP is grateful for the kindness First United Methodist Church showed to us by opening their doors and allowing us to use their sanctuary.

The meeting was hosted by Holly Smith, CILPP Secretary,  Photographer in Champaign Urbana , and Denis Harsh, CILPP Treasurer, Photographer in Bloomington Normal. Holly and Denis welcomed everyone, and started the meeting with introductions and getting to know one another, where they are from and a little about their photography businesses. Denis revealed that the First United Methodist Church held a special meaning in his heart because it is where he had photographed his very first wedding EVER, many, many years ago. So it was especially thrilling that the church allowed CILPP to hold a meeting and class here! There were several new first time attendees, and they also spoke very briefly about CILPP, our roles and our association.

Next, Holly introduced our speaker and presenter to start the program. The educational program on how to arrange, pose and photograph large and small groups was presented by Rebekah Albaugh, member and Wedding Photographer in Champaign Urbana. Not only is Rebekah a beautiful lady with the most bubbly, fun, effusive, sweet personality, she is an incredible photographer and a superb speaker, presenter and mentor. In addition to her studio, Rebekah also heads up the huge and popular annual conference for photographers, The Reset Photography and Video Educational Conference in Champaign IL. Rebekah won the audience over immediately, talking about her business and how she books and plans weddings, and what she strives to achieve. Then she got right into demonstrating how she works with clients both when photographing the couple’s Engagement Portraits, then into the wedding day photography. Wedding Photography is a daunting task to say the least, and Rebekah illustrated how she smoothly calms peoples’ nerves and gets them to relax for her. Rebekah demonstrated how she arranges couples, then some posing demonstrations for smaller groups. Then for perhaps the most difficult part, Rebekah showed various ways in which she arranges the big groups so that they look relaxed and photograph nicely in her signature style.

Fantastic educational wedding photography presentation, Rebekah! Judging by the many questions, it was obvious that everyone attending was not only learning a lot, but also having a great time and glad to be there. One on one photography education is simply the best way to learn!

To conclude the meeting, Denis had Rebekah arrange a group of the entire class for a photograph. He brought along the same camera that he had used to photograph his very first wedding at the First United Methodist to take the class picture, a twin lens Rolleiflex. Yes a FILM camera! He set the self timer so that he could run and jump into the picture, but the sync cord kept popping out! He had to finally take the picture by holding his finger on it. So…he was not in the picture, and everyone had some good laughs with Denis and his ‘old’ film cameras. In addition, he also tried one on his 4×5 Super Speed Graphic, also very ‘old’ by today’s standards. Since most in attendance have never used film cameras, these still usable but highly collectible cameras brought lots of curiosity and questions, and made quite an enjoyable ending to a most rewarding evening. Next time maybe the Hasselblads!

Wedding Photography educational presentation speaker

Wedding Photographer extraordinaire Rebekah Albaugh presenting at CILPP class in Normal IL

Wedding Photography educational class in Normal IL

Photography class attendees of CILPP with speaker Rebekah Albaugh

Educational photography demonstration at CILPP in Normal IL

Photography of a small Wedding group as demonstrated by Instructor Rebekah Albaugh in Normal IL

Wedding photography educational demonstration on group posing in Normal IL

Champaign Urbana Photographer Rebekah Albaugh has the CILPP attendees having a blast!

Wedding Photography posing demonstration and educational lecture

Champaign Wedding Photography Instructor Rebekah demonstrates her signature style of posing

Photography class speaker presenting to the class

1st United Methodist Church, Normal IL, CILPP educational photography class

wedding photography instructor demonstrates before class while being video taped

Photography mentor Rebekah Albaugh demonstrates ways to relax and pose people at Wedding Photography class in Normal IL

Photographers group attending Wedding class of CILPP in Normal IL

Wedding Photography class captured on FILM with Denis’ 1950’s vintage TLR Rolleiflex! Oh, those Zeiss lenses…still unbeatable.

31st of October


This past Monday, the 14th, was our bimonthly meeting for the CILPP (Central Illinois Professional Photographers) group. I was really looking forward to this month’s meeting because it was all about SEO, and we were going to get to learn about this valuable online marketing tool from Gretchen and Trina of Thyme for Design. In today’s world, whether you have a store front or not, every business really needs to have an online presence. I know that I, myself, often look for products or services via web searches – so as a small business owner it’s crucial for my site to be easy to find, navigate, and really engage my clients.

Gretchen and Katrina’s business (Thyme for Design) specializes in Targeted Design & Development, Custom Brand Identity and Creative Problem Solving. They offer both Web and Print media design and really stress the importance of branding to their clients. They love to offer tips and tricks to make your website more efficient and productive, and they are currently sharing a free download called “Secret Recipes To Increase Your Web Traffic” available on our home page. Definitely check out their website – they have a really diverse style and range of creativity and skill. To top it all off – Katrina and Gretchen are both incredibly friendly, personable and made their presentation fun and light-hearted – which can’t be that easy with a technical topic like Search Engine Optimization (SEO)!

This meeting really was a beneficial one for any small business owner and for those of us who wear multiple hats while running our business – it was a nice reminder of the importance of the little things and how they can make a huge impact on your business. Just to briefly touch on what was discussed – SEO is basically setting up your website to perform well so that you have the highest chance of being found in searches and keeping your clients engaged with your site. There are a lot of little things you can do to improve your rankings – the most important of which is your content. Search engines like google can’t read images – so having really phenomenal copy is crucial for your website. They also told us about the importance of using and reading your google analytics and why slow load times can damage your SEO rankings.

I could really go on for quite a while about all the great info Gretchen and Katrina shared. They truly did a fantastic job covering all the basics about what SEO is, on up to the more detailed info on how to improve our website’s performance to help us find our ideal clients. They also did a great job of explaining things for both the beginner web developer and the more seasoned website creator.

Our next meeting is scheduled for June 16th and we will be having Kara Kamienski speaking on how she manages her photography business shooting 40+ weddings per year. It’s sure to be an interesting presentation and Kara is such a sweet and bubbly person – I’m sure we will all be greatly entertained! If you’re interesting in joining our group – shoot me a message and I’ll help you get set up with a membership application. Have a great weekend everyone!

CILPPA April Meeting

28th of February


Last Monday was our first CILPPA meeting for the new year! We always start the year off with a meeting on pricing, which is a huge topic for professional photographers and something that many new photographers struggle with. What I love about our group is how greatly supportive we are of one another. It’s a great environment to share without fear of judgement. We had some great discussion on some of the things we struggle with in pricing and tried to help one another find solutions. We swapped price lists to help one another simplify our lists and help make them more easily understandable. And even discussed the pros and cons of packages vs a la carte and digitals vs products and session fees vs all inclusive.

We had a lot of new faces at this month’s meeting and it was so great to meet everyone face to face! And with such a diverse group we were able to split up into some of our newer photographers and the veterans and really help each other work out the kinks. If you are a photographer in the Central Illinois area, don’t miss our April 14th meeting, where the very talented Kara Kamienski will be speaking on how to book, shoot, and manage 40+ weddings per year.

Here’s just a tiny glimpse into our February meeting!

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30th of November


Well hello all! And Happy Wednesday to you! Today I thought I’d go ahead and share a little about this month’s Central IL Professional Photographers Meeting.We are so blessed to have such an awesome group of professional photographers who are members and regular attendees of our monthly meetings where we provide further education, inspiration, and ideas to the ever-growing photography community.

This month’s meeting was focused on post-processing. Basically everything that happens from the time you leave a shoot to the time you’ve completed your client’s project. Everyone has slightly different methods and approaches to the way they work and that’s what makes this field so exciting! We can all be unique and different, no two photo studios have to run exactly the same and different approaches work better for different people.

I was actually talking at this month’s meeting because we decided to use the live shoot we did in June to showcase the rest of the process. The reason the discussion of post processing is so important is because it’s easy to get sucked into the back half of the process. What I mean is – now that we have digital cameras and all our images are digital – it’s easy to get sucked into programs like lightroom and photoshop to try and make every image look perfect. You can spend HOURS editing an image and it not even be purchased. So the goal is to create a great looking image as quickly as possible so that you can be a profitable business… after all that should be your goal as a photographer – to run a profitable business.

We walked through my process, and gladly had the members share what they do differently, programs or actions or tricks they’ve found particularly helpful in speeding up their process and couples really great new products on the market to help speed up production time too! It was a great meeting full of great content, friendly conversation, laughter and fun! A huge thanks to Kellie Penn of Across the Miles for inviting us into her studio for this month’s meeting! It was perfect for this month’s group!

Photo Courtesy of Rebekah Albaugh’s Photo Booth Program 😉

Also I’m sure many of you are aware of the devastation that occurred in Washington, IL on Sunday and the large number of people who are now without homes and belongings. One of our members has started a benefit to help raise money for the people of Washington. It will be held at Allerton Park on December 15th. The plan is to have a baked goods, crafts, and other fun things for sale and all funds raised will be given to the victims of Sunday’s tornado. If you’d like to help by providing of your time and talents or take part in the festivities of the day – here’s a link to the facebook fundraising page: https://www.facebook.com/washingtoniltornadobenefit

23rd of October


Fall, and October in particular, tend to be the busiest time of the year for us photographers! We still wanted to have our monthly meeting since it’s so nice to take a break from work this time of year, but we wanted to be sure it was a fun break. So what do photographers do for a fun break from work for a photography meeting? … We take portraits of each other, of course! And I have to say – I think everyone had fun and enjoyed it! So I’m sharing some of the portraits I took of those who asked me to and a few a snuck in when they weren’t looking ;) Enjoy!

Meet Natalie of Oh Love Photography! She specializes in and creates beautiful newborn portraiture!

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This one was a request of Natalie’s after she saw a sneak peek I posted on my Instagram recently ;)

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I took this one while Sarah of Sarah Jane Photography was taking my portrait. I had to tease her because she even poses when she shoots ;)

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I snuck in this one of Natalie photographing Andrea of AB Photography.

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After Sarah took my portrait I took a few of her!

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I’m a sucker for laughing pictures….

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Isn’t she purty? ;)

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Sometimes we need moral support while having a portraits taken. Natalie was given Andrea a thumbs up in between photographs.

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Okay – seriously isn’t she adorable?! I can’t tell you how many photographs I got of Natalie laughing! :)

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I had to get one detail shot. Natalie has an awesome vintage, soft, feminine style sense which beautifully reflects her branding and portraiture.

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I did snag a couple of serious ones, though I must admit – Natalie’s smile is awesome!

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I think, we all had a lot of fun! There was an awful lot of laughing going on Monday night at Fairview Park. :)

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And who says we photographers can’t be friends? I love the warm community of photographer friends we are building in our area. It’s so much better being friends than being competition. Natalie and Andrea have been besties for as long as I’ve known them – And I think they are just adorable!

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They are also pretty cool too ;)

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So when a photographer has someone taking their portrait… it only feels natural to take a picture of the person taking your picture. Which is a really confusing way of saying. Andrea was taking my picture and I decided to take her picture too ;)

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Isn’t Andrea gorgeous! She is seriously such a beauty! She always looks cute! And I love her country chic style! :)

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Had to be sneaky… What can I say? I’m a detail person ;)

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Snagged this shot of Natalie photographing Sarah on the bleachers…

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Sometimes Sarah kills me with how photogenic she is… I mean seriously

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And I asked this sweet soon-to-be-momma if she would let me take her portrait. Tiffany (of Warmowski Photography) has such stunning eyes! Bright, beautiful blue and such adorable freckles. She is an absolute sweetheart and I cannot wait to see the portraits of her little guy when he arrives in a month or so.

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Well I hope you enjoyed this little peek at some of the portraits I got to take at our Monday meeting. I feel so blessed to have gotten to know so many amazingly talented and kind photographers in our community and it’s been a joy getting to know them more and more! If you or someone you know might like to join our group – check out our website http://cilppa.org or contact me at stephanie@greentreemediaonline.com and we get you all the info!

20th of September



Monday this week was our monthly CILPPA (Central Illinois Professional Photographers of America) meeting. We had a little group but it was an amazing meeting! We were blessed with the presence of Kat Smalley of Thrive Magazine and Showcard Studio. Kat came to talk to us about branding. We had Josh Hendricks come to introduce the topic to us earlier this year so Kat elaborated on it by discussing the different things to contemplate when building your brands as well as all the ways you can carry your brand over into your business. Kat even took the time to talk with each of us about our individual businesses and the ways we brand and market our businesses. It was a fantastic meeting and I’m so glad I was able to make it! I only took a few pictures but here’s a peek:)

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I hope you all are having a fantastic Friday! We’ll see you back here very soon with sneak peek at Hannah’s family session :)

19th of July


Well Monday night was our August Central Illinois PPA Meeting. This month’s meeting was all about getting certified! (Insert Woot! Woot! and Cheers here!) Huge thank you to Pamela Cather of Reflections Etc for presenting on this topic! As someone who went to school, studied photography and graduated with a BFA in Photography and Design – getting certified wasn’t something initially on my list of things to do as I learned a lot of the certification requirements in school. However, being out of school for five years and with the growing number of photographers in the area – getting certified has been a growing desire in my mind.

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So why get certified? Well for one thing – you’ll be able to add three little letters after your name…(Stephanie Gagnon, CPP – has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?) With the growing number of photographers all over the country it can help to set you apart. Only about 3% of photographers in the USA are certified – that’s a very small number! And that’s not because the test is impossible to pass – it’s because there are so many new photographers with little to no education in the field. To be able to increase that percentage and be one of those who can say that they understand photography and passed their CPP examination and print submission would be a great achievement! It also shows other photographers (especially those who’ve been in the industry for a long while) that you value this craft and that you are committed to growing and improving.

What does it mean for your clients? Well let’s be honest. Not many of your clients are going to know what CPP means. And because they don’t know what it means – the might not know why to value that. But you can share that you’re certified on your site and blog. You can post a blog post and let them know what it means, what you had to do to acquire those three letters.

So what do you have to do. Well there’s a $200 fee to take the CPP examination. This fee gives you the opportunity to take the test as many times as needed within 2 years to pass it. The test is 100 questions and you have to score at least a 70% to pass. The questions cover everything from lighting to lenses, shooting scenarios, composition, design – all the things a professional photographer should know and use to create their clients beautiful, timeless, one of a kind images! once you pass the exam, you then have to submit 15 prints for review. 6 of these images are compulsory, meaning they are specifically set up as to what they want you to shoot and demonstrate in them. The other nine need to accurately reflect what you shoot for your clients.

Once you pass both of these, you will be declared a certified photographer! But it doesn’t end there! You will have to recertify every 3 years by paying a $100 fee and fulfilling 15 education requirements throughout the course of those three years to maintain your title of certification. Why do they do this? To ensure that those who are certified are continuing to educate themselves and grow as individuals and artists!

Pam did a great job sharing all of this information with us. Things she learned to help her pass the test, resources that helped her and things we should think about. It was very insightful and tons of information, which was fantastic! If you would like to look into more information on certification – the PPA is a great source to find everything you might want to know about getting certified and the process. Here’s the link to the CPP page: http://www.ppa.com/cpp/

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We also had our monthly print competition. The theme for this month was Center of Interest: the point or points on the image where the maker wants the viewer to stop as they view the image. There can be primary and secondary centers of interest. Occasionally there will be no specific center of interest, when the entire scene collectively serves as the center of interest. Andrea Beltz of AB Photography was this month’s winner with her print entitled “Waiting”

Waiting by Andrea Beltz of AB Photography

Waiting by Andrea Beltz of AB Photography

Well I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into this month’s CILPPA meeting. Next month’s meeting will also be at Millikin University and if all goes according to plan – we should be hearing from Kat Smalley about branding! If you are a photographer or know a photographer who might enjoy growing with us – shoot me an email and we’ll get them set up! Have a wonderful Wednesday!

19th of June


Monday was our monthly meeting for our Central Illinois Professional Photographers group. I look forward to these meetings every month! But this month I was SUPER nervous. Sarah and I had talked at one point about the different ways we shoot sessions. Sarah is very pose intensive – she positions every portion of a persons body down to the last detail. Whereas, I tend to focus on on interactions, emotions, etc. I was excited to teach my first class but the closer we got to the day the more nervous I got! I had no idea how nerve-wracking having a group of photographers observe your every move can be! I don’t know why but with an audience present, I felt very self-conscious and it was like my brain locked up. Normally what comes so naturally and fluidly felt very stilted and over analyzed. Thankfully my amazing friend Andrea of AB Photography had volunteered before the meeting to jumped in and helped me instruct the class.

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Needless to say – I feel like I learned a lot from teaching this class! I now know that I get more nervous about this stuff than I ever imagined! That just because other pro photographers are watching – shouldn’t change the way I work. I should shoot the way that is true to me because that’s what people are wanting to see. If I ever get asked to lead another group again, I have a feeling I’ll be much more relaxed next time now that I’ve gotten my first experience teaching pros under my belt.

I was super lucky to have my amazing cousin, Molly, and her handsome bunch of men be our model family for the evening. They put up with my nerves, a group of photographers watching and offering up suggestions, and of course, our crazy photographer silliness. So a huge thank you to Molly and her family for being so awesome and gorgeous! Here’s just a tiny peek at the meeting and some of the poses and portraits I demonstrated and took of the family!

(All photos without my logo are courtesy of Sarah of Sarah Jane Photography)

Natalie came prepared! Cool drink for the warm, muggy evening and Off! Spray to keep the bugs at bay!

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Here’s my awesome friend, Andrea, doing her thing!

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And of course, a little silliness ensued! :)

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Well I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into this month’s meeting! See you on Friday!