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PPA Today: September 2014 Archives

September 2014 Archives

You've got a pumpkin spice latte in one hand and a folder full of images you need to review in the other. People walk with their hands in their pockets; everyone talks fantasy football and Halloween. It's then you realize that fall has arrived, and with it, the responsibility of making sure your business is in in order for the New Year! Breathe that crisp, cool autumn air deeply, and fret not because PPA has your back.

This fall we have several upcoming educational opportunities for members to take advantage of. Here is a rundown of some of our free, live-learning events that can help you maximize your business and start the New Year off right:

Free webinars!

Finding Your Missing Pieces for Profitability in Photography
October 7, 2014 - 2 pm ET
With Jeff Lubin, M.Photog.Cr.

New Member Orientation
October 8, 2014 - 2 pm ET

How to Create a Profitable Pet Photography Business
October 21, 2014 - 2 pm ET
With Kim Hartz, CPP

The Origin of Style
October 23, 2014 - 2 pm ET
With Thom Rouse, M.Photog.MEI.Cr., CPP, F-ASP

Income Tax Strategies
November 13, 2014 - 2 pm ET
With Bridget Jackson, CPA, PPA Business Consultant

Creating Your Social Media Plan
November 18, 2014 - 2 pm ET
With John Pyle

In addition to our webinars, don't forget that Super 1 Day Photo Workshops start next week! For two weeks (10/6-10/20), dozens of studios will open their doors and host classes on a vast array of subjects, from posing and lighting to effective business practices. Don't miss out on this awesome opportunity to learn from some of the best photographers in the world!

PPA closes out its "school year" with the final CPP Prep Class and Business Workshop of 2014. There's still time to register for both and end your year with a bang.

Business Basics Workshop
November 15-16, 2014 in Atlanta

In this two day business workshop for portrait and senior photographers, Jen Basford, Cr.Photog., gives hands on advice on how evaluate your business strengths, develop a profitable pricing structure and use proven marketing ideas to bring more clients to your door.

Upcoming Certification Prep Classes
November 3-5, 2014 in Atlanta

Thinking about taking the Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) exam? We're offering this class to help you pass the exam and learn tons of additional information about the how to effectively run a photography business.

By Mariah Ashley

When my daughter was two and having a bad day because she was asked to eat her

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 vegetables, told it was time to go to bed or scolded for coloring on the kitchen wall, she didn't get sad and cry. Instead she got mad. She'd clench her fists and grit her little Chiclet teeth. Looking up at from me from behind her bowl cut she'd snarl, "You're the one what did it! You're the one what made me sad!" It was hilarious and disturbing all at the same time. She's twelve now. We're still working on it. But that's another story.

The story I want to tell today is a cautionary tale of how NOT to be The One What Did It, The One What Made Your Clients Sad, because it's always a good day when you aren't ruining your clients wedding. I've had cause to ponder this question lately as I've helplessly watched a few fellow wedding vendors wreaking havoc on my clients.

Take the case of the overly dramatic/distracted justice of the peace. I've been working with Fred the JP for years and without fail, I hear him before I see him. Fred shouts my name when he sees me regardless of the distance between us, the setting we are in, or the inappropriateness of shouting at a wedding. Fred also stands right behind me and breathes what's left of his lunch at the back of my neck. He likes to make small talk during the ceremony processional, which is of course a causal moment where we both have free time and no job to do. I awkwardly bob my head to avoid being rude to Fred while trying to nail my shot of the bride and her father coming down the aisle toward their bobble-headed photographer.

A few weeks ago I worked with Fred again. It was status quo; shouting across the lawn, small talk and bobble-heading. But wait, this day had a twist! Moments before the ceremony, Fred beckoned me to photograph the signing of the marriage license. The mother of the groom was about to sign as the first witness. Fred as chatty as ever, hurriedly explained to her to "sign here" and "print here" and then waived his finger over the area for her signature. He turned to me and continued his blah-blah-ing, leaving her to her own devices. You can see where this is going. Yes, she signed in the wrong spot.

"Oh no! Oh my! I've signed in the wrong spot!" she gasped, squinting at the document.

"What?!" he shouted, jerking his attention from me back to her.

"What do we do now?" she asked.

"Nothing, now! It's not like I have another copy!"

That's when the groom walked over.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Well your mother has just ruined this legal document by signing on the wrong line. It's invalid and you can't be legally married without it."

The groom's face drained of all color. The groom's mother started ringing her hands and apologizing.

"I love you mom but I can't look at you or talk to you right now." said the dismayed groom.

The wedding planner was the next on the scene of the disaster.

"What's going on?" she asked. "I heard raised voices."

"I'll tell you what's going on, this is all garbage," announced Fred brandishing the ruined document and waiving his hand over the lawn indicating that the $100K wedding was now trash.

"Don't say that!" said the horrified wedding planner coming to the defense of the stricken groom. "You cannot tell my clients that their beautiful wedding is garbage!"

"Can you believe these people Mariah?!" asked Fred a few moments later behind the backs of the wedding planner and the nauseous groom. I just bobbled my head and walked away but what I wanted to do was clench my fists and grit my Chiclets and snarl. "Fred! You're the one what did it! You're the one what made them sad!"

September was a busy month on theLoop! Check out some of our favorite discussions below:

When you finish a photo shoot, how do you know which photos to keep, and which ones to delete? Members share various tactics they use to tackle this tricky situation. 

If you're thinking of offering metal prints to your clients, be sure to check out this thread first! Members share their favorite companies for metal print production. 

Being out on a photo shoot can take a toll on your body! Check out these tips on keeping healthy and injury-free while you're on the job. 

If you're looking for a good print lab, or thinking of switching to a new one, you'll find lots of useful advice and points you should consider when choosing a print lab in this discussion!

Do you define your photography by a certain style? Members share their thoughts on developing style and what they think their own personal style is. Don't miss this interesting thread! 

If you photograph handicapped children, or have been offered this type of work, you'll find some fantastic advice for how to handle posing. You'll get lots of great ideas and advice in this post. 

This discussion deals with a common problem photographers face: getting prints back from the lab that look dramatically different than they did on your computer screen. Your monitor calibration could be the problem. If you have this problem, take a look. Your fellow photographers have great tips for calibrating different monitors, and if you can't find yours being discussed, there's a good chance you can post the make and model and find an answer! 

If you've ever dealt with someone wanting rights to an image that wasn't initially included in your agreement with them, this is the discussion for you! Find out how to draft an agreement that meets both of your needs through this post, and don't forget that you always have access to PPA's Copyright Resources for more advice. 

If you shoot on location, you know that transporting your gear can be a pain. Learn different methods that have worked for other PPA members in this discussion. 

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!

A New Era for Credit Card Processing Rates and a Reality for PPA Photographers

Buckle up for some big news everyone: PPA has joined forces with Bank of America to offer

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 what is potentially your most money-saving benefit yet. Get ready to be even more profitable!

This new benefit means massively discounted rates on credit card processing for all PPA photographers. If you sell prints online, accept credit card payments at your studio or process mobile transactions, this could mean huge, tangible, cost-of-doing-business savings.

Now, you're probably thinking, Sounds good, but how does it save me money?

Here's the breakdown:  PPA is able to offer these deeply discounted rates because we use Bank of America (BOA) Merchant Services too! Like, a lot (several thousand transactions each month). Since there are 27,000+ PPA photographers and most of you renew each year, Bank of America agreed to extend our volume discount to all of you.

That's right, this means that PPA photographers will be able to get the same low credit card transaction processing rate that's normally reserved to very-large size businesses! That's the benefit you reap from belonging to the world's largest photography nonprofit!

That incredibly low rate should help you save a good bit by reducing the so-called interchange fees you end up paying anytime you use a credit card processing service. These are the pesky fees you pay to a bank when you accept a credit card payment.

Bank of America's reduced pricing for PPA photographers puts your rate at interchange plus a crazy low 0.07 percent with a flat hard-to-beat $0.07 per transaction fee. It's easy to do the math and figure out you've got big savings headed your way.

At the end of the day, photographers always end up eating the cost of these pesky fees. With that in mind, and to give you an example of just how much cash savings this can represent, we asked two PPA photographers to send us a month's credit card processing statement with their current service provider. Kelly Sullivan, the point of contact for all PPA-related business at Bank of America, then plugged the numbers in and the comparative results blew us away.

The first photographer's previous merchant charged a converted interchange rate of 0.73%. With the new PPA discounted rate of 0.07% (see the difference?), that studio shaves off about $2,500 per year in credit card processing fees. That alone would pay for your PPA membership for the next 7 consecutive years! (or some new gear, I know, I know...)

"This first studio is on tiered pricing for their credit card transaction fees and their pricing structure is interchange plus, so the savings is going to be approximate and not exact. With that said, our [BOA] pricing model is showing that if this studio was on the new PPA program, they would save $2,500 per year (based on their current credit card transaction volume). For this PPA member, that amount represents 3 months of free credit card processing services!"

The second PPA photographer would save even more: $3,000!

"This Square* user would save about $3,000 per year with the new PPA discount. Since Square charges 2.75% for all card types, no matter what interchange level they fall to, BOA's discount will represent significant savings to any photography studio that uses Square. To give you an idea, the wholesale cost of a regulated debit card is 0.05% and $0.22 per transaction. Since PPA's preferred pricing is interchange plus 0.07% and $0.07, we would charge 0.12% and $0.29 on this same transaction. Take, for example, an average sale of $500. With Square, that would cost $13.75 (or 2.75%). With the BOA PPA discount, the photographer would only play $0.89 on that same transaction. That's a difference of $12.86 on this one example alone!"

[* - For those unfamiliar, Square is a popular, easy-to-use credit card processor, but they charge a very high 2.75% processing rate.]

These aren't shrug-your-shoulder savings, this is big time. We hope you'll consider learning more about the program and checking out how much money you could save. Kelly Sullivan at Bank of America is offering free statement comparisons. That 0.07 rate plus $0.07 per transaction is so hard to beat; they will most likely save you a large about of cash each month.

Call 888-317-5402 (7am-7pm CST) or email TellMeMore@BankofAmericaMerchant.com

Be More Business-Savvy!

For even more reasons to get in on this new service, head to PPA.com/BAMS, or jump on in and make the switch now!

And if all that sounds too good to be true, ask your credit card company to match that rate and see what they say. Trust us, it's not. It's your newest PPA member benefit. We've told you before and we won't stop: PPA has your back.

Welcome to the end of your week! Hooray! You did it! Since you were probably out running around, being extremely productive and profitable, we wanted to round up our favorite photography-related posts from around the internet for you! 

COMPETITION: Photo Throwdown is an online series that pitches two pros against each other with photo challenges. It's education, entertaining and you get to see some of the industry's best in some weird situations. Check out this week's episode with Jen Rozenbaum versus Chris Fain (and cast your vote for who you think did the best job)!

INSPIRATION: If you love nature photography, you will enjoy the top 10 photographs from the Zoological Society of London's annual competition. The winning images will be on display in a special exhibit in the London Zoo! It might even inspire you to go explore this weekend and see what you can find!

BAD BUSINESS: File this one under "bad business practices" - see how this California Attorney made it seem like she was hob-knobbing with the likes of Morgan Freeman, Donald Trump, Ellen DeGeneres and so many more with the help of Photoshop! There hasn't been any news of copyright infringement on this case yet, but we wouldn't be surprised if that was coming down the line. Lesson learned: Photoshop can be used for both good & evil.

JUST FOR FUN: American photographer Sandro Miller partnered with John Malkovich to recreate some of the most famous portraits captured throughout history. The project is aptly titled, "Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich: Homage to photographic masters." Check out some of the highlights here. 

COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT: Get a first-hand take on how copyright infringement impacts photographers on a day to day basis. Alex Wild walks you through the battle between copyright and the internet and why the thinks the internet won. (Don't let this article get you down - review your copyright resources here!)

SAY WHAT?: The US Forest Service wants you to pay to play when taking photographs or videos on their 36 million acres - up to $1,000 (no, that's not a typo). Read up on both sides of the story here, and we'll keep you updated on what comes of this. 

PRO TIP: The folks over at PhotoFocus have some hot tips on using Lightroom collections to organize your photos. Organization? Streamlining your workflow? You can't miss it. 

SAVVY GEAR SHOPPING: Leave it to the folks at Photography Concentrate and their top 10 ways to save big on photography gear. We'd like to add an eleventh tip: Join us at the Imaging USA Expo[LINK]. There are deals on deals for new gear and you get to try before you buy. 

TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE: Many photographers get their start in nature or landscape photography, in many cases because it's easy to experiment and the subject doesn't talk back about how their hair looks. Here are 21 tips to get experimental with your flower power photography!

GEAR HEADS: Strobist is here to save the day with some things to consider when investing in a new tripod. This piece of equipment holds your most valuable pieces of equipment, so it should go without saying that you shouldn't skimp on the funding. See what else they have to say here. 

There it is! Your top 10 photography blog posts from around the web this week. What photography blogs have you been enjoying? Let us know on theLoop!




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

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

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

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

Registration information available here: ImagingUSA.org/register

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It all started on Feb. 4, 2005, when Maddux Achilles Haggard was born with a condition

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 called myotubular myopathy. He couldn't breathe, swallow or move on his own. On his sixth day, his parents, Mike and Cheryl, made the decision to take him off life support. But first, they asked photographer, and then PPA board member, Sandy Puc', to take black-and-white portraits of them with their son before and after they took him off life support.

Four months later, Puc' received a call from a client's sister who was having a baby under similar circumstances. However in this instance, the hospital didn't tell the family their baby wasn't going to make it. Puc' talked with Cheryl Haggard afterword and expressed her guilt that she wasn't able to give this family her best and most professional images because the family wasn't told. It turned out that Haggard too felt guilt--that she had these professional images and other families had a Polaroid or cell phone image at best.

And it clicked--they decided to turn grief into passion and love and formed Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS), named after the children's bedtime prayer. Within six months the PPA affiliate had over 2,000 volunteers. Now as it approaches its tenth year, NILMDTS annually serves tens of thousands of families, providing over $5 million in services per year. What started as a grassroots movement in Colorado now reaches every state in the U.S. and is present in 42 countries worldwide.

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At first weary that the photographers were taking advantage of grieving parents, hospitals now refer to NILMDTS volunteers as "the angels" because of the work they provide. Staff at partnered hospitals is trained to mention NILDMTS if a situation arises where the infant isn't expected to survive, and in other cases, the families themselves will reach out. According to co-founder, Sandy Puc', 60 percent of requests come from hospitals while the other 40 come directly from the families. The work is done completely on a volunteer basis.

"Our photographers pack their bags and go to the hospitals for free," said Puc'. "They don't promote their own business--they represent the organization. There's no money exchanged, but the value to these families and the world is tremendous."

As the organization has grown, NILMDTS has become a recognized part of the grieving process.

"These families go to the hospital super excited with a diaper bag and painted nursery back home, and they leave with "how to grieve" literature--that's it," said Puc'. "They don't know how to prepare or how to grieve."

Another Friday, another roundup! We're back with our weekly collection of our favorite
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photography blog posts around the web. Here's the top 10:

SAFE & LEGAL: We've said it before, and we'll say it again, please don't hold photo shoots on train tracks! This article from MetroNews Canada details the close call one photographer and a newlywed couple had while shooting on train tracks. If you think it's not dangerous or that nothing will happen to you, take a look at this post. It'll make you think again! And if that's not enough, just know that every 3 hours, a person or a vehicle is actually hit by a train! For more information, check out OLI.org

GEAR: Phase One has released a new version of their popular Capture One Pro software. If you use this software, you'll want to check-out this post on PetaPixel, where the new features are detailed. 

BUSINESS: Many photographers feel anxiety when it comes to making changes to our business. This article on Fstoppers does a great job of discussing the cause of these fears, and how you can overcome them! 

FUN: Photo Throwdown is a brand new photography reality show where two photographers are pitted against each other in a series of challenges. The first episode takes place in New York City, and features PPA photographer and PPAedu instructor Jennifer Rozenbaum taking on Chris Fain. It's a fun show that we think all photographers can enjoy - you can watch the first episode online now... we're ready for the next one already!

NEWS: Many of you are probably familiar with the work of amazing landscape photographer Peter Lik. He had a show on the Weather Channel and once sold a photograph for a million bucks! And yes, he's also a PPA M.Photog. photographer! You'll get a chance to know him better at Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville, where he'll be hosting a keynote program. In the meantime, check out the news of his latest gallery opening in San Diego. 

PRO TIPS: PhotoFocus details four shots every photographer should be doing during a photo session for greater success with your clients, as well as for building your own portfolio. 

WORKFLOW: If you use Lightroom 5, are you familiar with the Smart Previews feature? If you answered 'no', you'll want to check out this tutorial from Photography Concentrate. The post details how you can use this feature to help with your workflow. 

BUSINESS: If you're thinking of getting into stock photography, this post on The Creative's Corner is for you. It provides some useful tips for getting started in this market.

LIGHTING: Are you confused about when to use flash to supplement ambient light? Well, here's a post to help you figure out when to use flash. Neil Van Niekerk provides some quick tips for when he uses flash to supplement ambient light. 

INSPIRATION: Is there anything cooler than space photography? We wrap up this week's roundup with a collection of images on InFocus from the European Space Agency's Rosetta satellite, which has been traveling through space for more than a decade. Enjoy! 

There it is! Your top 10 photography blog posts from around the web this week. What photography blogs have you been enjoying? Let us know on theLoop!
Dr. Lynda Falkenstein, the Niche Doctor, is joining us September 23 to help you distinguish yourlynda_ppaeduinstructor.png business from the rest of the pack in her webinar--Claim Your Niche: Nine Steps to a World-Class Business in Any Economy. This exclusive (and free!) introduction to Lynda's Nine-Step Process is guaranteed to help you build your business successfully through even the worst economic downturn. This is a rare opportunity to get valuable information on everything from marketing to sales tactics.

Here at PPA we realize that while you love the art of photography and the process of taking beautiful pictures, and there are probably certain aspects of your business that you do not enjoy. The selling and marketing process, the uncertainty in discovering your niche as a photographer--the list goes on. This webinar is here to tell you that everything is going to be okay! We feel that the best way to learn is by doing and the only thing we can do is confront those doubts and formulate a practical solution to our problems. Take the next step today and register for this impactful class!

Take control of your business with Lynda and improve your bottom line, for free, on September 23 at 2 PM (ET). Register Now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well quit dreaming and make it happen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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By Mariah Ashley

Everything was going wrong. The groom was throwing up and the bride was taking it verytenthousand_fireworks.jpg personally. "He's going to go through with it isn't he?" she nervously asked the wedding planner.

"Um, yes? I mean yes, of course he is," said the wedding planner in a weak attempt to assuage her concerns.

I wasn't so sure. At the altar the pair stood in scared silence staring straight ahead at an indiscriminate spot on the wall while the ceremony swirled around them. I figured one of three things could happen; someone would throw up, someone would pass out or someone would turn and run the wrong way up the aisle to freedom.

I was wrong. Half way through the service the uncomfortable uncertainty fizzled and was replaced by a beaming new Mr. and Mrs. walking hand-in-hand up the aisle toward my lens.

The rest of the day unfolded in stops and starts without ever finding a flow. Eight hours is a long time to go with no flow. The weather was gloomy and the forecast threatened severe thunderstorms which put the planned fireworks display on hold. The parents of the bride were in a panic and the wedding planner was in a tizzy.

The bride struggled to hold her composure while her mother drove her completely bonkers. The groom struggled to regain some color in his face and keep down his dinner. Trish and I struggled to create romantic formals in the gloom, struggled with reception lighting in the oddly shaped reception room, and struggled not to miss any of the action as the band kept announcing toasts and dances without coordinating with their fellow vendors, namely us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Benchmark_October_Prize_250x.jpgAt PPA, we know that photographers are always looking for business guides to help them stay profitable. One tool provided by PPA that we often hear is useful for members is the Benchmark Survey! We've previously heard from June's winner Heather Sams, CPP and July's winner A. Michael Fletcher about why they find PPA's business guide, the Benchmark Survey, to be so helpful. But don't take our word for it; instead, take a look at what David. H. Smith of Phoenix, AZ has to say about it (he's the August winner!).

David has nearly three decades of experience in photography. At his studio, he specializes in high school seniors, engaged couples, families and fashion models. While he prides himself on creating unique imagery and experiences for his clients, the Benchmark Survey has also been essential to his success. 

"Learning, participating and using the Benchmark Survey has been extremely valuable in making sure I am able to keep doing what I love to do. Comparing the performance of our studio to the recommendations from the Benchmark has helped us put certain goals in place. It has also helped us position our business, so that it is financially profitable and remains as such for years to come; it was like having my own photography business guide," David said of his experience.
 
PPA's Benchmark Survey is the industry's only complete financial overview depicting what profitable studios look like (unlike other industry averages). As such, it has been helping photography businesses form a better idea of where they stand and how they can improve their bottom line. Participating studio-owners get a free side-by-side comparison of the Benchmark to their own financial data. Not only is this an in-depth source of information to help them grow their business, it is a $750 value (or more!), as PPA develops a customized comparison that is the first step in determining what to change for greater success! As a bonus, participants are automatically entered each month in some giveaway drawings for great prizes. For submitting his information in August, David won a $500 B&H gift card!

Ready to better your business and get a chance at winning October's prize? There is a $500 Showcase Photo & Video gift card to be won! Go to PPA.com/Benchmark to participate!
 
But wait, there's more: all participants are also entered into a drawing for an all-expense paid trip for two photographers to Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville. That includes airfare for two, hotel for 4 nights and two all-access pass Imaging USA registrations. Submit your info today! 
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With the first full week of September under your belt, it can be easy to get caught up in the back-to-school crazy and miss out on some pretty awesome blogs from around the interwebs! Here are our top 10! 

PHOTOGRAPHER'S LIKE SHINY THINGS: Ever feel a little distracted? Learn how to use it to your advantage with this great article by Jeffrey Shaw (he was one of the speakers at Imaging USA 2014) and the Huffington Post. If you can keep your focus until the end, you'll be sure to learn to leverage your wandering mind! 

INSPIRATION: Here's a little inspiration from the folks at PetaPixel! Photographer Joseph W. Nienstedt talks about the 20+ types of photographer he isn't and the results might strike a nerve! Check out his beautiful images and story here. 

PUPPIES! How could we resist? Photographer Seth Casteel is back with his follow up book to Underwater Dogs with the only thing more adorable, Underwater Puppies. Let this serve as an inspiration to be open to what your client (in this case, Buster, the dog) wants! And as a bonus, check out his video on Facebook!

GOOD BUSINESS: Do you ever use volunteer second shooters? This contract from the Law Tog is perfect for you! Maintain your relationships with your free labor with this easy-to-customize form. 

CLEAN GEAR: Trey Ratcliff from Stuck in Customs gives you his quick tips for suriving Burning Man (and the dust. So. Much. Dust.) How can you capture great images without ruining your best gear? He has the answers here!

POSING TIPS: Digital Photography School has a quick list of their nine favorite posing guides for portrait photographers from around the interwebs (think of it as a round up with in the round up)! If you're just starting off in this line of work, be sure to check them out!

NO WORDS, JUST WATCH: We're getting pretty meta on this one with the guys at PhotoTips. Here's a timelapse of a timelapse with Maciej Tomkow in Zakynthos, Greece. Not only is it beautiful, but educational to see how he makes his photography work! We had a few "Oh! THAT'S how they do that" moments!

TIPS FOR LANDSCAPE: Thinking about trying your hand at landscape photography? Join Christina Harmon from Contrastly as she shares her top 10 favorite tips for composing landscapes! 

DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE: Jump for joy! Capture the moment in mid-air with Tomas Januska and his series entitled "Gravity". According to the article, each subject jumped between 150 and 600 (SIX HUNDRED) times for the camera. The results are stunning! 

There you have it! The top posts from around the interwebs. What sorts of photography blogs light up your idea bulb? Let us know on theLoop!

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

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

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



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Read the official statement in full below:

Professional Photographers of America and Other Photographic Associations Settle Litigation With Google

Agreement ends four years of litigation over the inclusion of visual works in Google Books 

NEW YORK, NY - Professional Photographers of America (PPA) and a group of photographers, visual artists and affiliated associations have reached a settlement with Google in a lawsuit over copyrighted material in Google Books. The parties are pleased to have reached a settlement that benefits everyone and includes funding for the PLUS Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping rights holders and users communicate clearly and efficiently about rights in works. Further terms of the agreement are confidential. 

The agreement resolves a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Google in April, 2010, bringing to an end more than four years of litigation. It does not involve any admission of liability by Google. As the settlement is between the parties to the litigation, the court is not required to approve its terms. This settlement does not affect Google's current litigation with the Authors Guild or otherwise address the underlying questions in that suit. 

The plaintiffs in the case are rights holder associations and individual visual artists. The associational plaintiffs are The American Society of Media Photographers, Inc., Graphic Artists Guild, PACA (Digital Media Licensing Association)., North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographers of America, National Press Photographers Association, and American Photographic Artists. The individual plaintiffs are Leif Skoogfors, Al Satterwhite, Morton Beebe, Ed Kashi, John Schmelzer, Simms Taback and Gail Kuenstler Taback Living Trust, Leland Bobbé, John Francis Ficara, and David W. Moser. 

The case is American Society of Media Photographers, Inc. et al. v. Google Inc., Case No. 10-CV-02977 (DC) pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

About Google Inc. and Associational Parties

Google is a global technology leader focused on improving the ways people connect with information. Google's innovations in web search and advertising have made its website a top Internet property and its brand one of the most recognized in the world. 

Professional Photographers of America (PPA) represents more than 27,000 photographers and photographic artists from dozens of specialty areas including portrait, wedding, commercial, advertising and art. 

Founded in 1944, The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) is the premier trade association for the world's most respected photographers. 

The Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) is a national union of graphic artists dedicated to promoting and protecting the social, economic and professional interests of its members and for all graphic artists including, animators, cartoonists, designers, illustrators, and digital artists. 

PACA (Digital Media Licensing Association) is a trade association established in 1951 whose members include more than 80 companies representing the world of digital content licensing. 

NANPA, the North American Nature Photography Association, is the first and premiere association in North America committed solely to serving the field of nature photography. 

Founded in 1946 the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) is the "voice of visual journalists" promoting and defending the rights of photographers and journalists, including freedom of the press in all its forms. 

The American Photographic Artists (APA) is a leading national organization run by and for professional photographers. 

Google is a trademark of Google Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.

 

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Here's your top 10 blog round-up for the first week of September. HOW IS IT ALREADY SEPTEMBER?! With all due respect to fall, we just aren't ready. So here are some summery posts from the week that was. OK fine, there really isn't a summer theme to them. Whatever. Just enjoy!

1). Sleeping Baby Bursts Into Action during First Photo Shoot

FUN: Let's start this thing off with a bang. If you photograph newborns, chances are you've had an... incident. Or dare we say two? Al Ferguson knows a thing or two about that. But seriously, all poo jokes aside, here's a dad getting pooped on. Viewer beware: THERE'S POOP!

2). Drone Versus Sheep

SAFETY: Drones are all the rage these days, as questions over their legality continue. But are they any match for a sheep? If you're of the belief that drones are invasive, you're on team sheep. Check the video to find out.

3). Newly Released Digital Archive Shows Jewish Life Before the Holocaust

HISTORY: In 1935, heralded photographer Roman Vishniac, a Russian-born Jew, journeyed through Eastern Europe to photograph impoverished Jewish communities. Thanks to a joint effort, Vishniac's extensive work is now available to the public, and ready for some crowd-sourced historical detective work to help restore some family histories.

4). Volleyball Team Halts Train

TRESPASSING: wYou might have read our previous at-length blog posts about how you should avoid using railroads as backdrops as it is, simply put, illegal. But for one Nebraska volleyball team, the urge was too strong and they wound up halting train traffic for 40 minutes! Seriously guys, stay off live tracks!

5). Getty Images Sues Microsoft

LEGAL: Here we go again... more copyright infringement! This time the issue at hand is the "Bing Image Widget", which allows website publishers to embed digital photographers on their sites. Take a look at the suit and see what you think--infringement or not?

6). Behind the Scenes with Annie Leibovitz

PROFILE: We probably had you at the title with this one. When the Corcoran Group real estate needed a photographer for their Live Who You Are campaign, they turned to Leibovitz to show that home is more than just a place where you live. Take a look!

7). You Can Chase and Photograph a Tornado--Seriously

THRILL: Sure, you've seen and done it all, right? Well, have you done some good ol' storm chasin' and photographed yourself a tornado? Didn't think so. Now you can, with Silver Lining Tours. Read up!

8). WordPress for Photographers is Here

ONLINE MARKETING: Finally! Check out this interview with Aaron Hockley, creator of wp-photographers.com, a blog dedicated to helping photographers understand and manage WordPress.

9). The Photographer's Creed

INSPIRATION: Have you heard of the Rifleman's Creed? Well, PetaPixel took a stab at modifying it to fit photographers. What do you think?

10). Stunning Photos of Icelandic Volcanic Eruption

TRAVEL: Well-known Icelandic photographer Iurie Belegurschi captured what most of us will never get to see in our lifetimes--a real, live volcanic eruption. Iurie luckily had some air support when Bardarbunga (awesome, awesome name) erupted, but man does that look awesome! Check out these completely rad photos (brace yourselves for the last one) of the eruption from the Ninja Turtle volcano (our nickname, no stealsies). Iurie actually gives photographic tours of Iceland's beautiful countryside, you can check them out on his website and head on out there quick while it's still active!

 

Aaaand boom goes the dynamite. There you have it! The top posts from around the interwebs. What sorts of photography blogs light up your idea bulb? Let us know on theLoop!

 

Mark the Date! On October 7, 2014, at 2 p.m. world-renowned portrait photographer, Jeff Lubin,

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 M.Photog.Cr., will present a FREE live webinar, Finding Your Missing Pieces for Profitability in Photography, during which he will review actual studios and provide tangible methods through which they can be more successful. And guess what? Yours could be one of them!

Looking to upgrade your offerings? Improve your lighting capacity? EARN MORE MONEY?! Then get involved.

If you are interested in having your studio featured in the webinar, please complete these questions and forward them to lubin.jeff@gmail.com!

  1. How long have you been a professional photographer?
  2. Do you consider yourself new, proficient or advanced?
  3. Do you have an additional source of income beyond photography (another job, savings, working partner, etc.)?
  4. How would you categorize your business (portraits, weddings, commercial)?
  5. Which styles of photography are most appealing to you?
  6. Do you have trouble making your overhead most months?
  7. What has been your most successful form of income from your studio?
  8. Have you noticed big changes in your business recently, and what do you attribute that to?
  9. How do most of your clients view you? (top pro, new photographer, etc.)
  10. What do you think is your biggest weakness that you need to overcome?
  11. What would you like to focus on changing this year?
  12. In which areas would you like to learn most?
  13. Would you prefer a one, two or three day workshop?
  14. Which camera system do you use?    
  15. What type of lighting equipment do you own?
  16. If you don't currently do studio lighting, would you be interested in learning?  
  17. Do you have a studio and if so, is it commercial or in your home?
  18. What are your goals in photography for your future?


By Mariah Ashley

"If only you could pick your family as easily as you pick your nose. You could fix every issue with a flick of your tissue." - Mariah Ashley

Nancy came in to give us all the details of her wedding a few months before the event. Generally brides are pretty pumped at these meetings and tell us to-the-minute details down to the music the jazz trio is playing for the processional. Irrelevant yes, but we smile and "Oooh " and "Aaah" as any good wedding vendors should.

Not Nancy. Nancy had nothing exciting to report. No extraneous details to share. Nancy was strangely quiet, even hostile. Nancy was negative. "I'm just not your typical bride. I'm not excited about all this wedding stuff. I'm pretty sure the wedding is going to be kind of a mess. I'll just be glad when this is all over!" blurted Nancy.

O...K...? Awkward! We sat there a little stunned and wondered, why on earth would you go through the trouble of planning and paying for a wedding when you have an attitude like that?

Spoiler Alert! Nancy ends up as one of our top three clients of the year. The reluctant bride with a

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 small budget wedding spends $11K and counting on her wedding photographs. Seriously, we need to add some more products because we have run out of things for her to buy.

So what happened between Nancy hating on her own wedding and spending gobs of money on photographs after?

Have you seen the movie Little Miss Sunshine? There's a great scene where Dwayne (the teenage son) gets some upsetting news while on a family road trip. He totally loses it in the back of a VW bus and his step dad has to pull over to the side of the road so Dwayne can have a nutty. Dwayne's mom says, "For better or for worse, we're your family." Too which Dwayne eloquently relies, "No you're not my family okay? I don't want to be your family. I hate you f*#%ing people. I hate you! Divorce? Bankrupt? Suicide? You're f*#%ing losers! You are losers!

The bad news Dwayne receives is his tipping point. He just can't take another second of his family's dysfunctional BS. Nancy and Dwayne are one in the same.

After Nancy's nutty she opened up a little about her own family situation. Divorce, remarriage, tense relationships, absentee parent, etc. Poor kid, no wonder. Her negativity was her defense mechanism. Nancy was setting her expectations REALLY low so as not to be disappointed by her family... again.

Like Nancy, most of our clients think they are the only ones with a crazy family, but the reality is dysfunctional is the new normal. Are you with me? Trust me, I know a thing or two about this. I am completely reduced to my teenage self whenever I am around my family for too long.

Here's a secret about me that only Trish and my husband (and now you) know... my fifteen-year-old self ran away from home three times. The third time was the charm though; I got to spend the night in jail. I had a metal bunk and a non-private privvy. The temperature in the slammer was about 50 degrees and my jailers had confiscated my shoes. I lay there shivering and learning my lesson which was the intention of the coppers after all. I didn't run away again because I realized for better or for worse my family was my family and I really do prefer my bathroom to have walls. But back to Nancy...

I'm happy to report that on the wedding day everyone was on their best behavior. Yes, tension and resentment crashed the party but so did regret and tenderness and we chose to focus on the latter. We got a beautiful photograph of Nancy's mom tenderly helping her get ready, fastening family pearls around her neck. We also got a beautiful shot of Nancy and her father dancing, tears of regret streaming down his cheeks.

I heard an interview on the radio that got me thinking about how Nancy had gone from reluctant bride to becoming one of our top clients. Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton authors of Happy Money explained that people are happy to spend their money and happy even long after the purchase when their money is spent on an experience such as a vacation. The part that I found interesting was that photographs play a huge part in enhancing the remembered experience of the vacation and reinforcing the positive feelings about the decision to spend the money. Because you can re-live your memories over and over again through your vacation photos, the memories of the trip often become even sweeter than the actual moments that were experienced. The camera only focuses on the smiles and sunsets and not the hassles and petty squabbles that go along with any trip, so that is what is remembered.

At the end of Little Miss Sunshine, perhaps the most dysfunctional family road trip of all time, the characters end up dancing together in a scene that will make you so uncomfortable you squirm, and laughing so hard you'll cry. That's pretty much what happened at the end of Nancy's wedding too. Everyone was on the dance floor in one big, crazy-flawed, fun-loving family pile dancing their butts off.

A Roman philosopher said of nostalgia, "Things that were hard to bear are sweet to remember." Because we hyper-focused on finding the tender and loving moments behind the bitterness at Nancy's wedding we were able to exceed her expectations and show her something that she may not have been able to see herself but probably felt that day. Although her family is dysfunctional for better or worse they are hers and they undoubtedly love her. What Nancy needed was a vehicle for her nostalgia. She needed a way to look back on the day that had caused her so much grief to plan with fondness and no regret for the money they had spent. Because the photographs reflect a beautiful bride, a couple in love, and a supportive family (with stellar dance moves) Nancy upgraded her album, bought three parent albums and framing for walls.

We've all had wedding clients with family tensions so thick that we want to run and hide. It's easy and natural to want to throw your hands in the air and say, "There's nothing to be done for these people their f*#%ing losers!" Before you do that though, remember that you might just be throwing your future best client out the window. Dig a little deeper, remember your own whacked out family, and see if there isn't a little crack of tenderness to expose in the wall of dysfunction. 

Georgia photographer, Judith Ann, was lucky (and talented!) enough to earn a merit on her first time entering PPA photographic competition. In this guest blog, she shares the funny story behind her merit image and an afterword with her thoughts following the International Photographic Competition (IPC).

Dog Gone, I Received a Merit!
By Judith Ann

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A lack of communication and poor note taking almost cost me a very important session last year. I'll tell you upfront, the good news is everything turned out better than planned. Pardon the puns, but it caused me to dig deeper into my artsy side when I realized I had been barking up the wrong tree for most of my morning.  

The day started off like a typical morning at my studio, beginning with a review of appointments, ordering sessions and events to help my day flow smoothly for the next eight hours. I have always prided myself on my ability to plan and custom fit each client's session based on their requests. This particular time, my daily calendar informed me I had a pet session scheduled for 10 a.m. My assistant had booked the appointment the day before and the details were sparse. So bright and early I got my chain rattled and had to react quickly to this situation.

The notes said, "English Bulldog/pet picture" and being comfortable with dogs I believed for a hot minute that this would be an easy session--that is until I got up from the computer and started walking to my shoot room. My assistant appeared suddenly and filled in the details about my soon-to-arrive client. The client recently added a "man room" to her home--thus the need for the bulldog portrait for the wall.

"Really?" I asked excitedly. Then she said the portrait was to be based upon the poker playing dogs. I stopped walking.

"Huh? What are poker playing dogs?"

My assistant gave me the look that only the younger generation can give as if to You gotta be kidding me! Have you been living in the dark ages!  "Like, they're everywhere" she said, "I'll show you."

I must have had the dumbest look on my face realizing I was totally unprepared for this session while I stared into a computer screen to see bulldogs playing cards, smoking cigars and looking generally illegal.  

"How old is her dog?" I asked.

"I believe it's a puppy."

 What da' what?

Soon after I heard a car door close and a barking dog headed my way--my moment of truth had arrived. The only thing I had going for me was the fact that this client was a regular customer who trusted me with her family portraits for years, at least up until this point. The studio door cracked opened and the tip of a furry nose nuzzled through and the wrinkly bulldog puppy came barking, jumping and running straight into my lobby.  

I stood there dazed and confused and in my squirreliest­ voice said, "Hi Jennifer!"  

Jennifer gave me a curious smile and said, "What's up?"

"I just realized I don't have a deck of cards," I said. "Would you mind leaving your puppy with me and running over to the store to get a pack while I get the lights set?"

Ha! lights set? How about trying to pull off the fastest-built set in 15 minutes flat?

She agreed and when I heard her car start up I sprang into action. The puppy was left to run around the lobby while I began to think...

My son-in-law was in the studio the day prior drinking the brown, old-fashioned root beer glass bottles. I dug through my trash and apprehended two bottles from the bottom of the garbage can. Yes! Close enough to a beer bottle and now I need a cigar and I think I have one from the proud parent of a baby boy! I hope this pup won't eat my only cigar!

Some further hunting around the studio produced an antique checker board with chips, an old camera and a quick hand dive into my purse brought up some change and dollar bills to hopefully round out the set. We cleared off a side table from the lobby, moved it into the shoot room and carefully arranged the newfound items. Jennifer returned with the fresh deck of cards and it was time to put our puppy to the test.

We placed our furry little friend on the table and he curiously looked left, right, up and down and in a split second scooped the cigar into his mouth and brought his head up into the cutest pose. Click. The image was captured in the blink of a (puppy's) eye!

(Side note: The puppy was not harmed in any way in the capturing of this image. As a matter of fact he enjoyed all the attention. The cigar was not lit--we created the smoke and red ash in post-processing.)

My assistant and I discussed better communication techniques through more detailed note taking and a big HEADS UP on unique session requests. As a bonus, we have had several clients request that particular image as artwork for their home.

In this, my first year of PPA image competition, I included "Hold 'Em Ace," and was pleased to earn a merit seal at my state (Georgia PPA) and district (Southeast) competitions I'm excited to hear the results from the IPC! My fingers are crossed on being chosen for the Loan Collection.  

Afterword:

It's official! I've come full circle in completing my first year of competition. I entered the same four images from start to finish (GPPA>SEPPA>IPC) and am excited to say that three of the four images merited! After I received my judge's critiques from the GPPA/SEPPA level, I made some adjustments on three of my four images. "Hold 'Em Ace" had already sealed and I was told you NEVER break the seal once you merit.

My judge's critiques helped me see her perspective on how I could improve my images and I was mostly happy to make the suggested changes. I have to admit I did take a little offense on my critique of "Bonny Boy." The judge made mention on my child's sausage fingers on the bike handle, I took it personally because, to me most children have little sausage fingers. After growling about the comment for several days, I took another look at those baby sausage fingers and began to see why the judge had pointed them out.

I agreed that maybe they were standing out more than they should, so I took my burn tool and ever so slightly browned those little sausages. My images went from being what I considered really good prints to great images with just a few small changes. As a suggestion, don't take the judges' comments to heart--they are there to help you become an even better photographer.  

I was glad I took the time to compete and successfully survived entering into a whole new world. I bet you have already guessed about how I feel about next year, that's right, I'm thinking about conjuring up brand-new ideas that will hopefully earn more merits. It's a win, win situation that will benefit my clients. My final thought is that being able to resource a judge with years of experience, compete with your fellow photographer peers in the industry is bringing me closer to my goal: award-winning photographer, Judith Ann, M.Photog. (master photographer).

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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