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Results tagged “photography group” from PPA Today

Happy Thanksgiving! While you recover from your turkey-induced coma, here are November's top conversations on theLoop:

Join the conversation as photographers discuss who they'd love to photograph (famous or not) and the settings they'd photograph that person in. 

Share your opinion about why photographers should attend Imaging USA, regardless of what point you are at in your career. 

What item is a must-have for you when you're out on a photography assignment? You might be surprised by some of the useful ideas!

theLoop community shares their ideas on studio lighting setups that can supplement ambient light and off camera flash. 

Photographers share why they prefer the Nikon D4 DSLR or the Nikon D800 DSLR. Do you use one of these cameras? Chime in! 

Don't forget, theLoop is PPA's community where members can discuss various photography topics! Not a PPA member? Join today. 
We can all use a little extra education to keep on top of our photographic game--but where do you turn for your educational needs? PPAedu of course! PPA started the PPAedu program, and we hope that you'll turn to us for your educational needs. 

PPAedu has over 170 HD videos (and counting) that PPA members and PPAedu subscribers can access on-demand. These videos cover techniques for photographers like lighting, posing and post capture, as well as the business topics sales, finance, marketing and operations. All taught by some of the most accomplished photographers in the industry. It's a complete education program, included for free with your PPA membership! 

What really makes PPAedu stand out is the Assessment. You can answer a brief series of questions in several areas which will give you personalized class recommendations based on where your photography and business skill are now. Find out more about the Assessment in the "Be More Educated: Take the PPAedu Assessment" post. 

As we alluded to earlier, new PPAedu courses are constantly being added. Take a peek at some of our most recently added courses below:

Beth Taubner

Brands are about the marriage of fact and narrative. It's important to convey your special capabilities and traits so that potential customers can easily understand what sets you, your photographs, and your business apart from the competition. Photographers tend to be focused on technical and problem-solving capabilities rather than the emotional content of what makes their brands unique, so learning to operate from a brand perspective can make a real difference in your satisfaction and career.

View more of Beth's PPAedu courses.

Lori Nordstrom, M.Photog.Cr., CPP

You know you best. Lori will share a quick way to identify your target market and brand (so simple, you might never think to try it!)

You don't have to break the bank: Lori will walk you through some low- and no-cost marketing ideas to enhance awareness, from creating a customer database to e-marketing, rewards programs and more.

The devil is in the details: Lori will share ideas right and left as she discusses how displays and network marketing can work, which products she has found can increase sales for these particular clients, and the services that create loyalty and repeat business. We're talking VIP programs, charitable events, portrait installations and more.

So join Lori and take your marketing education and idea bank up a notch. After all, it's not just who you know or what you know--it's how you promote it!

For some photographers, creating a price list is like throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks. That process, however, leaves you with inaccurate prices and messy walls! So take a smarter approach and watch this video class where instructor Lori Nordstrom walks you through creating a price list that works for you and your business.

A price list that helps you walk clients through what you want them to buy isn't built in a day, but how can you get started? With real-life examples from her own studio, Lori takes you through the process and what to consider.

Whether your motivation is sowing good seeds, creating good Karma or developing good relationships, involvement in charitable organizations is good for the soul...and for your business. But before you over-commit your time and money, develop a plan. In good works, just like good business, there should be method to the madness!

Lucky for you, instructor Lori Nordstrom is here to discuss just that topic: how to make a charitable marketing plan using a few of the 5 W's (and an H). She'll show you how answering the following questions can help you create a special campaign, product line and even a pricing structure for your charitable work:

What can you give of your time and your talents?
Who do you want to share this with - what charity?
What is your product offering?
When do you want to do this?
How do want to do this?

You'll also learn more ways to get creative with your charitable involvement, like partnering with other vendors to expand on the offering. And since nothing happens without publicity, Lori will explain how you can play up the buzz with local media, email, Facebook and blogs. Put it all together and you could be presenting your charity with an oversized check, something you'll love whether you started for fun or business or both!

No matter your professional aspirations, this class is a must-have. After all, you can be the best photographer in town, but if you can't sell your business, does it really matter?

What do you say the first time a prospect calls or contacts you? For real, what do you tell them? What message does your studio convey? Are your clients right for YOU? After Handling the Inquiry, you'll skillfully and expertly answer these questions and more!

View more of Lori's PPAedu courses.

We're thrilled to announce a new member benefit coming your way! Effective November 1, PPA will be making the switch from FedEx to UPS®.

Shipping & logistics are a vital component to every business, so we know this discount is important to you. Rest assured, the new discount from UPS is the best we have ever been able to offer. As a PPA member, you'll save up to 34% on a broad portfolio of services, including air, international and ground services. Plus, savings begin at 70% on UPS Freight® shipments over 150 lbs. UPS understands how important reliability, speed and cost are to meeting your business goals and your customers' needs. Put the power of logistics to work for you. (For the details, log into PPA.com!)

What makes these even better - the discount with UPS will not only offer great rates, but also host a user-friendly interface, saving you money and time. 

Remember to visit the Year-Round Discounts page to see other companies PPA has partnered with to help lower your costs of doing business! 

Not a PPA member? Join today to take advantage of this discount, along with the rest of the PPA member benefits


"That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I'd just run across the great state of Alabama. And that's what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I'd gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going."

~ Forrest Gump

A little while ago I decided to give running a try, so I trained for a 5K and I ran it. Actually Trish and I ran it together, dressed as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia--don't ask. After that epic battle, I decided I'd amp up the training for a 10K.

That's where I'm at now, in training. I get up in the morning, put on my sneaks and log some miles. Today it was four. I really didn't want to run this morning because I was a little jet-lagged and it's shivery in the morning. It's starting to feel wintery here in Rhode Island and I haven't bought any full-length running pants. My capri pants leave about five inches of pasty white shin vulnerable to the early morning frost. Some tough Jedi I am.

But then I thought about the alternative to my run, which was much, much worse. Deathstar worse. Shuddering at the thought, I laced up my sneakers and bolted out the door. If you are thinking the terrifying alternative to frosty running is... my muffin top, you'd be wrong! Although that is a fairly scary sight too. No, the alternative I speak of is sitting down at my computer and opening Quickbooks to address the state of my finances.


Oh yes, it's that time. Time to face the facts. Time to NOT pay the piper (me). It may be November, but there ain't to Cornucopia for this Pilgrim. This is a lean month. It's no contest, running in the cold to avoid the inevitable gloom it is.

I put on my headphones and started my favorite training app, Easy 10K with Jeff Galloway. Jeff is the always positive, supportive, non-judgmental coach in my ear. Just when I'm feeling winded or like I might vomit on my sneakers he interrupts the music with an affirmation like, "You can do it! Look how strong you are! Don't give up!" So I choke back my bile, and keep on truckin'. Thanks Jeff.

About half way through my run this morning, I had managed to almost completely forget about the ugly state of my November sales projections when Jeff popped-in with a dandy little quote that really got me thinking. He said, "You can't be your best if you don't give it your best." To which I would add, "Every friggin' day."

It's brutal being in business for yourself. Just like running, it's hard to imagine what the payoff could possibly be when you are plodding your way in an uphill battle wearing cement shoes, certain you are going to barf at any minute.

luke and leia.jpg

It's exasperating because the improvements to your endurance and shape, financial or physical come in such tiny increments. Even so, I really heard what Coach Jeff was saying this morning. I couldn't expect to build the best possible business if I wasn't willing to give my best to it every day. Every friggin' day. So I finished my run and hit the books, Quickbooks. It wasn't pretty. I paid some bills but not myself. Ouchy.

I didn't stop there. Realizing I had to give it my best gave me renewed energy to brainstorm ideas for slow season money making. Trish and I put our heads together and came up with a few doozies we hope will cushion us through this Cornucopia-less month.

Like Forrest, I'm just going to keep running. I'm going to run out the door in the morning and put in the miles. Then I'm going to let my creativity and my ideas run at my desk and give it my best even though it might be more realistic to hang up the sneaks and crawl into bed. I figure if I keep moving in the right direction I'll get there even if it feels like baby steps.

Why? Because the force is strong in me, that's why."

And for anyone who's reading this and struggling uphill like me, I'd like to be your Coach Jeff and say, "May the force be with you," too.

Whoa, it's already November? How did that happen? 

While you nurse the candy hangovers, here are some of October's top conversations going on in theLoop.


PPA Members: Would you be interested in a camera with WiFi and GPS?

Nikon announced the D5300 this month, its first DSLR with built-in WiFi and GPS. Do you want one?


PPA Members: Print sales for large event

When you're shooting a large scale event, do you offer prints a la carte or do you make packages available?


PPA Members: Is it the camera or the artist that makes art?

Does a better camera make a better photographer? Discuss!


Post-Capture: Photoshop vs. Lightroom (and actions)

Which do you prefer and why?


Lighting: Studio lighting recommendations

Lighting can be everything for an image, what brands of lights do you trust the most?


Every year, PPA strives to bring education on the latest photography and business techniques to Imaging USA. We believe that there's great education for any type of photographer at Imaging USA--from wedding to commercial photography, the class tracks cover it all!


If you've got a certain photographic specialty you know you want to learn more in, you can easily sort the Imaging USA schedule by class track to be sure not to miss anything during the convention. It's a great way to plan your education schedule for Imaging USA 2014 in Phoenix. 


One such track is the aforementioned Wedding track. True to its name, this track is built specially for wedding photographers and will continue to advance your knowledge in these areas. 


The first available wedding class is the pre-convention Business Basics Workshop for Wedding Photographers. In this intimate, two-day setting, you'll assess the competitive wedding landscape and acquire those necessary, but too often avoided, business skills. Instructors , CPP, and , CPA, will walk you through the financial, tax and legal requirements of running your business, so that you are confident and legally compliant. It's a great way to kick-start the convention as well as your business in 2014.


Then, once the convention officially starts on Sunday, you can start your day by learning the art of capturing a moment from acclaimed wedding photographer, Ross Oscar Knight. In Moments Not Poses, Ross will teach you the three key components to document candid moments.


The rest of Sunday is open for you to explore other areas or the EXPO floor, but three wedding classes are on tap for Monday. Start your morning with a live demo class with . In Helping Others See, you'll learn the tried and true techniques from one of the world's top wedding photographers.


Next, you can learn tactics to establish a consistent workflow in Discovering Your Personal Vision with . Then finish-off your day with award-winning wedding photographer Roberto Valenzuela's Expand Your Vision by Gaining Control of Any Situation or Challenge.


On Tuesday, you'll be faced with the difficult decision of starting your day between two 8 a.m. wedding sessions.  will teach you how to Transform Your Studio and Unleash Your Greatest Potential while Carrie Wildes, CPP, offers the wide-spanning Build Relationships, Book Weddings, Get Published. Cap everything off with Photo Video Fusion from Vanessa Joy and Rob Adams.


Remember, these are just a few of the great classes you'll find at Imaging USA--there are so many more if you want to broaden your scope! Be sure to check the entire Imaging USA schedule and download the mobile app to customize your schedule. If you haven't registered yet, view all the Imaging USA registration options and pick the one that's right for you.


Read more about Imaging USA:


IUSA14 Class Track: School, Sports & Events

Your Tracks to Success at Imaging USA

#IUSA14 - 10 Things To Do in Phoenix

Someone Said Attending Imaging USA Is A No Brainer... Why? - Here are Ten Reasons to Attend

#IUSA14 - Hotels, Travel and Registration

Looking Ahead and Becoming Full-on Pro with Steve Kozak at Imaging USA

Be More Educated with #IUSA14 Pre-Con Classes

Pro Tips for Imaging USA

#IUSA14 Phoenix Overview Video


By: Mariah Ashley

A few weeks ago I watched an amusing little video clip about an artist from Denmark. He had just had his latest creation, a giant wooden Pink Pony, stolen from a park near his home the very evening he had installed it. The video was offbeat because instead of violently banging down doors demanding the release of his pony, the Danish artist launched a friendly campaign of retrieval peppered with good humor, understanding and well-wishes toward the pony thief. Even more surprising was the pony thief's openness to returning the giant pony with an apology and explanation, reciprocating the good humor and well-wishes the artist had extended to him. They parted as friends with a renewed faith in humanity.

The pony scenario has hardly been the experience I've had with thieves, especially when it comes to the business of photography. In 1820, Charles Caleb Colton said, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."  In the words of angry marine biologists everywhere I declare, "That's BULL SHARK!"

 A few years back my business partner Trish had a great idea for a luxury photo booth which she dubbed "The PhotoLounge."  Sure, now every photographer and her mother has added a photo booth to their repertoire, but back when Trish conceptualized the lounge it was very novel. There definitely wasn't anyone in our little Rhode Island backyard who was offering a swanky PhotoLounge. Unfortunately, not long after our beloved lounge debuted on our blog for the whole world to see, another local photographer started advertising her own "version" of the photo lounge. Which by the way, was less like a version and more like an exact copy, right down to the name "Photo Lounge". 

We were more horrified and annoyed than flattered I assure you. In the spirit of the Danish pink pony artist, Trish made a friendly phone call to the photographer where she awkwardly but politely asked if maybe pretty please the photographer could just give it a different name, because after all, we had come up with the lounge concept first and couldn't she (the thief) see how two Photo Lounge businesses might  cause a little confusion for clients? 

The thief's response, and this is a direct quote, was "W.T.F. why should I have to explain myself to you?!" Click. Dial tone. 


After that encounter of the rude kind, the fun was just kind of sucked out of the lounge idea for us. We kept lounging for a few seasons, but we never regained the enthusiasm or the momentum that we once had for peddling our lounge. Against the good advice of our accountant, after a while we just stopped offering the lounge altogether even though it often generated another 2K+ for us per wedding. On the eve of our last lounge, in the eleventh hour when I had promised Trish she could throw the imitated lounge into the harbor outside the venue and drive away, I had a vision of... a giraffe. 

You know who giraffes have to compete with for the tastiest, most tender-est leaves at the tippity top of the trees? No one, that's who. Why? Because a long time ago, giraffe's had short necks and were all like, "This is bullshark hanging around sharing the low-hanging leaves with greedy hordes of rude zebras."  Stripes are so yesterday anyway. Ever hear of evolution? Try on a long neck and some square spots for size, oh and throw in a purple tongue while you're at it. Suck on that zebras.  

That's right I just compared the photo lounge thief to a ridiculous zebra. Now ask yourself this: What do you often see on a zebras back? Answer: a hungry lion. It's true, turn on the Discovery channel, you'll see what I mean. The final outcome isn't usually too great for the zebra either. 

Hungry lions remind me of those difficult clients you don't want--the clients that are always on your back, trying to get more than they deserve or at least have paid for. You know what you probably won't see on the giraffe's back? That's right, a hungry lion. Why? Because giraffes also evolved some long spindly legs and they can run really fast away from the discount-loving, blood sweat and tears-sucking lions. Suck on that lions.

trish and mariah as giraffes.jpg
So instead of throwing the lounge into the drink, I declared we should "Make like a Giraffe and Evolve." There's absolutely no sense in throwing away a great idea, especially a great money making idea, just because some uninspired lazy zebra tries to rip you off. There's no need to fight with them about it either because the lions will take care of that for you. The only real solution is to keep changing, to keep thinking, to be inspired, and to keep moving up...up...up... that's where the tastiest leaves are anyway.

About the author:
Mariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van,  grew up on a cranberry farm and is happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree. 

By now you've hopefully seen a few of the Faces of PPA floating around on Facebook or Google+. We're thrilled to offer an opportunity to join this ongoing campaign to all of our members! Just visit ppa.com/faces, answer a few questions and submit an image of yourself. We've had over 200 submissions so far, but keep them coming! (Reminder: No head shots! It's you as the creative, professional photographer.)

Here are this month's three featured Faces of PPA!



Every year, PPA strives to bring education on the latest photography and business techniques to
Imaging USA. We believe that there's great education for any type of photographer at Imaging USA--from wedding to commercial photography, the class tracks cover it all!

If you've got a certain photographic specialty you know you want to learn more in, you can easily sort the Imaging USA schedule by class track to be sure not to miss anything during the convention. It's a great way to plan your education schedule for Imaging USA 2014 in Phoenix. 

One such track is School, Sport & Events. True to its name, this track is built specially for photographers who work in the school, sport and event market and will continue to advance your knowledge in these areas. 

For instance, if you do youth sports photography you won't want to miss the "From the Ballfield to the Bank - Big Money in Youth Sports" session with John Pittman on Sunday. He'll share tips that can make this market very profitable. Plus, if you're thinking about entering the youth sports market, Pittman says that you'll walk away from the session with great ideas that can help you as you venture out into this market.

For those sports photographers looking to add a new product offering for their clients, Richard Sturdevant's "Take The Gloves Off! Delivering a Knock-Out Blow with Creativity is Sports Volume Photography" session will teach you how this Grand Imaging Award-winning photographer creates unique composite sports posters that his clients love!

If you specialize in school portraits, check out "The Artona Group Inc. - School Pictures and Seniors" session with Michael Rak. His presentation combines the collective knowledge of a family who has been shooting special moments for almost forty years! Sit back and soak it all in as Michael and company share their family history, as well as their transition from a mom-and-pop shop to a high-volume school picture, senior portrait, and wedding photography studio.

These are just a few of the great classes you'll find in Imaging USA's School, Sport & Event track. Be sure to check the Imaging USA schedule as we're still adding classes for all tracks! If you haven't registered yet, view all the Imaging USA registration options and pick the one that's right for you.

Read more about Imaging USA:

Guest blogger, Mariah Ashley, presents the last of her three-part series, "THE TRIFECTA OF TROUBLE - How Three Big Mistakes Created the 'Perfect Storm' and Almost Sank the Snap! Weddings Ship." Make sure you read part one, The Tale of the Tin Pig, A Cautionary Anecdote and part two, Guts: Hate 'em, Spill 'em, Trust 'em first!

Part Three: Shutting the Proverbial Pie Hole

A big blabbermouth, that's what you are
If you were a talk show host, you'd be the star
I said your mouth is big, size extra large
And when you open it, it's like my garage
You talk too much
And then you never shut up
I said, "You talk too much"
Homeboy you never shut up
-Run D.M.C

I am the worst sales person that ever lived. The problem with a career in photography is that I only imagined myself doing the photography. I never imagined myself hocking albums and framing. Not that I don't believe in my products, I do. I'm just unbelievably awkward when it comes to asking my clients for money.
Over the years I've developed a major complex about the depth of my poor salesmanship. Terms like "asking for the sale" and "closing the sale" are sweat-inducing nightmares for me. In the interest of self preservation and under the depressing revelation that I am in fact never going to master the art of sales I decided I'd just be a good "chatter" instead. After all, I'm basically selling myself anyway, right? 

shut your pie hole.jpg
Chatting is not high pressure. Chatting is casual, chatting is light. So, I chatted... and chatted... and chatted... and after a while I was really SICK of hearing myself tell the same stories over and over again, but I kept on talking anyway because I wasn't sure what else I should do. I talked to potential clients about what made us different than the other photographers and therefore the right choice for them... blah blah blah. I talked about how superior our products are... blah blah blah. 

In the middle of one particularly long gab-o-rama I paused for breath and happened to notice a very familiar look on the faces of the people I was regurgitating my spiel on. It was a glassy-eyed, polite smile yet utter boredom kind of face. It was a face that I recognized all too well. It was the Yak-ity-Zack Attack face. 

My husband has a childhood friend, Zack. Zack has a heart of gold. He's a true blue, loyal to a fault, shirt-off-his-back kind of guy. He's the life of every party. He's also a real yak-er. I do not risk offending Zack by writing this article and publishing it nationally because the only thing that actually offends Zack is silence. He has proclaimed himself "The Thing That Wouldn't Leave" because of his epically long hot-air bull sessions. 

Zack is oblivious to my glassy-eyed stares and polite smiling and subtle yawning hints. No amount of "It's getting late, I should hit the hay," can deter the babbling prattle. More than once I have excused myself mid Zack-liloquy and gone to bed leaving my husband stranded alone at the kitchen table with the "Thing That Wouldn't Leave." 

Zack is funny, although we have heard his stories about a gazillion times. Even if you say, "Zack I've heard this one," he is compelled to tell it again. When "The Thing that Wouldn't Leave" finally goes, you kind of feel like you got sucked up into a tornado, dropped in the middle of a highway and then promptly mowed down by a Mac truck. In other words, all the air is gone from the room and you are left feeling a little flattened. Zack can't help it, because unlike me he is actually a salesman. A pretty good one too, at least according to his stories. Zack once told me that he went to a seminar for salesmen that taught him that he should listen instead of talking all the time. The irony of that wasn't lost on me but I think the wisdom may have been lost on Zack.

However, that little jewel of advice from Zack stuck in the back of my brain somewhere and when I ran out of boring things to say to glassy-eyed people, I just shut up. A funny thing happens when you shut your face. People start to open their mouths to pick up the slack, and what do you think comes out? REALLY VALUABLE feedback, information, and advice! It turns out that no one knows more about what is right for my business than my clients. Go figure!

These are just a few of the priceless gems thrown our way from current clients in the last week or so:

"We are choosing all of our vendors based on who we'd like to sit at a bar and have a rum punch with."

*Note to self: Clients want to feel comfortable and make friends; less important is the superiority of your albums, dummy. Read anything about the Millennial Generation, duh.

"It really impressed us how you give to charity (Operation Smile) and it felt good to be a part of that."

*Note to self: Our clients are thoughtful and charitable and PPA charities rocks! Keep giving!

"We loved the gift you sent us, not one of our other vendors have done anything even remotely close to that for us."

*Note to self: Clients love to feel taken care of and appreciated. Who doesn't? More gifts! 

And from dozens of potential clients...

"Our budget is $6,500."

*Note to self: Contrary to what you what you believe, the "sweet spot" for wedding budgets in this geographical area is $6,500. Create a new package for $6,200. 

*Follow up note to self: The new package is flying off the shelves, and clients end up spending way over the "budgeted" $6,500 anyway.

The moral of the story? Shut up and listen. Then take it to the next level and actually process what you just heard. Pay attention and then take some action. Use all that gas for good instead of evil. Be less like a Mac truck mowing over your potential clients and more like a hot air balloon lifting them up into a kind of photo-nirvana.

About the author:
Mariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van,  grew up on a cranberry farm and is happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree. 
By now you've hopefully seen a few of the Faces of PPA floating around on Facebook or Google+. We're thrilled to offer an opportunity to join this ongoing campaign to all of our members! Just visit ppa.com/faces, answer a few questions and submit an image of yourself. We've had over 200 submissions so far, but keep them coming! (Reminder: No head shots! It's you as the creative, professional photographer.)

Here are this month's three featured Faces of PPA!

Written by guest blogger, Kameron Bayne of Fotoseeds.

Photographers are often asking themselves (and other photographers) "what should I charge?"  It's a foundational question that raises worry and doubt over the survival of our profession.  There's an ocean of information out there with endless waves of differing opinions.  With so much information, it's easy to just go with the current tide until we're lost far at sea. I think part of the confusion comes because asking "what should I charge?" is really two questions in one. Let's take a closer look.  The underlying issues are 1). how do you price your work to be sustainable and 2). what are your potential clients willing to pay for it? One question is about your business' cost/profit ratios and the other is about the value you offer to others. If you try answer the second without answering first, you'll most likely base it on these common pricing myths.

  • What Other Area Photographers Charge. Don't fall into the trap of basing your prices on what the other guy is charging. Why? Because you have no idea what his actual costs are, which means you don't know if he's making money or losing it.  It's also quite possible he doesn't know either, especially if his prices are based on some other photographer too.
  • The Level of Your Work. If you base your prices on the level of your work, it gets sticky real quick.  Who decides when you're good enough? Your clients? Other photographers? Most likely it's based on how you perceive your work-or worst, how you perceive what other people must think about your work. That's a self-inflicted headache.  If you're always growing as an image marker, the truth is, you probably never feel as though you've "arrived" because there's always room to grow.
  • What You Would Pay. Another mistake is to forget you are not always your client, and start asking yourself what would you pay for your own work?  This can be an especially subtle and damaging trap because it preys on the natural bent of dissatisfaction in one's own work. I call an epidemic of self-abuse within the creative and artistic community. The roots of which are intertwined within our hidden thought patterns and how we feel about ourselves as human beings (see the upcoming post: Identifying the Patterns of Artistic Self-Abuse).

Pricing for Sustainability

  • The first step includes an in depth and brutally honest look at what it costs you to produce a final product for your client.  The primary factor of a healthy business is that it makes more money than it spends.
  • Under PPA benchmark research, the average photographer's salary is 20% of his or her gross income.  In very simplistic terms, this means if you charge the client $100 an hour, you only make $20.
  • That other $80 enables your business to sustainably function by covering the raising costs of products, albums, computer upgrades, equipment, maintenance, education, healthcare, etc. If you don't have these costs built in, guess where they come from? That's right, they come out of your 20% slice.
  • Once you honestly and thoroughly crunch the numbers, you'll know without a doubt where you need to set your prices.  You'll have a bare minimum you'll need to charge for your business to survive without stealing from other areas of your life.
  • It can be an overwhelming process to go down this road, and so I understand why most people never start.  But it's like someone saying they may be worried about being seriously sick so they don't want to go into the doctor.  The truth might confirm your worries, but it can also offer you an opportunity for a real and exciting solution.  You can get the help you need.
  • Here are some tools to help you get started: the PPA Benchmark Survey, Expense and Pricing Templates from PPA, and Stacey Reeves' Pricing Guide.
  • We are available on an individual basis if you need help applying this information to your specific circumstances. Contact us here for more information.
With that said, what your potential clients are willing to pay is a completely separate issue that deserves a post all to itself.  More to come later...
theLoop, PPA's exclusive social network for professional photographers, has been busy in September! Remember, theLoop is only available to PPA members, so don't worry about asking those tough questions you wouldn't want your clients to see. The best part? Now you can stay connected on-the-go with your pro photographer community, asking (and answering) questions, share ideas and even submit images for a peer critique with theLoop's new app for Android & iPhone devices. 

For those of you who are new to theLoop, or those who haven't had a chance to check-in lately, there are some amazing threads going on as we head into October. Here are our 5 favorites:

Weigh in with the pros and cons of what happens when you're in a situation with low light and no walls or ceiling to bounce from. High ISO? Slow speed? Large aperture? Join the conversation to see how you can improve your craft. 

There was photography before PhotoShop (no really, there was!), but how in the world did they did post editing? See how the industry has changed - consider it a mini history lesson, but with terms like "nose grease".

Sometimes bartering is a part of the business, but some offers are just absurd. What's the worst proposition you've received? 

Do your friends and families try to tell you that Groupon, Living Social, ScoutMob or other deal sites are great ways to boost your business? Check out this thread to give them eloquent reasons why it might hurt more than it helps. 

If you're coming to Imaging USA (and you should!), there's no better way to save some dough than by finding a roommate. Think of it like summer camp, but with better parties, more education and less bugs. Use the Imaging USA thread on theLoop to find a suitable bunk mate and book your room at any of the three IUSA hotels! 

The world of photographic competitions can seem like a tricky place to navigate. How can pieces of artwork be judged? Isn't it all up to aesthetics and personal preference? On the surface it would seem so, but overall there are 12 elements that have stood the test of time to make an art piece or image successful - regardless of personal taste. We're here to give you the road map (of sorts) to create the most successful images so that you can merit at your next competition!

Definition: the sense one gets upon viewing an image for the first time. Compelling images evoke laughter, sadness, anger, pride, wonder or another intense emotion. There can be impact in any of these 12 elements.
What it really means: This is the eye candy, the wow factor, the reason we love it. We enjoy art because it moves us. It makes us feel something--whether it brings us joy, sadness or anger (or any other emotion aside from blasé for that matter). What emotions does your piece make people feel? This can also be described as the "wow-factor," it draws a person in and captivates their attention.

2.Technical excellence: 
Definition: the print quality of the image itself as it is presented for viewing. Retouching, manipulation, sharpness, exposure, printing, mounting and correct color are some items that speak to the qualities of the image.
What it really means: This is the nuts and bolts of photography. Exposure, focus, lighting, Photoshop skills, and so much more! It's what makes you a pro. But you can take it too far--be wary of going too far with corrections. 
By now you've hopefully seen a few of the Faces of PPA floating around on Facebook or Google+. We're thrilled to offer an opportunity to join this ongoing campaign to all of our members! Just visit ppa.com/faces, answer a few questions and submit an image of yourself. We've had over 200 submissions so far, but keep them coming! (Reminder: No head shots! It's you as the creative, professional photographer.)

This week we wanted to feature three of our stellar Faces of PPA to showcase the variety of the 26,000 members in the organization! 




You know how we keep saying PPA has your back? Well we mean it. And our Copyright & Government Affairs department advocates for you members and professional photographers everywhere at the top--on Capitol Hill! Here is an update on what was learned from their latest visit, courtesy of Maria Matthews, department manager.

Copyright Talks Continue on Capitol Hill
Photographers and photography were at the center of a discussion by the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on our most recent visit to Capitol Hill. Just before Congress broke for their August recess, talks focused on the courts, intellectual property and the internet. While not photography-centric, the copyright debate is at the center of the subcommittee's September agenda, with three additional copyright hearings on everything from satellite regulations (i.e. the laws that allow networks to continue to broadcast your favorite shows) to highly specialized hearings on role of voluntary agreements.

During this time, PPA met with the Register of Copyrights as well as key Congressional leaders to stress the importance of strong copyright laws, and the need for accessible enforcement tools in order to protect your livelihood. Our message was received positively by every office we encountered. While we are encouraged by the efforts both the Copyright Office and the Subcommittee are taking to examine copyright statute as it currently exists, we are keeping a watchful eye on the unfolding debate to ensure that photographers are not forgotten.  

Although the date has not yet been set, the Committee Chair has committed to hosting additional copyright-themed hearings prior to their December recess. In addition to the subcommittee's copyright-intensive schedule, we are also expecting the release of the Copyright Office's study on the Copyright Small Claims Process and possible improvements to the registration process.

National Park Service Releases Updated Rules & Fees
While Congress is plugging away at copyright, elsewhere on Capitol Hill the Department of the Interior (DOI) released updated "Special Use Permit" rules for still photography. The rules, which have been five years in the making, offer clarity on when a photographer would be required to seek a permit from a park superintendent prior to arriving for a session on park or other federal land. (Note: These rules also apply to areas managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Forest Service.)

Thanks to these revisions, photographers now have the benefit of knowing the rules no matter which type of federal land they visit. While a basic set of requirements have been streamlined across these agencies, photographers will need to contact the specific property (or visit its website) to find out if there are certain seasonal restrictions (i.e. winter road closures or peak traffic periods) that might require additional clearance and/or fees.

The revised permit guidelines now say still photographers do not require a permit unless they're using a model, props, or if there are additional circumstances that require the use of park resources. For example, the location is off limits to the general public or resources to minimize the effect of the shoot on general visitors. This means that if you're entering the park and intend to stay "on the beaten path" chances are you won't need a permit and shouldn't be stopped and asked for one.

When it comes to models, props, and sets, DOI also provided photographer-friendly definitions to these once confusing terms. "Models" are no longer considered portrait subjects like members of a wedding party or high school graduates. "Props and Sets" are now specifically defined as "items constructed or place on agency lands" and extends to backdrops, lights and tracks. Tripods, something previously included in this list are no longer deemed a "prop" if they are not used with any other equipment.

While we expect many photographers will now be exempt from permits because of the new definition of "model," we continue to have great concerns over the newly proposed fee structure. The addition of a $250 monthly permit for 1-3 (including the photographer) should prove helpful to those who frequently use National Parks in small groups. However, photographers must still contend with any "locations fees" that are required by the individual park. Again these fees are calculated based on the specific agency resources you'll need to complete the assignment as well as any seasonal restrictions that might be in place.

We are keeping an eye out for any additional fee studies and opportunities to offer input on the rulemaking process on behalf of the photographic industry. Given the improvements to the law made to date, we are hopeful DOI will implement additional photographer friendly measures as they solidify the updated rules.

Healthcare Rates Released October 1
Although the www.healthcare.gov website has been up and running for some time now, Oct. 1, 2013, will be the first time it will be 100% populated with the rate information for your state. 

Check to see if your state has established its very own "healthcare marketplace." Many states are even already allowing those who could potentially qualify to be insured to shop policies and determine whether they're eligible for coverage. Simply visit the "Get Insurance" tab at www.healthcare.gov site and select your state to get started.

In addition to exploring your options October 1, you can also choose to purchase insurance. However, it is important to note that the policy will not take effect until January 1, 2014. During this initial implementation period, enrollment will extend through March 31, 2014. Even though the March 31, 2014, enrollment deadline has been set, there are certain special circumstances (i.e. marriage, relocation, birth of a child, etc.) that will allow you to modify your coverage or enroll for the very first time. 

If you need more information about what's to come or if you're curious how the new laws apply to you, we encourage you to watch the three part healthcare webinar series hosted by Ross Pallay, of Pallay Insurance Agency, Inc., PPA's medical and dental insurance partner.

That's all for now! As soon as any new information regarding copyright becomes available we will be the first to let you know. We've said it before and we'll say it again--we've got your back!
Guest blogger, Mariah Ashley, presents the second of her three-part series, "THE TRIFECTA OF TROUBLE - How Three Big Mistakes Created the 'Perfect Storm' and Almost Sank the Snap! Weddings Ship." Make sure you read part one, The Tale of the Tin Pig, A Cautionary Anecdote first!

Part Two: Guts: Hate 'em, Spill 'em, Trust 'em.

My son is a freshman in high school this year, which is weird because it feels like just yesterday I was the one in high school. Maybe that's because last night I was in high school... my son's high school... for parent's orientation. Whomp.

A throng of anxious parents, including yours truly, all got our children's schedules. Then we proceeded to wander the halls like thoroughly disoriented, frightened tourists looking for Period A class. I finally found Biology I, Room 451, though not in the allotted four minutes because I took a wrong turn at the cafeteria and ended up in the janitor's broom closet. 

Finding my seat as the bell rang, I noticed myself breathing a little irregularly (and not just because I was sprinting away from an angry janitor). It seems like I was having some kind of I'm-back-in-high school-and-it's-not- a-terrible-reoccurring-dream-it's-actually-happening anxious episode.

As you may have guessed, I did not peak in high school. I was not homecoming queen. I was not the most popular girl. I was not friends with the most popular girl. I did however have the unfortunate privilege of sitting next to the most popular girl in home room for four years. We'll call her Shauna Dee.

For me, every morning subjected to the luminescent wonder of Shauna Dee was a depressing downward spiral of impossible comparison followed by dark self-loathing. Okay, maybe it wasn't really that bad, it was only 720 days of cheerless despondency but who's counting?
In those days, a.k.a. the stone ages, a.k.a. 1986, when I was in high school and no one really cared about a child's self esteem, the PTO would offer carnations for sale on Valentine's Day. Student's (the expectation here being the boys) could purchase red carnations to be delivered to the girl of their dreams in homeroom. Yes, you know what's coming next. 

Every year some poor volunteer would have to lug a wheel barrel full of red carnations into my homeroom and empty them adoringly on Shauna Dee's desk. Every year like a dope I would hope that one of those scraggly red blossoms would have my name on it. Every year it didn't. Double Whomp. One year Shauna Dee took pity on me and gave me one of her flowers (because she's an angel) and it promptly snapped leaving me with a long stem in one hand and a stubby bloom in the other. Whompity whomp whomp.

red carnation.jpg
Don't be too sad for me, wipe those tears! This tale has a happy ending. Senior year Shauna Dee, beloved by faculty and students alike, was caught cheating on a History exam! Gasp! Her fall from grace was a sound heard round the world (although it just sounded like tinkling bells because she's an angel, remember?). Now, now, don't get all, "That's not nice to revel in Shauna Dee's misfortune on me." That's not the happy ending, I haven't gotten to it yet. 

One day soon after the fall of Shauna Dee I was walking along in the hallway minding my own business and guess who said hello to me? That's right! Shauna Dee! Not only did she say hello but she also asked me a question. It was the strangest and saddest question that anyone has ever asked me. A question that completely changed my perception of myself, Shauna Dee, and the value I had placed on the social ladder of high school.

She asked, "Mariah, do your parents hug you?" just as matter-of-factly as you can imagine!


I said, "Yeah, they do. All the time. It's kind of annoying." Very cool.

Shauna Dee just looked at me and nodded a little nod and turned down another hallway. 

What a monster you are thinking! Mariah rejoices in this poor girl's lack of intimacy with her parents. Calm down, that's not the happy part either. The happy ending is the lesson that Shauna Dee taught me which is this, If you think the grass is always greener on the other side, maybe you just need to water your own lawn.

You may be asking yourself what does watering one's lawn and the tale of an angel fallen from grace have to do with a mistake that almost sank the Snap! Weddings ship, Part Deux? Well I'll tell you.

GUTS, more specifically hating other people's (Haters Gotta Hate) and not trusting my own.
There have been times this year when much like sitting next to Shauna Dee in homeroom all those years ago, I have felt envious of other's photographer's (fill in the blank here with any of these words; success, skill, talent, popularity, shoes)... you get the green eyed picture.

Sometimes it is hard to watch others seemingly rocket to the top while you are left plodding along. What I found was that the more time I spent looking over the fence at what my neighbors were doing, the less time I spent creating my own brand, cultivating my own style, and watering my own lawn. I'm never going to have Shauna Dee's awesomely bad 80's wardrobe. I'm just not that girl, but I am a girl who has guts.

From fear and desperation I recently pulled a Shauna Dee, i.e. copied off another photographer's paper. I'm not proud of it, but fear can do crazy things to a photographer. The cheating incident involved a seminar with a photographer who offered their price list for sale. I had been reworking and struggling with my pricing recently. I felt in my gut that it was cheating to purchase the pricing and I debated it for oh... about one second before I shelled out the $200. 

Excitedly (the kind of excited where you are getting away with something you shouldn't) I opened the PDF document to discover the secret pricing magic recipe of the Shauna Dee of wedding photography. What I found was shocking. The pricey pricelist was exactly the same as my newly reworked price list. Not kidding. The philosophy, the structure, the actual prices...the same! Almost to the penny. Except I just flushed $200 down the drain because I didn't trust my gut. Whomp.

Moral of the story? Stop comparing yourself to others and don't look at your neighbor's paper for the answers. Do these two things and you too can have G.U.T.S. (Gigantic Unbelievable Total Success). I no longer waste my time stalking other photographer's blogs, I spend that time crafting my own. I'm not paying anyone for their cheat sheets either. I studied the material myself and I'm confident I know what's best for my business. 

A side note: I didn't have to go as far back in the time machine to learn a little about guts. I could have learned something about guts this very morning when my naive freshman son went off to school wearing a cowboy hat. We live in Massachusetts. Not Montana. Now that's some guts.

Epilogue/ A Future Screenplay

A high school hallway circa 2013. The camera pans past a closet and a trash can to a lone janitor, broom in hand sweeping up the scattered shards of self esteem left behind by some naive teenage boy. The janitor adds the debris to the contents of the trash can, one newly purchased yet recently discarded cowboy hat. 

Fade to black.

Tiffany&Keith...no, really! It's already happened once. As you may have seen on social media, two of our wonderful members found each other on theLoop by sharing a passion for landscape photography. They took the conversation offline and the rest is history. We are thrilled that Tiffany (Reed) and Keith Briley tied the knot in late August on the beach in Charleston, South Carolina! Check out some of these adorable pictures from their wedding and honeymoon! (Want to wish them congrats in person? Tiffany is speaking at Imaging USA!)

We know theLoop isn't designed as a matchmaking service; it is the unique, exclusive online community for members of PPA. You can use theLoop to connect and network with other professional photographers, ask questions and seek advice, and share your knowledge and work with others. theLoop is a safe place for photographers to chat, share ideas and worries, and discuss sensitive topics like customer service, demanding clients, and more. All while being able to rest easy knowing any potential customers will not see what you post.

It's more than a website, it's a place to connect with fellow photographers and friends! The community is welcoming of all PPA members--regardless of years in the business or types of photography.

"I came into PPA as a complete stranger [to people on theLoop], a 


newcomer with very little professional experience when measured against so many of you, and you have mentored me, made amazingly accurate and insightful suggestions, offered help or advice, listened to me vent - you have made me feel like a part of the PPA family. And I didn't expect that," said Carolyn Witherspoon, a new Looper.

So what makes theLoop so special and different than networking sites like LinkedIn? The connections you get with other professional photographers (and only professional photographers) that are in your exact same position! Compare work, business best practices and so much more! 

"Where to start?  My absolute favorite thing is having the privilege of seeing some of your work.  I'm always astounded by it.  It gives me so much to strive toward, "said Carolyn. "And reading through as many posts on varying topics as I can possibly fit into every one of my already over-jammed days!  And especially the childlike thrill that floods through me when I see that I have a message! Right now I cannot imagine a time when I'd no longer want to be a part of this community."

So why wait? Get in on theLoop and join the conversations already happening, or start your own! And with Imaging USA right around the corner, get in on the Imaging USA community.

Lasting structures are built on great foundations.

PPA was created way back in the 1800's, and you, our members, have been pushing yourselves to be more ever since. One of the big ways to do so and to create an ever-lasting impact on your business is to pursue professional merits and degrees in photography!

Created in 1937, PPA's Merit & Degree program (this is PPA's longest-standing educational program) works hand-in-hand with other educational events and competitions, helping you earn a photographic degree that recognizes your achievements in the profession. It means you have met PPA's standards of excellence and service. More importantly, it provides you with another tool for telling the world--and all those potential clients--why they should call you, rather than the competitor down the street.

Chasing a photography degree is one of the best ways to boost your confidence (and your clients' too!) and rub elbows with the best in the business. If you're a PPA member, you're in the right place to seek these marks of competence and excellence. You can earn many credentials through PPA, including becoming a Photographic Craftsman and even a Master Photographer. 

But how do you earn them? The International Photographic Competition (IPC) is a good start!
Entering photographic competitions like the IPC is one of the best ways to earn merits toward your degrees. I wrote in length about the experience itself  from a spectator's perspective, but the growth potential for a photographer is huge. And on top of just the potential merits, we're talking skill AND dollars here. Have I already mentioned that the growth potential for a photographer is huge?

It's easy enough to enter; you just need to push yourself just that little bit more. You must want to achieve a certain standard of artistry that will set you apart from the rest. You'll grow your skillset, you'll meet fellow photographers and even mentors, and the best part? You and your clients will notice your work improve.  

And odd as it may seem very few photographers currently hold degrees. By urging yourself to be more and entering those competitions, once you earn enough merits for a degree, you will simply and truly be joining the elite.

As I mentioned, this year's IPC just took place, but it is never too early to start preparing your images for next year! Be on the lookout for district competitions opening in the Spring! And come to Imaging USA in Phoenix this January to see for yourself all those images that merited and went Loan.

And if you need any more inspiration, make sure you read longtime member Dave Huntsman's essay on why he earned his degrees.

Be more accomplished! Go after a PPA degree.

Have you heard? The Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) program was recently given a massive makeover--and it looks GOOD! The new CPP-only website provides CPPs with more resources than ever, including a Certification See the Difference video, a CPP-only marketing toolkit and so much more.

Before we get too far into this, we need to share some good news! If you previously held the CPP designation, you can be grandfathered back in AT NO COST. All you have to do is maintain your PPA membership. In three years, you'll have the opportunity to recertify and continue on as a CPP for years to come. Pretty good deal, huh? Okay, now back to it.

The revamped Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) program's goal is to acknowledge and validate a consistent photography standard by which professional photographers can achieve and maintain a recognizable mark of excellence.

PPA's CPP program assures others of a photographer's knowledge, experience and continuance to develop new skills and techniques. It is a declaration of your professional competence! The certification program assures the general public that you, as a Certified Professional Photographer, are a quality professional. It's like quality assurance because certification is a credential that consumers and businesses understand. 

More importantly, it provides you with a tool for telling the world--and all those potential clients--why they should call you rather than the competitor down the street. Because earning your designation isn't just for you--it's for your clients too! 

Earning your CPP will give you an advertising edge, pricing justification and peer validation! And talk about a confidence boost! Clients in every industry seek out credentialed professionals, as the public recognizes certification as a sign that one is an authority in the field. A CPP designation offers potential clients an assurance, not just of quality, but of professionalism, technical skill and artistic expertise.

We'll let PPA member, Dave Goldman, CPP, have a crack at this one:

"Would you use a first-year resident as a doctor because you can save a few dollars on an operation or use a specialist recognized by his peers in a particular profession? Certification shows that you took the time to learn about what you are doing and how you perform to a higher standard. Each client that comes to my studio asks me about the very visible certificate on the wall. I explain the difference between CPPs and everyday photographers and educate them on the investment they are about to make. Certification makes it a critical difference."

The new Certification microsite gives you everything you need to know about the program, from in-depth explanation on what a certification is and means, to the CPP pathway for those who have yet to certify! If you fall into the latter, consider the CPP Prep class taking place next month here at PPA HQ in Atlanta!

Be on the lookout for the new CPP newsletters, the CPP Liaison newsletters and enjoy the many benefits offered in the Certification updated program. 

Be More... Certified!


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