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PPA Today: August 2014 Archives

August 2014 Archives

Have a gloriously productive Friday! Here are some interesting photography related articles
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 from the around the internet to help you make it to the weekend. 

Learn all about Instagram's revolutionary new app which allows you to take tracking shots and quick, time lapse videos that would make PT Anderson jealous.  

Listen as two photography masters harp on photography clichés and how they make even the most mundane shots unique in their own way.

Understand the difference between "pushy" marketing and marketing that can illuminate and help your customers in this post from Psychology for Photographers. Everyone hates getting spam emails or an annoying commercial jingle you can't get out of your head, but when done well your marketing can be your key to success.  

Use these tips to successfully build your portfolio through creative thinking and practical planning from The Law Tog. And check out some of their past works - it's an awesome resource for the legally minded photographer!

For your inspiration, here are some of Nat Geo's favorite photographs of the cosmos--from aerial thunderstorms to long-exposure images of stars in Greece. 

Yeah, that Socrates. Learn the Socratic Method for photography sales from Elizabeth Halford and find how it can lead to an increase in your bottom line.

What software should you be using for your photo editing needs? Jeff Guyer of DIY Photography covers the basics of both Photoshop and Lightroom and lets you know what you can do to maximize your workflow.  

Learn from Joe McNally how ambient, natural light should be the first element of photography you think about on location--and how it can drive the narrative of your pictures.

Chase Jarvis gives his personal recipe for cultivating creativity and how you can break out of even the worst creative ruts. Read this and see where it might take you on this holiday weekend!

Even the photography greats get nervous before shoots. Learn how National Geographic's Jim Richardson deals with his anxiety and captures some of the most beautiful environmental photographs around. 

And there you have it! The top posts from around the interwebs. What sorts of photography blogs trip your shutter? Let us know on theLoop!
Summer is ending, but these conversations are just starting up! Check out these topics heading up on theLoop:

Do you have a marketing strategy that works? Have a story of one that went horribly wrong? Share it in this thread and learn from everyone's successes and failures!

If you do any street photography, this is a great thread for you! Do you usually get releases? Do you have to? The short answer is yes. Get in on this great conversation for more - it could protect your business down the road!

If you've ever struggled with client gifts--this is a thread for you! Get some creative, cost-effective inspiration for your next client present. 

Have you gone down the path of creating your own studio? Weigh in with advice to a member who is looking to build her own from the ground up! Any tidbits you wish you would have thought of beforehand? 

If you're in need of some full-size reflectors, you can either shop around or make your own! Get the directions to build your own cost effective reflectors here!

Did you know you get a higher weight limit if you're a photographer flying with gear? It's true! No more heavy baggage fees in your future! Get in on this thread and see if there are any other helpful travel tips you can be saving money on!

Before you get to Nashville for Imaging USA 2015, we wanted to provide a platform to get to know your speakers better! In this thread, get to know Booray Perry, his photography and the man behind the camera. We'll have a whole line up of speakers participating in Ask Me Anythings this year - so stay tuned to get in on the next one!

Don't forget, theLoop is PPA's safe and secure online community where members can discuss various photography topics! Not a PPA member? It's easy: join today!


By Danielle Brooks

I seriously think PPA hit the jackpot when they asked me to guest blog for them. I'm not saying I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread, rather so much has happened to me in the past year that I am running the gamut of all things newsworthy. It started with Imaging USA, me losing my job, jumping head first into full-time photography, and literally applying everything I learned at Imaging USA as a business owner. I am so honored to be sharing my ups and downs with you all, and this post is certainly no different. 

This past month I had the most horrific thing that could ever happen to a photographer happen to me. I broke my camera and lens. I still wince even when I type the words. 

I was at Harley Davidson in Daytona Beach when it happened. My husband's company sold them some LED lights for their showroom. I was tasked with taking the before and after photos. My tripod had been acting up lately and I should have taken that as a sign. Sometimes one of the leg joints would give out--the latch wasn't tight enough to keep the leg extended, and because my tripod was cheap there was no way to tighten them. Although at the time, I didn't know that's what was happening. I just thought I was being careless and didn't latch my tripod leg all the way, so sometimes when I was taking a long exposure, it would start to tilt.

Well, this time I left my tripod unmanned to remove some stuff from view. Don't judge. You know we ALL do it. The leg gave way. I didn't see it happen fortunately, or else I might have passed out. All I heard was the crash and the slew of profanities that left my mouth. I ran over to my camera and saw that the lens essentially broke off at the mount. The mount for the lens was still attached to the ring. Luckily no glass was broken. I didn't notice it at the time, but the top of my camera body was cracked. It still seemed to function normally, but we needed to get that fixed too. The only thing I can compare the feeling of breaking your camera to would be accidentally slamming a child's finger in the car door. It probably hurts you more than it hurts them. Plus you're left with the residual guilt.

Fortunately, as a PPA photographer, my gear is covered. I called the insurance company and immediately spoke with a representative. No automated service. I was impressed. 
The woman I spoke with was so calm and reassuring. I'm sure she went home that day and had a good laugh with her family about my quivering, nervous voice on the verge of a breakdown. They emailed me the packet of info I would need to start a claim that day. They told me I could take my gear anywhere to get it fixed and get a quote. My husband and I were already headed to Orlando for our anniversary trip. It just so happened that the biggest Canon representative in the state of Florida is in Orlando. So we swung by. 

They quoted me for the work and then pointed me in the direction of the nearest camera rental facility, which just so happened to be right down the street. We went over there and were able to get a rental. They aren't open on weekends and I had a shoot scheduled for Monday. So I HAD to get a camera. All the while I had two clients call back and book sessions. I was beyond relieved that things worked out for me what would have otherwise been a stressful situation. 

Needless to say, I threw away my tripod and bought a legit one. Never use subpar equipment when it comes to cameras. Unfortunately it was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. 

So if there is any takeaway from this, it's GET INSURANCE ON YOUR GEAR! You can't afford not to. Just by being a PPA member, you have up to $15,000 of PhotoCare Equipment Insurance. You'll be thankful you have it when you need it!

Happy Friday! You've made it through another week - and here are some of the crazy things in the world of photography you may have missed. 

That's a mouthful for a headline, but you'll want to read this piece. The US Copyright Office released the Third Edition of Copyright Office Practices this week - what's that mean for you? A more accessible and transparent document on what copyrights are and aren't, and who can claim them. It's the result of more than two and a half years of work, so settle in, grab a cup of coffee and get up to date!

With the aforementioned updating of the Copyright Office Practices, the Monkey Selfie from a few weeks ago resurfaced. We also learn about monkey selfies, images captured by plants, robots, ghosts or "divine beings". Read more from PetaPixel here. 

National Geographic is no doubt a highly coveted job - you get to travel around the globe, experiencing some of the most majestic places and getting paid to do it. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Well it does come with a long list of hazards. Check it out and get a chuckle from The Photo Society! We can't get over the one that hits every photographer that was interviewed... statistically, almost twice!

NPR's All Tech Considered tackled the topic of the longevity of compact discs this week. If you're still using CDs to store and archive images, it's worth a listen to see what other measures you should be taking in the future. 

The Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture (Frech for "little belt railway") ran during the Industrial Revolution until 1934 and has been completely abandon for 80 years. Photographer Pierre Folk has spent the past three years photographing this historic rail line, and watching nature slowly but surely take over. For some inspiration and some daydreaming imagery, check this piece from This is Colossal here!

Get up close and personal with your subjects with some macro photography! Here's the quick and dirty guide from the Digital Photography School. You will start to see things in a whole new light after this tutorial! 

Is photography an ethical field? Photographer, blogger and author Scott Wyden Kivowitz argues that yes it is, despite getting a bad rep the past few years. Read on here. 

Water is the arch nemesis for any outdoor photographer. What can you do to protect your equipment and still get the shot? Photo Naturalist has some pro tips for surviving damp or wet conditions. 

Saul Leiter has long been recognized as one of the most important street photographers of his time in the arts community. With such great visual subject matter, Filmmaker Tomas Leach produced a work on Leiter's life - In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons In Life from Saul Leiter. Go behind the scenes of this film and gain insight into this icon's life. It is truly an inspirational piece.

And there you have it! The top posts from around the interwebs. What sorts of photography blogs trip your shutter? Let us know on theLoop!

By Mariah Ashley

Author's Note: Required Reading! The Go-Giver, by Bob Burg and John David Mann. A little story about a powerful business idea.

Thumbnail image for louboutins.jpgI was alone in the upstairs bedroom. Amanda (the bride) was late getting back from the salon so I spent my time photographing her dress and invitation. Her mother kept popping in with other things she thought I might find interesting, among them a pair of fabulous Louboutin sequined heels.

"Oh, fancy! Shoes are like porn for women," I joked cradling the shoe near my face.

"So true," said Amanda's mom, with a chuckle. "Everything about this wedding is a little over the top. (nods toward shoes).

"But Amanda is such a good girl, so smart and hardworking. She's such a humble and sweet girl. I just want this to be an amazing day for her."

Amanda's mom left me alone with the shoes and my thoughts. A few days earlier I listened to a podcast by former Imaging USA speaker Jeffery Shaw. He interviewed author Bob Burg on his national best-seller, The Go-Giver, which describes "giving as the most fulfilling and effective path to success."

Burg and co-author John David Mann map out the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success all focused on giving instead of getting. Intriguing! Trish ordered me the book and I devoured the parable in one sitting, highlighting passages like a mad woman. Since then I haven't been able to think about much else besides adding value to my clients lives, with the exception of thinking about how much I was dreading photographing Amanda's wedding.

When Amanda first contacted me, she had just experienced what she described as a "bad engagement session experience" with another photographer she had originally booked to photograph her wedding. She wanted to talk to me about that experience, get my opinion on whether or not her expectations had been unrealistic, and discuss the possibility of having us photograph her wedding instead.

From October 6 to 20, fall Super 1 Day classes will take place all over the globe on every photography

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 skill and strategy you can imagine.

PPA will offer members and non-members alike the opportunity to attend a litany of daily workshops ranging from a class on working with strobe & speed lighting units in California to newborn photography in Daegu-city Korea.

All of the classes are taught by professional photographers and are tailored just for you. There are dozens of different courses offered at a variety of different times and dates, so finding one that fits your busy schedule is a piece of cake.

These events offer both up-and-coming photographers and seasoned veterans the chance to learn from one another and also the chance to network and grow their local market. At just $99 if you book online ($120 in person), the day-long classes are an awesome value. And if you're thinking of joining PPA, this is a perfect opportunity to see what we're all about. If you're already a member you'll receive one service merit for attending each class-- a crucial step towards attaining certifications/degrees.

And also another step forward to BE MORE!

Head to PPA.com/super1day to find a class near you.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Happy Friday! We're back with our favorite photography blog posts of the week. From
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 timelapse to lighting, you'll find a little bit of everything in this roundup. 

If you ever shoot on location and have to travel there by airplane, you know how challenging it can be to figure out what gear to bring, especially with airline luggage limits. If you're one of those photographers that want to error on the side of caution and bring as much gear as possible, check out this post on PetaPixel. Photographer Benjamin Von Wong (and past Imaging USA instructor) shares how you can take advantage of special luggage allowances for media professionals that will allow you to bring as much gear as you want. 

If you shoot timelapse videos, you know how annoying shaky footage can be. Well, Microsoft may have a solution to this problem! Check out this article from Cnet about Microsoft's work on the "hyper-lapse" tool, which has the goal of turning rough timelapse footage into smooth videos. 

One photographer on Fstoppers discusses how switching back to shooting on film as opposed to his DSLR has improved his creativity. There's a lot of interesting points raised in this post. See if you agree! 

Here's some unique photography for your inspiration. Photographer Thomas Leveritt used an Ultraviolet camera to show people what their skin looks like in only UV light. The project was created as a public service announcement on the importance of wearing sunscreen, and the photos are pretty surprising. Check it out on DIY Photography. 

It doesn't matter how long you've been in the photography business, occasionally you'll miss a shot because something is incorrect in your camera settings. Light Stalking provides 5 quick things to always check before you start shooting to make sure you get the photographs you want! These are useful reminders for all photographers.

This post is worth a look for those new to professional photography as well as those that are more experienced. Digital Photography School has collected 15 of the best cheat sheets and infographics that are full of great reminders for photographers. Print them out and keep them for your reference! 

In Focus has a great collection of images of last Sunday's "Supermoon", the largest full moon of the year. If you missed your chance to photograph it this year, get inspired for the next Supermoon with these photographs. And as always, feel free to share your images on our Facebook page: facebook.com/ourPPA 

If you struggle with lighting, or just need some new ideas, check out these lighting tips and ideas on Photography Talk. 

As a professional photographer, you want to keep your business profitable. In this post from the Creative Live Blog, PPA member Joel Grimes outlines 10 pitfalls to avoid that can mean disaster for your business. These things to be on the watch for all come from a class Joel taught, which was inspired by the idea of what advice Joel would give his two sons who recently entered the photography business. There's a ton of great tips here! 

In today's world of digital photography, all photographers are faced with the challenge of competition. Making yourself stand out is key. In this post from The Phoblographer, the impact great lighting can have on your business and your photography is discussed. 

There you have it! What are your favorite spots to get some photography knowledge and inspiration? Let us know on theLoop!

You might have heard, but the International Photographic Competition (IPC) was last week!

The results are in and they are GOOD! More images, more merit images, and WAY more images going loan. Way to go everyone! Here's an excerpt from our official press release below:


A panel of 45 eminent jurors from across the United States selected the top photographs from nearly 5,000 total entries from August 4-7 at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

Judged against a standard of excellence, just over 1,800 images were selected for the General Collection and 918 (roughly 18 percent) were selected for the esteemed Loan Collection--the best of the best. The Loan Collection images will all be published in the much-anticipated "Loan Collection" book and over 200 selected General Collection images will be published in the "Showcase" book by Marathon Press.

Images accepted into the General and Loan Collections will also be on display at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee Feb. 1-3, 2015 during Imaging USA, the annual convention and expo for professional photographers. These images constitute one of the world's largest annual exhibits of professional photography gathered simultaneously under one roof.

Those who didn't earn merits this year didn't have to leave empty-handed. Critiques from the IPC judges were available upon request, and the judges completed roughly 1,800 during the competition. The critiques are offered as a way to help participants find areas of improvement and prepare for future photo competitions.

And for the first time, this year's IPC was streamed live online and 1,570 unique visitors from 13 countries tuned in over the four days. 643 of those weren't involved in this year's competition, showcasing the widespread curiosity in competition, but tentativeness to enter. This is something PPA hopes the live stream will help change.

"This was truly the biggest and best IPC yet," said IPC manager Rich Newell, M.Photog.Cr. "Those critiques must be working; we had about 250 more images go Loan this year. And we're thrilled with how many people viewed the live stream. We hope it showed all the non-participants who watched what truly goes on at competition. Hopefully they won't hesitate to enter next year!"

The IPC challenges photographers to grow their artistic and technical photography skills by creatively capturing and presenting their best images, and by doing so, improving their businesses.

 

Here are a few photos from the judging:

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To view full results of the International Photographic Competition, visit PPA.com/IPC. And go ahead and start practicing for next year! Let's see those numbers soar even higher.

By Penn Hansa, PPA Intern

Jonathan Givens, CPP, isn't just a photographer.

For starters, he was a master carpenter for the Oprah Winfrey show who had never considered picking up a camera until Oprah herself suggested he take pictures of the sets he built for the show. Fast forward 11 years, and Givens is now a Certified Professional Photographer who has made a business out of taking pictures of the thing he loves - entertainment.

Givens grew up as an actor, dancer and singer. He first performed when he was five years old, and was 12 when he had his first paid gig. Theater life was consuming, but Givens didn't want it any other way. "I didn't go to my high school graduation because I was in technical rehearsals for a show," he said. "Theater was always there for me. It was the place where I got to be silly and jump around, and do all the crazy things I wanted to do."

He was doing what he loved - until injuries set him back. He shattered an ankle during a show, and then his voice was "destroyed" by the steroids that were prescribed to help his vocal cords. But Givens couldn't stay away from the stage, and instead, moved his talents behind the scenes to work as a technician in 2001. Taking jobs here and there, he eventually worked as a technical director at a youth theater in Phoenix, where he taught a child actor named Emma Stone how to build scenery.

He made the move to the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2003, and as the carpenter who built the set, was part of the team who won an Emmy the following year for Best Set Design on Oprah's Pop Star Challenge. the host's own version of American Idol. When he built a set for Destiny's Child's appearance on the show, complete with smoke rolling over a moving sidewalk for the singers to walk in time to the beat of "Lose My Breath," he knew he should take pictures of his work. "It was hours of preparation and $80,000 worth of work and materials for only 10 seconds of airtime," Givens said. "I needed some way to document what I was doing, so I wasn't just throwing the set away."

Other highlights of his career include working with Cirque du Soleil in 2006 as head carpenter of the

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 show Alegria on their European tour. He also did rigging on major motion pictures like Iron Man 3 and Rock of Ages and at Univision Studios. In photographing the sets he was building, he began taking pictures of the entertainers he was working with and found that people were much more fun to take pictures of than set pieces. He started his own studio in Miami, Entertainment Photography Specialists, and joined PPA in 2012.

"I didn't want to be just another guy with a camera, which is why I joined and got certified. There are a thousand photographers out there, and tons of people who try to do the work that I do. PPA membership sets me apart from the rest," he said.

He attributes his success as an entertainment photographer to his background as an entertainer and technician, and notes that it's allowed him to capture some unique pictures. As a certified rigger, he was able to set an aerial dancer under a bridge in Portugal, with the 5:30 a.m. sunrise and a lighthouse in the background. "It's definitely different from being just a portrait photographer because I have to set up all the rigging," he said. "It's a logical challenge setting up the images."

What also helps are the emotions he recognizes in the performers, passions that he can empathize with having once had them himself. "I don't get my subjects posing - they are doing what they enjoy, and I take pictures of that. I can see the passion behind what the performer does, from the performer's point of view. When the dancer loses herself in the dance, I click the shutter.

"I photograph what I know - entertainment. I'm not only thinking about the lighting, the composition or all the other technical aspects of photography, but I'm also considering how the image will promote the subject's career, or gain attention for the production," he said. "And that's what's made all the difference."

 

 

Written by IPC Guest Blogger, Christine Walsh-Newton
Blog was originally posted on August 7, 2014

Whew! Was that a roller-coaster ride, or what? IPC 2014 exploded on the scene with a bang and will not be soon forgotten. The excitement of being able to view the judging live online added a whole new dimension to the competition this year! I'm happy, you're happy, we're all happy!

So... yes, I know there's still one more day to go, but some folks' judging has been completed and they're wondering what the next step is - so here are some things you'll want to know about.

1. Results - you should receive your results as the competition is ongoing. Texts are being sent to alert competitors that their image is in line to be judged as well as the results afterwards. If you didn't get signed up for the texts, you can still check how your images are doing by going to the live stream link (http://stream.theipc.org/) , logging in and checking the area that says "View My Images."

The final, official results will be available within several days of the end of IPC 2014 at the PPA website. In 2013, they were available about 1 day later and were posted at: IPC Results

The official results will list your name, the title of your image and the judging results. Results are noted as G, GB or L. G means that your image was accepted into the general collection and will receive 1 merit. GB means that your image was accepted into the general collection AND although it was judged for loan and did not receive a loan designation, a judge felt it was worthy of special recognition and it will be placed in the Showcase Book. More about that later. An L means that your image was judged as worthy of inclusion into the PPA Loan Collection and will receive an extra merit, for a total of 2 merits and will also be published in the Loan Book. More about that later, as well.

2. Bling - Did your name appear in the results four times? Well, happy, happy, joy, joy, you are pretty special! That means that all four of your entries received at least a merit and you are a medalist. You will receive a 4/4 pin suitable for framing... er... suitable for pinning onto your lapel, ID badge ribbon, or if you are degreed, placed upon your medallion ribbon to forever clank when you walk.

There are 5 different 4/4 pins depending on the number of merits & loans that you received:
For photographers with businesses new and old, the Benchmark Survey has been proven to
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 help their businesses. Don't believe us? You heard from June's winner, Heather Sams, CPP, who started her own studio seven years ago. Now, meet A. Michael Fletcher, CPP, of Figge Photography in Newport Beach, California. His family's studio dates back to 1946.

"We're a family of photographers," Fletcher said. "Two master photographers founded our studio, and though we lapsed as members for a spell, we rejoined PPA in 2008 and are so thankful that we did!"

PPA's Benchmark Survey is the industry's only complete financial snapshot and has been helping businesses get a better idea of where they stand and how they can improve their bottom line. Survey participants get a free side-by-side comparison of the results to their financial data. Plus, participants are automatically entered in the monthly giveaway for great prizes. This month, Fletcher won a $500 American Express gift card.

"The Benchmark Survey allows us to measure our success, ferret out our shortcomings and focus on creating solutions, not just for us but everyone who is a PPA member," Fletcher said. "We're proud to be included in this year's survey, and we can't wait for the results!"

Want to better your business and have a chance at winning August's prize - a $500 gift card to B&H? Go to PPA.com/Benchmark and participate!

It's Friday, which means we're back with our favorite photography blog posts of the week.
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 Check them out!

Here's a unique photographic copyright case! It all started when photographer David Slater had his camera grabbed by a monkey, and then it took a selfie. The photo later found its way to Wikipedia, and Slater demanded it removed on the grounds that it violated his copyright, which Wikipedia has refused to do. At first, Slater claimed that Wikipedia told him he didn't hold the copyright, the monkey did! Now, it appears that Wikipedia is claiming that nobody owns the copyright, because it was created by a "non-human animal". Either way, it's a fascinating look at copyright law!
 
Take a look at some photography history! In this short YouTube video by Bill Hammeck, the story of George Eastman, the founder of Kodak, and how he revolutionized photography is told. All photographers should find this interesting.

If you do aerial drone photography, abide by the national park rules and... please don't let this happen to you! Read the report from the Missoulian on how one photographer managed to create a scene at Yellowstone Park when his drone crashed into a hot spring. 

If you want to feel good about knowing how to properly care for your camera, take a look at this FAKE (really, don't do it!) camera cleaning tutorial PetaPixel found. We'd love to know who can make it all the way through the video without having a panic attack! 

All photographers are looking for ways to market their business, which is why we liked this post from Fstoppers. Check out 4 outside of the box marketing ideas that can cost you nothing. Free is always great! 

If you have trouble enhancing skin, check out these tips from Photofocus for retouching skin using Lightroom. 

You may have heard (or watched via the live stream) that the judging for PPA's International Photographic Competition took place this week. If this is your first year entering, or if you need a reminder on what happens now that judging is done, check out this blog post from PPA member Christine Walsh-Newton. She covers what the results mean, what honors you can earn, the loan collection book and more! It's a great overview of the whole post-judging process. 

All photographers should have a website to showcase their work to potential clients. Virtual Photography Studio provides 5 quick tips to keep in mind when building your portfolio website. 

Here's a way of taking photos we bet you've never seen before. Photographer Lia Giraud actually grows his photos using light-sensitive algae, and the results are pretty incredible. Check it out at DIY Photography. 

We end with a little inspiration for you. Check out photographer Kaitlin Kelly's unique infrared photography of famous landmarks. These places have been photographed many times before, but look totally unique using infrared. Along with her photos, PetaPixel also has an interview with Kelly where she discusses her process for creating these images. 

There you have it! What are your favorite spots to get some photography knowledge and inspiration? Let us know on theLoop!

A first-timer's account of the International Photographic Competition

 

By Penn Hansa, PPA Intern

I naïvely thought I had been at PPA long enough to know what to expect when we went to the International Photographic Competition - lots of images, seasoned judges sitting in a dim room deciding whether the image presented should merit and a solemn air of importance surrounding the entire event.

I was only half correct. IPC is much, much more.

It's an invaluable experience, a chance to learn from some of the most talented photographers in the industry and oddly enough, it feels like a family reunion -- if your family were made up of experienced IPC judges, that is.

"Do you want to see my granddaughter?" a judge asks, while waiting for the next round of judging to start. He pulls out his iPhone and flicks through the images before anyone replies.

"Only if I get to show you mine," another judge replies. "And then we can judge the images!" They all laugh.

But when the session starts, it's all business. In the digital room, the judges sit in twos or threes, and as an image comes on the screen in front of them, they'll review and tap in their vote on an iPod Touch. Oftentimes, they'll lean closer to the screen to see the image more closely, viewing it from different angles to make sure they haven't missed a pixel when considering it.

A common misconception about IPC is that the judges will favor images that suit their style. Because they score in a matter of seconds, it seems easy to believe it. But when a judge challenges an image, it's all laid out on the table and it's clear to see that their deliberation is intense. They'll each speak at length about why they favor an image to merit or what fell short, citing the 12 elements of a merit image

"It's not about the treatment of an image, and whether I like it or not," said Allison Watkins, M.Photog.Cr., CPP. "I have to put my preferences aside to see the image impartially."

I wanted to see more of the thought process behind the deliberation, so I headed to the critique rooms, where judges offer their thoughts and constructive criticism about the image. For each image that is being critiqued, the judge will talk about the image as a whole, explaining their stream of thought as they look at it, including both the positive and the negative. It's a real learning experience to see exactly what makes an image merit and truly invaluable.

I settled behind Gregg Wurtzler, M.Photog.Cr., as he critiqued a few images, and then pulled up a new one. Wurtzler has 14 years of judging and critiquing images under his belt.

"What do you think about this one?" he asked me as he made his initial assessment.

I tried to keep in mind what I had learned about the 12 elements from watching earlier judging and critiques, but was drawing a blank. I liked the image, but something about it seemed off, and I couldn't place my finger on the correct term.

He just chuckled at my confusion and started his critique, first complimenting the photographer on his choice of subject and capturing the right moment, then describing how the photographer could have improved his composition, to notice the placing of the subject's hands and the busy background that was detracting from him.

"At first, it's sometimes difficult to look at the image and have to guess why the judges didn't merit it," Wurtzler said after he finished the critique. "But we've all been doing this long enough that we can usually pinpoint what it is."

Later, I sat behind Mark Garber, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, who has helped thousands of photographers with his critiques.

For any photographer who hasn't entered competitions, take this as an incentive: Garber is a huge advocate, and made a point to encourage all the photographers in his critiques to keep entering their images.

"Competition is quickest way to improve photographic skills," he said. "Every photographer has had images that didn't merit, so don't be discouraged when it happens to you."  

Convinced of the fun and invaluable experience IPC is yet? Find out more about entering your images, becoming a PPA-approved juror and other competitions at PPA.com/IPC.

 

By John Owens

The PPA team took its annual field trip up go Gwinnett Tech for the International Photographic Competition yesterday. Last year, I entered the International Photographic Competition as a wide-eyed rookie. This year, as a crusty, second-year veteran, I knew the drill.

But you know what? It was at least as exciting. And it's because the images are new and the judges' passion is unwavering.

There was also the added element of the first ever IPC live stream. When we arrived, Scott Morgan, director of information technology for PPA, informed us that roughly 850 unique users were currently watching. About 250 of those weren't even involved in the competition!

The stream features live audio from each judging room, with the digital image shown on the screen. It's perfect theater for Warren Motts, M.Photog.Hon.M.Photog.Cr., A-ASP, F-ASP, whose baritone voice lent his digital judging room added drama.

What those at home can't see is the added action in the print room. The white-gloved volunteers placing each print in the turnstile. The judges' routine of getting up from their seats for an inches-away look at each corner of the image. Every color correction, every shadow, every pixel. Glasses on, glasses off.

Past PPA president and current chairman of the board, Ralph Romaguera Sr., M.Photog.Hon.M.Photog.Cr., CPP, API, F-ASP, was in his ultimate element (he's never really out of it) in the print room. As one of the rooms' jury chairmen, he led the judging and addressed the live stream audience whenever possible. "Hello out there in PPA land..." began each session.

For the judges, the IPC is photographic summer camp. It's their unofficial halfway point to Imaging USA--a chance to hang with longtime friends and colleagues and share in the passion that unites them. There's an equal share of hugs and friendly verbal jousting. The kind of environment you find in a tight-knit family, one that pulls you right in and embraces you.

A particular welcome sight was Keith Howe, M.Photog.M.Artist.MEI.Cr., CPP a longtime IPC judge whose battle with lymphoma and ongoing recovery has been followed here on our blog. "I'm moving pretty slow," he said. "But I'm happy I'm here."

They come together both for each other and for the greater good of the industry. To keep the competition and quality of winner images moving forward. They come for fellowship and to be wowed be beautiful imagery. They want to see something new.

"It's amazing how much time the judges spend every year nurturing this thing called image competition," said Randy McNeilly, M.Photog.Cr., MEI, API chairman of the Photographic Exhibition Committee (PEC). "I'm more proud to be an IPC judge than everything else I've accomplished in photography."

There are currently around 100 judges in the committee, with 20 hoping to join their ranks in this year's Judges Workshop, running alongside the competition. If averages hold, 3 of them will become approved jurors this year.

As for the IPC itself, the competition continues its upward trend. Total submissions crept over 5,000 for the first time this year, with nearly 2,000 of those earning merits and going back in for a second round of judging to see who will make up this year's prestigious Loan Collection book. 1,800 critiques were given, up from last year's 1,500.

From a photography standpoint, what impresses me most is the selection process. Think about how many images you capture over the course of a given year. Now choose four. That's all you get.

Now refine them into something amazing. Find a mentor and ask for their input. Maybe even enter them in a district competition beforehand to see how they rank. Should this leaf be here? What this line doing there? How's the lighting? The cohesiveness?

Everything matters. Even the title of your image can have a tremendous impact on its... impact. That's most paramount in the print room, when the title is read the moment it is turned into the judges' view. Does your image tell the story your title implies? Does it add something to the image?

It's something to think about.

By mid-afternoon, stream unique visitors climbed to 1,030, with 345 non-participants. Clearly the curiosity is there, so now that you've seen how the machine works, we hope you'll give it a try next year.

Oh, and speaking of that live stream, you can tune in to see who's going Loan right now! Judging continues for another 24 hours!


by Mariah Ashley

My son Jacques is not a joiner, not a jock and let's just say not terribly motivated.

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Upon my insistence, he has committed himself to participating in a high school sport. Since he abhors football, is bored to death by baseball and can't dribble to save his life, he is running on the cross country team.

The "unofficial" team training started in July under the very loose control of three senior brothers, triplet captains whose parents were Olympic runners. The coach has devised a running program that divides the team into three categories: those who will go on to be Olympians like their forefathers, those with gazelle blood in their veins and my snoozy soon to be sophomore son. After the team warms up together Jacques is left plodding along alone in his size fourteen sneakers while the other boys with normal sized feet rocket past him.

Each morning at 7 a.m. we have same routine.

"Jacques get up it's time for running."

"I don't want to go today," he pleads from under a mountain of blankets. "Can't I just run on my own?"

"No!" I insist, shaking the lump of blankets that contains my son. "You are part of a team; that means you run with the team. You joined this team, so you need to BE MORE dedicated!"

"But I don't run with the team. I run on my own. How about I run with you? Mother-son time?"

"Nice try. The captains need to see that you are showing up. It's about being together as a team. You need to BE MORE social."

"I don't care about that." He groans, rolling over and scooting like a 6' 1" caterpillar toward the far end of his bed.

"JUST GET UP! YOU ARE GOING!" I shout, slapping the lump. "Really, you need to BE MORE motivated."

The teenage lump finally rises and I drive it to the high school and park inconspicuously so as not to embarrass it. I notice a few cross country kids sitting on picnic tables at the far end of the parking lot. The lump doesn't move from his seat.

"Jacques, aren't you going to get out?"

"I'll wait a few more minutes till the rest of team shows up," he says reclining his seat all the way back, making himself invisible.

"Why? What's wrong with those kids? Why don't you go sit with them?"

"I don't like them," he mumbles. "They're seniors. They're jerks."

"It's weird to want to sit in the car with your mom. You should BE MORE friendly. Go ahead, get out of the car and go sit with your team," I insist pushing him out the door.

He makes his way reluctantly over to the older kids and sits down awkwardly at the far end of the table. Without a word directed in any direction he stuffs his headphones in his ears and stares at his phone. The rest of the team chats casually. This is painful to watch. The other boys are older, fitter, confident. Shirts are stripped off, flirtations exchanged with the girls running team and then they are off like a pack in one direction with Jacques running off alone in the other. My heart breaks a little for him and I fret about him for the next hour while I wait to pick him up.

PPA CEO David Trust goes up to Washington whenever he can to meet with people like Howard Coble (R-NC) to advocate for photographers' copyrights. But that doesn't mean that the action stops when he returns to Atlanta. Now that PPA partners with the Nickles Group, PPA is more active and knowledgeable than ever before.

With these new abilities (thanks Nickles Group!), we can let you know who is saying what to whom and where. That being said; here's the latest scoop from the Hill! 

The House Judiciary Committee recently held a copyright hearing with several testimonies from experts. Here's three of those testimonies and what it means for photographers!

1). All artists benefit from copyright advocacy! We got a good example with Rick Carnes, of the Songwriters Guild of America, arguing for a balance between fair use of works and protection for high volume producers. He stood by the current fair use doctrine that is in place in Title 17 of the U.S. Code which dictates the non-infringing uses of copyrighted works. However, he also advocated for workable remedies for small claims when copyrighted works are stolen. Ideally, this could mean for photographers that they wouldn't have to go to federal court and be required to have (very costly) legal representation.

2). Remember the 70 years post-mortem, 120 years post-creation, or 95 years post-publication rules for copyright protection? Michael Carroll, a professor at American University Washington College of Law, argued that the current copyright term should not be extended further. Thomas Sydnor, of the American Enterprise Institute, agreed, and finds that there is little to no benefit in continuing to extend the copyright term in regards to small, medium, or large businesses. 

Over the last fifty years, the copyright term has been extended. Most notably it has been extended whenever the copyright for Mickey Mouse is about to enter the public domain. Would anyone like to guess who is behind this? That's right, Disney. The Hollywood and Disney lobby have poured huge amounts of money into ensuring the extension of the copyright term over the last fifty years. 

The bearings that this has on photographers are non-particular. Meaning, anyone who has ever owned a copyright is affected by this change in the same way. Once you die, your dictated heir is not going have entitlements to the copyright(s) for as long. While this is non-particular to photographers, the fact that this discussion has made headway in the legal debate represents a dramatic shift away from what is known as the Disney Curve. The Disney Curve has dominated the extension of the copyright term with the sole intent of keeping the figure of Mickey Mouse out of the public domain. If the status quo on this were to change, it would represent one of the greatest fundamental shifts in copyright policy in the last 50 years 

3). Karyn Clagget, of the U.S. Copyright Office, thoroughly argued that visual artists should be able to receive compensation relative to the increase in value over time as opposed to a mere flat rate. For photographers, this would mean that as your work grows in value, you'd be compensated accordingly. Royalty claims can be made with the proper contracts on anything created with a copyright. For more information on how you can control royalties, review our limited usage contract under Copyright Resources on our website!

 The House of Representatives Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet heard another round of testimonials addressing the need to remedy current issues within the Copyright Law (and there are many). Here's how this hearing relates to our members:

1). Longtime PPA friend Steven Tepp, of Sentinel Worldwide, made the case that there were significant problems in the current copyright remedies legal environment. He argued for higher available statutory damages, since awarded damages are currently at a historical low point. He also argued for harsher penalties that could function better as a preventative measure as well as a higher top-end of possible monetary compensation for infringement cases.

This goes along with the availability for small claims courts for copyright cases. Though, instead of focusing on the methods of how damages are acquired, Tepp choose to spoke about altering the available results for whichever court might make a ruling on this. Remember though, the small claims court doesn't exist (yet). Let's hope his testimonial opened some eyes and ears on the Hill.

2). Nancy Wolff, partner at Cowan, Debaets, Abrahams & Shepard LLP, supported the U.S. Copyright Office's report on small claims recommendations. In support of this report, she argued for the ability to bring small claims cases to a court without the need of expensive legal representation and a procedure that lowers the plaintiffs' expenses relating to any sort of legal action.

Both Tepp and Wolff are attempting to streamline legal processes for high volume visual artists like photographers. Too often times, infringed-upon artists can do very little simply because it quickly becomes cost-prohibitive to pursue legal action, even if your business has been damaged. Hopefully, these testimonies will help our U.S. Representatives understand that things do need to change!

The above testimonies and arguments contribute to enlightening those who can make these changes and will help shape the way new copyright laws are made. Each testimony is a small piece of the giant puzzle that is a Law being passed. We'll keep you updated anytime we hear more from Washington!

Here's your latest guest column from none other than Bridget Jackson, resident guru for all things numbers and profitability. Bridget is the manager of PPA Business and also a CPA. She's helped hundreds of photography studios be more profitable and will address some common questions each month. Heed her advice folks--this lady knows her stuff!

7 Questions to Ask Before You Start a Business

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Most people think that the barrier to entering the photography business is low. All you need is to buy a camera, create a Facebook page, and start taking pictures. But consider the odds: 25 percent of new business start-ups close in the first year, and another 25 percent fail in the next four years. How do you beat the odds? You have to set your business up to succeed by asking and answering the following critical questions:

1). What products and services will you provide?

Your business plan should clearly define what you are offering in terms of products and services and how that compares to competitors in your market. It is important for you to carve out a piece of the market to make a profitable and sustainable business.

2). Who is your target client and how will you reach them?

In other words, it's not only important to identify your target client, but you also need to reach them through different marketing mediums. Your integrated marketing strategy should include a blend of marketing mediums such as print, digital and interactive and social media. The results of these efforts should determine if you have an adequate population of potential customers to reach your sales goals.

3). How does your business stand out?

Your one unique selling proposition is YOU. It's who you are that makes all the difference. It's the reason that the one product or service you provide is different from and better than that of the competition. This is where you need to shine through your art, product offerings and customer service. You must be distinguishably different from your competition.

4). Where will business be conducted, and how many employees will you need to provide the level of customer service your ideal client will expect?

It's important for your physical presence, the way you present yourself, where you conduct business and how you conduct business to be an extension of your brand and should resonate with your ideal client. Initially, the number of employees you need to deliver the level of customer service you want to project might not be ideal, but don't compromise. Find ways to outsource workflow in seasonal times so customer service isn't neglected.

5). How much start-up money will it take to open the doors and keep them open until you turn a profit?

I mentioned the barrier to a photography business is relatively low; however, after answering the first four questions, I'm confident you have realized that the barrier is misleading. It requires an investment of money and time to set up a photography business to achieve profitability. Prepare a conservative five-year projection of income and expenses, and re-evaluate yearly to confirm you are on track as most businesses are to show a profit in the in the first year of business.

6). What will be the source of the funds needed for start-up and sustainability?

Consider how much you are willing to invest and potentially lose, how much is needed from outside sources and how much you can generate in profits to reinvest in the business. Clearly identify these sources and include in your five-year projection a plan to pay back yourself and anyone else.

7). What type of business structure will you choose?

What forms do you need to file, and which licenses do you need to obtain to assure compliance? The type of business structure you have will depend on two factors: liability and taxation. PPA recommends when you are just starting out and you have substantial personal assets to be a LLC.

Your business can also benefit from business advisors and mentors. You should develop relationships with a banker, an accountant and an attorney before you start. Additionally, as a PPA member, you can get malpractice insurance, up to $15,000 of free equipment insurance, free education, connections to industry mentors, certification and other vital resources to help you run a profitable business. The Benchmark Survey and its principles are also helpful when setting up prices and measuring your business' growth.

There are no assurances that a business will succeed, let alone be profitable, but setting yourself up for success through planning certainly can help.

It's a shameless plug, but after all, we're here to help: Join instructor Jen Basford, Cr.Photog., November 15-16 in Atlanta for PPA's Business Basics Workshop. You'll learn strong business principles that will help you create a solid foundation for your business. The class will give you the information and confidence you need as you plan for a profitable and sustainable business.

It's Friday, which means it's time to share 10 more of our favorite posts from around the web!
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 From tutorials to laughs, you'll find it all here.
 
Here are some great tips from DIY Photography on how you can create multiple backgrounds using only a seamless white background. You might be surprised how versatile this one piece of (cheap) equipment can be!
 
Wow, this post made us nearly die of laughter. We all need a good laugh now and then, so check out what happened when this husband took his wife's place in maternity pictures. Hilarious stuff! 

If you photograph dance recitals, or want to get into this market, this post from Improve Photography provides some great, easy advice to keep in mind to get the best results possible. 

Here's a great post for those still learning how to light! The pop-up flash on your camera is great, but PetaPixel provides some simple alternative methods of lighting you'll want to try out. You never know what might make your images really stand out. 

If you've ever struggled with lighting a group shot outdoors in full sunlight, this tutorial from Strobist is right up your alley. The post walks you through the steps and equipment you can use to get awesome photographs next time you find yourself with this challenge. 

If you shoot any imagery that includes glass, you've probably run into the issue of reflections showing up in the photograph. This quick tutorial on PhotoFocus shows how you can get rid of these pesky reflections. 

If you're in need of some inspiration, this post from A Photo Editor is a great read. Read how photographer Stephen Mallon landed the job of photographing the salvage of Flight 1549 after the Hudson River incident in New York, and how this assignment lead to his transition to capturing video. 

Many photographers could use less stress when it comes to photo editing. After all, the less time you're spending on photo editing, the more time you can spend shooting. Digital Photography School provides 4 tips in this post that can make the photo editing process easier on you.
 
Do you want to create photography that looks like a still captured from a film? Check out this post from Fstoppers, where several photographers share how they create imagery like this. 

We wrap up with some beautiful, interesting imagery from photomicrographer (meaning he photographs very small things) Danny Sanchez. PetaPixel has a collection of his photographs of the inside of gemstones, as well as the steps Sanchez used to create these unique images.

There you have it! What are your favorite spots to get some photography knowledge and inspiration? Let us know on theLoop!


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