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PPA Today: May 2013 Archives

May 2013 Archives

hotone_readerschoice_blog.jpgThe 2013 Hot One Awards are currently being compiled by Professional Photographer magazine (look for the results online August 1), honoring the hottest products for professional photographers. From hundreds of entries received, a panel of judges who are all professional photographers name their top choice in cameras, lenses, software and much more. There's only one opinion missing -- yours!

For the first time, Professional Photographer has added Readers' Choice Awards to the Hot One Awards series. It's your chance to have your say on what you think some of the best photography products are! The categories you will be voting on were very close when our judges made their decisions, so the competition for the Readers' Choice Awards will be high.

From now until June 9, you can vote on for your preferred DSLR camera in the $1,000 - $3,000 price range. Will it be the Canon EOS 6D or the Nikon D800/D800E? The choice is all yours. Let us know what you think; it's super easy to cast your vote.

Better yet, you'll also have a chance to share with Professional Photographer your choice of products in the Macro Lens, Business App, Presentation Software and Background categories. Here's the complete voting schedule:

  • Digital SLR: May 28 - June 9
  • Macro Lens: June 10 - 23
  • Business App: June 24 - July 7
  • Presentation Software: July 8 - 21
  • Background: July 22 - August 4

Don't be shy, start voting now! Daily voting is permitted and it takes a few seconds at most.

If you just started reading Professional Photographer magazine and want to view the 2012 Hot One Awards (or if you just want a refresher on last year's winners), you can find the complete results at  

hillenga_jennifer_blog.jpgJen Hillenga, M. Photog. Cr., was kind enough to join us in the PPA Studio to film some upcoming PPAedu segments. While not wowing us with her endless creativity and knowledge, Jen took the time to answer your questions submitted to us @OurPPA (Twitter) or /OurPPA (Facebook). From practical advice on photography to the best sno-cones in the world, we learned all about the oh-so-creative Jen Hillenga.

Mary Lou Guinn asked: Studio management software - any recommendations?

Keep it simple. We use a combination of Quick Books and Google calendar. It has color coordination and a quick glance feature that makes our lives so much easier. It's also really great for marketing plans and counting out from deadlines. We haven't had a need for a big system, but use additional things like PhotoBiz to see who viewed images and incorporate that into the sales process. Pro Select is also great for sales. We're kind of old fashioned with client traveler, but it works for us. There's no "one stop shop" for what we do, so we put together our own system with a variety of software.

Denise Hasty asked: Having trouble with lighting, especially with darker subjects. What is the best setting for my camera when shooting in the studio and how do I avoid grainy and shadowy photos? / I have a Canon XSI450d

To create the best image, it usually works best to use a low ISO to minimize the grain and make sure you're using enough light. It helps to utilize the best equipment and tools to capture the best image. If you're in an indoor setting with limited light, investing in a camera that can go to a low ISO setting will greatly reduce the granularity in the image. In the outdoors with plenty of light, it's not as important, but you definitely need it in darker situations.

OurPPA asked: What are your thoughts on digital backgrounds?

I think there's a great place for digital backgrounds! I use them more for composite images. For example, we will photograph individuals on white, create the composition and drop in the digital background when working with a group setting. They can be nice with the right situation, but it's not a fix-all. It can be easy to get carried away and the digital can be overdone, not as natural.

OurPPA asked: Favorite color?

Black! It's the absence of color with light, and all of the colors with pigment.

OurPPA asked: Chocolate, vanilla or strawberry?

Mint chip.

OurPPA asked: Early bird or a night owl?

Night owl.

OurPPA asked: Favorite food:


OurPPA asked: Favorite (clean) word:

Clean? Oh man. Probably "Yes."

OurPPA asked: Where did you attend college? What did you major in?

I graduated from Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. I double-majored in Fine Art and Graphic Design, with a double-minor in Art History and English.

OurPPA asked: What was the worst job you've ever had?

I worked concessions at a stock car track one summer. I did the sno-cones and nachos and it was a mess. It was the worst combination of salty and sweet--just the worst.

OurPPA asked: You love to travel - What's your favorite place to visit?

I spoke to the Photography Association in Denmark a few years ago, and that was wonderful. I also enjoy going to Hawaii--they have the best shaved ice! I also did the first trip down to Ecuador with Travis Gugelman and Lori Nordstrom with Dando Amor, photographing orphans.

Jen Hillenga, M. Photog. Cr. is the co-founder of Jen's Fabulous Stuff and a PPAedu contributor. You can find her educational videos, along with many industry greats on PPAedu. PPA members can easily access PPAedu by logging-in and watching the 150+ online videos. Not a PPA member? You can create your own personalized educational program by completing the Self-Assessment tool and subscribing to PPAedu!

brokencamera_blog.jpgAs a professional photographer, you know that the unexpected can (and will) happen during a photo shoot.

We asked you to share your stories of some of the strangest occurrences while photographing on theLoop, the social network just for PPA members! Ten of our favorite stories are below. While these stories can be hilarious, they also highlight the need for things like equipment and malpractice insurance for your photography business (both of which are available through PPA as part of your membership!).

Fainting brides! Fire ant attacks! Mother Nature! And excrement! You'll find all these situations and more in these stories.

1). "I managed to break my camera and my 35mm three minutes before the bride walked down the aisle. I have no clue what happened to cause it either. The top plastic grid thing of the mirror fell off. Literally broke and just fell off. It was like a quantum leap into suckdom! I almost cried. Thank GOD (or a brain) for insurance AND backup equipment. Being without my 35mm was so hard though. Sigh!" - Jessica Williams Dorris

2). "While taking photos of Girl Scouts at a farm, the peacocks started mating. We were so happy that the male peacock was showing his beautiful feathers for our photo shoot. Well, he was trying to attract Mrs. Peacock and it worked!" - Karen Hoglund

3). "I stepped in dog poop! Matter of fact, It was a dog photo shoot. I'm usually careful about such things but I backed up to get a shot and...squish. I didn't have another pair of shoes either. Needless to say, I took off my shoes when I went in their house later!" -  Karen Hoglund

4). "I was on a shoot outside a decommissioned Air Force (Loring AFB) in northern Maine. On the base is a place where old military vehicles go for upgrades and repairs. I used to do lingerie or swimwear photos on the old trucks that were placed just outside the gate and were either scrap or awaiting repairs. The model went to change and I informed her I would be waiting on the back of one of the trucks, it had been a long day of shooting and I was not watching where I was going, I also did not see the pipe that the cable of winch went through nor did I realize that it had been welded in place.  

"As I jumped on the back of the truck and turned I rammed my left temple into the end of said pipe. I didn't think much of it until I felt a bit of blood on the side of my face... Yep, I drew blood... That caused the saying that 'No one but me is allowed to get injured during shoots', although I have learned to make sure of where I am going before I leap to it." - Jason Grass

5). "I had a bird poop on my face while shooting an engagement once. Not fun...right down my face." -  T. Blair Wright
changeattitudewedding_blog.jpgAs many wedding photographers could tell you, there has been a drastic change in the industry over the last decade. The explosion in competition due to the transition to digital photography has left many wedding photographers frustrated and fearful that they will not be able to succeed in such a crowded market place.

So how can you overcome the challenges of increased competition in the wedding photography market? Believe it or not, simply changing your attitude as to how you shoot and sell weddings can make a huge difference!

We know that having great work isn't enough anymore. Sales and marketing techniques are becoming so important that even less talented photographers are able to break through and get a piece of the professional photography pie. Not always fair, some of you will think.

With this paradigm shift in mind, PPA approached Gary Hughes to get his take on the "attitude problem" and "changing the way we can approach weddings to get different results". Scroll down to read his short bio or simply watch the entire live webinar on May 28 at 2 p.m. ET, but in the meantime, read on:  

The 'no risks - no rewards' approach seems to be a new motto these days, but it's easier said than done. The examples, real-life experience and truly down-to-earth / no-nonsense advice that Gary is able to bring to the table are sure to help break some of the natural risk aversion that most of us share. It's only by getting down to the core of our fears as artists (and business owners!) that we can grow significantly; because if we continue to do the things we've been doing the same way, then it's only logical that we continue to get the same results we have always been getting, right? Well, Gary helps break that paradigm and carries his message confidently. So much so that he'll aim at two things during the aforementioned webinar: (1) helping you stand out from the crowded marketplace and (2) doubling your sales average. Yup, you read that right, double your sales average! That's something we all could use, right?

Now, you may be wondering who Gary Hughes is. He's a second-generation photographer who learned about photography from a young age from his parents. He runs his studio, Hughes Fioretti Photography, with his wife and business partner. Since 2010, he has spent a lot of time teaching photographers in the southeast.

Gary's work has earned several accolades including local and national awards (including  first place wedding albums and numerous PPA Loan Collection images). In fact, he was selected as one of the top ten photographers in central Florida 3 years in a row (2010-2012) and is a PPAedu contributor. By now you should start understanding why we're excited to have him teach this Attitude Problem: Change the Way You Approach Weddings class!

But wait, here's the best part:  this live webinar is free for PPA members! It's part of PPAedu, your latest PPA membership benefit. Non-members can easily subscribe to PPAedu and access the 150+ online courses.

So don't think twice: all you risk is to walk away with a new, positive outlook on your wedding business and be armed with the skills to beat your competition!

Now what? Simply register for the live webinar and mark your calendar.

To learn more about PPAedu, including our on-demand video library and how to get your own personalized learning program (all included in PPAedu), visit the PPAedu page.
You might remember receiving a survey from InfoTrends sometime last summer. Some of yousurveyimageblog.jpg might even remember filling it out! It was long, but for a good purpose and well, the results are in! They paint an interesting picture of the photographic industry. See where you fit...

In the published report entitled Digital Imaging and Professional Photographers: 2012 Results, InfoTrends examined the behaviors of 2,315 full-time and part-time professional photographers in the U.S. The results uncovered some of today's key opportunities for photographers.

Photographers' Demographics
Sorry fellas, but we have to give some props to the ladies here. The photography industry has historically been dominated by older males, but it looks like that is starting to change. InfoTrends conducted a similar survey in 2009, and only 16% of those who responded were female. In the 2012 edition, that number more than doubled to 33%. You GO girls! Turns out the female photographers also tend to be younger, clocking in at an average of 41.0 years old to the males' 50.5.

Out of those brave men and women who completed the survey (thank you!), 60% were full-time photographers and 40% were part-time.

Photography Specialties
The results here demonstrated that most professional photographers identify multiple specializations. That tells us that many pros are doing a good job of being well-rounded! On average, professional photographers specialized in five different types of photography, and here's where InfoTrends got crafty.

Because photographers identify themselves in multiple areas of specialization (see:  well-rounded), InfoTrends asked them to indicate the percentage of their business that was devoted to the various categories. If his or her company generated more than 40% of their business from one particular type, they were determined to have a concentration in that area.

The most popular areas of specialization were:


By Mariah Ashley

duckboatpicblog.jpgTrue or False? Wealthy clients understand the value of quality photography and are willing to pay more to get it. I would argue false and site the Duckboat Theory. But first let me share a cautionary tale.

When you last tuned in, the snappers were on a roll having "gotten their groove back" by breaking the terrifying losing streak of zero booked weddings. Inquiries started rolling in from the "right kind of clients." One inquiry, from a potential bride we'll call Mindy, seemed particularly promising. I've paraphrased her email here, but you get the idea...

Hello Snappers,

We're getting married on June 21st at our estate in Newport, "Summer's Shore" at 555 Fancy Pants Blvd. We'd love to get a proposal for your services for the wedding and also for the rehearsal dinner at the La Dee Dah Yacht Club the night before. We've heard great things about your company; everyone I've talked to says that you are the BEST! Please call me at your earliest convenience, looking forward to hearing from you.


How exciting! I thought to myself as I googled "Summer's Shore" and found that the property sold for $6.8 million to the current resident (Mindy's dad). This was the second highest sale for the year in a city that boasts more than its fair share of mansions. The realtor's website described the property as, "including three acres of rolling lawns that meet Newport Harbor, sprawling views, and an 11,000-square-foot residence which has been renovated with the ultimate in detail, quality, and finish."

What a relief! I could have a conversation with Mindy that did not include her balking over our pricing! Finally, here is a client who will know and appreciate quality when they see it. I called Mindy brimming with confidence.

We had a great conversation. Her description of the wedding was everything I imagined it to be. She was working with all the best people in our industry--planners, designers, florists and they had all confirmed we were the photographers for her. Then Mindy mentioned the Duckboat.

"My father owns a Duckboat. You know, an amphibious vehicle. He wants to drive it from the La Dee Dah Yacht club into the harbor and motor me right down the aisle."

I pictured myself camera in hand charging across Newport Harbor and leaping from the Duckboat as we hit dry land like I was storming the beach at Normandy. It would be an understatement to say that this idea tickled my fancy. She had me at Duckboat.

I told Mindy about our team approach, our high-end products and our attention to detail. I threw in a healthy dose of enthusiasm and a few humorous anecdotes for good measure. I was on fire! I put my feet up on my desk and listened fondly to the "oohs" and "ahs", and the "fabulous, that sounds perfect(s)!"

Only one hurdle left to jump: the pricing. Pish posh (emphasis on posh) this was hardly going to be a hurdle...more like gingerly side- stepping something unpleasant like dog poop on the sidewalk. Oh, watch out! Don't step in that and ruin your Jimmy Choos!

I casually dove right in with my recommendation for her collection. Mindy's generous "oohs" turned to a single "OH!" An "OH!" with a loooooooooooong pause and the dull thud of my feet leaving the table and hitting the floor.

Mindy couldn't get off the phone quick enough.

"Well thanks, I'll discuss this all with my parents and let you know. The one thing they may have an issue with is the price."

Jaw, meet my feet. Feet, jaw will be joining you on the floor now. A problem with the price? Seriously? The last I checked a Duckboat would belong in the "discretionary income" category would it not? Our minimum investment is exactly .001% of the purchase price of their home. If I had a dollar in pennies and paid you that same percentage I'd have to cut one penny into a thousand pieces to do it.

How could I have been so sure about Mindy? Is she not EXACTLY the type of client I should be attracting? What the hell went wrong? After beating my head against the table and lying stunned in a heap of unpaid bills on the floor a phrase floated into my semi-conscious mind..."Looks good on paper."

Some people look good on paper. Take for instance a blind date that Trish had a while back. This guy seemed like a good match; tall, good looking(-ish), gainfully employed. The problem was when they met up for coffee he was wearing pleated pants.

 **Side Note... many of you men are going to wonder to yourself what's wrong with pleated pants. I have two words for you...Flat Front. Get them. Unless of course you want pretty girls to flee from your presence.

So, Mr. Pleats looked good on paper but clearly was not a match for my fashion-forward partner. Mindy's family definitely looked good on paper too, but we were not a good match for them. They had a certain budget in mind and we were above it. Despite being told by every other vendor in a 50-mile radius that we were the best, they were unwilling to loosen the purse strings and make room for us in the budget.

And you know what? That's fine. I don't want anyone to book us who is uncomfortable with the price. Enthusiasm for the Snap! experience is what I love most about the people ultimately book us. Our clients often spend more than they thought they would initially, but make room in the budget because they recognize and appreciate the quality of our work. These people do not own Duckboats, but they know a good thing when they see it.

Moral of the story?
Don't judge a client by their stock portfolio. Or if you prefer, clients who drive ducks do not necessarily lay golden eggs. And that, my friends, is the Duckboat theory.
copyrightresoucesbutton.jpgTake That, Infringement!
Have you ever been hosed in a copyright dispute? If so, we'd bet that even just the thought of copyright infringement is enough to make your blood boil. Ours too. That little circled letter © sure does come in handy, though. So do PPA's copyright resources and contracts.

Let's take a closer look at our copyright resources. There are good reasons why they are one of the most coveted PPA benefits.

Sample Letters
Look, we know that when emotions run high it can be difficult to get your point across in a professional manner. It happens to all of us! But before you press "send" on that angry response email because your client's request is unacceptable, take a step back and even call or email us if needed. Here, take a look at how we can help.

If you find yourself having to defend your copyrights, PPA has created a handful of letters that will help you stand your ground with poise and authority. Check them out in theLoop's Copyright Q&A Community library. You'll find everything from a standard "cease and desist" letter to samples that help with specific types of infringements, like a client who has violated their licensing agreement.

These letters certainly aren't the only way PPA has your back. Know that you're never alone in addressing an infringement. If you need us, just call 800-786-6277 or email No matter the situation, PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs Department is here to provide assistance, general advice or a quick pep talk before you react.

Sample Contracts
When it comes to contracts, it doesn't matter if you're dealing with a friend, family member or a strict business relationship, it's critical to take the time to document the assignment details. These details include your responsibilities as the photographer and their responsibilities as the client. Putting these items on paper will help keep everyone honest, and provide you with an additional layer of protection should you, or your client, need to call an aspect of the project into question.

But a contract should include more than just contact, session, payment, and order information. It's your opportunity to explain your studio's policies, like copyright ownership, and what it means to work with you as a photographer. It's also your client's opportunity to let you know what they expect from you/the session and acknowledge their understanding of the foundation you've laid down.

Your client is coming to you for your professional expertise, so don't be afraid to ask them to sign on the dotted line. No need to be shy! It's just as much for their protection as it is for yours (it's never a bad idea to make sure they understand that too). If you need help developing your contract "tool kit" PPA has a hefty library of samples available for you to download. We also have two free Webinars that will guide you on how to craft and enforce your agreements.

Just think of a contract as the ultimate "To Do" list.

Copyright Kit
It's hard to stay up-to-date on copyright laws and your rights as a photographer and it's probably not the thing you can't wait to dive in to when you have a little bit of downtime. But lucky for you, PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs Department has come up with a handy Copyright Kit to answer all sorts of questions, and some you might not even know you had. The kit covers steps you can take to protect your copyrights, best practices of marking your images, and a quick reference guide to the most common copyright questions.

We're going to stress this one a bit...PLEASE make sure you utilize these copyright resources. They are available at no charge to you and exist only to protect you and your work; ignoring them would be doing your business a disservice. Let us help you! It's what we're here for.
PPA member and renowned nature photographer Rodney Lough Jr., M.Photog., will host a book signing and unveil his first major image of 2013 on Friday, May 24, at his gallery in San Francisco.

To RSVP, visit Rodney's website.

View some of Rodney's images from the PPA Loan Collection below.

Do you have something you want us to brag on? Tell us here:



The first round of Super Monday classes kicks-off tomorrow (we know, it's a Saturday), but it's all about the spirit of learning! In that spirit, Mary Buck, CPP, has doubled down and offered two distinctly different Super Monday sessions in Duluth, GA, to help boost the business of professional photographers by offering unique products and inspiring you to utilize the tools you already have in your arsenal. 

In her first class (that would be Monday, May 13th) Mary will teach "How to Create a Fusion Video Using ProShow Producer." You already use your dSLR to create amazing photos, but why not utilize all of its functionality and create fusion videos? That's Mary's intent. She'll show you how to best utilize ProShow Producer software and help you learn all about the art of storyboarding and creating a shot list. You'll then be able to put those lessons to good use during a hands-on session with a high school model. 

With a strong background in film, Mary has the patience to set up a shot right the first time. She eliminates the need for heavy editing during post-processing, which will help you produce quicker, better videos. Her favorite part of the photography process is creating the image directly in the camera. Defining herself as a classically trained photographer with strong foundational skills in composition, exposure and lighting, she attributes it all to starting her photography journey with film. It is why, she'll tell you herself, she truly believes in getting it right in the camera.

By the time you're done with the class and the hands-on session, Mary hopes you'll have "a new creative skill to add to your product lines to help you stand out from other photographers." As any photographer knows, an advantage on the competition is necessary in the current state of the photographic industry. 

"The biggest challenge my business faces are from the over-saturation of photographers and the inconsistency in pricing structures within the industry," said Mary. "To overcome these challenges it is important to offer the best customer service on the planet and to provide something different that other photographers are not offering." In her class, you will get plenty of tips and strategies to accomplish just that. 

If it tickles your fancy to learn more about the portrait side of the business, Mary's second class might be more your speed  - "The ABCs (Art, Business & Charm) of a Portrait Photography Business" will take place on Wednesday, May 15th. 

It's pretty much evolve or die in the photography business. You've got to have the latest and greatest gear, keep up with current trends and establish a fluid online presence. So when you're out there working hard to stay current, shouldn't the laws that serve to protect you be up to date as well?

People in Maria Pallante's world sometimes call The Copyright Act of 1976 "the new law," but that's hardly how she sees it. And as the U.S. Register of Copyrights, she's requesting the makeover on Capitol Hill.

The copyright laws currently in place, which determine what can be copyrighted and by whom, how fair use works, who can be sued for infringement and for how much, are out of date. Basically, "the new law" isn't cutting it anymore. Nor is the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, passed 15 years ago, in 1998. The internet moves a little too fast for that act to be relevant.

So Ms. Pallante's getting to work for you! She has twice called for "the next Great Copyright Act" to be drafted and passed by Congress, and now Ms. Pallante has someone in her corner (other than PPA and its members, of course). Representative Robert Goodlatte, Dem. 6th District of Virginia, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, recently announced his committee would conduct a "comprehensive review" of the existing copyright statute.

We don't know what these new laws might look like, but with these two going to bat for you, there's reason to get excited. Plus, a few hints were made as to what the Copyright Office and Judiciary Committee are looking for in their review:

  • To make the laws easy to understand and balance the needs of creators and content users so they can communicate effectively.
  • To bring the law into the 21st Century! While the laws have been "tweaked" on occasion, the last major update to the existing statute was completed in the mid-1970s. Yikes!
  • To provide copyright owners with effective and accessible enforcement tools. Sort of like PPA's copyright resources. We're such trend-setters!
  • To keep it simple! The Copyright Office needs to be able to apply the laws to real scenarios, like registration requirements and processes, without needing to seek Congress's approval.

We certainly don't expect the new law to be crafted overnight, but at the same time, we sure hope it doesn't take decades like the act of 1976, so we're staying staying tuned-in to this one! After the Judiciary Committee's review, the process likely will move on to a series of hearings, roundtables, requests for "studies", and public comment periods. Through it all PPA will make sure photographers have a seat at the table when it comes to shaping the future statute.

How the Snappers Got Their Groove Back.jpg

by Mariah Ashley

Once you implement a no discounts under any circumstances policy, how long is it before someone actually books you, thereby breaking your long and depressing losing streak? In the case of the Snappers; 29 nail biting days.

Sarah Petty, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, delivered an amazing lecture at Imaging USA 2013 and passed out her new book Worth Every Penny, Build a Business that Thrills Your Customers and Still Charge What You are Worth. When the book was placed in my hands and I read the cover, I thought, did she write this for me? Aside from taking great photographs which so many people can do, the missing piece we needed to give potential clients was a reason to spend more with us. We found that reason in the pages of Sarah's genius book.

The answer is the boutique business model. We booked two fabulous weddings in the month following Imaging by creating the boutique experience outlined in Sarah's book. This is the story of how we booked one of those weddings.

Laura (a bride) sent us a lovely email detailing her intimate wedding for 25 guests at a high-end venue. She had been referred by the venue and loved what she had seen of our work online. She was interested in finding out more about our pricing. In my return email I attached our pricing explaining our minimum investment of $6,875. I figured we wouldn't hear back from her because she was having such a small wedding and probably wouldn't have the budget for our pricing. To my surprise, she did email back but asked if there were other options for pricing since her wedding was so small. Here we go again...time to get ready to say no and watch another bride walk off into the sunset.

Ironically, she also had some questions surrounding sunset and the timing of the event. Per the advice in Sarah's book, I took the opportunity to go above and beyond even though Laura was not yet a client. I wanted to impart that the reason we are one of the most expensive photographers in our area is because of the level of service we give. I decided it was important to position myself as the expert in the hope that she would start to feel comfortable and taken care of. I remembered we had shot a wedding at her venue in almost the exact scenario that she was describing, small-wedding sunset ceremony, etc.

I sent her a link to that wedding from our blog archives. Next, I created a "suggested timeline for the day" from getting ready through reception, all built around maximizing the light and sunset for photos. Finally, I reiterated that our pricing was firm but she'd be well taken care of, which wasn't easy for me to say to her.

merit_and_degree_icon.jpgRobert Stolpe has been a professional photographer for 17 years and his career resume is chock-full of amazing things. He has a BS in Chemistry and began his career in the technical field, focusing on product development, quality control and manufacturing systems. While photography was always a passion, his friends jokingly suggested he "not quit his day job," so he listened to them for years. He remained an avid hobbyist until corporate downsizing struck and that's when he knew it was time to move on.

His love of photography first appeared when he was a teen. Robert wanted to take pictures at a rock concert for the sole purpose of bringing them home to show his mom. Perhaps that's why he has spent much of his photographic career creating images of musicians!

But beyond a photographer, Robert is a philanthropist. His goals revolve around how he can help and teach others. He is extremely proud to be the advisory board president of his local Boys & Girls Club. He is also an advocate for our industry, encouraging an active and participatory local and state affiliate and national PPA membership. He also counsels other photographers on the value of becoming a Certified Professional Photographer and is committed to spreading the word about PPA's amazing Student Photographic Society membership.

"I am excited about attending Florida School to gain a better understanding of what the school has to offer so I can continue promoting it to other aspiring photographers," says Robert. "I am also looking forward to the week-long education on environmental portraiture to get new ideas and improve my skills, which will please my clients and further my business."

We are proud to have Robert as a PPA member and can't wait to see what he does with his Florida School experience!

Darla Sharp, CPP has been a professional photographer for over 20 years and is as passionate about photography today as she was when she first began.

She remembers falling head-over-heels in love with photography the first time she developed her own roll of film in a dark room over 24 years ago. Darla grew up in a family of artists, but instead of choosing a paint brush she chose a camera. That excitement she first had, watching her image almost magically appear in the darkroom, has never gone away.

"I still get a rush at every opportunity to click that shutter. However, it's the long lasting satisfaction of knowing I have captured a moment that will be treasured for a lifetime that keeps me coming back for more."

Darla specializes in fine art portraiture, newborn, children and lifestyle photography. Her philosophy is reminiscent of this week's blog entry from Mariah (don't miss that!).

On her Facebook page, Darla writes: "Waiting for the perfect hair, perfect weight, perfect clothes to have your portrait taken? You're beautiful just the way you are. So let us pamper and pose you and make some memories now." It's this unique way of approaching her subjects and their essence that drives her work and keeps her inspired.

Darla is excited about the upcoming Florida school classes, where there is a solid focus on technique and skill. She recognizes that fads come and go, but even after all these years, she continually works on improving her skills to provide the highest caliber of work for her clients. She mentioned to us that one of the upcoming courses she is the most excited about is "Creative Arts in Portraiture".

"My dream photography assignment is to travel the world photographing everyday people in their ordinary surroundings. For me, nothing shows the beauty of a landscape more than the people that inhabit it," Darla says.

Congratulations to Darla and we hope that you have an inspiring week at Florida School!

daniel_greg_blog.jpgWhat's one of the things that can help make an association great? If you answered 'leadership', we are on the same page!

This is why Professional Photographers of America (PPA), the world's largest photography non-profit association, is so proud to welcome Greg Daniel, M.Photog.Cr., F-ASP, to the association's Board of Directors. Daniel becomes the latest working professional photographer to join PPA's board, which helps to guide the direction of PPA. He is joining current president Ralph Romaguera, Sr., M.Photog.Cr., CPP, API, F-ASP, from Louisiana, vice-president Susan Michael, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, from Florida, treasurer Michael Gan, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, from California, chairmen of the board Tim Walden, M.Photog.Cr. Hon.M.Photog., F-ASP, from Kentucky and the other board members in keeping PPA the top non-profit photographic association.

A PPA member for 30 years, Daniel's photography career began in 1979 when he founded Gregory Daniel Portrait Artist. Today, with the help of his wife Lesa, Daniel operates two successful portrait photography galleries in Florida, one in Indiatlantic and the other in his hometown of Titusville.

As a portrait photographer, Daniel has become known for establishing a friendly, fun relationship with his subjects. Regardless of his subjects' age, Daniel is able to quickly connect with those he photographs. These bonds show through in the warmth and liveliness his portraits have, making his work pleasing to both clients and art critics alike.

In addition to being a top-notch photographer, Daniel is a bit of an entrepreneur. He is the owner of Daniel Properties, a commercial and residential property management company. Adding to his unique resume, Daniel also held multiple management positions with the Space Shuttle Program from 1979 - 2006.

"I truly love this profession and all that it has provided my family, clients and myself from a creative and financial perspective," said Daniel. "The skills I have obtained through entrepreneurship, photographic association leadership positions and upper management for the Space Program provide me with some unique resources to contribute."

It should come as no surprise that Daniel has received much recognition as a photographer. Among his list of accomplishments with PPA, he has achieved the title of Photographic Craftsmen in 1988, Master of Photography in 1989, and received the Imaging Excellence Award in 2005. He has been a PPA-affiliated instructor for many years and has earned numerous awards from PPA affiliates as well. In addition, Daniel has held committee chair positions for Cameracraftsmen of America and is a founding member of the International Society of Portrait Artists (ISPA).

Daniel's various awards and honors are sure to be valuable as he helps the other members of the Board of Directors plan the future of PPA.

You can read more about Greg Daniel or the other Board of Directors' members in PPA's About section and connect with him on theLoop, PPA's online networking platform for professional photographers.

ypablog.jpgWe all take moments to escape from our daily realities. The question is, how?  And can those moments be captured? That's what the Young Photographers Alliance (YPA) encourages you to discover at this year's fourth annual mentoring program.

If you're an aspiring photographer or just getting started with your career, then read up, because this program is for YOU. YPA's annual mentoring program offers you a priceless opportunity to work with successful professional photographers and fine-tune your craft, create images for your portfolio, develop business skills and promote and explore markets for your work.

If you're seeking to establish yourself as a sustainable professional in today's photography market, this program can provide you with the encouragement and assistance you need. Talented college students and recent graduates (that's you!) will partner with leading industry professionals, who participate as mentors, to collaborate on a photo essay around a compelling social theme.

This year's theme to select participants is Escape. How does one capture the essence of the word? Here is how YPA presents the challenge to candidates: "By its very nature it cannot be grasped or tamed, confined or controlled. Escape is the flower that grows from the crack in the concrete. It is the choice between having a drink or taking a walk. Escape is freedom from reality, but it is also reality unrestrained. Escape is a paradox. Escape is inevitable." Looks like YPA's Escape challenge is a heck of an opportunity to tickle your creativity!

YPA is inviting the next generation of photographers (again, that's you!) to explore and produce an Escape-themed series of images through portraiture, photojournalism, landscape or architectural photography. Each participant is encouraged to present his or her interpretation and to push the boundaries of how photography can shed light on the subject in unique ways.

Escape is a globe-spanning photography initiative, as it will be held in several cities across the world. Team USA locations include Anchorage, AK; Nashville, TN; Kansas City, MO; Columbus, OH; Dallas, TX; Minneapolis, MN; Los Angeles, CA; Orlando, FL; New Orleans, LA; New York City, NY; Portland, OR; and Seattle, WA. But international teams will also be formed in Toronto and Ottawa, Canada; Glasgow, Scotland and Beijing, China.

Two to four applicants for each city will be selected to work as a team with two mentors. You can submit your applications through Friday May 10, so don't ponder too long and jump in: it's an amazing opportunity! Judging will take place the following week and the chosen mentees will be notified the week after. That quickly. The chosen group will meet for a series of six to eight two-hour sessions between June 1 and August 15, so make sure you will be available then before applying.
Participants will learn to write a creative brief, learn about the business of photography and together with their team, develop a localized promotional campaign as a part of your final deliverables. Teams will also identify a subject based on the Escape theme and you create the images outside of meeting times.

This program is an easy way to network and establish key relationships within the industry while bettering yourself as a photographer. So if you're aged 18 to 29, currently enrolled in a college photography course or a recent graduate, and able commit to the dates of the program, you're eligible!

Apply to the program by joining YPA as a "YPA21" member, which costs $21. This fee includes access to the mentoring program as well as to portfolio reviews, access to other industry information and forums. It's more than a bargain. For more information and to register for the program visit the YPA website

When you decide to enter, shoot us a note, we'd love to show support and share your work. One more bonus for your networking and marketing development!
zenfolioblogscreencap.jpgAs a photographer, do the technical aspects of launching or re-designing your website keep you up at night?

For most of us in today's market, having a website and being able to sell photography online is essential to our success. To help avoid potential web-related nightmares, a lot of photographers rely on Zenfolio because it's an easy and affordable solution to take the guess work out of designing a website or selling images on the web!

"Zen-what," some of you may ask? It's a subscription-based service with a toolbox that allows you to quickly create a professional website with photos and slideshows that can be shared with your clients, as well as an easy-breezy print-ordering system. But there's more to Zenfolio than the image gallery sharing/print order feature!

The different subscription packages all allow you to professionally present your images and run your online business through a single convenient platform. Options range from portfolio gallery, secured client proofing, custom shopping carts and print-lab integration, to a host of marketing solutions - including search engine optimization and social media integration. If you already have a website, you know that you'll have to update it at some point, and these guys are able to transfer hosting service while preserving your domain name or links.

Many successful photographers (and PPA members!) have made the switch. Some of those include Damon Tucci, Cr.Photog, Laura Tillinghast, Dan Ballard, Blake Gardner and Terrell Lloyd, Cr.Photog. So you don't have to take our word for it: you can hear it directly from pros who specialize in all types of photography and are all proficiently using the platform. Enough bragging. Want to learn more Zenfolio? Watch a quick video demo or read stories from real Zenfolio users.

Last but not least, here's the important stuff: as a PPA member, there are two discounts to help you jump on the Zenfolio bandwagon:

  • - If you are brand new to Zenfolio, you get 25% off your first year's subscription.

  • - If you already subscribe to Zenfolio, you get 20% off an upgrade to any higher subscription level.

You'll find the discount codes and other Zenfolio-related details on PPA's Year-Round Discounts page. If you are not a PPA member, you are missing out: it really costs you more not to be a PPA member, so consider joining PPA today.

We love hearing from you, so please send us screenshots and your thoughts on how you create or showcase your business online. In the meantime, happy sales! 

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