Khara Plicanic: Wicked Fast
January 1, 2012
Khara Plicanic, owner of KaBloom Studios in Lincoln, NE, loves to teach. She has taught the basics of digital photography, workflow, Photoshop and InDesign for the past eight years and in February she will grace the platform at WPPI for the third time, teaching InDesign to photographers.
A seasoned runner with two half-marathons listed among her accomplishments, Plicanic has recently taken on bicycling as a new challenge, and in ambitious combination of her love for teaching, fitness and travel, she and her husband Emir mapped out a coast-to-coast itinerary for an eight-city, 3100-mile free teaching tour they refer to as The [UN]tour.
Sponsored in part by Mpix, Adorama and Photo Talk Forum, the tour began on October 17, 2011 in San Diego and took Plicanic and her husband to Phoenix, Las Cruces (New Mexico), Austin, New Orleans, Mobile (Alabama), Tallahassee and Gainesville to teach, before finishing on a beach in St. Augustine in Florida.
Says Plicanic: “We started our tour in San Diego, where we immediately encountered mountains as soon as we got east of the city. It took us nearly 11 hours to make it 50 miles that first day, but we got up again the next morning, determined to make it another 50. Entirely self supported, we carried all our own gear in saddlebags on the back of our bikes, including our tent and sleeping bags, as we spent most nights camping in a tent.
“As we moved east, we ramped up our daily mileage goal from 50 to 75 and though the hills and mountains continued to be incredibly challenging, we definitely got stronger with each day of pedaling.”
Because Plicanic’s goal for the tour was to educate and inspire everyone with a camera, it was important to her to connect not only with professional photographers, but also enthusiastic beginners and hobbyists. With this in mind, she created two entirely different classes for each audience, with a workflow class for professionals and a “10 Tips” program for beginners and
A photographer since 1999, Plicanic considers herself a relative newcomer to the profession. She majored in communications, and attributes her photographic education to a self-directed learning process that involved reading, experimenting “and figuring things out for myself.” She never assisted, interned or apprenticed with any photographers. She credits this “Frank Sinatra/My Way” approach for allowing her to make her own mistakes, find her own path and develop her own way of doing things—giving her the needed experience to begin her own business her way.
Plicanic incorporated KaBloom Studios in 2005, marketing her services exclusively through social media and word of mouth. She initially grew her studio with weddings, high school seniors and family portraits. After experiencing extensive growth from 2007-2009, Plicanic took a step back and decided to change directions. At that time she was photographing more than 30 weddings per year as well as 150 high school seniors and more than 50 other various portrait clients. In addition to doing all of the photography, she was also processing and taking care of all the behind the scenes work that needs to be done with each event.
She was faced with a choice: She could continue to accept new business—which would require hiring more photographers, an office manager and additional staff—or she could become a boutique studio, which would allow her to remain a one-woman show and continue hand-picking her clients. Placing a high value on freedom and flexibility, the latter option won out, but with a price.
Her first difficult decision was to suspend a successful senior portrait and a family portrait business in order to concentrate on her wedding photography business. “As much as I was absolutely afraid the sky would fall—it didn’t, and my life has continually been enriched in countless ways since,” Plicanic says.
“By focusing exclusively on my wedding clients and building an insanely streamlined workflow, I freed up time and creative energy to pursue other teaching, speaking, traveling and writing goals, which lead to the creation of my Wickedly Fast Wedding Workflow Guide, detailing precisely how I consistently turn around not only wedding proofs, but also album designs for all my wedding clients within one week of their wedding; the release of Your Camera Loves You; Learn to Love it Back; as well as The [UN]tour.”
With a streamlined, personalized business, KaBloom Studios sets itself apart from the other studios in the greater Lincoln area through Plicanic working directly with her clients to establish a bond that goes beyond the images she creates.
KaBloom Studios’ business philosophy is based on sustainability, simplicity and strategic planning. It sets itself apart from competitors by selling experience, artistic vision and Plicanic’s personality.
“I don’t make decisions on a whim,” she explains. “Everything I do is very intentional and purposeful. I have fine-tuned my process to make things as simple and painless for clients as possible. Rather than asking potential clients to sort out various packages and make a number of tough decisions about things they have no experience with (most of them have never planned a wedding before), I have things set up so that the only decision they need to make is to include me in their day.”
Plicanic has developed a workflow system that is as effective as it is efficient, with her clients’ best interest at heart. Her clients get their proofs, as well as their album designs back less than a week after their wedding (before most of them are even home from their honeymoons!). There have even been instances, because of her travel plans, where she has had the proofs and album design the very next day after the wedding.
“Using a combination of Lightroom, Photoshop, and InDesign, I can take a wedding from initial download to finished online proofs (including the album design) in only 6-8 hours,” she describes, “working entirely by myself. I am huge into albums. They are a very important and a strategic part of my workflow, so all my clients get one—no exceptions.”
Plicanic’s advice to up-and-coming photographers is to remember that “photography is a process. It takes time. Be kind to yourself and remember that unlike math class, there isn’t only one right answer. There are countless ways to do anything in this field, and stumbling through the learning process to figure it all out is part of what makes it fun. As long as you are true to yourself along the way, you will be moving in the right direction.”
For more information about the [Un]tour visit www.theuntour.com.
Khara Plicanic will be teaching the Platform Class, “Adobe InDesign: Wicked Fast Albums (and then some!)” at WPPI 2012 on Tuesday, February 21, from 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Harvey Goldstein from Branford, Connecticut has been in the photographic industry for almost 40 years. He is a former studio owner and has edited numerous newsletters and magazines, as well as being a freelance writer.