What IUSA 2021 has to offer Fine Art Photographers

Stephanie Fleming
8 min readJan 17, 2021


Imaging USA is virtual this year and titled Imaging USA 2021 — Right at Home


Before you sigh and roll your eyes at the thought of another online conference check out why this year of all years is worth your time and money. Below are 3 easy reasons why you should consider attending Imaging USA 2021 — Right at Home followed by specific notes on what IUSA content this year is of great benefit to Fine Art photographers.

Full Disclaimer: Yes, I do work for Professional Photographers of America, who organizes the IUSA conference. However, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are not those of the organization but mine alone. I’m simply sharing key resources to aide and encourage my fine art photography community to reach their goals.

Register Here

3 Reasons to Attend Imaging USA 2021

#1 — The price is significantly lower.
$59 is the price for the 3-Day All-Access Pass. No travel, no hotel, no eating out expenses. Just $59 give you access to 50+ educational programs (ex. photography, marketing, sales, etc.), networking lounges, 2 keynote presentations and access to the tradeshow full of deals, discounts, and vendor representatives to communicate with.

#2 — It’s Virtual & On-Demand.
Yes, you can watch it from home, but you can also take in way more content than ever before. If you have attended IUSA before you know the difficulty in narrowing down your options as to what to attend with so many class options available at once. But this year you can watch whatever you want and when you want. After the 3-day conference, the platform will remain open till the end of January to paid attendees to watch more or re-watch your favorite programs. So even if you decide to buy a pass after the conference ends, you can still watch on-demand. For a speaker or class you are really excited about, I highly recommend trying to catch it live so that you can ask your specific questions in real time. The programs are pre-recorded but feature live Q&As after the program airs at its scheduled time.

#3 — It might be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Clearly the pandemic is to blame for the conference going virtual. But honestly what a blessing! Without skimping on the level of educational offerings this show is now more accessible than ever! Closed captions, on-demand access, virtual tradeshows, networking lounges. ALL from the comfort and safety of home. Covid-19 gave you this gift and why not reap its benefits by upskilling, growing in your photographic practice, and fine tuning your entrepreneurial skills.

Why should a fine artist attend Imaging USA?

Fine art photography programming at IUSA may be limited but its not non-existent. Every year there are even more options for fine artists to consider. This is the bottom line, as an artist of any kind you must learn to take good information and knowledge and learn when to apply it to your practice even if there are not clear connecting lines at first. I’m learning that this is a skill that not everyone has, but I believe it can be taught and obtained with practice.

My general rule for any conference is to take what you can and leave whatever might not apply. You can only achieve it with an open mind. As artists we are already taking the road less traveled, and our success is dependent on honoring our truths and paving our own paths. You got this!

Below, I will try to only make mention to what you won’t read online about these classes and why a fine art photographer should tune in. I’ll kindly link the classes below so that you can read the descriptions on your own directly on the IUSA website if you want to learn more.

Check out the Schedule here — https://imagingusa.org/schedule

Educational Classes to Note for Fine Art Photographers

Grants and Photography — Funding Your Practice

Grants and Photography — Funding your practice with Endia Beal and Juan Logan
*ALL ARTISTS MUST WATCH* This is just full of so many resources that you can apply to your art practice right now! Funding our projects are always a struggle but Endia and Logan share their experiences creating work with grant funding as well as their experience as judges for grants. This generous session is worth the cost of the event alone.

Check out Endia’s first photography book, Performance Review, that has been blazing the headlines since being release at the end of 2020! So proud of my mentor!


Understanding Commercial Photography with Allen Cooley
Allen’s dive into commercial photography gives you the nuts and bolts of knowledge you need to assess if commercial photography is for you. Many fine art photographers have considered or successfully found application and use of their projects beyond gallery walls. Perhaps you’d like to utilize your talents in another way? This class will give you a bare bones foundation on what to know about commercial photography and the terminology and methods that make it so different than other photography niches. This is a great class if you have ever considered doing commercial photography.

Alternative Possibilities for Film, Digital, and the Unknown with Parker Pfister
Parker is truly an explorer and storyteller when it comes to his photography shooting in both film and digital formats. He offers a fresh open way of thinking about alternative processes. He’s primarily speaking to an audience unfamiliar with alternative photography processes but the invitation to play and do anything different by following what intrigues you and fun is inspiring and refreshing.

Developing a Diverse and Inclusive Portfolio with Risha Grant, Kathryn Hamm, and Karneshia Shantal (moderated by me and Joan Sherwood)
Identity seems to be a long-standing theme that seems to always be trending in the art world. Especially with more and more advocacy encouraging people to choose and live however they see fit, and rightfully so. We are in a world where traditional outlooks on society especially patriarchal, hetero-normative ones are ready to retire, yesterday.
This presentation gives you the language you need to empower your business, supporting organizations, or to help convert your workplace. It also provides facts on how prioritizing diversity is ensuring the financial future and sustainability of your fine art photography business. Many of these ideas and terms can help give you the language you need in grant applications, exhibition proposals and more.

For an extra fee check out the recording of the pre-conference class:

Another must see class for fine artists — Building a Sustainable Career as an Artist with Painter Michael Azgour

Building a Sustainable Career as an Artist with Michael Azgour — I had the honor of taking a class from Michael back in 2020 at the College Arts Association Conference in Chicago. He speaks my love language around art entrepreneurship and helping artists develop long lasting sustainable art practices. He promotes organized systems for keeping up with grants, communication mailers, and reaching out to galleries. Michael is a painter making a living with his art practice and as a college professor. He’s got a great message and tangible resources you can download and use to start applying his lessons to your art practice today. This class was recorded and is available for purchase to watch on-demand through January 31st 2021.

For technical photography classes at IUSA check out Adobe programs with instructors like Julieanne Kost and a lighting class with Lindsay Adler called Reading the Light.

Bridging the Gap

Don’t count out the GAP track. Filter the schedule by Bridging the Gap to find classes that features out of industry professionals that speak to marketing, financing, entrepreneurship, goal setting and more. When and if listening to one of these presentations be prepared to draw your own lines to connect to your fine art photography career. But I promise there are lines to be drawn. The concepts taught in these types of presentations are applicable to any business owner, and that means you!

My favorite GAP programs tend to be ones on branding. The same way these portrait photographers build a brand to attract families or high school seniors, we as fine artist are establishing a brand too! Our brand messaging is on our website and necessary for compelling grant and residency applications. It’s what we and our work stand for. It’s a good reminder to make sure that we are staying on brand and revaluating what and who we are and how that’s being communicated to others. Keep that in mind when checking out programs like these below:

· Amplify You: Cultivate Career Confidence with Denise Jacobs

· Break Through Negativity Bias with a Solid Brand Story with Robyn Hatcher

· The 10Ks of Personal Branding with Kaplan Mobray (Opening Keynote)

· Crafting a Clear & Consistent Brand with Allison Tyler Jones

Other classes to note included in your IUSA Pass

No you are not a family photographer and you may not even have a studio of your own, but learning from the high-end portrait studio businesses most of these presenters have give lots of insight on how you might monetize portions of your practice. It is also fascinating to learn what these photo studios are accomplishing in terms of sales and how they automate parts of their business as solo entrepreneurs to get the work done. These professionals are doing photography for a living, trust me there is always something to take away. Each of these photographers below created businesses that represent who they are, and businesses that fit their desired lifestyles. You are in charge of crafting the successful art practice you dream of. Programs like the ones below may support you in your efforts.

· Master Your Marketing with Gary Hughes

· Secrets to Success in Home Studios (or No Studio at all) with Marnie Clagett

· Focusing on Your Financial Future: The Beauty of Being Debt Free and Budgeting for Success with Lindsay Betz

· Lets Make a Profit with Arica Dorff

· Getting Hired for You with Kira Derryberry

So, are you coming?

If you end up attending IUSA 2021 reach out and let me know what you learned and how you think it will help you in your fine art practice!



Stephanie Fleming

I’m an exhibiting artist and learning experience designer. Questioning everything and sharing of myself. AKA Stephanie Brown in those art streets.