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PPA Today: April 2013 Archives

April 2013 Archives

pollard_supermonday_1.jpgTwo is better than one. And since these two photographers joined together (both in marriage and in business!) they realized one of the greatest gifts of photography is sharing their knowledge and experience with other professionals. So Texas couple Laura Ann, CPP, and Randy, Cr.Photog., CPP, Pollard decided to do TWO Super Monday classes. Maybe after reading about this dynamic team you will also believe that two classes (and teachers) are better than one!

For Laura Ann, what began as merely a hobby grew into an official business in 2000, and her partner Randy joined her full time in 2004. Laura and Randy love the art of photography. Randy's favorite part of the photography process is "that moment you click that shutter and you get your first glimpse of what you had only imagined." In fact, the biggest compliment they ever received was from a bride and groom who continually raved about their 'art'. They consider that a huge breakthrough in their photography careers.

Teaching TWO Super Monday classes
When asked to teach a Super Monday class, the duo was hard pressed to choose just one topic.

"We were so torn on what to teach!" they said. "We feel we have a lot to share and hadpollard_supermonday_2.jpg trouble narrowing it down to two. We decided on 'What Do I Do Now? Coping With the Unexpected' because we've all been there - something breaks, you forgot some equipment, you encounter technical difficulties - to have some go-to's in your toolbox can truly save the day."
At the conclusion of this class, Laura and Randy want you to feel confident enough to know you can overcome any sticky situation. To know there is "more than one way to skin a cat" and you do have the tools in your arsenal to solve any problem that arises!

Their second class, "From Birth to Graduation - Photographing Children," covers another subject near and dear to their heart. In addition to weddings and family portraits, Laura and Randy have extensive experience in photographing children. Laura specializes in newborns and children while Randy tends to focus on tweens, teens and seniors. 

pollard_supermonday_3.jpg"We feel classes on photographing children are always in demand and we have so much to experience to share. We want photographers to understand some of the nuances of working with children. Newborns are not like 6-month-olds and require a different skill set. And guess what? One year olds CAN be fun..really!"

Teaching from Experience
Laura and Randy pride themselves on remaining unflappable in very difficult situations.

"We've had a number of 'incidents' happen to us at weddings. Weddings are very unforgiving - you have to think on your feet and get back up and running in a very short time. From lights being knocked over by drunk people, to flash cards going bad, and fauxtogs shooting over our shoulders, we've seen it all! Children's sessions have colicky babies, three-year-old meltdowns, and moms in tears! Truly, we've seen it all."

The classes will be held consecutive Monday's in May, with "What Do I Do Now?" on May 13 and "From Birth to Graduation" on May 20. The classes go from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be held at the Pollard's studio, L-Ann Imaging Studio, in Victoria, Texas. Find more information and register here.

Don't miss the opportunity to attend classes with two passionate, personable andpollard_supermonday_4.jpg experienced photographers. Choose one or's up to you!

Get the full list of Super Monday courses.

Stephen Lewis followed in his father's footsteps and has served the military for the last 17merit_and_degree_icon.jpg years (Thank you, Stephen!). He always loved taking pictures, but a few years ago he realized that his photography 'hobby' had grown into something greater. He purchased a Nikon d3000 DSLR, enrolled in a digital photography class at the community college of Rhode Island and found a passion he never knew existed. Since he plans to retire from the military in a few years, he decided to do something he really loves for the next 20. He has been working towards his BS in Photography ever since and will graduate in July.

Stephen is excited to attend MARS because he feels that learning from top photographers in the field will help him think and shoot like them - and maybe one day even become one of them. But no matter where his career goes, the knowledge he gains at MARS will give him a competitive advantage over other photographers who weren't fortunate enough to have this unique opportunity.

His dream assignment would be photographing for Samuel Adams beer. He would love to shoot beverage ads for magazines and billboards. Hopefully his time at MARS school will get him one step closer to that dream!

Glenn Nielsen was raised on a farm in Southern Utah, where he learned the value of a hard day's work and the importance of committing to getting a job done right. His early desire to fly, and his dad's career as a US Army Air Corps pilot, fueled his desire to tenaciously pursue an appointment to the Air Force Academy. His determination paid off and he spent 22 years in the Air Force. (We appreciate your service, Glenn!)

He bought his first camera in Thailand and documented the beauty and poverty of Southeast Asia, then Japan, Korea and any other place he traveled. Years later, he and he wife took a river cruise to China and his passion was reborn. There were so many stunning things to photograph and he and his Nikon D80 explored it all.

Glenn decided he wanted to be a professional photographer, despite his lack of experience. He took advantage of photo walks, meet-up groups, online forums, webinars and books about his new craft. While the road to this career has been more challenging than he imagined, he is resolved to do whatever it takes to make it to the next level. He doesn't want to be mediocre - he wants to be GOOD.

His time at MARS will be instrumental in moving his career forward. He believes the concentrated learning experience will give him new skills set to set himself apart from others. He is most looking forward to the Painter class with Mills, as having the ability to produce something other than just a photograph will foster respect from clients and result in larger sales.

Glenn's dream assignment is to travel around the world, photographing landscapes, architecture and people. He welcomes the challenge of finding something unique about a site that has been photographed a million times, or catching a person's expression that tells an entire story. Surely his time at MARS will help prepare him for this opportunity when it arises!
By Mariah Ashley

Cooper Vs Kuperberg.jpgWhen I found out that Anna Kuperberg was going to be at Imaging USA, I literally fell off of my seat. To say that Trish and I are huge fans of her work would be a major understatement. Anna is not so much of a person (i.e. noun) in our office, but more of a verb. For instance, "Did you see that photo I just took? I totally Kuped it." Or, "I love that shot, it's so Kupe-ish," (in which case she would be an adjective). There is just something magical about Anna's photos.

Anna began her talk with the simple phrase, "Perfection kills life." The magic in her photography is that she doesn't try to hide the imperfections of her subjects, but rather celebrates them. She welcomes them to center stage and presents them with an award for being themselves. The genius of her vision is that it gives people permission to expose themselves to her camera. Her clients adore her because she captures the essence of their true selves like no one else can.

As she was talking, I wrote in my notebook, "Pretty vs. Real". Lately I have felt pressure, exacerbated by blogs like Style Me Pretty and Pinterest, to sanitize my photos with a "Pretty Purell" as if my wedding clients should look like they are part of an editorial shoot instead of real people. Overwhelmingly, STUFF seems to be preferred over SUBSTANCE.

I can trace the origins of my confusion back to its original source - The Coopers. A few weeks after the Cooper wedding, I posted a sampling of my favorite photos on our blog. Within a few hours we had three frantic phone calls from the bride and one darn angry voicemail from the groom.

The Coopers freaked out about one photo I had chosen to include on the blog. The picture was of the bride in profile, her maid of honor shoving the comb of her veil into her hair. In the photo, the bride is making a face like, "EEE-OUCH!"

It was a funny shot, but also poignant because what bride hasn't suffered a little pain for beauty? In my opinion, it was a great shot. Unfortunately the Coopers did not feel the same way. The groom was outraged. He couldn't believe that I would be so insensitive. He angrily asked, "Who in the world would want a photo of themselves like that?"

Then the bride said something to me that caused a long-lasting shift in my thinking and a crack of doubt in my photographic voice. She said through tears, "I want to look like ANGELIC PERFECTION! Every bride does. I don't want anyone to see a photo of me in which I look less than perfect."

Unbeknownst to them, the Coopers were saying this to a girl who recently posted a photo of herself on Facebook wearing mustache remover cream. Even so, I removed the photo and began to wonder if I had things backwards. Do people want to look like themselves or do they simply want to look unflawed and well, picture-perfect? From that point I focused on what the Coopers wanted, striving to create angelic perfection where it didn't exist and filtering out any photo that showed too much of that revolting "realness". Then an odd thing happened--I started to get bored. Very bored. You know what? Perfect is boring. I was sanitizing the fun right out of what I do. Fun is messy and so is life. The Coopers had killed my photographic buzz. Hearing Anna talk about the virtues of the imperfect gave me permission to move past the trauma the Coopers inflicted on us and get back to our perfectly flawed roots.

Thank you, Anna, for being the champion of the imperfect and offering an alternative to the unattainable ideal of seamless beauty. My confidence in the value of emotion over the exquisite has been restored. There's a place for lovely, splendid, and graceful. But lovely isn't always rainbows and lollipops. Sometimes it's your grandmother's hands with wrinkles and ages spots. Splendid can be a well-set table or laughter as you fumble with the cake knife. Exquisite may be a couture gown hanging daintily on an armoire or it may be the gentle rain that starts to fall just as you take the first step down the aisle toward your new life. Who's to say what's perfect?

Viva la imperfection!

We know you crave creative backdrops to elevate your photography and sometimes clients can be extremely demanding, but utilizing tracks to set the scene is not only dangerous, it is illegal trespassing, and there's no PPA Member Benefit to get you out of that mess! From equipment insurance to protect your stuff to indemnification trust to protect against an unhappy client-- not even the best coverage in the world can protect you against the wide range of pitfalls that shooting on railroad tracks can bring. As dozens of news outlets have picked up, Operation Lifesaver Inc., wants to remind you to avoid utilizing rails during on-location shoot.

According to Operation Lifesaver, "Last year, more than 800 people were injured or killed while trespassing on railroad property in the U.S."

"This spring, as part of our mission to reduce deaths and injuries around trains, we are asking professional and amateur photographers to set the right example by staying away from train tracks," said Joyce Rose, President and CEO, Operation Lifesaver, Inc. Rose noted that about every three hours in the U.S., a person or vehicle is hit by a train.

Operation Lifesaver jumped into action after late 2012 when a teacher who taught art and photography was struck and killed by a train while taking photos on tracks. In response to tragic and preventable incidents like this, Operation Lifesaver has teamed up with PPA to promote rail safety education to the photography community.

David Trust, chief executive officer of PPA understands historically, rails have been top-of-mind settings for on-location shoots, but the cons outweigh the pros. "Trackside settings have become popular for senior, wedding, and family portraits. But photographers need to know the laws and the safety ramifications of staging a photo shoot near train tracks. PPA applauds Operation Lifesaver programs that educate photographers about the danger to themselves and their clients of working near tracks."


So, what are the must-know facts about rails for photographers? *

  1. Trains can't stop quickly enough to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks.
  2. An optical illusion makes it hard to determine a train's distance from you--and its speed.
  3. The average train overhangs the track by at least three feet.
  4. Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and rights-of-way are private property.
  5. No tracks should be assumed to be abandoned or inactive.
  6. People in your community mimic your behavior.

Be a leader in responsible photography for your community! If you hear of another photographer trespassing on the rails, remind them it's not only illegal, but puts them, their equipment and their clients in danger. If you have any questions concerning the legalities of shooting on railroad tracks, contact today.

* According to Operation Lifesaver, Inc.
Operation Lifesaver Inc is a national network of trained volunteers provides free presentations on rail safety. If you're interested in more information on how they have made it their mission to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights of way, visit their website at

extremedeal_newlogo.jpgJust when you thought you were going to have to dip into your savings to create engaging marketing materials we've got a deal to save you some cash.

PPA has teamed up with Blossom Publishing to offer PPA members another Extreme Deal - a free graphic design for any four of the PPA product suites.

Yes, FREE.

Effective marketing yourself can make all the difference for your business. You want your promotional materials to stand out - pieces that will display your skill, and also show that you are serious about the business side of photography.

Blossom is offering this incredible deal exclusively to PPA members, completely for free, soBlossomlogo.jpg that you can benefit from this service at no charge and get a taste for the difference it makes to have someone else design and create marketing pieces for you. That's right, with this freebie you can focus on your photography while Blossom designs and creates promotional materials that will showcase your work and help you stand out in a crowd. Just try it!

Since 1994, Blossom Publishing has produced high-end marketing materials, specifically for those of us in the photography industry. Thousands of photographers currently take advantage of Blossom's expertise in marketing design and print offerings. But don't take our word for it; check out Blossom's customer testimonials, you'll see the clear emphasis on their top-notch customer service

We know how hard it can be to stop everything and develop a campaign to market yourself. That's why you shouldn't let this offer go by without giving it a shot! This is the perfect (and free!) opportunity to drive more clients through your doors with a direct mail postcard, gift card, trifold mailer or magazine. There are no hoops or rings to jump through with this deal! All you will pay for is the cost of printing for the product you choose.

This Extreme Deal is only good on new orders, not current or past orders at Blossom, and cannot be combined with any other specials or discounts. This offer is also only available until June 21, so don't miss out!

Extreme Deals are short-term, ridiculously good (extreme!) deals that are available only to PPA members. Keep checking for the latest and greatest deals here.

This week the third annual Southeastern District Photographic Competition results were announced. The 2013 competition had over 800 entries, with 310 photographs earning a Seal of Approval with a score of 80 or above. The sealed images can then be entered into the 2013 International Photographic Competition to earn a merit and they will automatically be accepted as part of the PPA's prestigious General Collection.

For the photographers who received high enough scores to merit, now is the time to ramp up your marketing and public relation skills! Issue press releases (we have press release templates to make it easier for you!), promote your achievements across your social media channels and add a mention on your website! Go ahead and toot you own horn - you earned it!

As Sandra Pearce, M. Photog. MEI. Cr. of Sandra Pearce Photography says, your customers might not completely comprehend what earning merits means, but they will recognize that your work has been honored by some hard to impress judges. Like most competitors, Pearce has had both successes and what we'll call "opportunities for improvement" with photographic competitions.

"Competing gives photographers those extra credentials," said Pearce. "Clients can read an article about your awards and--though they may not understand what the awards are--it shows that other people think your work is great, too. I believe I've done well in photographic competition because I love what I do. And even if I don't win, it won't ruin my life or make me stop competing. I do it to become better."

If your images did not merit, please don't be discouraged! Remember that shooting for competition is not the same thing as getting a fabulous image that your clients will want ten 30x40 copies of. It's a different kind of beast and learning from this experience is a great opportunity to discover areas that may require some continuing education to meet the inexorable 12 elements! To boost your chances, explore PPAedu for online support, or see if there is a Super Monday class in your area that covers areas that need a little extra attention. Practice does make perfect (or we should say practice makes a merit worth image)!

To continue to perfect your passion, the International Photographic Competition is now accepting entries through June 28, 2013. Why wait to show the world what you're made of?

Photographers who requested critiques from the Southeast District Competition will be notified when they become available. 

Not everyone will like the conclusions of this article, and yet, let's be honest: numbers don't lie.

By now you should have heard about the PPA Benchmark Survey & Analysis, and you might even have participated in it. Granted, the survey results themselves aren't as easy to digest as if they were presented in a comic book, but it's undeniable that this solid industry-wide studio performance analysis gives professional photographers the opportunity to:

  • -See what a high-performing studio looks like
  • -Compare with another (like your own ;-)
  • -Determine areas of opportunity for more profitability
  • -Conclude what areas of business to focus on for sustainability

Why do we bother calling and meeting with hundreds of photographers to compile, admittedly, a stoic and financial-driven survey? That's because the photographic industry can't be sustainable without true professional photographers. By that, I mean photographers who make a sustainable profitable living from their craft and maintain a healthy business.

What's the hype with that buzz word "sus•tain•a•ble"?

That eleven-letter word makes the key difference in raising the bar in the industry in general, of course, but also with your clients and in your life in particular.

It's about being able to maintain certain rates and take-home income for your photography business. It's about conserving a balance in your life and in the industry by avoiding underselling, breaking prices, and depreciating or giving away your photography or your time as a photographer. That's what #createsustainably is about.

Part of PPA's goal is to preach this message. And this is why we were so thrilled to see that independent groups such as Fotoseeds are emerging to reinforce such a message.

If you haven't already seen it, Fotoseeds created a beautiful (yet info-packed!) infographic on developing a sustainable photography business. It makes the harsh yet oh-so-accurate distinction between the pros and the hobbyist photographers. You ought to check it out and see - in all honesty - where you stand.

It's refreshing to see such compelling information (and cause!) being defended by others. We can only thank Fotoseeds for the #createsustainably movement and commend them for conveying the message so cleverly in the infographic. Exactly as the PPA Benchmark Survey & Analysis relays: if your expenses are more than 35% of your product price, you will go out of business!

Take a look at just one part of the infographic below. You'll find the complete version on the Fotoseeds site. It makes a great poster to keep around your studio as a reminder!

After you've taken a look, start taking advantage of your PPA member resources that can help you develop business sustainability. You can compare your studio numbers to the national average and more using the Benchmark Resources. This will help give you an idea of where to change your business practices to become more profitable.

These great resources (and more!) are available exclusively for PPA members!
Not a PPA member, but ready to learn how to take your business to a sustainable level? Join PPA today!

Infographic Artwork by Eleven19, courtesy of


Genevieve has attended the New England Institute for Professional Photographers (NEIPP) for the past 2 years and eagerly awaits another exciting year. She feels NEIPP has been instrumental in her growth, providing her with new skills, knowledge and the resources to be even better at what she does.

From the time her dad handed her his old Minolta when she was a young girl, Genevieve has been passionate about photography. While photography wasn't always her primary career, it was a part of everything she did. She began photographing students in her school and progressed into taking the school portraits. It wasn't long before she knew this is what she was meant to do.

Genevieve would love to work in Europe someday, photographing a children's clothing line at an iconic location such as the Eiffel Tower. In the meantime, she'll continue to learn from her successful peers (who are now close friends) and explore new directions in photography through NEIPP.

Meri spent many years searching for her calling. She has an expansive resume of successful culinary ventures--from  a gourmet eatery in Newton Centre, MA to her award-winning bakery, Buns of Boston, which supplied amazing sticky buns to Starbucks, Trader Joe's and a host of local coffee bars.

During a much needed vacation by a lake, Meri had the opportunity to reflect on the things in life that made her most happy. She recognized that her creative side had yet to be explored. While she wasn't sure exactly what KIND of creative field she should choose, she felt confident it was the direction she was looking for. She sold her business and decided to follow her passion, which she quickly realized was photography.

Meri had no idea how to make a living with photography, but knew it spoke to her in a visceral way that nothing else ever had. Her primary business is special events and business photography, but she'd love to grow her family portrait portfolio and develop her outdoor photography skills.

Congratulations again to both Genevieve and Meri! We hope your NEIPP experience brings you one step closer to your photography dreams!

As we count down the days until the 2013 International Photographic Competition, we'll be sharing images from last year's competition that were included in PPA's prestigious loan collection. We hope these images and the stories behind them help inspire you as you prepare for this year's International Photographic Competition!

This week's image is "Blue Belle", by Kate Higdon, M.Photog., of Captured Moments Photography in Owensboro, KY.

kate_higdon_0113.jpgThe photograph is part of a portrait study of three sisters; this is Lila, age 1. "We spent several moments getting smiles and laughs then had everyone in the room but me turn around and let the room fall silent. At that moment Lila just set her chin down on that little hand and gave me the greatest gift of an image," Higdon said of capturing the portrait.

If you want to see your work in PPA's loan collection, you can enter the International Photographic Competition beginning April 15!


kicking the crap out of your numbers.jpgby Mariah Ashley

Do you know your numbers? We heard this question at Imaging over and over and over again. "You should know your numbers." "You MUST know your numbers!" "Don't you know your numbers?" Everyone was talking about it--the folks at the PPA's Studio Management Service's booth, the speakers in the lectures, even the bathroom attendant in our hotel might have mentioned it. The last one there is a bit weird but it illustrates the point that knowing your numbers is clearly VERY important. My problem? I think I have too many numbers. And many of them are just plain NOT GOOD.

5 The number on the clock when my eyelids fling open every morning right before I start thinking about work and panic sets in.

2,800 The number that some of my camera gear was valued at. I sent it off in November to a company online that buys used camera gear. I was promised a check which... you guessed it...didn't arrive as promised.

7 The number of times I contacted the aforementioned company to inquire as to the whereabouts of my check and/or my equipment.

2 The number of complaints I filed with the Better Business Bureau before I got a response from the company and a check for $2800.

(Negative) 79 The number in my bank account after the check I received for my equipment bounced.

1 The number of times I've used the word "flabbergasted" in my life, this particular time in an email demanding a certified bank check be sent overnight to cover the bounced check. Okay, make that 2 times I've used the word flabbergasted in my life.

3 The number of times I had to re-order a printed promotional piece from WHCC this week because my brain is so frazzled that I put the wrong phone number and then the wrong address on it (case in point:  too many numbers!).

145 The amount it cost us each time I ordered it.

3,427 The amount of money Verizon said they were charging me for this month's cell phone bill. (Murderous thoughts directed at my teenage son inserted here).

911 The number I called to report a heart attack after receiving that piece of information from Verizon. Good thing I knew that number.

256 The actual amount I owed Verizon. It was merely a typo. Phew.

4,252 The number in dollars that I owe Rhode Island for sales tax this month. Ouch.

37 The number of wedding inquiries we've received since the last wedding we booked in November.


Zero The number of weddings we've booked since November. Clearly the most depressing number of all.

At this point, I'm not sure that knowing my numbers is good for my health. Since I've started thinking about my numbers I've had daily panic attacks that I'm sure are actually heart attacks, though the paramedics say I am fine and asked me to stop calling them.

Truth is, I'd really like to kick these numbers in the ass. They are taunting me with their smug, unchanging, arrogant selves. It's time someone taught these numbers a lesson. So I started thinking about these numbers and how I could really kick them where it counts.

Wayne Miller PhotographyWayne Miller, Cr. Photog., CPP of Wayne Miller Photography in Clayton, California is offering two exciting Super Monday courses this May: HDR (High Dynamic Range) Hands-On Workshop and Dynamic Lighting with Studio Strobes and Speedlights

"I started on my photographic journey as a kid and fell in love with creating images after my first roll of 120 came back from the lab. I have been in photography for over 20 years and started in business doing portraits 6 years ago," Miller said. "I enjoy sharing my experience with others and helping them to become better at the craft. We all have something to give back to others as they also teach us to grow."

Miller's first Super Monday class on Saturday, May 11th will focus on high dynamic range (HDR) photography which has been an interest of his for the past five years. It is meant to provide a hands-on experience and technical knowledge of HDR and how to add that extra oomph to your images "My first HDR images were captured in Halfmoon Bay in 2008. We were going to do some aerial photography of the San Francisco Bay area and the fog socked in as far as the eye can see. We flew down to Halfmoon Bay for breakfast and afterwards I tried some HDR at the fishing docks. Funny thing happened I captured an image there that got a PPA merit on my first PPA IPC competition. So I have been hooked ever since." 

Wayne Miller Photography

Miller says his favorite part of the process is "combining people and HDR to create dynamic images that you couldn't get otherwise. I love getting it right in camera and then taking it up a notch in post processing. HDR photography allows you to capture images that the eye can see but the dSLR camera cannot in one image. Our eyes can see 10-15 stops of light and the best high end dSLR can only capture 4-6 stops of light in a single image. HDR brackets exposures of 3 to 5 (or more images) at 1-2 stops difference giving you a range of 6-12 stops (or more).  You combine in software to give you an image that would otherwise have blown out highlights and no details in the shadows."

Challenging himself regularly is how Miller continues to push himself to new, unique places with his work. 

"Working with people is fun and a challenge too. I like the challenge to come up with something that hasn't been done before and trying to make it work," he said. "It's a challenge trying to stay above the ordinary in my photography, when ok is good enough for others it is not for me. You just have to keep reinventing yourself and your images."

Wayne Miller Photography

Miller considers his biggest accomplishment as a photographer "Growing as a person and in my photography, becoming a Craftsman, and soon to becoming a Master Photographer. I joined PPA in November 2007, become Certified in 2008, and earned my Craftsman degree in January of 2011. I enjoy sharing my experience and knowledge so becoming a Craftsman was a personal goal for me. I love doing presentations, speaking to groups and instructing workshops.  Doing a presentation requires that you know more about the subject to present it and answer questions. So for me it pushes me to become knowledgeable in the craft."

Miller's passion for photography is contagious and his knowledge of HDR is expansive. If you have any interest in learning more about this growing field, this is a must-have class! If HDR isn't your style, Wayne is a brilliant instructor and is also offering a second class, Dynamic Lighting with Studio Strobes and Speedlights that will take place on Saturday, May 18th. 

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They include:

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What's even better news - your PPA Member discount of 15% is still available (excluding upgrades, Nikon products, and bundles)! Log in to and check under PPA Benefits: Perks & Savings to obtain the discount code for your next Nik shopping spree! 

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2013 is the previous archive.

May 2013 is the next archive.

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