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PPA Today: January 2014 Archives

January 2014 Archives

PPAedu has been busy! Not only are new classes on photography techniques and business practices getting released monthly (check out our latest additions with Jeffrey Shaw), but the free class of February is with none other than Imaging USA Super Star, Carrie Wildes. To check out the session "The Wedding Consultation" with Carrie, head to starting February 1st. 

And if you want to be more business savvy in 2014, but don't have the funds to travel to Atlanta--there is an exciting new thing: PPA Business Basics workshop is now available through live streaming, starting with the March 29-30 program! PPA is so excited to offer LIVE STREAMING for the first time; there is a special double deal...

  • You can go (or get the live stream from home) for just $199 when you register by February 5. That's 30% off for early birds!
  • And you can add a friend... for free! In-person in Atlanta or through live streaming!
What are the perks of live streaming? Let us count the ways...

  1. Save money! No need to spend on hotel, gas or airfare. Who doesn't love saving some money?
  2. Save time! No need to spend time on the drive or at the airport when you live stream!
  3. Ability to replay! Once the workshop wraps, you'll get a link to watch the whole thing again, for free! 
  4. Downloadable worksheets! (Who doesn't love a good worksheet?) You'll get everything the folks who attend the face-to-face get, but in an ecofriendly PDF.  
  5. Learn in your pajamas! For the sweatpants-loving photographers out there, this could be the number one reason to try the Live Stream. A day filled with education in your comfy pants? Yep. You may have just found a little slice of heaven here at PPA.

As a live streaming attendee, you'll still get all of the resources and education as folks in the room. The course will feature:

  • Two days of top-notch advice from two instructors: Bridget Jackson, a CPA with a proven track record of boosting hundreds of studios' profitability and Jeff Dachowski, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, your photographic mentor, an active, successful photographer who knows what it takes to succeed TODAY 
  • Live interactive Q&As 
  • Zero sponsors plugging their product pitches--just tangible business advice (that's the power of the non-profit )

For more information on the new course offerings from PPAedu, head to or for information on the live streaming workshops, head to

Maria Matthews, manager of PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs department, is back with the latest happenings on Capitol Hill.


The House Judiciary Committee kicked off the New Year with not one, but two hearings addressing copyright matters.


The first tackled a wide range of copyright questions. These questions addressed how the law might be modernized to protect digital creations and the challenges small creators, like photographers, face when enforcing their rights.

A highlight of their discussion was digital file sharing. The conversation primarily centered on the distribution of music and movies through peer-to-peer services, which also affects photographers. Better enforcement and monitoring of these abuses could improve the copyright protection landscape for photographers.


The second hearing, to be held this week, will center on the question of "fair use," which as defined by the law is a set of circumstances (including criticism, news reporting and teaching) in which a photograph could be reproduced without the copyright owner's permission. Fair use is a claim that many content users look to hide behind as they incorporate copyrighted materials into their own works. Most recently the claim of fair use was used to justify the mass scanning of works through the Google Books Project.


And it's just the beginning! These are among the first of many discussions as the Judiciary Committee prepares to draft legislation that will modernize copyright law. As the copyright debate on the Hill unfolds, PPA will be there to make sure photographer's voices are heard. 


In fact PPA's CEO, David Trust, will be on Capitol Hill on February 3-4 speaking to key legislative offices to ensure photographers' needs for greater accessibility to copyright enforcement tools, like a copyright small claims court, remain a central part of the review process.


We will update you all as soon as there is anything new to report!


-Maria Matthews

Manager, Copyright & Government Affairs department

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Written by guest blogger, Christine Walsh-Newton

When I began my journey to being a professional photographer, I was determined to do it right. I wanted to find ways to measure my capability and skills. Ways that would keep me in check and provide me the opportunity to continually learn and improve. 

Through my membership, I may enter the district and international print competitions sponsored by PPA. Through my state affiliate (Professional Photographers of Ohio), I also participate on a local level. 

Each spring, I compete at my state. There, I am allowed to enter six of my best images. Then I choose the four best from that group and send them on to the Northeast District competition. Depending on the results of that competition, I may forward all four images to the international competition in the summer, or I may elect to do some more work on them first. I may even decide to replace them with a different images.

One of the delightful benefits to competition is that you can order critiques of your images recorded by the affiliated judges that were at the competition. I always purchase the critiques and generally follow the advice of the juror who recorded it. I feel fortunate that PPA offers this service. What a wonderful way to get input on our images!

What competition means to me:
Each year that I've participated in print competition, I've learned and I've grown. Sometimes I get decent scores or an award, but the important part to me is that I improve. I listen quietly during the judging and take notes. Even if the judges speak about an image that isn't mine, the knowledge they impart is applicable to my work. Through judging I'm learning the intricacies of lighting, presentation and composition. I learn what color combinations work and which ones are best left alone. I learn the subtleties of posing and body language.

I've learned all these things in a general manner through my own education and study and have refined them through use, but listening to judge after judge make a quiet comment here or point out a flaw there has trained me to look hard at the details. Little by little my work has improved. The subtle differences and changes I have made have started to add up and my work has shown tremendous strides in technical competence in just a few short years of competing.

Scoring is important to me and the fact that PPA has a standard scoring system that is consistently maintained gives print competition the credibility that I need in order to trust that it is a valid evaluation of my work. The judges are thoroughly trained and vetted and must also use the scoring system in a manner that provides consistency. My scores show me where I'm at in relation to standard expectations for photographic quality. In the beginning it took awhile for my work to reach the "deserving of a merit" range of scores, and with hard and consistent work, I've been given the pleasure of watching those scores rise over time.

A benefit of competing that was surprising is the inspiration I've gained from viewing images from other competitors. Over the last few years I've probably watched several thousand images go through judging. The amount of talent exhibited is enormous and overwhelming at times. Other competitors have been generous with their time and advice, assisting me along my journey. Sometimes I think "competition" isn't quite the correct term as my fellow competitors and I seem to have bonded into a beneficial family of sorts. It's rare for there to be competition between competitors that I know and some of my best competitor friends and I share ideas, techniques and images with each other while preparing for competition. Sometimes we find ourselves cheering and commiserating with each other, depending on our results. 

How it helps me grow: 
At my first competition, I volunteered in the print room. After a few hours of unpacking print cases and viewing a large number of exquisite images, I was afraid for my own. I tried to figure out how to "unenter" and hide my print case in my car. I was unsure of my skills and my talent. I was scared. And I was embarrassed to show my work. I was not confident and those first few rounds of critiques were difficult to digest.

Progressively, through competition, critiques, judgings and just plain old networking with other competitors, I am now more sure of what I'm doing and have a higher level of faith in my work. Competition has given me the confidence to recognize when I'm creating nice work. And the humility to realize it when I'm not and ask for help. And when I receive that help, I can now view it objectively and embrace it as part of my learning and growing process. 

Once upon a time I only dreamed of doing well in competition and of learning from photographers who were leading the way. For awhile I thought it was a goal well out of my grasp. Through competition, I've learned to set goals and work towards them progressively so that over time I'd get there. The journey will never be complete, but with the help of PPA competition, it has been a progressive and positive one.

It's Friday, which means it's time for an update on some of the great photography content we've found around the web! Here are five posts from the week of January 19, 2014 (they might have a know that awesome conference that happened last week? Yep. It was that cool!):

A first timer's perspective:
James Lout came to Arizona both a PPA and an Imaging USA newbie. Read about meeting his photographic idols and all of his experiences here.

Video blog:
You may have heard, Kenny Rogers was at Imaging USA! He accepted his honorary masters of photography, presented a Q&A with John Sexton (Imaging USA speaker) and was gracious enough to do some press. Check out the press room interview here!

Phoenix: Through Imaging USA's eyes:
Did you Instragram all over Phoenix? Check if your pics made the Downtown Phoenix Journal blog here! They did a compilation of their fav photos, plucked from the social web. 

Escape from Wisconsin:
Ellie and Emily escaped the frozen tundra of Waupun, Wisconsin to head to Phoenix. See how they experienced the show and some of the great images they captured while taking advantage of their new surroundings! 

Live from the Expo Floor:
The fine folks over at B&H made the rounds, talking to folks on the Imaging Expo floor. Check out what they discovered in their video blogs here

And for more behind the scenes content, video wrap ups and photos, visit! We'll be uploading more content throughout the week, so check back often! 

Sample these helpful tips for boosting your numbers, from PPA Business Mentor Mary Fisk-Taylor, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API.

  1. Seek like-minded partners, vendors and charities, using your clients as resources.
  2. If you want successful partnerships, you can't expect them to be one-sided!
    Represent your partners' work as much as your own when sharing marketing pieces.
  3. Offer complimentary materials (like headshots) or family portraits. It will help your partners get a taste for the experience you provide, as well as the quality of your services and your products. Bonus: it will place you top of mind!
  4. Keep in touch. Post, share and comment on your preferred vendors' social media platforms to let them know you're thinking about, appreciating and promoting their businesses.
  5. Enhance your partnership during bridal show season. Create image disks and press-printed cards that showcase the vendor, and they can help spread your images and logo around the show.

If you're ready to take your business to the next level PPA's Business Workshops and Consultations can help you be more in 2014. Through live streaming or in-person, these classes are sure to boost your numbers and help you get to that next level. To top it off, PPA's mentors will work with you and your numbers to help you:

  • Define realistic goals for your studio
  • Boost your production efficiencies
  • Be more profitable
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. 

By: Mariah Ashley                                                

He wasn't technically voted into office, but he just might be the best president we've ever had.

Whether Democrat, Republican, Tea Party-er, or Teetotaler, at least we can all agree on Kid President's platform, Be More Awesome.

It's hard to argue with the message to "Be More Awesome" (in everything you do). Kid President teaches us that we should be more kind and be less boring, not to mention that that Diabetes is pronounced (dahy-uh-bee-teez), not Diabeetus. Thank you for clearing that up Kid President, Wilfred Brimley sure made a mess out of that one.

Kid President has met President Obama, kissed Beyonce, interviewed Macklemore, and danced with Steve Carell and the Despicable Me Minions, all because he spends his time being more awesome. Kid President knows what he is talking about. It's time to listen to Kid President.

Do I digress? This article is supposed to be a recap of my own awesome experiences at #IUSA14. You may wonder, What exactly does Kid President have to do with PPA?

Turns out, everything!


Everywhere I turned at IUSA14 I saw PPA's message to "Be More." Be More was plastered on pamphlets, flyers, posters, photographs and videos all over the convention and I have to say the message got through to me. I do want to Be More! Much like Kid President, PPA's inspiring campaign of awesome has encouraged me to contemplate my full potential of Being More.

The best part about PPA's Be More message? You fill in the blank yourself. For example, this year, I will Be More __________. There's no wrong answer!

And let's face it; most of us are going to Imaging because we are looking for answers, some of us with a little more desperation than others. In 2013, I was the blurry eyed, traumatized, desperate type. I needed to Be More... able to stay in business and Be More... likely to pay myself. I was looking for fiscal answers to my woes and I found them by going to seminars about branding, marketing, social media and also by getting advice from our friends at PPA Business (formerly Studio Management Services (SMS)).

This year I needed different types of answers. I was looking to Be More... Inspired, Be More... Educated,  Be More... Purposeful and Be More Thankful. I even found an answer to a question I didn't know needed answering, how I could Be More... Extroverted.

The magic of Imaging is that the answers are all there, no matter what your questions. You just need to Be More Present, and Be More Focused to find them. And so Trish and I set off to find the answers we both needed.

What's the best way to Be More Educated? Take a class! And so we did, More Crazy Stupid Light with Scott Robert Lim. We were hoping to get our lighting learn on and walk away with some new flashy tricks up our sleeve. Scott taught us some cool lighting techniques but something else he taught us about inspiring confidence in your clients was infinitely more valuable.

He said, "If I don't feel like I am a beautiful or worthy person I won't be able to get that from my client. It will be the blind leading the blind. You've got to come in strong and confident to see the beauty in a person and bring that out. You've got to overcome your own baggage."

Woah. I've never heard anyone say that before. Lots of people talk about how to pose your subject. But who says you've got to feel beautiful yourself before you even step into the room with your client? Thank you Scott, I will strive to Be More Loving of myself.

Another class we attended was From Concept to Creation: A Fashion Shoot with Brian DeMint. To say Brian is a character is a major understatement. He bought his camera at Best Buy because the sales kid there told him to. He uses a kit lens and when questioned, appeared to be unsure about what f/stop he was using. His lighting system is a 100 watt bulb with a metal cover, which is generally used to hatch baby chickens not to glamorize models. By all accounts, his photos should suck.

They don't. They're lovely, interesting and unique. Brian is the Jack White of photography. He could literally pull a camera out of a dumpster and make a beautiful image with it. Brian added this gem to my pile of treasures, "If everyone loves your work maybe you are a little too bland." Thank you Brian for inspiring me to Be More Daring, and to focus less on my equipment and more on my imagination.

Our next stop was a lecture, Moments Not Poses with Ross Oscar Knight, where we learned to Be More Prepared. Before listening to Ross I felt that Trish and I had the market cornered on being prepared. After all, we practice the 7P's; Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. However, Ross's level of preparedness makes us look like a couple of circus clowns. Blending the math and science side of his brain with his creative side, he has literally developed a formula for success. He unselfishly shared his biggest mistakes, in the process tossing me this gem, "You honor your clients by being prepared."

What does being prepared have to do with moments? When you are as prepared as Ross is, you can live in the moment "letting go and letting the images flow." Thank you Ross for showing us how to Be More Prepared and therefore be better photographers.

Another lecture we attended literally blew my mind. Seriously, my mind exploded around minute 45 of Jeffery Shaw's, Prosperity and Purpose: The photography Business Through a Different Lens. It does hurt a little when your mind explodes, which would account for the sobbing and sniffling. Seriously, it was embarrassing. Jeffrey had many great things to teach us about our business, but what he taught me about myself has forever altered me as a human being. I know, crazy right? How you ask?

Well, first, Jeffrey talked to us a bit about "Finding Your Purpose." What it is that keeps you going? What do you value? What do you believe? What is the deeper need of your clients beyond lovely photos?

 These are questions he urged us to ask ourselves, but my mind was a blank! I sat struggling with these questions for the next 15 minutes until Jeffrey shared a little story about his "Limiting Beliefs" (his baggage). There's that word again!

As a child, Jeffrey hated games, (so do I) because it meant someone would have to lose. He also feared he wouldn't be picked to play when teams were chosen (me too). He said, "It wasn't that I would be the last one chosen, it was that I hid in the back of the line because I didn't want to play the game."

Commence flowing of tears, running of snot, and choking back of sniffles. I know it's hard to believe, but as a child I was never the first one picked for any team and was never a shining star to anyone but (maybe) my mother. Like Jeffrey, after a while I just got sick of the game and hid in the back of the line. In that moment, I felt sad for the little Mariah who used to hide and I decided that big Mariah wouldn't be doing that anymore.

Then I was struck with the answer to the question: What do I believe and what is my clients higher need?

I believe I am really good at drawing out the beauty in the self conscious client, the shy client, the introverted client, making them feel like a shining star on their wedding day. My clients are not celebrities but come hell or high water they will feel like one when I am done with them. Give me your worst case wall flower, they are putty in my hands because I understand them, they are my peeps. Because of Jeffrey's insight, I can Be More Purposeful and will Be More Extroverted.

I have so much gratitude in my heart for the wonderful speakers who shared of themselves. In a room full of hundreds of people, I often felt they were talking directly to me. Thank you also to Gregory Heisler who taught me to Be More Evocative and Roberto Valenzuela whose hilarious, self-deprecating stories inspire me to Be More Spicy. I'll be "adding some hot sauce" to my pictures for sure.

This brings me to my final Be More wish. I wish for myself and encourage all of you to Be More Thankful. Don't sit by and be a "taker." If someone has shared with you a story, useful information, words of encouragement, or a piece of themselves that has helped you personally or professionally, tell them so! Talk to them face to face, tweet about it, or send them an old fashioned thank you note. It doesn't matter the avenue of gratitude as long as you express it. Heck, kiss them if you feel it's appropriate.



About the author:

Mariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van,  grew up on a cranberry farm and is happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree.

Check out some photos from #IUSA14 below, including the opening party, Imaging Expo trade show, classes, World Photographic Cup, the Kenny Rogers Q & A and more. We'll have many more photos to share, so be sure to check for the 2014 photo gallery (coming soon) and our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for more photos! Thanks to Alex the Photo Guy for providing images. 


It's a Wrap!

Tomorrow life goes back to normal--no classes, no Expo, dare we say no fun (we won't, but definitely less)? 

Today we saw creative, inspiring, educational sessions with Brooke Shaden, Carrie Wildes, Colin Smith and Angela Lynn Penscak (just to name a few). Attendees filled their notebooks, iPads and noggins with ideas, information and inspiration to last a whole year! If your head is swimming with ideas, and you just don't think you can fit anymore in, it's okay. You're not alone. 

The Expo floor was packed with savings and there was even a brief appearance by MLB and Arizona Diamondbacks legend, Randy Johnson.  


And then there was Kenny. Kenny Rogers spoke at length to a packed Symphony Hall about his favorite images in his "Places I've Been, Things I've Seen" presentation. Rogers and his mentor and Imaging USA speaker, John Sexton, share the stories behind some of his favorite images and answered a few questions from the crowd. If you doubted his talent or passion, this was all you needed to see. The guy knows his stuff!

Afterwords, he was awarded a well-earned honorary masters of photography along with the more than 100 others at the Award and Degree ceremony. And can we just say: You guys clean up nice! 

We're ending the show at the Sheraton (third floor ballroom) and can't wait to see your sweet dance moves! Keep tweeting and instagramming your photos with #IUSA14 to get in our recap blogs.

Thank you to everyone who made Imaging USA 2014 a success! Make sure you check out the daily video recap on the Imaging USA Facebook page. We cannot wait to see you in Nashville, February 1--3, 2015! With all of the fun and excitement of this year, who knows what next year will bring!

Now let's party!

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After ringing in Imaging USA 2014 at the Welcome Party sponsored by Canon, photographers around the Phoenix Convention Center bonded over the multitude of coffee places. And that caffeine kick fueled their second day!  

The day saw packed houses across the sessions, engaging and enlightening #HashItOut sessions, more pictures of bears than we knew what to do with and a bustling tradeshow which included a visit from Kenny Rogers! If you snagged a selfie with him - Tweet or Facebook us at @ImagingUSA or use the hashtag #IUSA14. John Sexton, Gregory Heisler, Jeremy Cowart, Kwaku Alston and Gary Hughes packed their sessions with knowledge, experience and inspiration (but make room in your noggin for even more - there's still one day left)!

The evening ended with the Grand Imaging Awards and the inaugural World Photographic Cup. We saw a few tears as Lora Yeater, M.Photog. took home the prestigious Grand Imaging Award with her album "Brock's Battle," which also won for Album Non-Event (full results are listed below, or check out the images and results here). 

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The night wrapped with the first-ever World Photographic Cup! Photographers from 23 countries entered in competition to see which would reign supreme. The gold medal went to (drum roll) Portugal, silver medal to Australia, and the gold medal winner of this year's World Photographic Cup went to (queue trumpets) the United States of America, represented by the top three finishers in their Grand Imaging Award Categories! (Click here to get all the details on the WPC!)

Even after all that excitement, there's still so much to look forward to on the last day of PPA's annual conference and expo! The Grammy-Award winner singer-songwriter and country music legend Kenny Rogers will be receiving his honorary Masters of Photography. Photographers will be earning their Awards & Degrees, the Expo is going to be packed with even more deals & steals (please don't actually steal) and there's classes with the likes of Kent & Sarah Smith, Ryan Romaguera, Suzette Allen and Ken Sklute! Plus, let's not forget we've got to close Imaging USA just with a big ol' party! 

We can't wait to see your stories through social media on your last day! (Keep using #IUSA14 to get on our TweetWalls!)

Grand Imaging Award Results:

Album Non-Event:
1st: "Brock's Battle" by Lora Yeater, M.Photog.
2nd: "Souls of Morocco" by Roberto Falck
3rd: "Birds Of A Feather" by Joe Campanellie

Album Event:
1st: "Jasmine and Matthew" by Tomas Munoz
2nd: "Faysal and Talla" by Ted & Rachel Linzcak
3rd: "Showered with Love" by Jennifer Gilman, M.Photog.Cr., and Mark Garber

1st: "Monet's Gardent" by Ann Naugher
2nd: "Fire and Ice" by Ann Naugher
3rd: "Peek-a-Boo" by Nathan Ham

Master Artist:
1st: "On Golden Pond" by Michelle Parsley, CPP
2nd: "You're Out of Here!" by Mark Bryant
3rd: "Call of Duty" by Richard Sturdevant, M.Photog.MEI.Cr.

Illustrative Category
1st: "The Offering" by Richard Sturdevant, M.Photog.MEI.Cr.
2nd: "When the Music Ends" by Ben Shirk, M.Photog.
3rd: "Handsome "by Chasity Rozell, M.Photog., CPP

1st: "Embry Riddle University" by Randy Van Duinen, CPP
2nd: "Diamond Filtered" by Tracy Van Zeeland, M.Photog., CPP
3rd: "Wolf on the Rocks" by Carrie Stadelman, CPP

1st: "Mi Amor" by Toas Munoz, M.Photog.Cr., CPP
2nd: "Enchanted" by Ben Shirk, M.Photog.
3rd: "Stairway to Heaven" by James Wyant, M.Photog.Cr.

World Photographic Cup Results
Onni Wiljami Kinnunen, Finland, Golden Medal
Randi Van Duinen, USA, Silver Medal
Helge Kirchberger, Austria, Bronze Medal

Illustrative/Digital Art:
Manuel Diamantino Jesus , Portugal, Golden Medal
Uli Staiger, Germany, Silver Medal
Ben Shirk, USA, Bronze Medal

Eve Turek, USA, Golden Medal
Martin Steenhaut, Belgium, Silver Medal 
Susie Crichton, Canada, Bronze Medal

Kelly Brown, Australia, Golden Medal
Simon Mackney, UK, Silver Medal
Nathan Ham, USA, Bronze Medal

Dave Holland, Canada, Golden Medal
Miloš Fic, Czech Republic, Silver Medal
Bruno Mayor, France, Bronze Medal

Nick Ghionis, Australia, Golden Medal
Miguel Araujo, Portugal, Silver Medal
Tomas Munoz, USA, Bronze Medal

Overall results:
- USA, Winner of the WPC 2014 with 1 Golden Medal, 1 Silver Medal and 3 Bronze Medals
- AUSTRALIA, Second place, with 2 Golden Medals
- PORTUGAL, Third place, with 1 Golden Medal and 1 Silver Medal

Day one is in the books!

Who's tired? Not us! Not the slightest bit! Not in any way shape or form. Nope.

We welcomed thousands of you into the Phoenix Convention Center, burned our smile lines deeper into our skin and welcomed your warm presence into our hearts. 

YOU are the reason we are here, and the reason Imaging USA exists in the first place. Your excitement and enthusiasm is contagious and it makes the long days more than worthwhile. Your passion affirms our purpose and together we are all shining a bright light in Phoenix. A light that will shine long into the wee hours of the night.

So how about day one at the Imaging Expo?! There was a literal stampede after president Ralph Romaguera cut the ribbon. 

Seriously. Some of you ran. We saw you.

Whether it was for a special deal or a limited edition PPA Team Captain bear, don't fret! PPA and our wonderful exhibitors have plenty more up our sleeves. You didn't see it all in day one. Trust us. There's too much. (Plus, we heard there's ice cream?!)

And how about those classes?! We heard a member say she was brought to tears in Jeff Shaw's morning class. Ross Oskar Knight, Richard Sturdevant and Benjamin Von Wong packed the house to share how they create their unique art, and how you can too. Padraic and Sonia Deasy came all the way from Ireland to show us a thing or two about giving back. And many more wonderful speakers imparted their talent and wisdom in their very own way.

There's so much more tomorrow.

Day two of the Imaging Expo will once again be from 11:30am to 5pm, and PPA has more tricks up our sleeves at the PPA booth. We've got classes in EVERY track, featuring Jeremy Cowart, Kwaku Alston, Heather Chinn, the great John Sexton and so many more. The best of the best will be honored as the night brings the Grand Imaging Awards and the first-ever presentation of the World Photographic Cup. 

So... tired? Not us. Not even a bit. We've got two more days of photography fun on tap. 

Oh, and we've got a party to get to...

See you all there!

For the next few days, Phoenix is officially the photography capitol of the world. Really.

Photographers from across the globe streamed into the Phoenix Convention Center to pick up their registration badges. They've come from New York and Colorado, from Florida and California, from Mexico and France. Denmark, Belgium and Brazil. More than 30 countries, actually. Photographers by the thousands.

Wide-eyed, they inspected the convention center's grounds. There were handshakes and hugs as old friends and first-timers came together.  They grabbed show guides and goodie bags. They wondered what lie behind the Expo doors.

Behind, the tradeshow floor was abuzz with many hands making light(s) work. Beeping forklifts delivered "fragile" crates which exhibitors turned into a bright spectacle. It's a sight to behold.

And it all starts tomorrow!

Attendee registration opens at 7am and closes at 7pm and is located on the Lower Level of the North Building of the Convention Center. At 11:15am at the bottom of the escalators, a ribbon cutting with PPA President, Ralph Romaguera Sr., and the board of directors will signal the official opening of the Imaging Expo. 

Classes begin at 8am and run through 8pm. Day one will feature eight of the 10 speaker tracks. Catch live presentations in the PPA Booth (#925) with (PPA guest-blogger) Mariah Ashley & Trish Gilmore at 3pm and Jeffrey Shaw at 4pm and don't forget to snag a limited edition Team Captain PPA build-a-bear! 

It all wraps-up with the Imaging USA Welcome Party sponsored by Canon, which kicks off at 8pm in the North Building, First Floor, 120 Ballroom.

So plan at your days and lay out your outfits. Get a good night's sleep!

Imaging USA starts, TOMORROW!

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 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!

By: Mariah Ashley

Long dark days. Cold sleepless nights. Sad empty bank accounts. All of your clients have flown south.

Winter is coming.

Well, let it come! This year I am not afraid. Not afraid of White Walkers (gratuitous Game of Thrones reference). I am not afraid of my bank account. Last year at this time I was desperately faking the flu to get out of our trip to Atlanta for Imaging 2013. After struggling all year to stay afloat, all I wanted to do was stay home and cling to the few pennies we had left. My unrealistically optimistic business partner Trish dragged me to the airport and shoved me on the plane to Atlanta, unexpectedly setting us on the bumpy road to success for 2013.

Going to Imaging breathed new life into my defeated self. We left bursting with great ideas to pull ourselves up by the old bootstraps. Since then, we've implemented all we learned in Atlanta and it's made a monumental difference to our business. For starters, this year I will skip merrily onto the plane to Phoenix ready to learn, instead of clawing at the escape hatch desperate to hide. The state of Snap in January 2014? We've booked all the weddings we need, our bank account is pleasantly plump, and my brain is humming along peacefully instead of spiraling into dark places. This is winter people. This is unheard of.

If you are feeling anything like the old panicky broke me, please tell me you are going to Imaging 2014 this week in Phoenix! It's just what the doctor ordered for anyone suffering with a fake flu and dwindling enthusiasm. You may even want to do a little pre-gaming before your trip. To get you in the mood, here are the top 10 things we did this year to turn ourselves around. Imaging was the catalyst for it all.

1. Make Out With like a Cowboy and Brand Everything. Your logo, website, blog, collateral all has to be complementary and cohesive! After Imaging we stopped being schizophrenic with our branding, going so far as to create a Rules For Branding manual. Anyone who doesn't follow the manual gets the hot poker treatment (you don't want to know). P.S. Bonus! If you are already well branded you can skip this step and just make out with a cowboy... or cowgirl while the rest of us are catching up.

2. Join a Cult, of Personality. Selling yourself (not in the biblical sense) is more important than selling your photographs. Show people who you are and they will love you and they will hire you. (Or they won't and you'll get over it because it's them not you). We created a funny video with bloopers, and started a "Behind the Snaps" theme on our blog to give potential clients a glimpse into the charmingly wacky world of the snap girls.

3. Give Til it Hurts (Because it Won't). We stumbled into the PPA Charities party last year and decided we wanted contribute to Operation Smile. We became the top donating studio in the country by donating the money for one surgery every time we book a wedding. This year that means we paid for 43 surgeries. We don't miss a penny of the money we donated and I love imagining 43 smiling little faces in front of me. Bonus! Brides are excited to book with us knowing that they are helping to save a child's smile!

4. Shut Your Pie Hole. It's time to stop talking and really listen to your clients. When you do that, you can start giving the people what they want and not what you think they should have. We used to just tell people what they should buy instead of listening to their needs. We call this "getting off High-Falutin" Highway. As soon as we took the exit to reality town, the bookings began pouring in and our average sales went up.

5. Expose Yourself (But Not in a Trench Coat Kind of Way). I know, it's human nature to want to hide your problems and flaws and pretend everything is alright. But trust me on this, as soon as you start exposing your soft underbelly, your bleak situation will improve. Pull your head out of the sand and start with a PPA SMS consultation. A whole world of non-judgmental support will open up to you.

6. Write Your Wrongs. Writing about the sinking Snap ship and sharing it with the world on the PPA blog ( anybody out there even reading this?) was a scary biweekly occurrence for an entire year. It took me way outside my introverted comfort zone, but it also helped me organize my thoughts and kept me honest with myself. Chronicling our adventures started out as an experiment but became an instrument for positive change. Buy a journal and record your own trials and tribulations. If nothing else, it will help you see how far you've come as you prepare for Imaging 2015!

7. Forget About Losing 20 Pounds. Set yourself up for success. Don't let your business goals go the way of your New Year's Resolutions. Seriously, you are not going to drop 20 pounds by that cruise you are taking in March. Set clear, realistic goals for yourself and your business. For us, that meant paying ourselves every week and eliminating all of our debt. We did both. Still working on that muffin top though. Mmm, did somebody say muffin?

8. Give Your Lazy Butt the Boot. If you do not like to work long hard hours then hang it up now. There is no easy breezy magic recipe for a life of leisure as a wedding photographer. You must hustle, you must work hard, sacrifice your weekends and give it your all each and every day. I used to whine about shooting 30 weddings and then I learned a photographer I really admire shot 50 this year. By herself. I am not worthy. I will never whine again.

9. It's So BAD it's Actually Good. Turn every negative experience you have into a learning experience. We made A LOT of mistakes this year along with the good decisions. Honestly, we learned more from the bad then we did from the good. Do not ignore unhappy clients, jobs you failed to get, or vendors who didn't recommend you. I've started asking every bride who doesn't book us why she went in another direction. Most everyone has shared why and I've learned invaluable insights.

10. You've Got Guts, Trust Them. A low point for me this year was purchasing another photographer's price list for $195. I am mortified that I did that. I was at a weak point, unsure of myself, desperate for anything that could help me price myself correctly. You know what I discovered? The price list I paid $195 was virtually identical to the one I had sweated over for weeks creating. You could buy a lot of muffins for $195. Trust your gut; you have the muffins answers inside you, only you can know what is right for your business.

I want to thank you faithful blog followers for reading along with me this year. I hope that in sharing my follies and foibles I've helped you to feel less alone and maybe even elicited a chuckle or two during your busy work days. If you see me at Imaging, please say hello! I would love to hear from you. Good luck and Godspeed.

Sure, winter is coming, but we've kicked it's frosty butt and so can you. Now where's my hot cocoa?


About the author:
Mariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van,  grew up on a cranberry farm and is happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree. 
Happy New Year! As you begin another year in your photography business, here are some of the top discussions on theLoop from December. Hopefully, some of these discussions will bring some inspiration for 2014!

PPA members share their photography, business and personal goals for 2014. Chime in and see what your peers are striving for this year. 

Long-time pros talk about how things used to be done before digital photography, and what techniques they miss from this age. 

PPA members discuss different hard drives they use and why they prefer them. If you're in the market for a hard drive, this is a discussion you won't want to miss. 

Imaging USA is right around the corner, and this discussion is all about first-timers attending Imaging USA and what they are looking forward to! Dive in and network with some fellow photographers before the conference. 

Sports photographers share their techniques for swim team group and individual photos. There's a lot covered here, from posing to lighting. 

Don't forget, theLoop is PPA's community where members can discuss various photography topics! Not a PPA member? Join today.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2013 is the previous archive.

February 2014 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

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