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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".
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!
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.
"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...
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...
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!
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 ;-)
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!Help-Portrait is only a month away! Past Imaging USA speaker Jeremy Cowart co-founded Help-Portrait
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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
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.
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:
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
UPDATED IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE!
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.
"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.
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.
"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.
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.
"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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Danielle Brooks
About a month ago, I started the Insanity workout program. If you have no idea what Insanity is, look it up. You will legitimately think I'm insane. I break a sweat just watching the infomercial.
So why would I choose to put by body through such a rigorous workout every day? I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and push myself. I needed a challenge. Shaun T, the creator, is always encouraging you to, "dig deeper," and push yourself to your limits.
Part of Insanity is mental. You are training your mind to imagine yourself doing the impossible. When I'm working out and I am completely exhausted, I start saying, "You can do this, Danielle, just a little bit longer. You love working out." By replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones, I am able to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone and I get stronger everyday.
There are a couple of life lessons I've learned from Shaun T. that I have been able to apply to my photography business. One of them is tracking my progress. As you do Insanity, Shaun T. has you do a fit test every two weeks. This way you can track how your cardio has improved. There are eight moves, and you do each one for a minute. In that minute you do as many reps as possible. It serves as a constant reminder that your body is changing even if you can't see the external changes. One of the ways I track progress in my business is by blogging.
Right after Imaging USA, I wrote about how I was going to start a senior rep program. My goal was to have 1-2 senior reps. The thought of having more seemed slim since it was my first year running the program. I ended up with 5 reps and had to turn girls away! That's insane!
When I have a goal, I blog about that too. I keep my followers interested by posting my progress. Not only is this good for creating a community of followers, but I also now have a record of my improvement. When I am discouraged I can look back and see where I started. No matter how small the progress, you are still moving.
Another lesson I learned by doing Insanity is to push yourself to your limits and, as Shaun T. says, "Dig deeper!" The last time I wrote for PPA Today, I mentioned I had partnered with a local gymnastics business. I had a meeting with the owner, and she started talking about her need to have sports photos taken of all the kids. I'm not a sports photographer and I have no idea how to set up a shoot like that. She wanted to do the photos in the gym with backdrops and studio lights. As a natural light photographer, I didn't have any of that equipment. The thought of doing a shoot like that terrified me, and yet I found myself saying yes and setting a date for photo day.
I am not saying you should say, "Yes," to every job that comes your way. Sometimes it's best to let your client know your limits; I knew I could handle the situation. As Shaun T. says, "It's a stretch." I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
My list of obstacles was long. I needed backdrops, lights, a lesson on how to use the lights and order forms for parents. I already knew someone who had backdrops and lights that I could borrow. Thankfully I had stopped by a booth that specialized in sports photography at IUSA and picked up some info just in case. They were able to help me organize my thoughts and get some order forms for parents to take home. I am certainly stretching myself, but I'm growing and am a better, more experienced photographer because of it.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed thinking about the shoot and how I'm a fish out of water. Cue photo day nightmares. But this leads me to my next lesson learned by Shaun T.: stay focused. Throughout the workouts, Shaun walks around and encourages those working out with him. He does the moves next to other people and corrects their form if they are slightly off. Shaun is always shouting out encouragement to keep going. At one point he looks into the camera and say, "Keep going, you can freaking do it." Normally by that point, I am so tired and want to just stop, but Shaun's encouragement calls me back to reality and I recompose my focus on my workout. I am able to push harder and hang in there just a little longer.
The same goes for my business. It is easy to get distracted by the obstacles in front of me and sometimes I just get worn out, but we need to constantly refocus ourselves on the task at hand. Make sure you have a couple people you can call if you need encouragement. It's always helpful to have some cheerleaders in your corner who can spur you on when you are stalling. For me, it's my husband. He can always motivate me to keep going and he helps me to grow.
I do Insanity because I want my body to change. I want to be the best version of myself I can be. It is a lot of hard work, which is why most people don't do it. The same can be true for photography. To grow and develop is a lot of hard work. To truly excel in this industry you need to push yourself. Getting out of your comfort zone is a good place to start. So get up and get moving. In the words of Shaun T., "You can freaking do it."
When I returned to Virginia, I took Bridget's advice and returned to "Square-One" by identifying my prices. The Business Basics workshop taught me that you have to know the value of the service you provide and then target the audience you want to market. Imaging USA allowed me to develop a twelve month action plan that first focuses on developing a brand, building an audience through relationships and then growing the brand.
While at Imaging USA I developed a relationship with Mark Weber from Marathon Press and we were able to develop my branding and marketing strategy. This month, Pashion Photography is sending our first direct mail advertisement to pre-screened targeted brides!
It took meeting Carrie, Bridget, Mark and Bruce to get the idea that working as a photographer is more than working countless hours, but developing a business model that focuses my talents. I am humbled at their patience and willingness to continue teaching long after class.
Since Imaging USA I keep in regular contact via email with Bruce, who has so much advice and guidance. Mark spends time talking on the phone with me to help identify what type of marketing I am able to do. Carrie created an SMS Superstars Group on Facebook and I am not only continuing to learn from her, but she has introduced me to a whole new level of professional networking. I now have a team of professionals to help me make business decisions. I'm not all alone anymore!
Thanks to their mentorship I've been able to bring my marketing and networking to a new level. I have developed new partnerships and a highly effective constant contact email program that targets newly engaged brides.
We are now offering a "No Obligation" engagement session. It might sound crazy, but we don't charge the couple. And instead of following them around for hours, we now have them come to our studio. We even formed a relationship with a makeup artist and hair stylist to assist with the session.
After the couple arrives, she goes upstairs gets pampered and he gets to hangout and watch sports, relax and learn about our shooting style. By the time she is ready, the "Wow!" on his face says it all, and we start an intimate portrait session.
Once we are finished shooting, the images are edited in about 15 minutes. Yes, 15-minutes! Using what we learned at Imaging--consulting, getting the lighting right and stylized editing--our workflow is incredibly streamlined. We then give the couple a Sticky Album and Animoto Video--products we acquired at Imaging.
We tell the couple that they owe us nothing because this is our interview as their wedding photographer. And believe it or not, we have not had one couple leave without making our minimum purchase of $400. It is a modest amount, remember we are just starting and we are using this as an interview to become their wedding photographer. We are still making money and developing relationships. The whole purpose is to educate and excite the couple to hire us for their wedding.
As my journey as a CPP continues, I am carving my niche and working toward my master of photography degree. I returned to school to finish an MBA program in Project Management and Marketing. I will also teach my first Super 1 Day class on May 18. My talent as a public relations, marketing and social media analyst is allowing me to educate other photographers on the power of developing a marketing and social media management program. The class will help them manage their social media instead of having their social media manage them.
I'm even entering competition! The Southeast District print judging is happening this month and I am hoping to achieve my first photographic merits. I have a lot to learn in this area but learning is the best part! I learned so much about what the judges are looking for at the VPPA print competition and am feeling confident!
When I made the commitment to stop everything and attend Imaging USA I didn't know how I was going to afford the travel, hotel, food and all the cool photographic toys I required. Now two months later I am kicking myself for only seeing a monetary value to Imaging USA. The value is returning home with a list of quantifiable objectives coupled with the motivation to achieve and a network of mentors that want to see you succeed as a professional photographer.
The value that Bruce, Carrie, Bridget and Mark have brought into my life is nothing short of amazing. I now know what it means when I hear other say, "You can't afford not to go." I have been a member of PPA since February 2010 but it wasn't until January 2014, nearly four years later, did I realize that I am part of something bigger. I'm part of a family.
Before Imaging USA I was just happy to get a phone call from someone who wanted to hire me because they believed I could take pictures. But Imaging opened my eyes to the fact that I am part of a profession that is bigger than taking pictures. I am an artist that has a choice in what I create.
Two months later I have established a full-time, home-based studio with a consultation room. Our phone is ringing and we are booking because we are able to develop a product and service that is different from other wedding photographers in the area.
We are building the business from a brand point of view and it's working. We've created a network of vendors and a marketing program that is effective. I've been able to grow my Facebook audience from zero to nearly 1,200 people in about five months and am up to 600 Twitter followers in the same time period. In fact we just decided that we are able to grow and are now looking for a new home that will better support our photography business. I estimate that I will be able to switch over to photography full-time in the next 3 months.
We've already passed our original goal of making $50K and our new goal is to double it. We hope to book 30 weddings and photograph 100 couples for engagement sessions. I can't wait to show Bridget the books when I attend the 3-day business course.
I'm already blocking out time for Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville!
Ty Swartz, MBA, CPP, USN (Ret.)
Ty Swartz, owner of Pashion Photography, is an award-winning, internationally published Certified Professional Photographer (CPP). After serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy and traveling to more than 60 countries, Ty retired as a Public Relations Officer/Mass Communications Specialist Chief Petty Officer in 2011. He is a native of Greenville, Ohio, and currently lives in Chesapeake, Virginia, with his wife Nicole.