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It's just a week away so make sure you have plans to tune in. IPC Live will give you behind-the-scenes access to the competition like never before.

And here's your host, Booray Perry, Cr.Photog., CPP, with a quick video preview on the show!

With the judging streaming live alongside the show, you won't miss any of the action. Read our previous blog for details. The full broadcast schedule is below.

Watch at Stream.theIPC.org!

Here is the full schedule (all times are Eastern Standard):

IPC Judging Live Stream

·         Monday, Aug. 3, 8:15am-6pm ET

·         Tuesday, Aug. 4, 12:15-9pm  ET

·         Wednesday, Aug. 5, 9:15am-6pm ET

·         Thursday, Aug. 6, 8:15am-6pm ET


IPC Live broadcast hosted by Booray 

·         Monday, Aug. 3, 10am & 2pm ET

·         Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2pm & 5pm ET

·         Wednesday, Aug. 5, 10am & 2pm ET

·         Thursday, Aug. 6, 10am & 2pm ET



By John Owens

I think we can unanimously agree that summer is going by way too fast. But when you have a few minutes off from your busy schedule, take a break for a little inspiration from this week's best photography blog posts--hopefully with a refreshing drink in your hand!

1. #IPClive Is Around The Corner, Don't Miss It!

BEHIND THE COMPETITION: The International Photographic Competition judging is once again streaming live this August 3-6. New to the live streaming of judging is IPC Live, a twice daily broadcast hosted by Booray Perry, Cr.Photog., CPP! You'll get into the IPC action with interactive interviews and discussions. Get together with your photography friends and host a viewing party! Don't forget to post a photo and tag #IPClive! We'll keep sharing your photos and posts. Last but not least, check out the blog for the full schedule and bookmark this link for a quick access to IPC Live starting Monday 8/3: Stream.theIPC.org. Oh, and it's free to all, PPA members and non-members alike!


2. Are You Busy, or Profitable?

KEY DIFFERENCE: Busy and profitable - you might think the two go hand in hand, but do they really? This post from Million Dollar Photographer Bradford Rowley explores how more work doesn't necessarily mean more money! He gives you 8 tips on how to maximize your profits.

3. Here's a Little Brand Therapy 101

BRANDING: This post from photographer Ellen Petty is all about finding your unique identity. How will you stand out from the pack? She poses several questions for you to ask yourself and in the end, you might have a better direction for where you want your studio to go!

4. New Health Care Benefit for Photographers

TELEMEDICINE FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS: Here's a new potential solution for those costly routine doctor's visits: telemedicine from Call a Doctor Plus! PPA photographers now have access to exclusive low pricing on the service at just $8.95/month (that's over 65% off)! It's yet another perk of being with PPA! Read all about it and subscribe to save some time and money.

By Chris Homer

Another week, another roundup! From business advice to lighting tips, you'll find it all below:
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BUSINESS: Since most photographers are entrepreneurs and small business owners, we know how easy it can be to become overwhelmed with everything involved with running your business. That's why this post from Fast Company is worth a read for all photographers. It lists 7 habits of people who are happy at work. Take a look, these tips are good to keep in mind when running your business! 

SOCIAL MEDIA: We've talked before about the importance of having a presence on social media for your photography business. With everything else on your plate, it can be tough to find time to work on your social media. That's why this post from Forbes is great! Read on for tips on how you can use social media without having it eat up too much time.
NAMING YOUR BUSINESS: If you're just making the transition to full-time professional photographer and need a name for your business, read this post from Name Kitchen first. PPA's own Director of Education and photography studio owner, Angela Kurkian, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, provides some good advice on things to keep in mind when picking a name. 

SALES: Are you struggling with making high-dollar sales for your portraits? This post from the Million Dollar Photographer is right up your alley. Make sure you don't hold any of the attitudes listed in the post about making sales; you may be hurting your bottom line!

LIGHTING: If you need advice on lighting for your wedding photography, don't miss this video featuring past Imaging USA instructor Ryan Brenizer from Fstoppers. He shares his top 5 lighting tips for weddings. 

STUDIO SETUP TIP: This post from Digital Photography School that lighting setups in your studio don't always have to be complicated to be effective. Check out 5 setups using only one light that you can use to get great photographs.
INSPIRATION: The National Geographic Traveler Photo Content is currently underway, and InFocus has a collection of some of the top entries so far. There's some powerful imagery here that just may inspire your own work!

NATURAL LIGHT: If you like to photograph using natural light, check out this interview on the Phoblographer. Photographer Susan Wasinger uses only natural light in her studio, and shares her processes and tips for this style of photographing in the interview. 

PPA COMPETITIONS: PPA Photographer Christine Walsh-Newton, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, is back in the round up this week sharing a recap of her experience at this year's District Photographic Competition. She shares the images she entered, how they scored and how she uses the District Competitions to prepare for PPA's International Photographic Competition. If you're thinking about entering this year's IPC (entries open May 26), check out this post. You'll find some good advice!

TUTORIAL: The newest version of Lightroom was recently released. If you use this software, this tutorial from Light Stalking is worth your time. It goes over how to use the new Panorama, HDR and Filter Brush features of Lightroom 6 step-by-step, as well as explaining what's so impressive about these features and how they can impact your photography.

There you have it - our favorite posts of the week! What photography blogs or podcasts do you follow? Post your favorites on theLoop or email them to us at OnlineContentCommittee (at) PPA (dot) com.

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.


It's another week and another Friday the 13th. Eek! We hope things aren't getting dodgy for you photographers out there (but if they do, please chat about it on theLoop). Here's the top 10 blogs from this past week to help you get stoked for "busy season".


It's in the Details - Advice on Shooting for Competition

PHOTO COMPETITION: In this post, Christine Walsh-Newton picks apart some of her past submissions to show you what she learned about photographic competition and what to do to  get Loan collection worthy images. We also note here that Christine is a PPA photographer M.Photog.Cr. and CPP! After reading her piece, you'll be ready to get off the fence and enter yourself. And good news: many PPA district competitions are accepting submissions now AND when judging starts, you can watch a live streaming to see it in real time!

By Mariah Ashley

I'm sitting here in Massachusetts with a blizzard bearing down on my house and all I can think is, This better not mess up my plans to go to Imaging USA in Nashville on Friday!

It's colder than a frosted frog here so in the spirit of Nashville, I'm passing the time researching country and western idioms. What I've discovered is that we're pretty boring here in New England, at least in terms of color phrases. You know, one of the best things you can do when visiting a new place is to learn some local lingo. I've included a bunch in this post so that you can fit in too. You're welcome.

Anyway... What a difference two years can make! It was just two years ago that I tried to fake a flu to get out of the trip to Atlanta for my first Imaging USA. My business had two speeds at that time: slow and stop. Yep, my crick had run dry. True story. I had $79 in my bank account. Coming up with enough money each week to make payroll was like trying to put socks on a rooster.

I couldn't see mustering the energy, let alone the money to make the trip. Fortunately for me, my business partner Trish is as bright as a new penny and saw right through my lame faux-flu. She insisted I get on the plane. Never in my wildest imagination (and trust me it gets crazy as a bed bug in there) did I imagine how much that trip would change my life. When we arrived in Atlanta we were desperate--desperate for inspiration, desperate for answers. We had nothing to lose so we went with open minds and empty pockets and found everything we were looking for.


What's up faithful readers?! John here, back for another top 10 to let you know what you missed this week while you were busy with Santa portrait sessions or your last wedding of the year. Here's the best blogs from December 15-19!

1). A Good Thing for Our Industry: Peter Lik's World Record

HE DID WHAT?! A wonderful thing for our industry! Imaging USA keynote speaker Peter Lik just added another feather to his cap, this time as a world record holder. He just sold a single print for $6.5 million (or three prints for $10 million!). We promise that's not a typo. This blog theorizes just how Peter did it. 

How my business partner has been driving me around, driving me crazy, and driving our business forward for ten years.

By Mariah Ashley

You know your job is fun when your clients provide you with a golf cart for tooling around and snapping their destination wedding. Anytime there is a golf cart involved, work is a good time, right? The only problem that could arise in this scenario is if there are two Snap Girls and only one golf cart.

Oooh, instant conflict! What to do? Who will hold the keys to the chariot? Do we flip a coin? Draw straws? Joust?

No we do not.

Trish drives. It does not need to be discussed.

Easy as that?

Easy as that.

That's how it's been since we joined our businesses 10 years ago. Other photographers often ask, "How do you do it? How do you find the perfect business partner? It would be so nice to break the isolated existence of the companionless photographer but how do you integrate someone else into your existing business?"

I have some unconventional advice on the subject. These are my five tried and true rules for choosing a business partner.

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.

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. 


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!



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

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!  

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. 

We love hearing stories from our members, and this is one we couldn't resist sharing. And seriously... what's cuter than baby ducks?! 

But before you get your ducks in a row (ha! duck pun!), make sure you read about Georgia photographer Judith Ann's first time using ducklings in a portrait session. Hilarity will ensue!

Baby Ducks Don't Swim...

By: Judith Ann

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When I say baby ducks don't swim, it's partially correct and incorrect at the same time, because they do, they just didn't swim in the conditions I provided for them.

What am I talking about you ask? Let me back up and tell you about the large class I attended by a well-known photographer that taught how to build detailed sets for children. I was particularly interested in the set that included an indoor pond with live baby ducks that swam around at the feet of a child sitting on the end of a pier. I had to try it out myself!

So here's my story...

The day of my sessions, my mail-order ducks arrived at my post office with a morning call from the postmaster telling me to come pick up the little quackers immediately. He said he was not sure what I had ordered but they were screaming their little hearts out and wanted to know how fast I could get there to pick them up.

I returned to my studio baby ducks in hand with a short time before my first child client would arrive. I was totally pumped to get my photography shoot into motion. I had four 8-foot, 2 by 4's nailed together with a piece of pond liner that held the water in with plants, reeds and a pier that jutted out into the water, along with a basket and cane pole for "fishing," which made my set look "pond authentic."

We began the session by putting a three-year-old boy near the edge of the pier with a cane pole in his hand. My assistant was standing by waiting for my order to release the baby ducks onto the pier. I readied my camera for an adorable moment and with the nod of my head the ducks began their march toward the child.

The chaos erupted in a matter of seconds.

The little boy was freaked out by the ducklings heading his way and started whipping the cane pole at them. The first little quacker panicked and jumped into the water with the other five following him off the end of the pier.

As the ducks entered the water, some turned belly-up in reaction to the cold water. Others frantically tried to climb up the plastic reeds to escape the obviously too cold water and the cane pole that had become the boy's weapon as he attempted to save himself. My assistant frantically tried to pull the ducklings out of the water, while I ran to grab some towels and a blow dryer to hopefully help them recover from their unexpected hypothermia. The flurry of activity caused me to point toward the shocked mother and give non-understandable orders to apprehend the weapon and secure her ballistic son.

Miraculously, no ducks were harmed (other than being cold).

So what did I learn from the experience? First off, after you build the set, have playtime and a practice run. Warm the water with an aquarium heater at least 24-hours in advance of your photography session. Allow the child to warm up to the ducks and get to know them before sending them in his/her direction. Buy a dozen ducks and rotate six at a time to give them time for recover.

Oh and pro tip: Ducks by nature love to jump into baskets, so put a basket on one side of the pier so they will cross over and jump into the basket or put them in the basket and allow the child a moment of surprise (or horror) as they open it and find these adorable, fuzzy little quackers greeting them.

Despite the early chaos, by the end of the day I felt like I was a baby duck whisperer and did get some truly great images.

*NOTE: Please make sure you are in compliance with all state and local laws when using live animals during a session.

About Judith Ann:

Judith Ann is originally from Texas but calls Georgia home. A full-time photographer, she owns and operates Judith Ann Photography, with two studio locations. A self-described "photo-storygrapher," she brings her own unique flair and energy to the mix that keeps her clients coming back for more.  Her personal journey into photography has been an eclectic gathering of lifelong experiences from many different artistic mediums, including painting with oils and pastels to set design and handling black tie galas. When she discovered photography over 20 years ago her instincts told her she would make this her lifelong passion and career.  



What to do when your clients don't want you to use their photos online


By Mariah Ashley

The conversation was going so well. Jenny, the bride, wove her vision for her wedding day into a photographer's dream before my very ears.

No expense would be spared to get us to her exotic location. Photographs were of the upmost importance to her she explained, so she had taken great care to choose the timing of the day to coincide with the sunset. She had scouted locations for portraits to insure turquoise seas and fuchsia bougainvilleas as our backdrop. Her dress, she promised, would be like nothing I had ever seen. As we spoke, I pictured her gliding across a sandy beach with me, her photographer, clicking away and making her dreams and mine come true.

That's when a rogue wave Jenny's next comment slapped me out of my stupor. "So of course, I am going to need a clause in the contract to protect my privacy," she causally added.

"Huh?" I stammered.

"I don't want any photographs of myself, my family, or my guests on the internet. I don't want to be on your blog or on your website at all."

Oh no! Mayday! Think brain think, I thought as my beautiful sparkling turquoise vision and coinciding bragging rights faded to a fuzzy dull grey. Not knowing what to do I defaulted to my emergency response, "That's an unusual request. Can I think it over and get back to you on that tomorrow?"

When we hung up my initial feeling was of disappointment, which turned into annoyance and then quickly spiraled into indignation. Hadn't she told me she spent hours looking at all the photographs on my blog? Hadn't she said that she knew right away that we were the photographers for her because of our online gallery? It's not fair that she should benefit from viewing all my other clients but not give me the opportunity to attract new clients with images from her wedding. Sure, I want to travel to an exotic location and take beautiful photographs, but if I can't show them to anyone what's the point?

I remembered reading about a similar situation once on another very popular photographer's blog. Someone had written to her for advice on this very subject. Her response was that since her business model was through referral and not paid advertising she attributed most of her bookings to potential clients viewing her online portfolio. For this reason she would feel inclined to refuse the booking if she could not share the photographs on her website and blog. That seemed reasonable to me. Decision made, I would not be accepting this bride's wedding, no matter how dreamy she made it sound.

That night after a veggie stir-fry dinner, I settled on the couch with a glass of wine and an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. I know, I know. What's a vegan like me doing watching a greasy lipped carnivore like Anthony Bourdain traipse around the world munching on animals? For some reason I find this entertaining and I close my eyes when he meets the critters that are about to become his dinner. It's a paradox. Anyway in this episode Anthony was in Copenhagen talking with a chef about Denmark's Law of Jante.

A colloquial term used in Denmark, Sweden, and most Nordic countries, Jante describes a condescending attitude toward individuality and success. The term refers to a mentality that de-emphasizes individual effort and places all emphasis on the collective, while discouraging those who stand out as achievers. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante)

This all sounds decidedly un-American doesn't it? Well that's because it is. It goes against everything we have ever been taught about business never mind life in 'Merica. But let's consider this: Denmark is consistently ranked one of the happiest places to live in the world. In fact of the top five happiest places to live, Nordic countries take up all five spots. The United States doesn't even make the list. (http://unsdsn.org/resources/publications/world-happiness-report-2013/)

Please, don't anyone take this the wrong way I'm as patriotic as the next girl. My favorite song of all time? America the Beautiful. Let's move on.

law of jante.jpg

Maybe just maybe there's something to this "thinking of others before ourselves" jazz and not believing the "I'm all that and a bag of potato chips" philosophy.

The next day I called Jenny and told her I would be thrilled to be her photographer and would happily include a clause in our contract to protect her privacy. I told her the clause would include the use of any identifying photographs of her, her family or her wedding guests. However, I asked that detail photos such as the dress, flowers, reception, atmosphere and scenery photos would be fair game for me to use. She asked to include in the clause any identifying photos of the outside of the property that belonged to her parents and I agreed. We had a deal.

This is when I started "Gettin' Jante Wit It" (gratuitous Will Smith reference). If Jante deemphasizes the individual and emphasizes the collective then I would pump up my collectives, mainly the wedding planners, band and videographers traveling with us to the wedding from Boston. We had never worked with these particular wedding planners before and surely if we could make them look good it would mean some nice referrals for us in the future.

At the wedding we made sure to take as many photos of our fellow vendors that showcased their hard work and efforts as possible including photos of them working over the course of the weekend. We even got creative with some photos that showed the bride and groom but didn't reveal their identities. When we were finished we had more than enough images to put together an effective blog post to help our vendor friends strut their stuff.

If we had turned down this wedding because it didn't afford us the opportunity to brag about ourselves we would have missed out on the chance to do some serious networking with vendors who could potentially give us some excellent referrals (never mind some excellent rum punch). The restraints that our bride Jenny put on us forced us to think outside the box in the way we use our blog for marketing. As it turns out, with blogging and marketing there is more than one way to skin a cat an onion. (Skinning a cat is a sticky prospect best left to Anthony Bourdain, I'll stick with onions).

To see how we pulled off a "faceless" blog post check out our post here: http://www.snapweddings.com/blog/dominican-republic-destination-wedding-photographers/

About the author:

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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.



with Bridget Jackson, CPA and PPA Business manager

In April, Bridget brought you some pretty great last-minute tax tips. Hopefully that gave you a chance to give your finances a good, stern look. Did you like what you saw? Even in the most successful businesses, you can find ways to boost profitability. 

That's where Bridget's column comes in handy! Here are 8 helpful tips to increase your profit margins:

  1. Mix it up. Increasing sales and cutting costs is on everyone's mind. Most people think that in order to grow sales you have to increase prices. That's certainly one way, but you can also offer add-on services and products that complement your current offerings, in turn increasing your sales average. Also, to cut costs see what processes you can automate or outsource. 
  2. Separate yourself from your competition. Find ways to differentiate yourself. Whether it's entering print competitions to refine your craft or finding ways to increase your social media presence or maybe it's becoming known for working with a specific charity. Be mindful that YOU are the differentiator in your business.   
  3. Streamline overhead costs. Workflow tracking and assessment needs to be done regularly to assure maximum productivity and to identify inefficiencies. Unfortunately tracking productivity is often overlooked but it's a great way to identify opportunities to reduce costs.
  4. Rent killing your business? Explore options for co-leasing a space with a like-minded business, whether that business is photography related or they attract a similar clientele. There has been also an increase in the number of owners that have brought their business in-home. Bottom line, if paying rent is sucking up your profits, find an alternative. 
  5. Keep them coming back. It is easier and less expensive to keep current clients coming back than it is to gain a new client. Consider a referral program to incentivize referrals. Also evaluate your client touch points and create new ways to take your customer service to a whole new level of hospitality.
  6. Selling every step of the way. Selling begins with your first point of contact. Your sales strategy should be clearly defined. Anyone in the studio who comes in contact with a client is a sales person and needs to understand the businesses' unique sales strategy as well as be well-versed on all of the session and product offerings.
  7. Make it easy to buy. Keep it simple, simple, simple from the client experience to the product offerings to collecting payments. Remember the ordering appointment is not a viewing appointment. Consider incentivizing your clients to make their purchase at the ordering appointment. You can also set up a session fee structure that includes a print credit or allow for payment plans to make it easier for your client to make larger purchases.  
  8. Understand your cash flow challenges. Due to the cyclical nature of most photography businesses, consider promotional offerings during off-peak times, perhaps ones with charitable connections. Not only can they generate some cash flow when it's much needed but these promotions can also increase your presence in your market. Build reserves during peak season to help smooth those months when cash flow is challenged. This way you can avoid using credit cards and incurring high interest expense charges. 

Bridget Jackson is the manager of PPA Business and also a CPA. She's helped hundreds of photography studios be more profitable and will address some common questions each month. Heed her advice folks--this lady knows her stuff!

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Here are our 10 favorite photography blog posts from the first full week of May.  In this week's round-up, you'll find some egregious errors to either laugh at or learn from (heck, or both!), helpful tips and of course just some flat-out beautiful imagery. Enjoy!

1). Oh No! Someone Stole Photos from the Person Who Runs Photo Stealers

That's not an error. Someone stole photos from the site that shames people for stealing photos. Like, seriously. Hopefully you don't see anything of yours on there that looks familiar, but better check!

2). The 13 Best Wedding Photos from Exotic Destinations

Destination weddings make for remarkable backdrops. We're jealous of anyone who has the budget to just go to these places, let alone spend the bucks to bring a talented photographer along! Take a look at this gallery of envy.

3). 7 Simple Photography Hacks

We love these! Photographer Leo Rosas put together this video of some clever tricks he uses. If you've been looking for easy ways to add artsy elements to your shooting or even create a moving timelapse, check these out!

4). Photographer Finds Beauty in Truth or Consequences

Have you heard of Spaceport America? It's the world's first purpose-built spaceport for commercial passengers, and it's set for its inaugural launch later this year (for just $250,000 a ticket, you could go on a sub-orbital flight too!). The spaceport is located just outside a town called Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Reuters photographer Lucy Nicholson got to check out this little slice of America. Take a look!

5). Get the Testimonials You're After With 3 Simple Questions

Jenika over at Psychology for Photographers dishes out all kinds of advice, but we dig this post in particular. If you're tired of digging through Facebook comments and emails for some testimonials to use in your marketing, you need to read this post and test out Jenika's ideas. Bring in those rave reviews faster!

6). Socks for your Tripod

There's one thing you're probably forgetting that you need in your camera bag. Tripod socks? Sure... we'll bite. For the slightly OCD photographer who wants to keep their sticks (look at us using industry slang!) clean, try out this easy cheat to keep your gear fresh.

7). World War I Photos

Take a trip back in time with these breathtaking photos taken during World War I. The black and white always seems to make the harrowing effects of war more haunting, but there's even an early experimentation with color photography in this collection. Can you imagine lugging around the camera equipment of the times during a battle?

8). Ultra long Exposures on your iPhone

For your "behind-the-scenes" needs, iPhone cameras are great and all, but one area they lack is long exposure functionality. Well, not anymore. There's an app for that! Check out the latest from Interealtime, the NightCap Pro.

9). The 10 Rules of Street Photography

Think you can just step out on the street and take pictures? Well, you can, per se, but expert street photographer Blake Andrews is here to give you 10 "rules" to live by when you're shooting guerrilla style. It's our kind of list! Very tongue-in-cheek and with a cardinal rule of have fun!

10). A Day in the Boots of a Timelapse Photographer

It's hard to call this an "average day," but for timelapse photographer, Joe Schat, of Roadtrippers, that's exactly what it is. Jealous is an understatement!

There you have it, the favorite blog posts of the week from your PPA team! Don't forget that you can share your own posts, or other stories you have enjoyed, on theLoop.



Keith Howe had his follow-up PET scan last week, and it's the first image in his whole career to score a 0. That's right; they got the "all clear"! The Howes could not be happier.

Says Keith: "I've been lucky enough to score a perfect 100 in print competition and that felt awesome, but this zero feels even better!"

You can read their story in full below.

If you don't remember longtime members Keith and Holly Howe's story from a post we published around Christmas, it's worth the read. At the time, Keith was entering an aggressive treatment program for his cancer. But thanks in no small part to their positive attitudes and familial support system made through PPA, the Howe's are positively moving forward.

Their story picks up generally right where we left it--with Keith heading back to the hospital for more treatment. Although this time, it's for the final week of his final cycle. That's because the Howe's are on the verge of the ultimate good news: all clear.


Naturally, Keith is the star patient of the Nebraska Medical Center. 

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"They keep throwing stuff at him and he keeps bouncing back," said Holly. "No matter what they do to him, he takes it in stride."

Keith had a repeat PET scan after the fourth round of chemo and the cancer is almost all gone. Since then he has undergone another round and a half. On April 8, Keith spent his final week in the hospital. He is finally done with chemo. His medical team all made very positive comments about his prognosis and the oncologists are optimistic the Howes will receive the "all clear" when Keith gets his final PET scan May 12.  

From here on it's just re-checking the scans every three months and getting his feet back under him--quite literally. Keith will soon begin physical therapy to regain some lost balance and mobility. He can walk and drive, but some of his nerve endings just don't fire the muscles like they used to.

"It's kind of like stringing new telephone lines," said Keith. "I'm feeling pretty good overall, but I still can't do those quick movements I need to be able to do, especially during a family portrait session." 

Keith does some computer work. He's even back behind the camera a little bit helping out with a session a day.

"It's great to see clients still coming and the phone ringing," he said, with a laugh. "It's looking like I still have a photography business here."

A big part of Keith's recovery has been played by fellow photographers and PPA members.

As a PPA-approved juror for the International Photographic Competition, Keith has been actively involved in mentoring photographers who enter competition images for years. And despite cancer and chemo, this year was no different. In fact, Keith was even more active than usual.

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Competitors sent their files and Keith would take a look from his hospital bed and talk them through things over the phone. He'd browse print competition pages on Facebook and give his advice. He was still out there lending a helping hand.

One of those he's helped is Michelle Parsley, M.Photog.M.Artist., CPP, of Woodbury, Tenn. Michelle was one of the women (referenced in the December story) who asked Keith to be her sponsor at the Award & Degree ceremony at Imaging USA. Michelle shared in Keith's regret that he wasn't able to be there to walk her across the stage, but she made sure his presence was felt nonetheless.

"I know without his input I would not have walked for those degrees this year," said Parsley, who received her master of photography and master artist degrees this year in Phoenix. "So I had them announce his name as my sponsor even though he couldn't be there."

Keith and Michelle first "met" in 2011 when Michelle posted her images in a PPA forum looking for answers as to why they did not merit. Keith responded with his advice and offered his advice anytime she needed it.

"There's no telling how many times he's helped me," she said. "He's so good at identifying where you are in your artistic journey and talking to you in a way that makes you want to do better. He's encouraging on one hand, but on the other he's not blowing sunshine. He's been really good at telling me, 'This is what you've got to do to accomplish your goal.'" 

"Even this year I could send him prints and he could still give a heck of a print critique. He always had time to critique, no matter how he was feeling. And it's not just me; he does it for so many people. His advice was just what I needed. The funny thing is, I've never ever even met Keith in person."

It's one of many such connections Keith and Holly have made through PPA.

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"What other industry could I possibly have that kind of connection in? It's crazy when I stop to think about it. I live in the middle of nowhere Tennessee. To have someone as talented and willing to give their time from Nebraska, I've never even been to Nebraska, it blows my mind."

Keith also received daily support and encouragement from good friend and PPAedu instructor, Jeff Dachowski, M.Photog.Cr., CPP,--yet another friend made through PPA.

"It's amazing how people can rally around and help you," said Keith.

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Photographers in Nebraska have come and stepped in for recent sessions. A couple women from Wyoming came out to photograph their annual big dance school earlier this month. A photographer from Virginia helped with a recent shoot. Photographers in Florida have raised their cameras and offered support if needed. It all started through PPA.

"We know without a doubt that his amazing reaction (or should I say lack of reaction) to the extremely intensive chemo is because of his continuing positive attitude," said Holly. "And we also know we could never have sustained that positive outlook without the amazing outpouring of support we have received from our photography family.

"We still don't know what the future will hold as far as our business--whether Keith will bounce back enough to handle the physical demands of photographing a diva high school senior or a hyperactive two year old, but we are in a good place emotionally and financially because of our friends. We know we will be okay no matter what."

So... What's next?

Physical therapy! Lots of it.

Keith will get to work on bringing up his energy and regaining his balance.

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"I want to be photographing high school seniors again," he said. "We also have a wedding to shoot in July for a woman who's been a client forever. She said she couldn't go elsewhere, it'd be like cheating on her spouse."

Keith and Holly also have a pretty big wedding to attend coming up.

"Our oldest son is getting married in California in May," said Holly. "From the moment he got engaged he has wanted his future in-laws' dog as his ring bearer, but wasn't sure what to do with the dog during the reception.

"Well, Keith was talking with a friend of ours and fellow PPA member who lives out in the area about possible venues and asked on a whim if she knew anyone that could watch a dog. It just so happened that she fosters dogs and would be happy to.

"They were amazed that we knew someone, who fosters shelter dogs, no less, that lives so close by. We weren't because we have friends EVERYWHERE. That's how PPA works."

Keith's original recovery goal was to be well enough to attend the wedding, but now he's thinking more. He's on target to be there in a California meadow under lofty redwoods for the ceremony, then dance at the reception in an apple orchard as the sun dips into the Pacific.

It might make for some good pictures.



PPA is proud to announce a HUGE agreement the Nickles Group to help us out on Capitol Hill. This will put us front and center during the ongoing copyright discussion at the most critical time. Momentum is really building toward that Next Great Copyright Act and we will now be more plugged in than ever. 

In fact, with the Nickles Group, we're now the only photography association with a full-time presence! This agreement is a really big deal and you need to know about it.

Here is the press release in its entirety:


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Professional Photographers of America (PPA) announced today it has reached an agreement with The Nickles Group, LLC, to represent PPA on Capitol Hill. The Nickles Group will help the association's lobbying efforts for photographers' copyrights.

Through the Nickles Group, one of the preeminent lobbying firms on the Hill, PPA will be at the center of the action on a daily basis. Using the Nickles Group's extensive network, PPA will make introductions, build relationships and arrange meetings with key players and also create opportunities to testify at Congressional hearings. The partnership looks to build upon the strong foundation PPA has established in Washington over the past 15 years.

Founded in 2005, the Nickles Group brings together an accomplished team of public policy advocates and experts to provide strategic advice, policy development and political navigation for clients seeking to engage in the federal legislative or executive process.

"We're pleased to join forces with the PPA to be an important advocate for the rights of photographers and other creators," said Don Nickles, chairman and CEO of The Nickles Group. "With copyright issues becoming more complex as Congress reviews the laws that govern rights, we look forward to partnering with PPA and impacting policy for the better."

Nickles, a Senator for the state of Oklahoma from 1981 to 2005 certainly knows his way around the Hill. In his tenure, Nickles built a legacy of advancing free enterprise causes, from natural gas deregulation and repeat of the windfall profits tax in the 1980s, to repeal of onerous ergonomics regulation and the fight against federalized healthcare during the Clinton Administration. He was the author of the Congressional Review Act and the Child Citizenship Act, and the principal sponsor of President Bush's economic growth package in 2003, which cut capital gains and corporate dividend taxes to 15 percent.

Thanks to this agreement PPA now has the ability to put its members front and center, a coup for PPA given the recent discussions on orphan works and the U.S. Copyright office's push for the Next Great Copyright Act. 

"This could not come at a better time for us," said David Trust, CEO of PPA. "We are entering one of the most critical eras in the history of copyright law. This relationship with the Nickles Group will ensure that PPA members, and photographers in general, will have an increased position in the copyright discussion on Capitol Hill."

The Nickles Group represents the likes of the Comcast, Eli Lilly and Company, Exxon Mobil and now PPA. The agreement makes PPA the only professional photography association with a full-time presence on Capitol Hill.

In addition to having the photography world's only copyright and government affairs department, PPA provides a wealth of resources for photographers online, including sample contracts and model releases. For more information, visit ppa.com/copyright.


Of course, as the Nickles Group reports back to us, we will forward the info on to you! Things are really cooking up there in Washington. BE MORE!


Here are the 10 photography blogs from March 30 - April 4, 2014, that we hope will inspire you and professional photographers around the internet to be more!

Since April Fool's Day was earlier this week, and hopefully full of tom foolery - here's one of our favorite cartoons, What the Duck to give you a giggle

First things first, don't try this at home. Check out how Katerina Plotnikova used some furry (and some not so furry) friends to make beautiful, dream-like portraits. 

Sometimes your skills need a bit of a workout to make sure they are where they need to be. Digital Photography School has your top three moves to sharpen your skills and up your game. 

Tax Day is right around the corner and the folks at PhotoShelter want to help you keep every penny you can! Check out their top 10 common tax deductions that could save you a bundle! 

That's right--it's a whole month dedicated to educating the greater photography industry on copyrights! What do they mean to you, your clients and your vendors! See you how you can get involved here. 

This is amazing! Instead of just guessing if it's going to rain (or snow), there's a website that predicts cloud cover! This is perfect for landscape, night, or nature photographers, as much as for outdoor portrait image makers! 

Andy Smith took the helm of Rick Sammon's Photography blog and talks about all of the beautiful ways you can capture a sunburst effect. Not only is it great information, but has some beautiful examples! 

The CANIKON is here! Well--not exactly. Get the quick and dirty on why this new M15P-CL is making an impact on the market from PetaPixel. 

The man behind the images of Jane Goodall sits down to talk to National Geographic about his experiences behind the camera, interacting with the scientist and the natural habitat around them. 

If you want to get into the world of making videos from your images, but don't know how--PhotographyTalk has a wonderful first step in using your photo booth images! Get the details on how to expand your offerings here.

There you have it, the favorite blog posts of the week from your PPA team! Don't forget that you can share your own posts, or other stories you have enjoyed, on theLoop.

with Bridget Jackson, CPA and PPA Business manager


Say hello to your newest guest column! It comes to you from none other than Bridget Jackson, resident guru for all things numbers and profitability. Bridget is the manager of PPA Business and also a CPA. She's helped hundreds of photography studios be more profitable and will address some common questions each month. Heed her advice folks--this lady knows her stuff!

Hopefully you've filled out your taxes for 2013 by now, but if not, Bridget's got your back! She's got some advice on how to get the most out of your 2013 tax return. Here are some last minute tips for you slackers.


There's plenty to be on the lookout for in these last couple weeks of tax season!

1) The first tip is a big one for you photographers! Are you familiar with Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code? It allows a taxpayer to elect to deduct the cost of certain types of property on their income taxes as an expense, rather than requiring the cost of the property to be capitalized and depreciated. This property is generally limited to new or used tangible, depreciable, personal property which is acquired by purchase for use in the active conduct of a trade or business. This means you might be in line for some tax breaks on your photography purchases as long as they were done for your business. The deduction is limited to the taxable income of the business.

2) How about even more money coming your way? Bonus Depreciation means you can take an additional 50% special allowance for new qualified property placed in service in 2013. The allowance is an additional deduction you can take after any Section 179 deduction and before you figure regular depreciation under MACRS for the year you place the property in service. There is no taxable income limitation. If your 2013 business income is low, opt to depreciate equipment purchases over time rather than all at once.

NOTE: You can't depreciate more than you purchased! For instance if you buy a computer for $3,000 and you take section 179, you only get $3,000. You would not get any additional depreciation under bonus deprecation. Talk to your accountant to ensure you file these purchases correctly!

3) Think ahead! Effective for tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014, the De Minimus Safe Harbor Election can elect to treat amounts paid to acquire, produce or improve tangible property costing $500 or less as an expense, rather than capital. The election is made annually by including a statement with the taxpayer's timely filed original tax return for the year elected.

4) Do you have a home studio? Home Office Deduction is for the 100% business use of a portion of your home. Determine whether you can use the simplified home office deduction, which allows you to write off $5 per square foot of home office space, and up to $1,500 for 300 square feet. There is no home depreciation deduction or later recapture of depreciation for the years the simplified option is used.  However, due to the maximum deduction of $1,500 for the simplified method, it might be more tax advantageous to use the regular method.

5) The business use of your automobile is based either on the standard mileage method or actual expense method. Keep in mind, once you elect to use the actual expense method you cannot switch back to standard mileage method. The standard mileage rate for 2013 and 2014 is 56.5¢ and 56¢, respectively.

6) Pay estimated taxes. If you're self-employed, don't forget your first 2014 estimated tax payment is due April 15. One way to avoid penalties is to take your 2013 tax liability and pay 100 percent of it (110 percent for high-income earners), split into four installments.

7) Fund your retirement. Yes, it's 2014, but you can still contribute to an IRA for the 2013 tax year through April 15. For tax year 2013, you may deduct a maximum contribution of $5,500 to a traditional IRA if you are less than 50 years old. Those 50 or older may deduct up to $6,500. Contributions to a SEP or 401(k) are required to be made by the due date (including extensions) for filing your federal income tax return for the year.

8) Avoid penalties. Failing to file your tax returns on time or failing to pay taxes you owe will cost you. The corporate tax filing date was March 17, so if your company is organized as an S corporation, every shareholder will be charged $195 a month, for a maximum of 12 months, until your return is filed, if an extension was not requested.

9) Healthcare! In 2014, the Affordable Health Care Act requires that you will either need to keep your current insurance plan, purchase coverage, face a penalty tax or get an exemption. The requirement to have insurance is known as the Individual Mandate. The March 31 deadline has been extended two weeks. The penalty for failing to obtain coverage will be inputted on your 2014 tax return due April 15, 2015. The penalties for 2014 are 1% of taxable income or $95 per adult and $47.50 per child for a maximum penalty of $285. However, the maximum penalty for 2015 increases to $975, and $2,085 in 2016. Beyond 2016, the penalties are adjusted annually for cost of living increases.





Here are the 10 photography blogs from March 23 - 28, 2014, that we hope will inspire photographers to be more!

1. Head in the Clouds: Mike Olbinski's Storm Photography

From the B&H blog, we found this great interview with storm photographer Mike Olbinski. It's a good look at how to do storm photography and there are some awesome photos as well.

2. 8 Essential Underwater Photography Tips from Sarah Lee

Are you curious about how to capture great images underwater? This post from PetaPixel is for you! Experienced underwater-photographer Sarah Lee shares her advice for how to get the best images in this setting.

3. How to Deal With Blushing Red Skin in Adobe Lightroom

If you've ever faced the challenge of re-touching blushing skin, check out this post from the Phoblographer. You'll get some great tips for how to tackle this challenge using Lightroom.

4. Bigger Than Life - Ice Caves

This video from Firefight Films is just plain cool! The filmmakers used a drone with camera attached to take you inside the beautiful 12-mile long Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau, Alaska. You can also watch the behind-the-scenes video to see how they did it. 

5. 6 Good Reasons to Organize your Portfolio

Does your portfolio needs some organizing? This post from Photography Talk will show you why you've got to stop putting it off and get organized today.

6. Getting Started With Aerial Photography

The rise of commercially available drones has led to exciting new possibilities in aerial photography. If you're considering getting involved in aerial photography using a drone, check out this guide from Camera Dojo on what you need to know before starting.

7. Getty Images Image Embed: Progressive or Destructive?

If you're a stock photographer, you can't miss this post. Photoshelter provides a guide to Getty Images' new rule allowing images from their library to be used for free online for editorial and non-commercial purposes. Needless to say, this has caused quite a stir in the photography community! As this piece points out, it might not be all bad news. Find out how the new rule affects you and read the reactions of some of the stock photography community.

8. Can You Apply Multiple Presets in Lightroom?

If you use Lightroom, this post from Lightroom Killer Tips is one you'll want to check out. Find out how you can speed up your workflow by applying presets in Lightroom.

9. New Documentary Focuses on Mysterious Photographer

This article from the New York Times reviews "Finding Vivian Maier," a documentary on the famously mysterious street photographer. The film searches for the enigmatic woman behind the lens, and also ponders her as an artist. And more importantly, it takes on the question of if photography itself is an art form.    

10. How To Make Fantastic Wedding Photos Even When It's Raining

Rain on the wedding day can be a major challenge, but as Fstoppers shows you in this post, it can't stop you from getting great, memorable photos for your clients.

There you have it, the favorite blog posts of the week from your PPA team! Don't forget that you can share your own posts, or other stories you have enjoyed, on theLoop.



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