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By Sarah Ackerman

It's time to get to know Ana Brandt, Imaging USA 2015 instructor and maternity photographer extraordinaire! Ana has been in the business over 14 years and has never stopped learning. Get to know this pre convention instructor in nine easy questions!

1. When did you start your photography career? What prompted it?

I became a professional photographer in 1999. I had been taking pictures since I was a teen and had no intention of ever becoming a professional. After shooting for well over 10 years as an amateur, I decided once I moved from the East Coast to the West that I would register my business and get to work. I was a web designer by day and a photographer by night. I started shooting child models in California and one day I just quit my Web Job and never looked back.

2. What do you want for people to take away from your class? 

I want them to feel the power of the amazing talent and gift that photographers have. I want them to leave motivated and encouraged and understand that the marketing, selling, posing and all that is entailed should just flow from their pores. I want them to leave and not sleep for days because I have given them so many ideas, tips, techniques and marketing methods that will take them months to incorporate. I am bringing in a pregnant model and a brand new baby and I want to show them easy transitional posing for both session types that can work in any location.

3. What is your favorite aspect of photographing newborns? 

Watching them fall into such a deep sleep that they just smile in bliss. It is amazing to watch them just curl up and be cozy in a basket. Sometimes I just stare in wonder. They are just days old, and here they are in my space, just sleeping away. It's really amazing. 

4. How did you get into the maternity market? 

Honestly, I wish I knew. When I was in my 20's I was so awe inspired by seeing gorgeous pregnant woman. I was immediately drawn to this phase in a woman's life. I have shared this story so many times, but I am an adopted child, and I have never seen a photo of my biological mother. I think I was just drawn to what I never saw in my own life way earlier then I even knew why. Now 15 years later, I just never get tired of it. I think pregnant woman are just gorgeous and it's such a short time in development. I knew from early on I would specialize in maternity and newborn and I knew my being adopted was a driving force - and still is. I wish I could explain it in words, but it's really hard to. I feel that every path I took in my life, led me to here. To doing this, even when I had no idea what my journey would be.

5.    What is one piece of equipment you can't live without on newborn shoots? 

On location - it's my 5-n-1 - I almost always use a diffuser and reflector to block out harsh light on one side, and reflect in soft light on the other. That is a must when I am traveling. 
In studio, I need good lights. I would never use flash inside and I love my soft boxes and Einstein's. I used Alien Bees for years, and those are great too.

6.    How do you differentiate yourself from other newborn/maternity photographers? 

I think I would have to ask my clients that! I don't really pay attention to other newborn/maternity photographers. I try and just focus on things I like and ideas that inspire me and things that drive me. I let my clients know I can provide everything for them for their sessions, such as clothing and styling and location scouting, so that they can just relax and trust the process. I think each photographer has their own style, even if they use the same props - the style is easily defined. I believe that people choose the photographer that is similar to their own style and has a personality that is comforting to them. I do not believe I am the perfect photographer for every client. 
One product that sets us apart are our behind the scenes videos. We have been providing video for our clients of behind the scenes in their sessions. Clients have told me they love watching the videos because not only can they see who I am but they can appreciate what is involved in a session. It is a win, win - the client receives a gorgeous video, and we have marketing tools for the next client.

7. Who is your favorite photographer? 

I can't pinpoint one person. In my 20's I studied Ansel Adams and Anne Geddes. I bought their books, screensavers and calendars and just stared at their images over and over. I think Ansel defined black and white photography and Anne Geddes showed the world the wonder and beauty of newborns.

8. What defines your photographic style? 

For pregnancy I think its movement and angles. I like curves and to stretch woman's bodies in ways they never thought possible. I adore fabric and how it flows, and if I love to work with fans and just create beautiful images. For newborns, I try and create images that are classic and simple while being a tad artsy at times.

9.  What do you wish more photographers knew before going into business? 

That it is hard, hard work and that you cannot give up. Photography is a business. Like any business, it takes time to learn and grow.  You have to commit and just do it. You need to be patient and not worry about others. This is your journey - your path and you need to let it grow and nurture it with every ounce of your being.

Come learn from Ana live at Imaging USA 2015. Her "The Art and Business of Pregnancy and Newborn Photography" pre-convention class will run January 31 for an additional $129 fee to your registration. Get all the details on Imaging USA and register here!

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Sarah Ackerman is known around PPA as #Sarah in part because she handles all things social media and in order to differentiate herself from the other Sarah's in the office. Sarah loves improv comedy (think "Whose Line") and routinely performs with Witless Protection around the Atlanta area and at Dad's Garage Theatre Company. When she's not tweeting/instagramming/facebooking all of the action at PPA, she can be found gallivanting around the world or wandering around the woods with her pup, but more than likely she's on stage making people giggle.




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Carl Caylor - Imaging USA 2015 instructor and current PPAedu teacher stopped by theLoop this week for an AMA (Ask Me Anything). 

Carl is a seasoned natural light portrait photographer and has owned and operated his personal studio since 1995. If you are not aware of what an "Ask Me Anything" is, have no fear!  These question and answer sessions are the perfect way to ask Imaging USA instructors literally anything you want. It's also your chance to have your voice heard amongst your peers! 

What sets Carl apart and what made his AMA so interesting is his perspective on natural light and how it can take your images from mundane to awesome in a few simple steps. He also touches on pricing techniques and where he draws his inspiration. If you missed the full conversation you can check it out on theLoop.

Check out a few of our favorite moments with Carl:

On his favorite way to modify natural light:
"I like reflectors and try to carry one or two with me at all times.  I do, however, enjoy locations that have great light with no need to make changes.  It is in these locations, we can concentrate on the subject within the light more.  Those are the magical places."

On choosing a location to shoot:
"I do, however, enjoy locations that have great light with no need to make changes. It is in these locations, we can concentrate on the subject within the light more."

On what inspires him:
"Where do I get inspiration? Watching people. Living life. Sharing with other photographers. Movies. Nature."

Don't forget to register for Imaging USA and stop by for Carl's hands-on class, "Hands-on Photography: Natural Light Portraiture"! Registration information for Imaging USA is available at ImagingUSA.org/Register.

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