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PPA Today: PPA Communities/theLoop Archives

Recently in PPA Communities/theLoop Category

by James Yates
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It was one hot month! Have you been checking theLoop while inside in your A/C? Cool off and have some of your potential photography concerns alleviated with the top posts culled from theLoop over the month of July.
 
It may seem off topic, but this post about favorite dishes to share proved pretty popular (yeah, yeah, it WAS tied to a Giveaway). If you're planning a late-summer pool or dinner party, check out what your peers are cooking up!

Is "wiping" your memory card periodically necessary to avoid corruption? One Looper wants to know and around 30 of you have an opinion! 

A Looper wants some advice on how to remove intrusive background detail on an intimate family moment. Several tips here on how to edit images if you're not necessarily the most experienced Photoshopper!

What books or study guides should one use if preparing to take the CPP exam? Tons of good, supportive ideas here from Loopers who want to help elevate their peers and profession. 

This Looper has been experiencing major issues while processing files in Lightroom and Photoshop since upgrading to Windows 10. Fellow Loopers are ON IT, offering lots of ideas for solutions. Check in to see if the problem gets solved.

A Looper working as a second-shooter for someone posted her own pics (similar in style but from a different shoot) and may have offended the photographer she was working with. Several fantastic and heartwarming responses on here about owning one's mistakes, making amends, and learning/teaching based on our similar experiences.
 
It's the age-old question: Who do you use to print your business cards?

One Looper asks, "Does anyone have a good filter they can recommend to help reduce the window glow that can be produced from some angles when shooting inside a home?"

Now that PPA has officially launched the Print Movement, Loopers are already comparing stories and offering advice on how to incorporate the selling of prints into one's business. Be on the lookout for resources and help from PPA in the coming months! (October is Print Movement month, btw!)

Remember to check out theLoop, a safe and protected online community where PPA members can discuss a range of photography topics. Not a PPA member? Join here!


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James Yates is an Atlanta-based writer/actor and the Communications Specialist at Professional Photographers of America (PPA). A graduate of Georgia State University, James has worked in the non-profit sector his whole life and is proud to be able to help artists achieve their goals. In his spare time he can be found walking his dogs on the Beltline or partaking in the nightly theater and comedy scene in the ATL.

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By Bethany Clark

theloop_networking.jpgLoopers know that the best way to find answers to your photography business questions is to ask it on theLoop, PPA's official, members-only social network. The discussions on theLoop are always productive and helpful, so dive right in!

Here's a recent example of a question and the first couple of responses. 

Question: 

Hi, I just opened my photography business a year ago and am looking for good business books. Any recommendations? Thanks!

Answer:
  • Be Your Own Sales Manager: Strategies And Tactics For Managing Your Accounts, Your Territory, And Yourself by Tony Alessandra Ph.D., Jim Cathcart, & John Monoky Ph.D. 
  • Best Business Practices for Photographers (second edition) by John Harrington 
  • The Complete Photography Careers Handbook (second edition) by George Gilbert 
  • The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday 
  • Go for No! by Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz
  • The Photographer's MBA, Everything You Need to Know for Your Photography Business by Sal Cincotta
  • Start with Why by Simon Sinek 
  • The E-Myth by Michael Gerber 
  • Youtility by Jay Baer 
  • Worth Every Penny by Michael Port 
  • Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port 
  • Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

Check in at theLoop.PPA.com to see more tips, discussions, recommendations, and to ask your peers questions you need answered! And find even more Quick Tips from your fellow Loopers here!
By Autumn Rice

Summer is all about fun, but don't forget about running your business. Before you head out for some amazing adventure, be sure to check in with your fellow PPA members on theLoop for some great conversation and advice. Here's a preview of some of the top discussions from theLoop in June.

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A member has had their entire computer hacked and the files encrypted. Even worse, the hackers are demanding money for the return of the files. Tons of advice on how to protect your files and your business before this happens!

This Looper needs some advice about choosing between Lightroom and Capture One products. Chime in the conversation and let him know your take on the issue!

This photographer needs some new tips and tricks for Photoshop. Do you have any? Let him know some of your favorite Photoshop methoods.

Here's a thread about helpful website designs to distinguish your business from the competition. See what your fellow Loopers have to say!

Does anyone know about online back-up systems? Here's a discussion thread to fill you in on all your options. Check out the conversation!

This Looper needs some help with traveling with her photography equipment. Do you know any ways to navigate the airport with your gear?

This new family photographer needs some advice for getting good photos of families with more than three people. Any advice? Share it in this discussion thread!

This Looper needs an upgrade and your help. If you know anything about mobile photography and computers join the conversation!

 Remember to check in with theLoop for a safe place to stay connected with the photography community and discuss all your photographic interests. Not a PPA member? Join here!


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By James Yates
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Loopers know that the best way to find answers to your photography business questions is to ask it on theLoop, PPA's official, members-only social network. The discussions on theLoop are always productive and helpful, so dive right in!

Here's a recent example of a question and the first couple of responses. 

Q: Is the use of a UV filter standard? If so, which do I need and what is a good brand to purchase?
--Andre R.

Andre,
You are going to get a lot of opinions on this.
Some for and some against using a UV filter, and then on which one to buy.
I'll just tell you my experience and you can decide for yourself. There is a belief that the more you spend on one the better it will be. 
I use them. I have had at least 6 incidents where I've dropped or bumped a lens (no lens hood attached), and the filter was trashed. But the lens was fine. Two incidents where I did not have a filter on the lens but I did have a lens hood - and the lens hood was destroyed, leaving the lens intact. I have had one incident where the integrated lens hood on a 14-24 zoom, a lens that does not lend itself to a convenient filter arrangement, did not save the lens and the front element was trashed.
There is an article that you might find helpful if you decide to use the filter.
www.lenstip.com/113.4-article-UV_filters_test_Description_of_the_results_and_summary.html
The cheaper filters have non-metal mounts, where the more costly ones use brass. At one point in the past when lens barrels were made of metal, I would prefer to have a filter that was made of brass. These days, many lenses have hard plastic filter threads, which in the past have cross threaded when using metal filters. I have yet to have that happen with the non-metal filter mounts.
-Eugene L.

Andre,
The argument for and against UV filters (like Eugene says) is as follows:
Fact 1: Every UV filter will degrade your image (even the most expensive ones).
Fact 2: Every UV filter will protect the front element of your lens (even the cheapest filters).
The decision you have to make is, in my opinion, if negligible degradation of the image with a good UV filter is worth the protection it offers your equipment. 
Every one of my lenses has a UV filter on the constantly. When I worked full time in an indoor photo studio, none of my lenses had UV filters. 
I'm with Eugene on this one. I'd rather have a protected lens, then a lens with a damaged front element, because the degradation of your image with a shattered front element is definitely noticeable.
I like B+W filters. They are made by Schneider one of the best optical manufactures in the world. While you're checking out filters, they make an amazing Circular Polarizing filter, which is the second filter I'd buy. For the UV filter, just buy the largest lens diameter you have (77mm or similar) and get a bunch of Step-up rings to make it fit on the different lenses.
-Pascal D.

Check in at theLoop.PPA.com to see more responses and ask your own questions for peer-to-peer discussion and support!


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James Yates is an Atlanta-based writer/actor and the Communications Specialist at Professional Photographers of America (PPA). A graduate of Georgia State University, James has worked in the non-profit sector his whole life and is proud to be able to help artists achieve their goals. In his spare time he can be found walking his dogs on the Beltline or partaking in the nightly theater and comedy scene in the ATL.
by James Yates
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It's now been six months since the inaugural class of PPA's Business Challenge started on theLoop. Since then a new group has started each month and those participating are making changes that will affect their businesses and their lives as they continue their entrepreneurial journey.  

One of the first things Challenge participants are tasked to do is define their personal idea of success and then create a sales and session projection using the online tool, Square One. It helps point every small business owner in the right direction and kicks off your Challenge-year with a firm understanding of what you need to accomplish in the upcoming months. Here are just a few comments pulled from the Discussion Threads on how things are going for our current participants:

"I did the square one projections for my business.  Wow.  I had to go thru it a few times and it was eye opening.  Not charging enough!!!  This was so helpful... "
Kim B. 


"Just realized I misunderstood net income.  This changes things...  YIKES.  Now I'm getting that crazy scared feeling in the pit of my stomach... This is such a huge kick in the rear.  I did a few breakdowns - with and without (a physical) studio.  (End goal is to have a studio space of my very own, so I wanted to see what needed to be done.)"
Later...
"Happy to report that I finished my projections yesterday.  I did one for a home based studio and one for a retail space.  I figured that my goal would be to aim for the retail space numbers since I want to end up with a studio.  If I fall short and hit my home based numbers, that's ok - just means I landed among the stars, right?  I'd be happy with either number right now, as long as eventually I get to the retail numbers!  :)...And now that I've done my a la carte pricing, I'm seeing clearly how that will help me reach the projection numbers.  It's all starting to come together in my brain." 
Karen C.

"I just used the square one tool, and it really gives me a starting goal for what I need to do.  So far I am working well towards my goals and getting the sales per session mark.  I just need to do more sessions. More sessions will come from more marketing and better time management." 
Jennifer J.

by James Yates

Here comes summer! Before you head out to the beach, have you made sure you're still on track with your business and creative goals for the year? Take a moment to check in on theLoop for some education and inspiration from your fellow photographers! Here's a roundup of the top theLoop discussions from the month of May. 

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Advice on Nikon F/4 zoom lens vs F/2.8

A new member wants advice on which lens to use. Are the heavier, more expensive options the way to go? Lots of advice given on this thread!

More Lens Advice: Sigma or Nikon?

A wedding and portrait photographer needs advice on lens options. Let's see what the Loopers had to say in this thread. 

Fast Recycle Flash/Strobe for Portable Use

A mountain biking-event photographer wants Loopers thoughts on options for something small and quick enough to pack into the woods. Lots of good advice here! 

Thumbtack? 

There's another long thread discussing the merits (or lack thereof) of Thumbtack. See what your fellow Loopers have to say about the consumer service website. 

Windows 10 Upgrade

Did anyone experience compatibility issues when upgrading to Windows 10? Long discussion on the subject found here! 

Need Recommendations for Anti-Theft Camera Straps

theLoop is a much better place to get product advice than those random Amazon reviews! This photographer is traveling to Italy and needs to know which camera strap will keep her protected. 

Variable ND Filter

One Looper asks: "Here's the conundrum: is there a well built, good quality and pretty accurate ND filter (preferably variable) that doesn't sacrifice image quality?" Read the feedback on this thread. 

Remember to check out theLoop, a safe and protected online community where PPA members can discuss a range of photography topics. Not a PPA member? Join here!


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James Yates is an Atlanta-based writer/actor and the Communications Specialist at Professional Photographers of America (PPA). A graduate of Georgia State University, James has worked in the non-profit sector his whole life and is proud to be able to help artists achieve their goals. In his spare time he can be found walking his dogs on the Beltline or partaking in the nightly theater and comedy scene in the ATL.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for BizChallenge_blogpost_650x160.jpg103 PPA photographers quietly kicked off the new PPA Business Challenge in February. Since then, two more groups have gotten underway with well over 300 participants at PPA.com/Challenge.

The Business Challenge helps photographers improve their business by building a stronger foundation with a focus on sustainability and profitability. The April group has already experienced two weeks of business-changing assignments, Q&A webinars, inspiration, check-ins, recaps and mark-your-calendar alerts. It's a great way to confidently build your business and not go it alone!

#1 No nonsense business advice
Led by PPA Director of Education Angela Kurkian, this 12-month Business Challenge is THE place to come for small-business help specifically developed for photographers. It is a sound framework to help PPA photographers steer their studios in the right direction. Don't be afraid to take the Challenge! Kurkian explains, "A lot of the things (the participants) are nervous about are things that being a member of PPA will help with (i.e. pricing, marketing, value through certification and becoming better at the craft of photography through photographic competition)."

#2 Peer-to-peer support group & accountability
The Business Challenge was developed to help hold photographers accountable in their attempts to improve their studios. One of the most popular and rewarding components of the Business Challenge in that regard are the questions and answers in the forums, where Kurkian poses questions to the group for an honest, frank discussion among peers. The questions can be complex, or as simple as "What are you afraid of?"

Here are some examples of the candid answers pulled from the group:

Q: What are you afraid of? What stops you from taking action?

"Will people value me?"

"My biggest fear is that I'm going to fail and look like a complete fool for even trying. I worry that my work isn't worth anything, that my peers view me as just another mom with a camera, and that I won't earn their respect; and I worry that I'll never find a client that values my work."

"I worry that maybe I AM talented but I'll let my fears squander it away or that my lack of business acumen will outweigh that talent."

"People will not pay our prices and will go with cheaper alternatives. People do not value our art or our time. My phone will stop ringing. We won't be able to afford/maintain our lifestyle."


But don't get too bogged down in the muck of negativity! Sharing with your peers is a wonderful way to see how alike we all are. Once these obstacles have been identified, it's only a matter of banding together and learning how to stomp it out with knowledge, hard work, and support from
PPA and your peers. We're all in this together!

#3 Safe practice for your own business
PPA is constantly developing new curriculum, offering webinars and advice to inspire and ignite the Business Challenge participants, and pushing them to greater success as artists and business people. You'll even notice Wes Roberts, who completed the Studio Makeover Challenge last year, hanging around the forums and offering great advice as someone who's been through the program.

Check back in a couple weeks, where we see what's going on with April's class one full month in...maybe some of their fears will be alleviated? (Spoiler alert: They will be!) Sign up now for the May class! Over 50 members are already on board! It's your turn to take control over your business and Be More! Sign up for free at PPA.com/Challenge.

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You never know who you may meet or what fun you might have on theLoop, PPA's online community reserved just for our members. Discuss, ask, learn, network...theLoop is there to strengthen your business by leveraging the power of community!Thumbnail image for theloop_128.jpg

Valentine's Day recently came and went and lots of people got engaged, which got us thinking: what are some quick tips on bringing out the big L.O.V.E in couples during engagement sessions? We put the question out on theLoop and here are a few things we learned from you, our valued members...

"I look for the moments right before the kiss, and in between, the way they look at each other and interact. I want portraits of the relationship not the act. A sure sell is one looking at the camera with the smallest hint of a smile and the other gazing at them... I will often say "I need to check light in this new location just relax a minute", and I get some of my best shots when they think I am not shooting. I also see how they really are as a couple in that moment."-- Joanne Fabian, Photographer/Owner, J Gray Fabian Photography, Souderton, PA

"I prefer to reserve the questions about their life and relationships for during the session because I can get lots of great shots with spontaneous reactions when they answer my questions, together... It's always a little harder in the beginning to get them to relax with each other and with me so I do a lot more talking in the beginning of a session to get them to feel more comfortable... Just remember that these couples are in love, we don't need to ask them to act it! It's just a matter of making them comfortable with you and the love will show!"--- Orita Issartel, Orita Issartel Photography, PPA member from Miami, FL

"I usually ask them to kiss and smile, kiss and smile. The more they do it, the more they begin to giggle together and relax, and I get some great body language in their images this way. It helps that I also tell a lot of corny jokes and have the couple laughing with me for the majority of their session!... I always save the more serious poses for the end of the session. By then, the lighting is more dramatic and the couple is comfortable enough with me to do whatever I ask of them. These are some of my favorite images, where they are focused on their love and each other, and I can get a more dramatic shot. This one ends up being ordered as a large print almost every time!"--- Melissa Brewer, Wedding Photographer and PPA member from Columbia, SC

"I like to set couples up and then ask them to tell me about the first time they met, now look at each other and remember how you felt then. It creates more of a moment to capture instead of just a look."--- Elizabeth Kilgour, Echt Photography, PPA member from Calgary AB

Be sure to stay "engaged" (get it?) in theLoop all year long and don't be shy: ask questions! It's only through sharing with your peers and gaining feedback that you can grow as an artist. www.theLoop.ppa.com



By Sarah Ackerman

2016 is off to a quick start! Can you believe it's nearly February? Time flies when you're working on things you love! Take a moment and check in on some of our top discussions from theLoop!
 
What do you do to turn passion projects into profit? When your artistic vision changes, it can be a challenge! Help this PPA portrait photographer explore where she can take her landscapes. 

Watermarking has been a time honored tradition in years passed to help market your work, but has its time come to an end? Weigh in with this PPA photographer to share your experience with keeping your stamp on your work.

Have you ever been put in a position where a client was past due on a bill and you had to charge a late fee? How did you handle it? Help this PPA photographer figure out what's an appropriate amount.

Sometimes clients are disappointed for a variety of reasons, many of which may be out of your control. What do you do when a client demands too much? Chime in with this PPA photographer to share how you would handle this situation. 

Volume photographers unite! In a volume world, how do you offer online reorders that don't take ages to set up on your site? Help this PPA photographer streamline their workflow to maximize profits and minimize time wasted. 

Sometimes the best of the best isn't feasible, so what's a good midrange option for monitors? Do you have a favorite anecdote or a horror story to steer this PPA photographer in the right direction? Chime in!

When your clients insist on just having the files and not having anything printed, what's an appropriate price? And would you barter for leads? Share your feedback with this PPA photographer!

If you're a newborn photographer, how do you handle sales sessions? New moms have their hands full and adding to their stress won't lead to your top sales, so what's the best option? Help this PPA newborn photographer navigate her way to better sales here.

As a photographer, it's important to get your name in front of your potential customers. Have you ever used a mall display? If so, how did it work? Weigh in on this thread!

When a job is substantially larger than any other job you've done, how do you go about handling the pricing? For this PPA commercial photographer, do you do it by the hour, by the unit or just a flat rate for the whole project? Weigh in here!

Remember to check out theLoop, a safe and protected online community where PPA members can discuss a range of photography topics. Not a PPA member? Join here!

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Sarah Ackerman manages all things social media for PPA and Imaging USA. When she's not living on the internet, she loves improv comedy, going on wilderness adventures, gallivanting around the globe, knitting, wood working and yoga. 



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By James Yates

PPA's theLoop online community has been on a roll lately, hosting Imaging USA 2016 speakers for Ask Me Anything sessions. This week, we were privileged to have Terri Eddington, M.Photog., CPP, sit and answer your questions for our final AMA before Imaging USA 2016!

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Terri is a 3-time recipient of the International Photographer of the Year Award as well as PPA's highest honor of Diamond photographer; her elegant style and talent in wedding and boudoir photography has truly set her apart in the industry. Terri also devotes her time and energy to furthering her industry as the rising President of PPA Louisiana.

At Imaging USA 2016 in Atlanta, Terri will be teaching the class "High Impact Lighting Made 'Easy'", January 11, 5:00 PM - 6:15 PM. In this amazing workshop, Terri demystifies everything that is difficult, complicated and cumbersome about lighting. Using her unique gift of simplifying this all-important concept, she'll show you fun and easy-to-understand setups that will deliver stunning images for your clients!
 
Terri's easy-going approach and sparkly personality are infectious. Right at the start of our AMA session, she told the audience, "Go ahead ask me anything...I will answer with a 'TNT' response! Does that mean 'Powerful'? From me, no! 'TNT' means 'Terri Not Technical' LOL! If you like an easy approach and simple explanation...then I'm you girl!"

Thanks, Terri! We know there are both new and evolving photographers who appreciate "easy" and "simple"! Here are some highlights from her AMA:
 
What's Your Inspiration and Your Favorite Personal Photo?

My inspiration? "People". I love to photograph people. Any kind, any style and even anywhere! Years ago in painting or art class when I could choose to draw or paint anything, I would choose people! I was told that was the hardest - but not to me. It was my passion. I did not know that many years later I would be photographing people but I never get tired of it. It is always exciting to see the many faces and personalities before me. And I have the privilege to capture them all! 
What is my favorite photography ever? Really? I mean, really? That is impossible to say! But I can say, when I capture the soul of a person, there is nothing like it. When their inner beauty shines through their eyes we are no longer just photographers but artists!
 
Is your creativity for an image fully realized before the capture or in post-production?
 
There are so many ways to approach photography to where there is not a true right or wrong. I can just say from my personal experience I have done a little of both. I do try to have a "game plan" when I shoot. I like to know location, time of day (if outside), the personality or taste of the client to know what to work towards during a shoot. If shooting in the studio I try to have the type of props and style of lighting ready that will work for the client. These are things I do for my everyday clients. A lot of times these clients have a need for normal/regular shots. What I do try to do is at the end of the shoot I like to be creative and do a little something different. We just have fun! A lot of times it will be their favorite but it was nothing they originally asked for. This allows me to stay creative and also gives them something that maybe no one else has. 
Now, on a stylized shoot I do plan more ahead of time. I try to have a theme, look and style ready. But again during the shoot something might hit me and I go for it. It's either the look someone has or their personality that comes thru and may lead me in a different direction. No matter how tired I am at the beginning of a shoot, once we get started I am "in the zone". I don't get in a hurry when I shoot. I love to create so I make sure I schedule in the time. 
That being said I would say that I don't fully realize everything I am going to do before a shoot but it does help to plan a little.
 
How do you approach High Key Lighting?

I really don't shoot a traditional high key. As far as a high key look on the subject themselves, I shoot normal lighting ratios and then lighten in Photoshop. This allows me to be in control of how much I want to lighten the subject and also to keep good detail and depth in the eyes, etc. I do sometimes shoot to have the background a white high key look by putting a one-to-two stop higher light on the background than the subject as long as the light on the back of the subject (reflecting from the background) is not brighter than the main light.
 
We hope you found Terri's advice helpful! And remember to catch her live at Imaging USA in Atlanta! Sign up today at ImagingUSA.org/Registration.





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