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PPA Today

The Northeast District competition is now open! And since you're all hunkered down for this snowstorm, you've got time to do some editing and send in those images. Hopefully you'll be shoveled out by then, but Image submissions will be accepted until March 6. Your entered works will be judged March 13-14 in Columbus, Ohio.

PPA urges our members to enter photographic competition to push yourselves to be more. You'll improve your craft and confidence in the process.

"Once photographers get over the initial fear of competition, most keep entering year after year and become better photographers in the process," said Randy McNeilly, PPA's photographic exhibition committee chairman. "Even if they don't earn a merit right away, there's so much they can learn. Plus, it's a huge confidence boost, not only for the photographer, but also the client who commissions their work--especially once they start to win awards."

At the district level, images either earn a "merit" or "does not merit" score. Merit images are sealed and move on to the International Photographic Competition (IPC), held each August. Non-merit images may be worked on and re-entered into the IPC that same year. Critiques from a PPA judge can be ordered to give entrants personalized feedback on the reason for the score. Entrants and non-entrants alike can watch the judging live online in January.

"The live stream was hugely successful at the International Photographic Competition in August so we're taking it to all of PPA's district competitions," said McNeilly. "This helps debunk some myths about the judging process and shows photographers how much they can learn by attending or ordering their critiques."

The best of the best images will enter the prestigious Loan Collection and be on display at the International Photographic Exhibit during Imaging USA 2016 in Atlanta. They will also be in a coffee table book published by Marathon Press. For inspiration, PPA produced a video featuring 2014's Loan Collection images to show what the best look like.

PPA's District Competitions and the International Photographic Competition are open to the public. PPA photographers and non-members alike are also encouraged to attend the judging. Photographers who belong to PPA are each assigned to districts based on their studio's geographic location. For full district competition information, visit PPA.com/Competitions. To learn more about PPA's membership benefits or to join, visit PPA.com/Join.

 

 

PPA has received word that world-renowned landscape photographer Peter Lik will not be able to attend Imaging USA, February 1-3 in Nashville, TN. Lik posted a statement to his Facebook page Friday night:

In October 2014, Professional Photographers of America (PPA) changed my life with a monumental announcement that I had been chosen as the recipient of the organization's highly coveted Lifetime Achievement Award.

I was completely taken aback and honored to become one of only 13 photographers in history to ever receive this award.

Due to personal reasons, it is with an extremely heavy heart I announce I am unable to attend Imaging USA in February to accept this remarkable award or act as keynote speaker.

Thank you again to PPA for this incredible honor. After 30 years of traveling and taking photos, I continue to lose myself in the beauty and power of nature in an effort to finally capture an image I can call my favorite.

 

PPA President Susan Michal offered her support for Lik.

"Peter is a class act, and a proud PPA member and advocate," she said. "I personally know that he is extremely disappointed he will not be able to attend. We wish him the very best and certainly hope all is well."

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While Lik will surely be missed, Imaging USA in Nashville is still on course to be PPA's biggest and best event in its 146-year history. The event has already set attendance records with the biggest registration numbers ever seen to date. "Peter is a lot of fun and a good friend to PPA photographers. We'll regret his absence, of course, but this isn't changing the fact that we are getting ready for our best event ever," commented PPA CEO David Trust.

Organizers say last fall's announcement about Peter Lik's attendance created some buzz. But his absence will change little in terms of events and celebrations showcasing Lik's work or Imaging USA's overall success. While he won't be able to attend, Lik's presence will still be felt at Imaging USA. He will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the Award and Degree Ceremony on Tuesday night. And a hand-selected exhibit of his super-sized images will be on display in the print exhibit area throughout the event.

Lik has also made significant donations to Saturday Night's PPA Charities Celebration, including his newly released book featuring 317 large scale images. Only 2,500 hand-signed copies of this collector's item book, which retails for $5,000 per copy, are being issued worldwide.

Among next week's highlights are the Big Game Super Party Imaging USA Kick-off, which may be the biggest Super Bowl party anywhere, the best slate of photographic education ever assembled, the giant Imaging Expo, two large photographic exhibitions, and the closing night party in the Gaylord Opryland's Atrium, which is expected to be one for the record books.

It's not too late to register and join in all the fun! Head to ImagingUSA.org/Register to Be More with us in Nashville.

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By: Lauren Walters 

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This week, take a stand as a photographer. Sign a petition or commend those who give back. Check out the top ten blog posts from this week.

PUBLISHING: Do you walk through book stores scrutinizing book cover photography? Maybe you could do it better? Join a stock agency to get your work out in the world! Read more to find out what it takes to sign with a stock agency.

CONVENTIONS: Learn how to prep for conventions like Imaging USA. Which preconvention events pique your interest? Read this "must see" list of events for Imaging USA. Get ready, the fun starts next week! 

GRIEF PHOTOGRAPHY: After diagnosed with a severe heart condition before birth, the parents of this child turned to a non-profit organization "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep".  The experience for both the parents and photographer was an emotional one. However, the portraits helped the parents cope and aided the healing process. 

TUTORIAL: Shooting on a sunny day? Perfect your photos by capturing all the tones in your shot. This blog explains how to punch up your photography using dramatic range.

PHOTOGRAPHY FEES: In Fairfax County Park, authorities enforced a $100 fee for commercial photography back in 2011. Why? The park was overrun with publicity due to weddings and other commercial photography. Will they finally reconsider?

PETITION: Are you using a left-handed camera made for a right-handed photographer? Well, you just might be in luck! Sign the petition on Change.org petition to request that Canon designs a left-handed camera.

COMPOSITION: If you're off to a coast anytime soon, these quick tips from Digital Photography School will help you make the most of any seascape photographs. Learn the rules, and learn when to break them here!

DECISION TIME: In business (and in life) we all get caught up in the process of making decisions. Imaging USA speaker Jeffrey Shaw is back on his podcast with Brian Whetten and they are here to guide you through the process of finding big wins in your decision process. Your weekend can always use a little more inspiration!

EDUCATION: What should we be learning as photographers? The question is: are we learning it? Read about the parallels drawn from music to photography education. 

PROFESSIONAL vs. AMATEUR: Educate your potential clients with PPA's #PhotoFails video. Showcase simple mistakes that can ruin their experience with an inexperienced photographer.  

Tune in for next week's Round Up! If you have a blog you want us to check out, let us know on theLoop!

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By Chris Homer

A third generation photographer, Luke Edmonson has the craft in his blood! He's been a
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 professional photographer for nearly 20 years, starting out in commercial photography and then teaming up with his father in 2003 to create Edmonson Weddings. We chatted with Luke about defining style, his career as a photographer, what inspires him and more. Here's the recap of the interview:

1. What would you say is the biggest difficulty people usually face in defining their style?
The biggest difficulty in finding a style is finding your own voice and doing the work to discover who you are and what you want to say. It's not simply a matter of the type of photography you like or admire. It's not simply your ability to execute what you want when creating your imagery. You have to know the "Why" behind what you are communicating.

It's about understanding and knowingly pursue what is behind your vision when you are capturing a moment, your subjects, how you light, direct or pose them. So, an artistic style, at its very core, requires introspection. Something that as individuals many of us do not want to do. It requires you to become still...to be quiet...to reflect with intent.

I like this quote from Katherine Anne Porter, Pulitzer Prize winning author, who says succinctly "You do not create a style. You work, and develop yourself, and your style is an examination from your own being."

Let's examine that for a minute...

a. You don't create a style? Then what is all this talk about "finding your style" or "creating your style" that you hear bantered about? Perhaps it's just marketing speak to make it more palpable to the audience who is listening. Who wants to hear about work when the world sells us on the premise of "easy, fast and simple"? But don't for a second betray yourself to think that discovering something is easy. Especially when it involves learning about yourself. What is it that you bring to each photo shoot that shapes the direction of the imagery you capture?

b. You work and develop yourself? Yep, it's a never-ending process of growth periods, plateaus, and sometimes darker times. When things get stagnant, it's up to you to make the changes necessary to break through. When you are on top of the world it's about fighting complacency. None of us ever have it all truly figured out. However, with growth and development, some challenges as a photographer that may have taken hours to solve visually can be solved in mere minutes, once you've had that proverbial light-bulb moment.

c. Your style is an examination from your own being? Like most of us, you probably became a photographer when you fell in love with it. Perhaps, it was because of its immediacy. Perhaps it was because of how it made your feel when people complimented your early eye. But now that you have been in it for longer, what keeps you in the field? What drives you to create? When you look back on your work, what patterns and tendencies do you see? How have you transitioned from WHAT you see when you shoot but HOW you see, think and feel when you shoot? Have you had to persevere and overcome challenges in your photography? Your fingerprint is firmly implanted on every image you create. I encourage you to study it and understand it!

If you want to become a better photographer, it starts with becoming a better person. How can you pour out your life into others if there are areas in your own life that are holding you back from doing just that?
By Sarah Ackerman

Get to know hometown favorite, Russ Harrington before you hit the road to Imaging USA! Russ is an accomplished photographer, specializing in celebrity and musician clientele (we hear Nashville is a pretty awesome spot for that sort of thing). 

What made you want to get into photography? 
Our family always took pictures, so when I got my first 110 Kodak for Christmas, it was on!

What should people expect to take away from your class?
I'm going to show tons of photos! People will get to see different lighting ideas, how to work a location and what all goes into a celebrity shoot. Things they may not have thought of like renting RV's for the glam teams, working with assistants and what not. 

What is your favorite part of a photo shoot?
When the [music] artist gets on set and you do that first test. It all comes together at that point. You finally see how the light looks on your artist and not your assistants, you see the wardrobe you've picked for the setup. If it's a big shoot, we've built sets, pre-lit them and have wondered how the artist will fit in the vibe or world you've created. Sometimes, we might have 10 setups that we're doing that day. No matter what, I still get that cool feeling when I see the first shot pop up on the Mac.

 What do you enjoy about shooting with musicians?
I am, in general, a music fan. So getting to know them, photographing them and then being able to see your images represent them is a very special thing. Musicians just have a cool vibe, you want to capture that. You want to capture images that they love and that their fans love. Granted, some would rather be far away from a photo shoot, but they know it's one of those things they have to do. In the music industry, fresh images are a must. The bonus is they are generally more creative than the average client. Artists and celebrities are pros, they move like models and I just love shooting them.

 How did you get into the celebrity/musician market?
I photographed models for years so it was a natural progression. Fashion is all about the angles, the lighting, the location and wardrobe, and that's basically celebrity photography. I started showing my model portfolio to Christian Music Labels at first and started to shoot a ton of those. My big break was an editorial shoot with Trisha Yearwood, which I'll go into during my presentation. 

 What has been your favorite photo shoot of all time?
There's not a "favorite" necessarily, but I've had a lot of cool memories and images that I love every time I see them. I do have to say when Loretta Lynn calls you her photographer, that's pretty dang special. Brian Setzer is one of my favorites for sure, rockabilly singer and master guitar player from the Stray Cats. I could photograph him every day - he's just cool! I also got to do a big gig in LA for Dr. Pepper and Chelsea Handler. It was awesome, but I had butterflies for sure. 

What's the biggest mistake you made when you were just starting out?
You have to remember, I started shooting professionally in 1983. I've done some dumb things, but every year I tried to get better and make more money than the previous year. At one point I made a joke about an artist's hair that was pretty amazing and said "If I could afford a toupee like that, I'd be all over it!" Well, what do you know - it was a toupee. Whoops!

What's the best part about being a Nashville photographer?
This is my town! I grew up here, I met my wife here, we raised our boys here, and now to see what's happening with how popular Nashville is getting is crazy. We've put our loft on Airbnb.com and its awesome meeting folks from around the world that want to visit.

Country? Or... country?
I love the twang, I love a steel guitar, I love bluegrass, I love Jack White, I love Keb' Mo'. I just love music.

Join Russ for his class "Music & Celebrity Portraits" on Monday, February 2nd from 10 - 11:30 AM and discover how to manage the workflow when dealing with people in the spotlight. 

If you haven't registered for Imaging USA yet, there's still time! Head to ImagingUSA.org/Register today - we can't wait to see you in Nashville!

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Sarah Ackerman is known around PPA as #Sarah in part because she handles all things social media and in order to differentiate herself from the other Sarah's in the office. Sarah loves improv comedy (think "Whose Line") and routinely performs around Atlanta. When she's not tweeting/facebooking/instagramming all of the action at PPA, she can be found gallivanting around the world or wandering around the woods with her pup, but more than likely she's on stage making people giggle.

By Sarah Ackerman

One of the most important things you have to do as a professional photographer is educate your clients on the difference between a pro and an amateur photographer. PPA has a wealth of resources to help you do just that! 

This video, #PhotoFail, is the latest addition to our video collection and helps convey that message. Professional photographers do make a difference. Watch these recently engaged couples as they read letters of some serious mishaps (all real stories!) that have happened and that they'll want to avoid in their own wedding. Not only is it entertaining, but valuable information for your clients to understand!


While you're at it, check out the rest of the See the Difference resources and videos. There are even instructions on how to embed the videos on your personal site! That's right, PPA photographers can simply grab these videos and use them to help with their marketing!

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Sarah Ackerman is known around PPA as #Sarah in part because she handles all things social media and in order to differentiate herself from the other Sarah's in the office. Sarah loves improv comedy (think "Whose Line") and routinely performs around Atlanta. When she's not tweeting/facebooking/instagramming all of the action at PPA, she can be found gallivanting around the world or wandering around the woods with her pup, but more than likely she's on stage making people giggle.

By: Lauren Walters

Do nerves get the best of you when thinking about photographic competitions (entries are open now for the Northeast District Competition) and the International Photographic Competition (IPC)? Never fear, PPA is here to let you review a critique and become familiar with the process. Once you enter, your nerves will substantially subside. Not only will you get helpful advice to improve your work, but your confidence will shoot through the roof the further you advance in the competition. Grow as an artist and offer your work up for IPC judges to critique! Become a stronger photographer  and learn from experiences such as these image competitions.

Watch the critique of PPA photographer Kevin Floyd's piece "The Strong Armed, School Marm...Zombie" by IPC judge Jeff Dachowski.

Take the next step and stand up for your work!

Hello everyone!

We are well aware of the situation at Opryland last Thursday and rest assured; everything is under control. First of all, no further cases of Norovirus have been reported. Second, this is not uncommon in the hospitality industry and third, the folks at Opryland are taking care of the situation.

They are working with the Metro Nashville Department of Health which applauded their fast response and disinfecting actions. According to health officials (and reported in The Tennessean), "Opryland is going above and beyond the health department's recommended cleaning and disinfecting measures to stop the spread of germs." All rooms have been aggressively sanitized. All door handles, escalator handrails and elevator controls have been wiped clean. Opryland has been cleared for guests.

We're excited for this year's Imaging USA and your record registration numbers show that you are too! 
And the good news is that with everything the Gaylord has done in the past two weeks,  you now have the added comfort of staying in America's cleanest and most sanitary hotel.

Get ready for the biggest and best Imaging USA yet!


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By: Lauren Walters

Itching for news in the world of photography? Here are our top ten blog posts for this week. From tips and tutorials to adventure and high art, this week's top ten is a creative cluster.

 

1.       Imaging USA: The Next Stage of Your Photography Career Begins Here!

EVENT: Become more knowledgeable, connected, and confident by attending Imaging USA. This convention hosted by PPA takes place on Sunday, Feb. 1 - Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, in Nashville, Tennessee. Read this article to find out about all the benefits it has to offer. Come join the fun at Imaging USA!

 

2.       The Consequences of Working for Free

BUSINESS: Relating the life of a photographer to a life of a circus performer, this blog shares a few concepts of working the circus life that seem all too familiar to us photographers. There is no publicity value in working for free. North America has a silly belief system that work should not be enjoyable, therefore we should only be paid if there isn't enjoyment. But, don't sell your skills for free just yet! Value your work and yourself as a professional. 

3.       How to Make Artistic Multiple Exposures In-camera and in Photoshop

TUTORIAL: Interested in expanding your portfolio with creative pieces? Try a multiple exposure piece! From abstract to artistic portraits, regardless of the medium, this tutorial covers it all when it comes to multiple exposures. Have fun experimenting!

4.       How I Learned to Stop Taking Photographs and Start Making Photographs

PARADIGM SHIFT: Going from taking photos to making art can be a huge step. A common struggle among learning photographers can be focusing on a shallow depth of field. As soon as you start to learn that photography is a story telling device is when you start "making" photos instead of "taking" them.

5.       Why Photographers Aren't Artists

ARTISTS vs. PROFESSIONALS: As a photographer, do you consider yourself an artist? This blog distinguishes creative individuals as craftsmen, artists, professionals and finally entrepreneurs. Furthermore, this blog explains that true artistic geniuses such as Beethoven no longer exist. Instead of artists, we've become professionals.

 

6.       Help Unravel a Gordon Parks Southern Mystery

HISTORY: They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The featured photograph dates back to 1956 in an Atlanta airport. Relations of race and gender are assumed through this intimate photograph. Although, the details of this photo still remain a mystery today.

7.       Help, I Am Being Sued for Nearly $500,000 by a Model I Photographed

COPYRIGHT PROTECTION: After signing a release, participating in the shoot and getting paid, a model decides to sue the photographer for the photos getting stolen. The model signed a release allowing her photos to be used as stock, but they got stolen off her personal Facebook page after posting them herself. You won't believe where the images wound up!

8.       Gotham 7.5K A Rare High Altitude Night Flight Above NYC

AERIAL, BY NIGHT: "Gotham From Above" was shot from a helicopter 7,500 feet above the ground of New York. Capturing aerial photographs can be quite a challenge; helicopters vibrate, so the photographer had to use a relatively high shutter speed. This project showcases the scale of New York City.

 

9.       Photographer armed with just a SWORD braves threat of wolves and -50C in Siberia to snap awe-inspiring Northern Lights images

-50C AURORA BOREALIS: Into the Siberian wilderness, a Russian photographer ventured to capture images of the Northern Lights. Because of temperatures (as low as -50C), the photographer designed a coat to protect his camera. We applaud this photographer for braving such harsh conditions for the sake of art. Take a look at the results!

 

10.   Stunning Photos of Acrobatic Dancer Leap and Twirl Amid Dynamic Clouds of Powder

COMMERCIAL VS. FINE ART: Check out this high art marketing campaign. An acrobat dances in a cloud of powdered milk to create the most stunning photography designed to sell creamer. Did this approach make you crave creamer?

 

Enjoy this week's blog posts? Check back next week for more excitement! If you have a blog you want us to check out, let us know on theLoop!

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By Chris Homer

At PPA, we understand that entering the International Photographic Competition (IPC) or any of the upcoming District Competitions for the first time can be frightening! But, as we hear from photographers that enter, participating in these competitions really is an amazing way to improve your skills and photography techniques. To get the most out of PPA's photography competitions, consider having your images reviewed and critiqued by an accredited IPC judge. Such constructive critiques will help you understand the elements by which images are judged and help you see what you did well and where you need some work on specific images. It's VERY affordable and will help you grow as an artist more than you can imagine. 

Below you'll find an example of one of these critiques. The image is "Kiss Me Sweetly" by Megan DiPiero and it is critiqued by IPC Judge Larry Lourcey. Check it out and see why this image was accepted into the General Collection! Be more adventurous!



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About the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages. 





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