Find Your Way in OurPPA

Michael Gan
M.Photog.Cr., CPP
PPA Member since 1979
Location: Dillon Beach, CA


Michael Gan, PPA board member and Californian photographer, is within easy reach of photographers in Maine. Or Ireland. Or anywhere with a computer. That’s one of the benefits of being involved in online forums like the OurPPA Forum. 

This accessibility to thousands of other photographers turns the OurPPA Forum into a great photographic resource. You can get almost immediate feedback on questions from customer issues and photographic techniques to latest PPA events.

“There are so many ways and reasons to participate in the OurPPA Forum, but my favorite part is getting to know the different photographers out there,” comments Gan. “It’s fascinating to see the depth we have in PPA.”

In Gan’s eyes, that depth—the different skill levels of members, from newbies to master photographers—is helpful to us all. “Yes, it helps new photographers get seasoned, experienced answers to their questions. But is also helps older members hearken back to their beginnings,” he explains. For example, answering a question can remind photographers of their own beginnings, and they often share what they would have done had they known what they know now.

The forum has many topic sections (or threads), but two of Gan’s personal favorites are ones he started himself. He began “Café Batignolles” to address the artistic aspect of photography. It became so popular that he created a similar section called “Café Batignolles (Ask the Experts)” for specific artistic questions.

Another favorite spot of Gan’s is the “Master’s Forum” he created. This section addresses his passion, the belief that we need to look more closely at what photographic excellence really is. “Here, we want to help master photographers ‘unlearn’ some rules to expand their horizons,” he says. “We want to remember that art is not a marketing tool…that ‘fine art’ is everything you do. I don’t want there to be a difference between a portrait I create and a fine art piece. Both should be able to stand on their own in a gallery.”

The only problem with having so many topic choices in the OurPPA Forum is that it can be daunting. Gan suggests spending some time one day scanning through the sections to find the ones that really interest you. Then set up your profile to send email notifications with links when a new post comes to that section. Reading those notifications is something Gan looks at every morning, and it helps him manage his time in the forum.

Just remember: it’s important to participate, not just lurk. “Get involved for the conversational aspect and get to know people,” urges Gan. “People form strong bonds from this forum. It’s a great way to meet other photographers, share information freely and possibly even meet a future mentor.”

Are you ready to get involved? Log onto www.ppa.com/community/forums/ to see what’s happening...and possibly chat with Gan himself!

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