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Results tagged “Photography Association” from PPA Today

Thumbnail image for photo (2).JPG"There is something seriously wrong with the teenage brain," states my 16-year-old son as we sit in my warm car in the pouring rain waiting for his bus.

"Agreed." I nod, watching his fellow high-schoolers trudge up to the top of the street in flimsy hoodies. Every single one of them is standing in utter misery without a coat, an umbrella, or common sense between them. The rain is beating down on them cold and relentless.

"They look like a bunch of wet lemmings," adds my son.

They do. Pathetic wet little rodents with plastered hair, every last one of them. Pride surges for my son for having the good sense not to join them in their damp collectiveness. (When you have a teenager it's important to celebrate the small things.)

But then again, if you follow my posts you know that my son is a six-foot-one, cowboy-hat-wearing original. Don't forget, we live in a New England suburb, and the cowboy hat is not commonplace in these parts.

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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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Hopefully you will get a chance to check out the International Photographic Exhibit (right next to the Expo) at Imaging USA in Nashville. When you do, you might wonder where those beautiful images come from. You might even daydream a bit about seeing your own work up there at Imaging USA 2016 in Atlanta.

You can make it happen. The displayed images make up PPA's Loan Collection and are chosen by a panel of judges at the International Photographic Competition (IPC), held each year in August. Only the top images make it to the prestigious Loan Collection each year, but don't let that intimidate you.

 If you're feeling inspired and want to be more recognized, a good place to start is your local district competition. Take a look at the 2015 dates. Entries for the Southwest District competition open next week!

By Chris Homer

Who's excited for some Turkey? Thanksgiving is right around the corner, in the meantime,roundup1121.jpg stuff yourself with our favorite photography blogs of the week:

1. Deleted but Not Gone: How to Keep Your Photos and Files From Falling Into the Wrong Hands

PROTECTING DATA: Having to recover accidentally deleted photos is a nightmare for most photographers, but what about when you've deleted an image on purpose? Don't throw away or donate your memory card until you watch this video on PetaPixel.

2. Custom Photo-Printed Adidas Sneakers
JUST BECAUSE IT'S COOL:
PopPhoto breaks the news about a unique way to use photography! Adidas is now allowing people to create custom shoes printed with photos they choose. What would you put on your shoes?

3. 11 Incredible Photography Tips That Have Nothing to Do with the Camera You Use
PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS: 
Fstoppers has compiled a list of quick tips that all photographers should keep in mind, regardless of what camera you use. There's good advice for beginners, as well as some useful reminders for the seasoned pro.

4. Photography Mysteries: Cycling Lights

LIGHTING:
If you've ever shot indoors with available light, you know how tricky it can be. This post from PhotoFocus provides some great tips for how to deal with lighting that's less than ideal.

5. Advice for Photographers from a Model's Perspective
WORKING WITH MODELS:
PPA member Skip Cohen is back in the round-up this week with a great podcast. If you work with models, you don't want to miss it. You'll hear some great advice on building a relationship with your models for the best results.

6. Photographer's Blocks
ADVICE:
Do you feel like your photography is stuck in a rut? This post on Luminous Landscape offers advice on how you can get your creativity going again!

7. What is Boudoir Photography and How to Approach It?
BOUDOIR:
If you're thinking of getting into the boudoir photography market, this post from Virtual Photography Studio is a good place to start! It offers tips for those just starting out on how to do it right and put your clients at ease.

8. Use Photo Drones for Fun Family Portraits
INSPIRATION:
We've heard a lot about using aerial drones for landscape photography, but have you ever thought of how you can use one in family portraits? Check out these ideas from Photojojo.

9. The Most Useful Filters for Nature Photography
EQUIPMENT:
If you enjoy nature photography, the Photo Naturalist has put together a list of filters you should have for the best images possible. Take a look and see if their advice can improve your nature photography.

10. This Wedding Was Shot in an Abandoned Detroit Warehouse
INSPIRATION:
Here's some wedding photography that (we bet) is unlike any other you've seen before. Check out Hillebrand Photography's images of a wedding session they did in an abandoned warehouse. You may just get some new ideas.

There you have it, our favorite posts of the week! What photography blogs do you enjoy? Let us know on theLoop


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About the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages. 
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PPA's CEO, David Trust, is on Capitol Hill today for several meetings with key people in the ongoing talks on issues that affect photographers. Much of today's meetings center upon the commercial use of drone photography. As previously reported here on the blog, PPA has begun discussions for exemptions to be made which would allow PPA photographers to use drones on commercial shoots.

We'll update you as more information trickles down from D.C.!

This morning, David met with Brian Northcutt and Chris Grieco of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Homeland Security.

 

Said David, "It's interesting how many different issues and concerns the drone photography discussion crosses. It's becoming more apparent that this is a complex issue that will require a complex fix." 

If you've never entered a photographic competition before, you're probably feeling some fear of having your images judged by another photographer. It can be nerve-wracking, but as we've heard from members that participate, PPA's International Photographic Competition (IPC) and the District Competitions are some of the best ways to improve your images and your technique as a photographer. To get the most out of the IPC, we recommend getting the images you enter critiqued by a judge who's trained for and dedicated to this photo competition.

To help you get rid of some of your fears, and maybe even encourage you to request a critique at the next District Competition, here's an example of what you can expect! This is "Rustic Cabin" by David Bair, critiqued by Jon Allyn. Take a look!


By Bridget Jackson, CPA, PPA Business manager

Have you ever read something and thought to yourself, I could have written that! Today is that day for me. In fact, the entire article could have been my quotes.

The article was 7 Ways to Help Ensure Your Business Succeeds by Donald Todrin. He points out business fundamentals have not changed, but new strategies are required in light of the changing economic conditions. The information is poignant when applied to photography business owners, so I decided to do just that! Here are his seven ways to succeed in business tweaked for what I believe to be strategies for the photography industry.  

1) Have a written plan that should include the following:
 a. A financial plan detailing how many sessions you plan to conduct at a certain sales average, an estimate of how much it will take to produce your products (cost of sales), and an estimate of what your fixed expenses will be.
 b. A source of initial financing until the business is self-sufficient. On average, per the SBA, it takes some businesses 3-5 years until they are sustainably self-sufficient. Knowing this, if you plan to use your personal resources, go at it fully understanding that it will take time to replenish.
 c. A sales plan to achieve your sales average goal. The plan should include a strategy and a price list set up to achieve the goal.
 d. A marketing plan to attract the amount of sessions you need to satisfy your financial plan. The plan should identify your ideal paying client and the appropriate strategy to attract such defined target clientele. Also develop your marketing calendar, detailing the tools to be used, when to use them, and how you will measure your results. (PPA's Square One tool is a great place to start developing your plan.)
 e. Detailed workflow from the initial phone call to the delivery of the products. Outlining each step of your process doesn't only help identify the time required for each session, but it will also help you define outsourcing/employee opportunities.

2) Don't marry your plan. Even the best laid-out plans can eventually go awry. Think of it this way; it's not necessarily the plan that is important, but what we learn from the planning process and how it shapes and guides our future actions.

3) Keep your ego in check and listen to others. The photography industry is unique in some ways in that there are plenty of mentors out there to help guide you. Find one whose business is a reflection of what YOU would like your business to be. Look past the "flashy stuff" towards finding a mentor who is dedicated to their craft and their photography business.

4) Keep track of everything, and manage your numbers. In order to be successful, it is imperative as a studio that you know how many sessions you need to hold in order to reach your goals. The results of this analysis can tell you if your sales and marketing plans are working. It's that plain simple. And if they are not working, it may be time to reassess. PPA has made it easy for you to evaluate your numbers. Just go check the online tools, Square One in particular, that will help you establish the basis of managerial accounting.

5) Delegate and avoid micromanaging. This is where your detailed workflow (see 1e) comes into play. It is important for you to remember that you don't have to do everything. In the beginning, it might make sense, but as your business grows, carve out specific outsourcing opportunities using your detailed workflow. The photography business tends to be seasonal so keep that in mind as well when you are creating your plan. If you find yourself needing help year round, then it is time to take the steps needed to hire on an additional employee.

6) Use the internet! Social media is one marketing tool that is inexpensive but vitally important to building your business. It takes time and effort but if you schedule it ahead of time and take advantage of off-season opportunities to pre-post, it will become easier.  More importantly, it is pertinent that you do it consistently in order to be effective. Look outside of our industry to see how profitable companies take advantage of free marketing tools.

7) Reinvent your business. Seriously. If you don't like what your numbers are telling you, make a change. Of course, map out your change, but always remember that it is ok to take calculated risks. It's not about what you gross, but what you keep in our pockets. Assess your business from a different perspective. Ask yourself what your competitive advantage is. What niche could you carve out of your competitive market, and how could you provide better customer service to elevate your value? Discounting brings down your market's perception of your value so instead of playing the pricing war, exceed your clients' expectations by delivering more!

You have made a conscious choice to be a photographer, one that requires time and money. Always give yourself the best chance to succeed in this ever-changing profession. Knowledge is power--and as an entrepreneur, you are on an endless path to discover what you don't know. This is what PPA is here for: to help you be more profitable by continuing to learn about the photography business!

jacksonbridget_blog.jpgAbout the author:
Bridget Jackson is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and PPA Business manager. Over the years, Bridget has helped hundreds of photography studios become more profitable. 
By Chris Homer

Imaging USA 2015 is only 75 days away! With that in mind, I'd like to encourage you toapp_icon_web.jpg download today (it's free!) so you can be more prepared for all the good stuff coming your way in Nashville. It's the best way to be connected with all the latest news and updates while you're there!

With the mobile app, you'll be able to:

  • View and favorite all the details on classes, sessions, speakers, special events and even the exhibitors at the Imaging Expo.
  • Build your own schedule by simply adding the sessions or events you want to your agenda.
  • Message and arrange private meetings with other attendees (even if you have all their contact info: the app will connect you!)
  • Earn points and take your chance at daily prizes by playing with the in-app game.
  • See what other attendees are saying on Twitter and Facebook (and add to the conversation!)
  • Give feedback and help make this a better conference by taking the in-app session surveys after each class.
  • Use the maps to find your way around the convention center and throughout the Imaging Expo.
  • And more!

If you're attending Imaging USA, this app will be your best friend during the convention. It's available now for iPhone and iPad, Android devices and there's also a web version for those of you that don't own an Apple or Android phone or tablet.

Find all the information on how to download for your device here. Stay-tuned to PPA's blog and ImagingUSA.org for videos demonstrating how to use the different features of the app.
 
Of course, if you haven't registered for Imaging USA yet, do it today! Find all the different options on the registration page.

See you in Nashville!  
  
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About the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages. 





The cold may be rampaging across the country as we speak, (it is really, really cold--even inThumbnail image for top10blogroundup.jpg Atlanta) but don't let that get you down! It's Friday, which means we're back with the latest and greatest in photography news.

Warren Motts Honors the Troops
FOR HISTORY BUFFS: Past PPA president, Warren Motts, M.Photog.Hon.M.Photog.Cr., A-ASP, F-ASP, is often lovingly referred to by staff as our PPA historian. Turns out he runs a museum of his own to tell the stories of the men and women who have served our country. Check out this news coverage on how he honors our country's veterans by displaying their memorabilia and his quest for funding for a new 9/11 exhibit.

300 Million Miles Away from Earth, there is now a Probe on a Comet
INSPIRATION: On a comet out in space-- far, far away--humanity landed a probe. It's a staggering feat of scientific genius and we're lucky we get to see pictures of it through the magic of photography.

Model & Whale Become One in the Vastness of the Ocean
TIPS: Check out the process behind how this photographer was able to capture some stunning images of his model as she poses with the majestic (and slightly terrifying) whale shark.

Performance vs. Appearance

BUSINESS: The Lawtog is back with some advice on how important it is to always keep appearances up regardless of how your business is fairing. Turns out, at first people care more about what it looks like you do rather than your numbers, how many hours you spend editing, or how much that box costs for your print packaging.

Building a Photo from the Back to the Front
LIGHTING: Joe McNally provides a complete step-by-step breakdown of why it is sometimes critical to think differently about your lighting direction. Step out of your comfort zone and create images that you didn't think we're possible with these simple steps!

Attention All Freelancers
FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHY: In this video, Brad Smith, Director of Photography for Sports Illustrated, talks about the different practices successful freelance photographers employ to set themselves apart. If you have any interest in being self-employed this one is definitely worth watching!

Building Your Brand through Your Website

BRANDING: Sometimes the most important actions you can take to improve your business aren't photography related at all. Things such as your brand and your website can be just as influential to your success. The guys over at Fstoppers show you how crafting an impressive website can be just the kick your business (and brand) needs.

The World's Finest Astrophotography
INSPIRATION: You may not have heard of Mark Gee, but he was the 2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year. This video covers his rise to stardom and what inspires him to be the photographer he is today.

Ah yes, Photoshop. What can't you do?

FOR FUN: We'll end our roundup this week with a dash of wacky absurdity. We won't spoil it for you but prepare to be overcome with emotions of fear and delight at the same time.

That's, that y'all! The top 10 photography blog posts from around the web this week. What photography blogs have you been enjoying? Let us know on theLoop!
By Chris Homer

It's time to get to know another Imaging USA instructor taking the stage at Nashville in 2015.kozak_headshot.jpg In this interview, Steve Kozak, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, talks about why you should sign up for his "The Secrets to Success When Turning Pro" pre-convention class (which he'll be co-hosting with Britney Fullgraf). He also shares why he become a photographer, what he believes his style is, why he enjoys serving on PPA's Board of Directors... and why he prefers Johnny Cash to Elvis.

When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?


I was a professional musician in a band when I got my first camera. I loved music, but there are demands that go with being in a band that make things hard to keep up with that lifestyle. The more I learned about photography, the more I realized the similarities between taking photos and making music. When I figured out I could use my camera to tell stories, make people feel and use it as an outlet for my creativity, I left the band, sold my guitar and bought my first 2.8 lens. There was no looking back!

What are the top 5 things people will learn from your class?


The first thing we discover is that quality photography begins with the fundamentals--the techniques all photographers should know. Participants will learn how to elevate the quality of their images to a professional level through proper exposure, lighting and posing.

Next, we'll look at gaining control over the portable flash by using it in manual mode and the value of using supplemental lighting with off-camera flash. This is a huge game-changer for photographers trying to improve the quality of their images!

Then, we examine the value that studio lighting brings to the financial success of photographers--and I'll show you how you can use this type of lighting even if you don't have a studio space. I plan to really demystify studio lighting and make it an approachable technique for photographers.

We then look at how to market professional photography and the importance of the message that you place in front of the target market.

Finally, we examine sales strategies and techniques to maximize the sale without feeling like you are pushing too hard. After all, the easier sales become for you, the more money you'll make and the more time you can actually spend behind the camera!

Who should take your class?


All photographers who are considering stepping out into professional photography as their full time job, as much as those who "leapt before they looked". It's not too late to learn how to run a photography business properly! It's never too late! I've built this class to answer so many of the questions photographers starting in the business have, and I truly believe it can help you be successful.

Which do you enjoy more: teaching or photographing?

OK, this question is not fair! It's sort of like choosing your favorite child or your favorite Beatles song. The truth is, I love teaching to those who will dare to take information and run with it. Helping others grow and seeing them succeed brings me greater pleasure than just about anything I do.

What makes you and your co-speaker Britney Fullgraf such a great team?

Britney is simply brilliant. She has a sharp mind for business and knows how to make money. We really take two different approaches to what we do, but when it comes to teaching photographers how to find success, our styles complement each other so well that students can take the best of what each of us has to offer.

Describe your photographic style.

I think of my work as "crafted". I do not leave the details of my work to chance and I am very selective about my lighting, posing and technique. I almost always go into a session knowing what I seek to create for the client. I strive to create images that are unique for every client.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Life. Music. The heart of the person in front of my camera. Landscapes. Fashion. Movies. Art. The human emotion. The mountains. The beach. Contrasts. The dark side. Beauty. Love. Lost love. Hope. Just to name a few!

Why was it important for you to serve on PPA's Board of Directors?

It is important that all of us answer the call to serve whenever or wherever we are called. Serving on the PPA Board of Directors means that I really am serving the 27,000+ photographers of this association who have dreams, passions, struggles, needs, successes and desires. By giving my time and service to this group, I become a small yet active part of a larger community that provides photographers a light along a path that helps them be more and get where they want to go. The tools and the opportunities that PPA provides for photographers are limited only by the willingness of each photographer to reach out and take hold of them. Who wouldn't want to be a part of something as special as that?

Elvis, Johnny Cash, or Jack White?

What about the Beatles?! OK, focus...Jack has had a hand in the success of a number of projects, but is not as recognized as Elvis or Johnny Cash. Johnny was, and still is, "The Man in Black". How cool is that? But Elvis... he is so cool he only needs one name.  
This question has me "all shook up", so I think I will "walk the line". I think Elvis had so many people he had to please and so many people trying to own him, so I chose Johnny Cash because I think he did what he wanted to do the way he wanted to do it. Sounds like a true artist to me!

Come learn from Steve live at Imaging USA 2015. His "The Secrets To Success When Turning Pro" pre-convention class will run January 29 - 30 for an additional $199 fee to your registration. Get all the details on Imaging USA and register here! 

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About the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages. 

How one obnoxious hairdresser and a frazzled mother of the bride taught me a valuable lesson about sales


By Mariah Ashley


I love going to the salon to get my hair done. I have a very specific routine. I don't park close on purpose so I can enjoy the walk through Providence. I stop and buy a vanilla soy steamer at Starbucks to sip while I'm pampered. I arrive early so that I can sift through the stack of magazines and find the most current issue of PEOPLE.

I need a mind eraser bad. Trish and I have decided to expand our office. We are moving from a home office to a full blown three room; gallery, sales room, and office space. Because it's my nature to over analyze everything, I second guess the decision we've made and worry incessantly about the jump in our overhead.

Content in the solitude of the stylist's chair, head wrapped in tinfoil, inhaling chemicals with nothing but time to kill, I savor the mindless gossipy articles and my soy steamer. I let my mind drift far, far away from all things business and photography. 

Don't miss out on this year's health insurance open enrollment period!

Are you familiar with the health insurance options available to you as a PPA member? PPA can help you and your family find affordable medical and dental insurance in your area.

The next open enrollment period for qualified Health Insurance Plans begins November 15, 2014. We are very excited to announce that this year, several healthcare providers who chose to sit out last year and not offer plans, have now chosen to get back in. This is great news for you, as more competition amongst insurance companies goes a long way in keeping your policy premiums down. 

Behind the Camera with PPA Photographers is new a video series to show off our beautiful/talented/awesome members. PPA photographers like you are speaking out more and more about their way of coping with the changes in the industry (and how PPA is helping along the way). It's much like Faces of PPA, but this time, with video! 

Never before have we seen people joining the photography profession so rapidly. While this represents a challenge at first, this is also showing the strength of our industry. Photography isn't going extinct! And in response to the growth, photographers are coming up with ingenious ways to be more.

The first subject in the series is Atlanta-based portrait photographer Jessica Williams. She talks about how mentoring has helped her take her business to the next level. Take a few minutes to see Jessica's passion for photography, why she joined PPA and how it's helped her be more.




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John Owens is PPA's resident wordsmith. Know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? That's where he comes in. The Connecticut transplant and (still) avid Hartford Whalers fan is an aspiring adventurist/novelist/racer on a lifelong quest to find the best trails, brews and burgers and wishes Taylor Swift would just stop.

By Sarah Ackerman

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To help you become familiar with the photographers who will be on the Imaging USA stage, we asked them some questions to really dig deep. In this interview, Kareem Black, portrait photographer and philanthropist extraordinaire, talks about inspiration, our changing industry and how to break into the upper echelon of commercial photography. You can check out his program details here but in the meantime, enjoy!

What was the biggest challenge you faced in defining yourself as a photographer?

The biggest challenge I face, just like most artists, is figuring out what exactly I want to say, and how to say it, in a way that is unique to me. This is probably a lifelong exploration. Early on, I was a lot more technical and used a ton of lights, lenses etc., much more so than I use now. I was hiding behind production and lighting rather than letting the image tell the story. I'm not saying that using a ton of lights is bad, but for me, once I simplified my shooting set I started on what to say with/through the image. With that said, I'm happy I did go through that more technical phase because now I'm very confident in my ability to light just about anything.

What do you think the biggest challenge people just starting out in the industry face?

The biggest challenge might be when people are trying to break into the industry and get noticed. There are so many photographers! To be clear, there always have been a lot of photographers, but today there are seemingly less clients because there are more photographers than ever. In commercial photography, the great recession really killed a lot of print media which was the initial stepping stone that lead into bigger advertising and music work. I started out shooting for magazines and then moved onto CD covers. When's the last time anyone bought a CD? What I'm going to say is sort of common knowledge, but I think that it makes a big difference how photographers face there being more competition and less clients. I love competition and I love looking at photography. One of the first things I do every morning is surf Tumblr and Instagram. It inspires me to see what others are doing. I say the more photographers the better, generally speaking. If you love what you do, and thrive off the battle and the battle makes you better at what you do, you'll be fine. Also, show your work to as many people as possible and never ever ever stop making new work!

Define your photography style in four words.

#feelsgoodletsgo

How do you stay ahead of the game in this industry?

I think that constantly creating new work is very important. By new work I mean new bodies of work. Photographers are like sharks--we have to keep moving forward or we die. Evolution is paramount. I start new personal projects, take trips, conduct an experiment, take risks with my photography. That's how I stay ahead. Otherwise, dwelling in my comfort zone for too long will be death.

What are you most excited about at Imaging USA?

I'm excited to meet and talk shop with photographers of all ages and from all over the world. New York and L.A. can become very incestuous. Everyone knows everyone, there are accepted ways of doing things and how things should look. But I want to experience other points of view and share my own insights. 

What inspires you?

I want to be inspired by as much as possible. I'm a photographer, so obviously I am inspired by photography past and present, but also art in general. I want to know what people were thinking when they did certain things, these questions go beyond art. I'm also genuinely interested in the human condition and like to ask myself what I would have done in certain situations, which provides me with great insights. All of that inspires me! As a photographer I am an explorer and I  find inspiration in all of my explorations.

What is one marketing mistake most new photographers make?

Offering a special or a promotion is often a tight-rope walk. You don't want to be bothersome and call/email/mail people too often, but on the other hand, I don't want to do it so rarely that I am forgotten. There must be a happy medium. Sending a promo, maybe twice a year, is appropriate for me, as well as emails with relevant new work samples. Too often photographers bombard editors with work that isn't necessarily their best stuff. I generally prefer quality over quantity.

How did you break into the high-end commercial photography market?

The industry is small and in New York it is very small. I am a pretty social guy and I love a good party. Believe it or not most of the first people I met, were through social settings - parties, bars, shows, that sort of thing. You'd be surprised how many deals and how much business is transacted in venues like this. At the end of the day, people make deals with people and there are a lot of great photographers out there. The people really want to have some sort of connection, or at least get along with the photographers they will hire.

Elvis, Johnny Cash, or Jack White?

Frederic Chopin

See Kareem live and in action at Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville! He will be giving his program "A Portrait Photographer's Survival Guide to a Changing Industry" on Tuesday, February 3rd at Imaging USA. Get all of the details and register today 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 WitPro 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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Need your weekly photography blog fix? You're in luck! Here it is...

1. What Tuesday's Elections Mean for Photographers

COPYRIGHT: PPA was all over this one so we're giving ourselves a little pat on the back. If you have followed the ongoing discussions for copyright reform, you might be interested in how the election results will affect the movement. Well here you go! Who wrote this by the way? That guy is good...

2. Making a C-Section Beautiful

NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY: You might have seen this one from the Huffington Post making the rounds on Facebook among your new mom friends. A C-section might not have the glamour of a traditional birth, but Canadian newborn photographer Jessica Bender was up to the challenge. She captured beautiful images and is now helping to debunk some fears about photographing of C-section births. Now that's a win, win!

3. This Is How You Fake It

EARNING POINTS WITH YOUR CLIENTS: Surely you know those "before and after" photos hawking the latest diet or nutritional supplement are the product of clever lighting and posing tricks (granted, a lot of Photoshop actions too). But what's cool about this video is how confident and happy the subjects of the experiment seem after they see the difference working with a pro who knows how to work with lighting and any body type. This is a cool piece to share if you want to show people what a difference it makes to hire a pro. Plus, you might get a few ideas from the shoot itself too ;-)

4. Give Back with Help-Portrait

PHILANTHROPY: Help-Portrait is only a month away! Past Imaging USA speaker Jeremy Cowart co-founded Help-Portrait to empower photographers, hairstylists and makeup artists to use their skills, tools and expertise to give back to their local community. It's your chance to use your talents to help someone in need of a smile. This year's event is December 6th. Click through to learn how to participate!

5. How to Tell a Story with a Drone

TECHNIQUE: Drones... so hot right now. Drones. A lot of you already have had clients ask if you use one by now. And while it might just seem like a cool toy (and it is), how can you use one to effectively tell a story? The folks at photofocus offer some tips.

6. Tis the Season for... FOOD!

TECHNIQUE: The Holidays are approaching, which = happy, happy bellies. Gear up for your Instagram feed to blow up with everyone's tasty, Pinterest-approved creations! But you're better than Instagram--you're a pro! Check out these tips on how to make that turkey or fancy pinkies-out cocktail drink the envy of all your friends.

7. Results from the San Diego Photothrowdown

In part two of the San Diego throwdown with Levy Moroshan and Dan Hughes, the photographers battle it out under high pressure situations. Check out the video and see who won!

8. Frank Doorhorf and Joel Grimes Podcast

PODCAST/HELPFUL HINTS: Got 30 minutes? Actually, just 27! photofocus sat down with two of the industry's best, including past Imaging USA speaker Joel Grimes, Cr.Photog., for a chat on their lives behind the camera. It's not just a fluff piece, they dig pretty deep! 

9. Advice from Renowned Photographer Steve McCurry

INSPIRATION: Looking for advice on how to be a successful photographer... from a truly successful photographer? Then check out this video featuring Steve McCurry, one of the best portrait artists in the business. The video also shows his new exhibit in Italy coming together, showcasing some of his best work from all over the world.

10. Time-lapse from the International Space Station

INSPIRATION: Let's wrap things up with the most rad time-lapse this blogger has ever seen--from SPACE! French photographer Guillaume Juin put together this video from hundreds of thousands of images taken from the International Space Station. The results are out of this world! Enjoy.

That's, that y'all! The top 10 photography blog posts from around the web this week. What photography blogs have you been enjoying? Let us know on theLoop!

 

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John Owens is PPA's resident wordsmith. Know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? That's where he comes in. The Connecticut transplant and (still) avid Hartford Whalers fan is an aspiring adventurist/novelist/racer on a lifelong quest to find the best trails, brews and burgers and wishes Taylor Swift would just stop.
By John Owens

According to HBO's The Newsroom, our elections are the envy of the world. We had one Tuesday... and you won't believe what happened next! (Sorry, feeble attempt at click-bating.) 

Seriously, the election results could have major, big picture ramifications when it comes to copyright reform, so let's take a look at how the night went.

What Tuesday's Elections Mean for Photographers

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Tuesday's midterm elections saw the Republican Party take the control of the Senate and maintain a majority of the House of Representatives. Copyright issues tend to be somewhat bipartisan, so it is unclear if the shift in power in the Senate would change much for photographers. What is certain is that there will be many new faces on Capitol Hill, and that means PPA will be working hard to introduce ourselves and to help them understand the unique perspective of small-business copyright. Preparations are already under way!  

In terms of the committee members with which we work closely, most of the people in key positions actually weren't up for re-election and will maintain their roles. However, with Republicans in control of the Senate, there will be a change in leadership there.  Charles Grassley (R-IA), the current ranking member, is expected to trade places with outgoing Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) 

On the house side, Howard Coble, R-6th, North Carolina. Coble, a longtime advocate for photographers and friend of PPA, will step down as Chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. It's unclear who will replace Coble as chairman of the subcommittee, but Darrel Issa, R-49th, California, is a leading candidate. Other possible successors are subcommittee vice chairman Tom Marino, R-10th, Pennsylvania, and Jim Sensenbrenner, R-5th, Wisconsin. Republican majority on both the Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on Intellectual Property will be maintained regardless of the new appointees. 

Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, Virginia, is expected to return as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and continue his lengthy copyright review in January or February. In the meantime during the lame duck sessions, it appears issues like DOJ oversight, patent litigation reform and immigration (among others) will take precedent.

As always, we'll have more for you as things develop on the Hill!  


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John Owens is PPA's resident wordsmith. Know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? That's where he comes in. The Connecticut transplant and (still) avid Hartford Whalers fan is an aspiring adventurist/novelist/racer on a lifelong quest to find the best trails, brews and burgers and wishes Taylor Swift would just stop. 



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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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By Sarah Ackerman

We can all use a little extra education to stay on top of our photographic game--but where do you turn for your photography and business learning needs? PPAedu of course! PPA started this customizable program, and we hope that you'll use it in your professional development never-ending journey. 

PPAedu has over 250 HD videos that PPA members and PPAedu subscribers can access 24/7. These videos cover 8 categories - four to help with photography technique: essentials, lighting, posing, and post-capture; and four to help you with on business side: sales, finance, marketing and operations. All PPAedu classes are taught by some of the most accomplished photographers in the industry. It's a completely customizable education program, included for free with your PPA membership! All you have to do is answer a series of short questions and the system will crunch the best series of videos for you to watch, based on your answers. You can update that program at any time or come back to it when you want. It's like having a program that grows with you... because you can get new recommendations and we add new videos in the mix each month!

This month you'll find a free sample of this awesome program with Steve Kozak, CPP and a class on the "Fundamentals of Flash". 

In this video, Steve once takes a technical topic (flash lighting) and breaks it down so it's easy to understand and even better, easy to use! After all, all the techniques in the world won't matter if you can put them into practice.

Watch it and you'll learn the benefits of using your flash in manual mode. There's some math behind it all, but Steve will walk you through it, so you'll be able to make good, informed decisions on using your flash. 

Great photography may look impulsive, subjective and purely creative, but any great art is based on fundamentals. This class gives you the tools and knowledge you need to have greater control and creativity, while making it look easy!

Check out Steve's class for free, here (only this month!): ppa.com/tryedu 

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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.
By Sarah Ackerman

Happy Halloween! We'll cut to the chase - there's candy to eat! Check out our top ten favorite blogs from the week! 

LOOKING BACK: Whether you've been in business for decades or you're just starting out, there are some things nobody teaches in photography school and... Ummm, that's what PPA's here for, but that's not the point: check out these great pieces of advice seven professional photographers WISH they would have learned earlier in their career from PetaPixel.

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS: The Law Tog is back with some great advice inspired by her kids - manage your clients with your words. Here are her three tips on how to manage expectations, guide them in the process and keep everyone happy!

BUILDING YOUR DATABASE: How do you build your client base? Here are some great tips from Contrastly that go above and beyond relying on word-of-mouth advertising. 

CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE: No matter how long you've been in this business, you should never-ever stop learning. This blog from PhotolisticLife shows how even the smallest of changes can make a huge impact on your perspective. What have you tried lately to jazz things up and improve your craft?

GOOD FOR BUSINESS: We know you're past the point of working as an assistant photographer, but check out this article from Light Stalking and get inspired to possibly take on your own. Bring up a new talent in the business and show them how to do it right, not how to do it cheap.

PACKING CHEAT SHEET: So you're going to a remote atoll? What do you bring? Check out this great timelapse video and blog from National Geographic photographer Corbun Dukehart on his trip working on Aldabra atoll. It's a great lesson on learning your environment regardless of where you are and knowing how to best protect your equipment. 

EXTRACTING STILLS: Learn from PPA photographer Michele Clentano how to take stills from high quality video, and why that might be a great option for capturing once-in-a-lifetime portraits on this great blog from PetaPixel.

WORKFLOW: Want to optimize your workflow? Customize your workspace in Lightroom! It's really simple with these tips from Photofocus and can help streamline all of the tools you need regularly, versus the ones you use once in a blue moon. 

BEHIND BARS: You? Get arrested? Not since that one time on spring break in college*! In any case, as a professional photographer, you should know your rights. Check out this great interview with Mickey Osterreicher from the National Press Photographers Association to make sure you have your facts straight.

*Authors note: I've never been arrested, but have had more than my fair share of speeding tickets. Oops.

REALITY TV: Our favorite photography reality show is back with Part II of its San Diego Challenge! Catch Levy Moroshan and Dan Hughes go head to head (lens to lens?). Voting ends November 2nd, so take 20 minutes, watch the show and vote!



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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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By Sarah Ackerman 

As a member of PPA, you know how important it is to educate your clients on seeing the difference between the value of a professional photographer and Uncle Bob with a camera. To help, we've created a few nifty tabs (and its corresponding content, of course) that you'll be able to install on your company's Facebook page. It's meant to help you convey why hiring a professional photographer (specifically: you!) makes all the difference in the world! 

There are a few options for these "See the Difference" Facebook tabs. There are tabs for wedding photographers, portrait photographers, senior photographers and even a general photography tab (not specialty-specific) if you fit all (or none) of those categories. 

We created this content and will update it periodically, but we can't install it for you. So how do you go about installing this bad boy Facebook tab? There are quite a few ways!

It costs a little bit of money, ($30/month for most everyone, but if you have more than a few thousand fans, prices increase) yet it is the easiest way to go about installation. What's the phrase? "You can have two of the three out of: good, cheap and fast". This is good and fast, it isn't expensive, but isn't super cheap. To make it as easy as possible without actually doing it for you, Shortstack walks you through the installation process screen shot by screen shot (them doing it for you isn't an option: consider it a learning opportunity). 

It is a cheaper version at $15 for up to 1,000 fans (or only a buck for up to 100 fans). It won't walk you through the installation process in as detailed of a way as Shortstack, but it'll be still pretty easy to get it up and running if you indeed do it step by step. If you can handle $15/month, this is a great way to get this information out on your page and in your fans' feeds. 

Sounds redundant, right? Use Facebook to put something on Facebook? We list it third because it's a wee bit complicated, but... FREE! First you'll have to sign up for an App Developers Account (pretty simple - just click here and you'll be all set). The next part is where it gets tricky - the best way is to watch some great YouTube videos. Make sure the videos are recent as Facebook has being giving the apps some facelifts as of late. Here's one that might work for you!

It might take a few minutes, but once you've installed the tab, share it on your timeline to show clients why it's important for them to see the difference hiring a professional photographer makes. If you run into any issues, contact the Facebook App hosting service directly, they are the experts in this case.

You can download the tab graphics and html code here! 
If you want to make edits to the tab graphic itself, always remember the image needs to be 111 x 74 pixels and you'll have to pack a punch in that little space.)

Here you go! These are just three ways to install the tab - if you simply Google "Facebook App Installation" you'll discover a world of options, these are just the ones we are pretty familiar with. If you find another option you enjoy, please let us know! Email Sarah at sackerman (at) ppa (dot) com.

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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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