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Results tagged “photography conference” from PPA Today

Ana Brandt, newborn and maternity photographer extraordinaire, stopped by theLoop this weekbrandt_ana_ama.jpg for an AMA! Quickly becoming a fan favorite, PPA's AMA series allows photographers the chance to engage with Imaging USA speakers in conversation and literally ask them anything. Some of the topics covered in this AMA include Ana's origins in the industry, what inspires her, and how she manages to work with newborns so effectively. If you missed out on the full conversation, you can check out her full AMA on theLoop

If you missed out on the live AMA it's all good! Here are a few of our favorite highlights:

1. "Once I pass the two hour mark, newborns start another cycle of feeding, pooping and peeing, which goes on to 3 hours, etc. etc." 
2. "Growing up, my Mom used to come home with bags of things to make wreaths or other items. Time after time I would see her empty a craft bag of random things and whip out a handmade wreath or flower arrangement. Now I find myself doing the same thing." 
3. "I love to create things I can't see. All too often we get wrapped up in our own expectations. The best inspiration is to release your own expectation and let the creativity flow."

Don't forget to register for Imaging USA and stop by for Ana's class--The Art and Business of Pregnancy and Newborn Photography! Registration information for Imaging USA is available at imagingusa.org/register.

So you're coming to Imaging USA? Awesome! (What? You haven't registered? Click here!) It's the best decision you'll make for your business, your creative juices, and just yourself all year! We're thrilled to be taking over the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center in Nashville and wanted to share a few tips with you before we get onsite!



Have any tips for newbies? Head over to the Imaging USA community on theLoop to share! It's also a great place to find a roommate or a study buddy!

Attention all Imaging USA attendees: In the spirit of the holidays, PPA Charities will support the Dando

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 Amor Charity and hold a shoe drive at Imaging USA this February in Nashville! There's no better cure for those inevitable post-holiday blues than doing something to give back to communities around the world.

Some of the logistics: Drop off bins will be located by the convention floor and at registration. Shoes will be collected at Imaging USA, and re-purposed for orphanages in South America and Africa.

Are you looking for ways to be more charitable? This is an opportunity to truly make a difference in people's lives. It seems small in scope from where we sit--in front of computer monitors, on a staircase changing a flash, in a car wading through rush hour traffic, but Dando Amor has a global reach and will have a positive effect on communities around the world. All it takes is five minutes and a little bit of kindness to rummage through your closet and find old shoes that you'll never use again.

Think of it this way: If everyone brought one pair of shoes, we would have 10,000 pairs of shoes to donate. That's an inspiring number and one that is totally attainable with your help. 

To be more charitable and help make it happen, you have to be there! Make sure you register for Imaging USA and book your room, they're filling up fast.

Meet Peter Lik, M.Photog. He's the most acclaimed landscape photographer in the world right now, and that's hardly an exaggeration. This high-octane Aussie and star of The Weather Channel's "From the Edge" will go far and wide and brave any elements to get the perfect shot. Peter will deliver a special keynote presentation at Imaging USA 2015 to discuss how and why he does it. He's bringing along some of his most celebrated images like "Ghost" and "One" and will share the stories behind them and more.

Peter will also be presented with PPA's Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been a PPA

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 photographer for nearly 10 years and is a fervent advocate for the association and its membership. Peter's accomplishments in the industry speak for themselves, and you'd think he has nothing to prove, yet he continues to enter the International Photographic Competition (IPC). One of his images made it into this year's Loan Collection.

Peter earned his master of photography (M.Photog.) degree from PPA in 2010. The degree is awarded for superior photographic skills--demonstrated through obtaining merits through the IPC, and by advanced education, speaking engagements and service to the industry.

A native of Melbourne, Australia, Peter has photographed the American landscape since he first arrived in the U.S. in 1984. Fifty thousand miles and 1,000 rolls of film later, he has now photographed landscapes in all 50 states. Highlights of this American odyssey can be found in his book, "Spirit of America."

Throughout his career, Peter has sold hundreds of millions of dollars of his artwork (again, not an exaggeration).  Two of his iconic images, "Ghost" and "Inner Peace," were exhibited in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Peter also has 13 galleries of his own and counts presidents of countries and big celebrities among his many collectors. His aforementioned Weather Channel show has made Peter Lik a household name.

Want a preview? Go behind the scenes with Peter in New York City and the Pacific Northwest. In fact, you might just want to watch everything on his YouTube channel. And be sure to follow Peter Lik on Facebook and Twitter and check out his website.

Lik's keynote presentation at Imaging USA 2015 will be Monday, Feb. 2, 8-9 p.m. The program is open to anyone with an Imaging USA badge, including all-access and expo-only passes. Trust us, a program from a guy with this much talent, passion and energy is one you don't want to miss. It's first-come, first-served so you will probably want to get there early! And don't forget, you have to register for Imaging USA and come out to Nashville to see him.

Want to be more? Be there.

After all, how far are you willing to go for the perfect shot?

 

This week on theLoop, PPA played host to Mary Fisk-Taylor, the second photographer in our
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 ongoing Ask Me Anything (AMA) series. Inspired by Reddit, an AMA is a free flowing online conversation that gives you (the photographers) a chance to ask Mary anything you want about photography. It's an awesome way to get inside information from an incredibly thoughtful and talented photographer, and this week was certainly no exception. Check out Mary Fisk-Taylor's AMA here!

If you missed out on the live AMA session it's okay! We've got you covered with our five favorite highlights:

1. "I only share my failure with you because it is okay to fail, as long as you pick yourself up and move forward. "
2. "In order to maintain my work/life balance I am a nut about boundaries and setting them and sticking to them. I don't think that any of us are super humans but for some reason as photographers we expect ourselves to wear one million different hats and do it all well. This will not happen. We have to take care of ourselves first."
3. "My favorite images are the ones that my clients embrace and cherish and I know that every single time they look at that image they are brought back to that very moment in time and feel the pangs of emotion that memories often do."
4. "Movies! Oh how I love excellent movies and over the top cinematography. That can really get me super excited to create."
5. "Regardless of where the inspiration comes from, as long as your eyes are open you will probably find it." 

Check out the full conversation on theLoop if you'd like to learn the pros and cons of starting your own photography business, what it takes to create unique images, and how to come by inspiration with Mary Fisk-Taylor. And join Mary, live and in person at Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville for her presentation on #BeMoreSuccessful!

Registration information available here: ImagingUSA.org/register

World-renowned studio photographer, Mary Fisk-Taylor, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API, is set to

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 be the second host of theLoop's Ask Me Anything Series on September 22 & 23! We couldn't be more thrilled to have Mary on board to follow up to Booray Perry's inaugural eccentric and informative AMA

Mary Fisk-Taylor has been with PPA since 1998 and has been the recipient of numerous awards including Photographer of the Year in 2007, Best in Show, Kodak Gallery, and Fuji Masterpiece awards.

Mary will deliver her #BeMoreSuccessful program at ImagingUSA 2015, where she'll illuminate us on her effective marketing, sales and public relations practices. Consider this AMA as a chance to get to know an IUSA speaker before you get to the big show.

For the uninitiated, an AMA is a simple online conversation where you will have the opportunity to ask Mary anything you'd like (mostly photography stuff) and she'll be able to respond at her own pace! It's an awesome way to really get a sense of who someone is, and an even better way to ask a true professional anything your heart desires (mostly photography stuff). After the success of Booray's AMA we're extremely excited to see where this one goes!

On September 22, just start asking your questions, and let the conversation begin!

You can see it now can't you? You're up on stage in the lights. Dozens to hundreds of photographers

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 stare up at you, wide-eyed with their pen to paper. You move one to tears. Another gives you a hug after your program.

Well quit dreaming and make it happen!

If you've got something to share with your fellow photographers, PPA is looking for speakers for Imaging USA 2016 in Atlanta! And why not you?

If you are a professional photographer that likes spreading the wisdom you've accumulated over the years in the trenches, we'd love to hear from you.

Imaging USA is one of the largest photography events of the year. You will speak to a crowd that genuinely wants new ideas and has a desire to learn all about the latest in the photography world. Think of this as a chance to gain exposure for yourself and to contribute your voice to an industry in need of your passion.

Some of the biggest names in photography speak each year at Imaging USA and yours could be among them. The Über-successful Allison Tyler Jones, CPP, of Allison Tyler Jones Photography in Mesa, Arizona, will return to Imaging USA to share her business knowledge. What's her motivation to give back?

"I wanted to cut through the typical hype of the one-size-fits-all promises of 'quick and easy tips to instant success,'" she said. "I want everyone who attends my lecture to leave with their heads bursting with ideas on how they can make their business better in their own, unique way."

So... think you have something to offer your fellow photographer? Do you have a passion to give back?

As an organization that's constantly working to raise the bar in the photographic industry, PPA wants to work with speakers who also embrace and project this image. If you are interested in speaking, please submit your application to ImagingUSA.org/Speaker-Application by Friday, October 3, 2014, 6 p.m. ET. Submissions will be reviewed by the speaker selection committee, with selections made in December.

Imaging USA 2016 will be held Jan. 10-12, 2016, in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

As a professional photographer, you understand that continuing your education is imperative to stay competitive in today's changing landscape. Unfortunately, sometimes that education comes at a pretty high price--workshops can add up!

Fortunately PPA is offering scholarships for four lucky members to take in all of the ideas of Imaging USA pre-con workshops! These are the classes that happen Thursday, Friday and Saturday leading up to the show in Nashville. No matter where you are in your career, there's a class for you. Dive into some business basics, or get new ideas with posing, lighting, and business gurus from across the industry!

Many of these classes are hands-on, so instead of just watching from the audience, you'll be able to capture images of your own and learn firsthand what to do while shooting newborns, boudoir, and everything in between. In these smaller, more personal classes, your instructors are there to help you bridge the gap between passion and profession while having tons of fun. And, with the PPA Kickstart Scholarship, it's on the house!

Check out the wide range of pre-con classes here and see which one will help you kickstart your Imaging USA experience here!

To apply for the scholarship, you must be a PPA member and you can't have received a previous Kickstart Scholarship. Applications are due by November 21, 2014. We'll select the winners by December 5, 2014 and will announce them publicly on December 10. So hop to it!

To apply for the 2015 Kickstart Scholarship, visit http://www.ppa.com/scholarship2015

We're headed to Nashville, y'all! Join us for Imaging USA 2015 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort February 1 - 3. Now, we'd like to think the Gaylord Orpyland is pretty awesome, but instead of telling you about all of it's amazing features, we'd rather just show you! 

Meet John, he'll be your guide on this whirlwind tour of our 2015 home! 

Once you're done checking out the video, visit imagingusa.org/register to get signed up with an All Access pass! We can't wait to see you there!


Acclaimed wedding photographer and Imaging USA speaker Booray Perry stopped by PPA's member-only online community, theLoop, last week for an AMA and it was awesome. He waxes poetic about any and everything--from his "desire" to be a doctor to mastering bounce flash in order to shoot weddings more effectively. It's an awesome and illuminating conversation which you members should absolutely check out. (Sorry, members only!)

We've selected 5 of our favorite quotes from the conversation if you missed out: 

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"I did not fake the moon landing. Not officially."

"I remember feeling pretty good when a fellow photographer asked me to shoot his wedding. I had a successful business already and happy clients but when a fellow pro trusts you with their wedding, that's a pretty good validation that you might know what you're doing."

"The first time I booked a Bar Mitzvah I told the client, "I've never shot a Bar Mitzvah." She said, "That's okay, I've seen your wedding work." I felt pretty good that she felt my expertise was such that I could be trusted with a job that was totally new to me."

"You have to sell yourself. It's hard to be a wedding photographer if you are the shy type. People want someone who they think will be good, but also fun to have around for 7 hours. I've talked to photographers who complain that they just aren't getting booked and I think, "Dude, I can't talk to you on the phone for 10 minutes without starting to pray for the sweet release of death to spare me from your uncanny Deputy Dog-like demeanor."

"This may sound hokey, but I like that I get paid to work at weddings and Bar Mitzvahs where there is fun and celebration and love. It's not a bad place to spend your time. " :)

If you want to learn from someone who is passionate about what he does and is willing to speak freely about his tips on being a successful photographer, check out the full conversation here. (theLoop is an exclusive, online community for photographers to discuss privately their problems and solutions. Join PPA to get in theLoop!)

And make sure you stop by Booray's program at Imaging USA!

 

Imaging USA 2015 speaker, Booray Perry, CPP has signed up for a dangerous assignment--he's going to be our very first subject in theLoop's Ask Me Anything on August 20 & 21! There
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 are two really obvious questions you might have right off the bat: 

First, what's a Booray? (It's ok - he gets this all the time.) Booray is a Cajun name. This particular Booray is an accomplished wedding and portrait photographer based in Tampa, Florida. He started his journey in photography in 8th grade and started with football games and pep rallies for the yearbook. Now he's a Certified Professional Photographer that recently went Bronze at the International Photographic Competition. We'd like to think that's a bit of an improvement from Chess Club Vice-President. He's a fun-loving, ukulele-playing photography machine. Read up on his bio here.

On Monday at Imaging USA 2015, he'll deliver his "Wedding Photography: Prepare to Succeed" program (here's the link to the full course description)! 

Second, what's an Ask Me Anything (AMA)? An AMA is a simple conversation where you can ask the "me" anything. In this case, try to keep it  photography related, but really anything goes! We're excited to make a place for you to get to know your Imaging USA speakers before February. There will be a discussion in the ImagingUSA community on theLoop, and Booray will take all of your questions Wednesday, August 20 and Thursday, August 21st! 

Start asking your questions - we can't wait to see what sort of great things you'll have to ask one of the most fun-loving photographers at Imaging USA!

Written by guest blogger, Danielle Brooks 

It's crazy to think that six months ago I was wandering around the expo floor in Phoenix wondering about the future. If you had told me in January that come June I would be working full-time for Danielle Brooks Photography, I would have called you a liar. I honestly cannot believe that in six months' time, I went from a steady 9-5 job to the crazy world of being a business owner. It has been a good ride so far, but it would not have been possible without the lessons I learned at Imaging USA. 

There were 3 big takeaways for me at Imaging USA: 

1). Don't give away the digitals

This was a big one for me to learn. When I first started out doing photography part-time, I just had one price and that included everything. It worked for me and was easy. 

But then I heard a lot of controversy about this at Imaging. Most people frown on giving the digitals because your sale stops there. I didn't really understand it at the time because I had no way of selling prints to people. Over time, I found a printer I loved, and began showcasing photos to clients online so they can make purchases.  

I know most people with studios would say online sales isn't the way to go, but they work for me right now and it's a good way for me to get my feet wet in selling products. Plus I don't have a studio, and I would also argue that it's better than giving away the digitals. 

2). SEO is king

Most people find me via Google. My business is slowly spreading by word of mouth, but I am proud to say that I don't spend money to advertise on Google. I show up on page two thanks to a class I took on SEO at Imaging. The tips and tricks I learned there were key to getting my website to climb the Google ladder. I have done a lot of personal research beyond that class but it was the kick-start I needed. 

About 75% of my business comes from the work I've put into SEO and helping people find me before they find my competition. Researching SEO has also opened my eyes to all the classes PPAedu has for PPA members. I am currently working my way through classes on finance. This is a great resource for photographers. If you haven't looked into it, you're missing out.

3). One size does NOT fit all

Just because you take classes and learn from professionals in the field doesn't mean it's right for you or your business. It's almost like having a child. You can get advice from your parents and friends, but ultimately you know what's best for you and your child. 

I remember calling my husband from Imaging all freaked out because I didn't have studio and couldn't do in-person sales. We researched options for doing in-home sales, but the thought of doing that freaked me out. I wasn't ready, but I didn't say "never". 

Since then, I found a system that really works for me. I educate clients on print products from their first phone call through the last email. I can definitely see doing in-person sales in the future, but it has to be an organic growth and can't be forced or it will not be successful. 

I learned an incredible amount of information at Imaging USA and I cannot wait to go to Nashville next year. Who knows where I'll be in another six months! If you haven't already registered for Imaging USA in Nashville, do yourself a favor and do it now! It is such a great resource for photographers. You will not regret your decision. 
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Imaging USA 2015 is heading to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel & Convention Center in February! Although that's not exactly around the corner, it is 243 days away (at the time this post was uploaded) and we couldn't be more excited! (We apologize in advance if this blog has too many exclamation points.) 

Why this much enthusiasm so far in advance of the event? Maybe it's the amazing line up of speakers, or the range of topics they'll be teaching across the 12 tracks or because we're back in Nashville! And from what we can tell on Facebook and Twitter, a lot of us love it too! 

Not only will the programs be the best yet, but Opryland itself has some pretty nifty deals worked out for you. Did you know that if you stay at Opryland, not only will you be in the middle of all of the action, but included in your room rate is free (yes - FREE) in-room WIFI, two bottles of water each day, access to the fitness center, a complimentary shuttle to Grand Ole Opry House, General Jackson Showboat, Gaylord Springs Golf Course (the round of golf is not included) or the Opry Mills Mall next door! PLUS if you have a car on site, you'll be paying less than half the standard rate for parking (from $21 down to just $9 with super convenient in-and-out privileges). 

Now all of that stuff might be great, but one of our favorite (we have no shame) features of the hotel is that you can have your choice of country music star give you your wake up call! Love Trace Adkins? He'll be giving you a ring to make sure you're up in time to hit up one of the two coffee shops before your 8 a.m. session. More of a Kellie Pickler fan? She's also on the list, along with a slew of other famous country singers that'll make sure you're up and at 'em before all of the action! 

And to keep you on track, we'll have the nifty Imaging USA app for you (it's still in production, but when it's ready to download this summer, we'll let you know)! The app has a lot of the great features you may have enjoyed last year--like creating your own schedule, connecting with other attendees, or planning how to dominate the Expo floor--but there are more great options with this year's app, like a new game (details coming soon!) and an interactive map to help you find your way at Opryland! 

Registration for Imaging USA is already open at imagingusa.org/register. And remember - if you become a professional active PPA member, we'll waive the registration fee for your first Imaging USA (that alone is a $323 value)! 

We'll be bringing you periodic updates about the conference as we get closer, but there is a lot of action on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @imagingusa, so don't be left out! You can also hop on over to theLoop's Imaging USA community to find a roommate, catch a ride or just make new friends that will be in Nashville! We can't wait to see you there!

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Written by guest blogger, Danielle Brooks

It has only been 34 days since Imaging USA and already my business looks completely different. 

I knew going to Phoenix would radically change my business, I just didn't know how. I hate change, but I know it represents progress. My last article addressed the fact that Imaging gave me whiplash. Now that the pain has subsided, what would my next steps be? I decided to focus on what my business needed most: print products. 

While at Imaging, my main goal was to find a print lab to offer products to my clients. When you start out as a photographer, no one gives you a road map. No one sits down with you and says, "Here's a great print lab. You should start offering these products to clients at this percentage of markup in order to make a profit." And truth be told, even if they did, it would only be a jumping-off point. Only I can know what my market will bear in terms of pricing. So the thought of finding a lab, selecting my products and figuring out markup was a little stressful. 

I visited every single lab that had a booth at Imaging. White House Custom Color met my needs completely. I know everyone has a lab that they advocate for and WHCC is mine. Their representatives in the booth were so helpful and friendly. I appreciated that when I asked a seemingly basic question, they didn't look at me like I was stupid. They answered them in the best way possible. Making sure I had a grasp on their products and how to offer them to clients. This was such a huge help to me as a beginner. 

Next on the list was finding a way to showcase my products to clients and whether or not I wanted to do an in-person ordering session. Since I do not have a studio, I have decided to offer online purchasing. I know many of you will say I'm leaving money on the table, but for me, right now, it works. I would love to do in-person ordering, but you have to start somewhere. 

So at Imaging, I stopped by the Shoot Proof booth. They offer a great option for online ordering. I can select from their partner labs, or add my own and self-fulfill. Their interface is super easy to navigate. I can literally select products I offer, and then add the price I offer them for. 

Another big change to my business is partnering with other businesses. At Imaging I was challenged to look for ways to make connections that would help word of mouth. About a week after the conference, I visited my husband at work and as I was leaving, I noticed a gymnastics place across the way. I went home and thought about ways I might be able to partner with them. Here was a business that caters to children, and their parents are waiting in the lobby for an hour or more a week. What better way to get my name out there as a family photographer than to put my materials in their lobby?

I quickly found their website and Facebook and noticed that they had a crazy amount of photos, but none of them were particularly good. The next week I was able to schedule a meeting with the owner. I explained to her that I was a new photographer to the area and wanted to get my name out there. I told her I would be willing to photograph an event for free in exchange for letting me leave some information in their lobby. Some might frown on the idea of giving away photos, but let me tell you it has come back to me tenfold. 

After the event, she posted some of the photos, and she immediately told me she had parents wanting to buy proofs. She also wanted to know if I could do team photos and sports photos of all the kids. What a HUGE opportunity! It will be so easy for me to talk to the parents about a family session while I'm photographing their kids. If there is ever a way to invest in your community, do it. The results might surprise you.

As things stand now, I am not generating enough consistent business to leave my "day job" but I'm hoping that by planting the seeds now, I will reap a harvest in the future. This year holds so many possibilities and I'm glad I started 2014 off right by attending Imaging USA. I cannot wait to see where my business will be this time next year. 

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Written by guest blogger Danielle Brooks 

Imaging USA gave me whiplash. 

Have you ever been in a car accident and experienced whiplash? It serves as a constant reminder of the event that caused the discomfort. Whiplash is defined as a type of motion that strains muscles of the neck beyond their normal range of motion. 

Yeah, I have Imaging USA whiplash. 

I was stretched beyond my normal range of motion mentally and emotionally. Let me explain: Attending IUSA is one of the best things I've ever done for my business and myself. So this whiplash, while uncomfortable, isn't a bad thing. It reminds me that I went through an incredible growing experience, and it drives me to be more.  

IUSA goes by in a blur. You are going a thousand miles a minute for three days and then it's over, and you're left wondering, What just happened? It can be hard to figure out what steps you need to take next. 

The greatest lesson I learned while I was in Phoenix was to be confident. I don't want to give you the impression that I am suddenly the most confident person because I'm not, especially when it comes to my work. But how am I supposed to sell myself to others, when I'm not confident in the product I'm selling? My first lesson in confidence came from my mentor, Paul Skipworth. 


In a short 72 hours Imaging USA will kick off with 10,000 of your closest pro-photographer friends! How can you get in on the conversation and connect with other attendees? Let us count the ways...

#IUSA14: This is our official hashtag! Use it to tag all of your content across all of your social media! We'll be sharing your stuff as the show goes on, because who better to tell the story than you, the attendees?

Facebook: Like Imaging USA on Facebook to see behind the scenes content, share your own images and stories from the event! This content will also be broadcast on the various Social Monitors around the Expo and registration. We will be closely monitoring Facebook during show hours, so if you have questions and can't find an Imaging USA orange shirt, feel free to send us a message and we'll respond ASAP! Remember to check in to Imaging USA from Facebook places! 

Twitter: We'll be live tweeting the whole show! Tips, tricks, announcements and more - follow @imagingusa or our official hashtag (#IUSA14) to get all the great access. This information will also be broadcast on our Social Monitors - the more you tweet, the more famous you'll be! If you can't find an orange shirt and have a question, feel free to tweet it at us too! We'll do our best to keep responses under 140 characters.

Instagram: It's a photography conference, so you better believe we're on Instagram, snapping photos! Same rules apply from Twitter - follow us @imagingusa or #IUSA14 to get photos from command central, the parties and maybe a few candid shots with Kenny Rogers!

FourSquare: Want to be the Mayor of Imaging USA? Check in on FourSquare! Connect with other attendees and find neighborhood deals for lunch, dinner or post-show fun!

theLoop: Join in on the conversation on the Imaging USA community on theLoop! Find last minute roommates, friends or session buddies. 

The Imaging USA App: Head to Imagingusa.org/app to download the app. Once you've registered for the conference, you should receive an email from Imaging USA 2014 with your login credentials--these are different from your standard PPA information. If you can't find it, just call our Member Care line at 800-786-6277 and they'll get you sorted out. Log in, create a profile and start searching for members with similar interests! Send messages, schedule meet ups, and connect face to face! (Check out our handy app videos to get all the details!) (LINK)

So there you have it! We can't wait to see how you experience Imaging USA 2014! Get packing & we'll see you in Phoenix!

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Written by guest blogger Danielle Brooks

Last night my husband, Rich, and I were lying around reading when he suddenly asked, "Do you know what you're wearing?" 

"To what?" I replied.

"To Imaging USA. It's less than 10 days away now. Do you know what the weather will be like? How about what classes you're going to take? Do you have a plan for the expo floor?"

"Well I have a general idea but I want to be open."

"If you want to make the most of your time there, you've got to figure these things out, Danielle." 

Crap. I knew my husband was right. The time had come to make some definitive decisions. I have been so caught up in the holidays and business that I haven't stopped to plan my course of action, let alone pack. I needed to decide on what to wear, courses to take, and what my plan for the expo floor was going to be.

Last time, I came to the conclusion I needed to take courses related to lighting and posing. But how will I choose when a lighting or posing class is offered at the same time? What about clothing? Will this Florida girl need to bring a coat? I immediately put down my book and did a quick search for "weather in Phoenix." I found that Phoenix is bipolar in that it will be in the 70s during the day, but low 40s at night. How am I to dress for that? 

One of my biggest dilemmas in preparing for IUSA was deciding what to wear. I want to be fashionable, yet comfortable. Professional, but not over dressed. And any outfit I pack needs to be potentially ready for a night on the town with new friends. 

With those guidelines there is a very slim margin of clothes I can bring. I settled on a nice pair of jeans, several three-quarter length sleeved polo shirts, and of course my IUSA15 shirt. I can wear my jeans more than once, and the shirts will help keep me warm in a potentially chilly expo center, yet cool enough to be out and about in Phoenix during the day. Of course tennis shoes are a must. 

But what about the parties? Do people dress up for those? I decided I would make time after I tour the expo floor to go back to my hotel room to change into something a little more fancy. This would allow me to regroup and write down any thoughts about the day. Since it will be cooling off in the evening, I'm packing a nice coat to go along with my outfit. 

Now that my clothes were packed, I started making a game plan for the classes I wanted to take. I methodically went down the list of classes with my husband and decided which ones would be the most beneficial. If two classes I want to take are offered at the same time I checked to see if similar class is being offered at another time. That way I could have the best of both worlds. I seriously love the Imaging USA app. If you don't have it, do yourself a favor and download it. You won't regret your decision. I love that you can star which vendors are a must see and it highlights where they are on the expo floor. You can also select your classes and it will show up on a calendar so you don't loose track of where you're supposed to be. 

Last on the list was planning my strategy for the expo floor. I came up with a list of items I will need going into the New Year. My focus will be on packaging and offering print products to my clients. I was able to use my IUSA app to star the companies that I was interested in learning more about. My first day at the expo will be spent focusing on my needs. That way, I can enjoy focusing on my wants later in the week. I was also able to sign up for the IUSA Alumni Program. They pair off newbies, like myself, with veterans of IUSA. I was paired up with an Imaging USA veteran who will be able to walk with me through the expo floor on my first day. I'm sure he will have a bunch of great tips for talking with vendors to get the best deals. 

Now that most of my plans are set, all I have to do is wait to put them in motion. What's your IUSA plan? If you have any tips or tricks for me, please feel free to share in the comments! Until then, IUSA here we come!

When you think of Kenny Rogers, chances are you think of his long and impressive career as
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a country musician. But did you know that Kenny is also an accomplished photographer? In fact, he'll be at Imaging USA in Phoenix this January to host a Q&A about his work as a photographer and to receive an Honorary Master of Photography degree!

On January 14, Kenny's "Places I've Been, Things I've Seen" Q&A will be held from 5 to 6 pm (you just need an expo pass, which you can get for free here, or your full conference badge). Kenny Rogers will share some of his favorite images as well as take your questions about his work during this exclusive session. If you want to read more about his photography, check out the "Kenny Rogers Storymaker: The Entertainer Earns Acclaim for his Images" feature story from the December 2013 issue of Professional Photographer magazine. 

Kenny brings a lot of passion for photography, so you won't want to miss his special guest presentation! Plus a lot of his work will be on display for our viewing pleasure.

Along with this memorable Q&A, there are other special events happening at Imaging USA you won't want to miss! After long days of learning and product browsing, the opening and closing parties are there for you to celebrate with your fellow photographers. You'll also have opportunities to receive critiques on your work and mentoring from successful pros with PPAedu Business Mentors and the Coach's Corner, AND you can view ALL the Loan Collection images from PPA's International Photographic Competition and the World Photographic Cup Images at the International Photographic Exhibit. 

Two more places you'll also want to be at: (1) the Grand Imaging Awards, where the top images from the International Photographic Competition will be announced, and (2) the Award & Degree Ceremony, where we'll honor professional photography and the individuals who set themselves apart in the industry by earning PPA degrees and awards. There are even special events just for Certified Professional Photographers and new PPA members! Find all the details for these events on the Imaging USA Event Highlights page. 

Of course, these special events at Imaging USA are just part of the overall conference. There's also the full line up of photography courses to help your business and your craft, and the Imaging Expo (that's the trade show), where you'll be able to check out, touch and demo all the latest photography products! 

It's all included with an Imaging USA full-access pass. So, register for Imaging USA now! If you register by December 31, you'll also be entered to win an all-expense paid trip to Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville, TN. See you in Phoenix! 

Read more about Imaging USA:


Image © Jay Fletcher
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Written by guest blogger and Imaging USA first-timer, Danielle Brooks.

Every August when kids go back to school I get jealous. 

I used to love getting new pens, binders, notepads and best of all, having new classes. I loved school. Every year in college, when a new course catalog would come out, I would spend the afternoon reading the course selections. I got so excited looking forward to what I could study the next semester. It's okay, I can admit I'm a total nerd. 

However, the same is true of Imaging USA. As soon as I signed up to go, I immediately got excited about the dozens of classes being offered. And who wouldn't be excited about this opportunity to learn? There are so many great teachers and classes that it is seriously difficult to choose from them all. How do you pick? And more importantly, if this is your first time to IUSA, where do you start? 

I first started planning my classes based on seniors. They are the number one market I want to break into, and I want to be able to market myself to them effectively. However, after the initial "course catalog high" wore off I really started to question if those courses would be the most beneficial to me at this stage in my business. 

When you are first starting out at IUSA it is probably best to analyze your skill set and plan your courses accordingly. For me, IUSA is about kicking my business into high gear. No more playing games and wasting time. I want to focus on my skills and make my photos the best they can be. 

I sat down and took a hard look at my photos and determined that I need to focus on lighting and posing. I need to learn how to really SEE light. I need to focus on how to look for it, how to use it, and how to control it. Posing clients can always be a struggle. I have ideas, but how do I effectively communicate them to my clients? How can I constantly create new poses without my work looking the same? How can I make my clients look less awkward? All of these questions need to be answered before I can really take my business to the next level. 

Learning how to market to seniors won't help me when it comes to posing or lighting. I can have the best marketing plan in the world, but if my clients' pictures are subpar, no amount of advertising will help. 

As a newbie to IUSA it is my initial defense mechanism to puff myself up and pretend to be a better photographer than I really am. When I was coming to terms with my skills, I would tell myself, "I don't need help with lighting and posing, that stuff is for beginners." 

But the reality is: I am a beginner. That was a hard pill to swallow. 

We all have to start somewhere, and after a tough conversation (with myself) about my wants versus my needs, the answer was crystal clear. I'll probably take a few classes aimed at marketing to seniors, but the majority of my time will be spent in posing and lighting. 

I don't want to roll in to IUSA prideful, giving off the impression I don't need help. It might make me feel good in the short term, but it's just a mask for my insecurities and it wouldn't be beneficial to me in the long run. The reality is that the people I look up to in the field were in my shoes at some point in their career. So I will be as humble as possible; accepting help any way it comes. Even if I am the worst photographer at IUSA, I know that I wont leave with the same skill set I came in with. After all, when you are surrounded by greatness the only place left to go is up.

So sit down and really analyze your work. What are your wants versus your needs? My advice would be the 75/25 principle. Take 75% of the classes you know you need, and take 25% of the classes that you want to just for fun! IUSA is more than just learning. Yes, improve your skills, make the most of your time there, but don't overlook opportunities to have fun! Take the chance to meet new people and get some sweet swag! You chose photography as a career for a reason. Reconnect with your passion and remember why you fell in love with your camera in the first place. 

And if you're a veteran of IUSA you should look into the Alumni Program. They will sign you up with a newbie such as myself. It gives us first timers a chance to ask any questions we may have for a more seasoned individual. You would also be able to help us navigate the tradeshow floor and make sure we know where to spot good deals. What better way is there to spend a couple of hours at IUSA than imparting your knowledge and wisdom to the next generation? 

We need and want your expertise. We are hungry for it. After all a wise man once said, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." 

Not to say that we are children, but you get the picture. 



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