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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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By Lindsey Forson
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The FAA recently expanded its online drone registration system to include unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or "drones") being used for commercial or public uses. Previously, online registration was only available for drones being used for hobby or recreational purposes, but no matter the purpose or activity, all drone owners are required to register every drone they have. The registration process only takes five to ten minutes. The cost is $5.00 and each drone registration is valid for three years.

Here's the official website to register your drone:  FAA.gov/UAS/Registration. Remember: only hobby and recreational uses are currently permitted unless the drone operator is a licensed pilot and has a Section 333 exemption from the FAA but stay tuned for new regulations that should be made public within the next few months. PPA wants to be very clear that the registration expansion does not mean that regulations have changed (though it is a good sign that the changes are coming very soon).

Registering a drone for business-related use is very similar to the hobbyist registration and is outlined in this article PPA published previously. There is just one additional step required and that is for you to provide the manufacturer, model, and serial number of your drone. The system will also prompt you to input information about your organization (your business) into your account profile.

Once you have registered your drone, you will be assigned a registration number. Be sure to follow the FAA's instructions for labeling your drone properly once you have that unique registration number. You must have your FAA registration certificate in your possession when operating any unmanned aircraft. That proof of registration may be either on paper or electronic, but it must be available immediately upon request.

And remember: Commercial drone use is still heavily regulated, requiring an exemption from the FAA and a pilot's license to be fully legal; however, we expect those requirements to be loosened soon. The FAA making commercial registration available online bodes well for the new regulations appearing just around the corner. We'll keep you posted on any and all updates here and on PPA.com/Drones.

Lindsey Forson is PPA's Manager of Government Affairs. She works alongside our CEO to fight for the rights of professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep PPA members informed on the issues that affect your businesses. Lindsey helps PPA advocate for stronger copyright protection, improved drone regulations, and other small-business issues affecting the industry. When not on Capitol Hill or at PPA headquarters, you can typically find Lindsey on a soccer field, at an Atlanta restaurant or market, or cheering on the Auburn Tigers!

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By James YatesThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for copyrighticon.png

By now you know PPA is always fighting for your rights on Capitol Hill, lobbying and advocating for improvements to copyright registration and the modernization of the copyright office (including a small claims option).

We're pretty proud of the "big-picture" ways that we're working to improve your business's sustainability and profits, but there's a smaller, peer-to-peer way that PPA has helped, behind the scenes, for years: assessing whether or not members' works have been infringed.

In the old days (up until this month), if a PPA member felt their work may have been lifted without their permission, they would call and speak directly to our Government Affairs Coordinator. The GAC would walk each caller through the appropriate steps of determining if the use of a work was a violation of copyright law and what the next steps to take were.

Now, in honor of World Copyright Day being right around the corner (April 23rd), PPA is unveiling our newest member tool: the Copyright Infringement Assistance tool! This fast and easy tool does, online and in minutes, what the GAC used to do over the phone. Call it the "scaling up" of helping our members. With the new tool, if you think you've been infringed upon, you only have to answer 2-3 questions and the tool will generate specific help for you, including DCMA takedown notices, certified letters to the infringing parties or letting you know when it's time to contact an attorney.

If you feel your work has been infringed upon, but you don't know what to do about it, PPA can help with our Copyright Infringement Assistance tool. It's designed to point you in the right direction, with steps you can take to stop the infringement! It's quick and painless...because having your art stolen is painful enough! Come see how it all works, and also get your hands on our Copyright Kit and see Anne Geddes speak on the subject, at PPA.com/Copyright.

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by James Yates

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Spring is known as a time for rebirth and have we got a rebirth for you! PPA is flipping the switch on a new website, PPmag.com, the companion site to Professional Photographer magazine, which promises more education and inspiration than before, within a beautiful (and much more engaging) interface. The site has been dormant for some time now but we've been tinkering and working diligently behind-the-scenes to make it the BEST online photography magazine out there. Now...we're ready for you to see what we've done! Go visit the site TODAY! To celebrate the launch, we're giving away a unique photographic prize to a winning visitor of the site EVERY DAY for the entire month of April!

We know you'll be impressed with PPmag.com's makeover, as it presents a beautiful design, high-resolution photographs and compelling editorial content. The online home of Professional Photographer offers users the opportunity to explore galleries of additional images not present in the print edition plus daily doses of inspiration. Visitors to the site will also find profiles of successful photographers making the most of their image-making passion. Best of all, the site hosts a searchable archive of every issue of Professional Photographer dating back to 2008!

Professional Photographer magazine boasts the largest paid circulation in the professional photographic industry. Born in 1907, Professional Photographer has a long history of award-winning content. No other magazine offers a more influential and consistent presentation of the people, trends, products, and photographs changing and defining the portrait, wedding and commercial photography landscape.
 
In addition to hosting a digital version of each issue of Professional Photographer, PPmag.com presents content that is unique to the web. You'll find quick links to more industry news, products, tutorials, business tips, and in-depth profiles. Gear junkies can access reviews of new and noteworthy products, tutorials and how-to's from pros. Addressing the fact that most professional photographers are small business owners, PPmag.com also offers business tips, real-world solutions and advice from experts to help photographers be more.

"The new site is designed to be vibrant and user-friendly, with lots of opportunities for sharing," says Jane Gaboury, Director of Publications. "Most important, it's a place where Professional Photographer magazine readers can go for even more of what they love--more photos, more tips and more inspiration than we can fit into each printed issue. It's exciting to deliver content that can have a real impact on photographers' lives by helping them build better businesses."

The "Thirty Days of Giveaways" promo launches today, April 4th, to celebrate this long-awaited launch. EVERY DAY for 30 days, you can register for your chance to win a unique prize provided by one of Professional Photographer's sponsors. Enter once daily at PPMag.com/30Days.

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by James Yates

PPA is continuing to keep you up-to-date on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (or "drone") rules and regulations. As we await word from the FAA on loosening the restrictions for commercial drone use, we thought you might like to take a look at a video that shows just how finicky (and potentially dangerous!) UAS can be.

Skip ahead to 1:35 to see the crash, then to 3:35 for the fire.

Yes. Fire.





Don't worry. No one was hurt and the house did NOT burn down.


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By Sarah Ackerman 

Dron2.jpgIf you've recently attended an electronics trade show, a photography expo, or wandered in to your local camera store, you've seen drones (a.k.a. unmanned aircraft systems or UAS) everywhere. They are an awesome, new, relatively affordable tool for capturing aerial photography! As a photographer, of course you want to create with the latest and greatest technology available to you for your clients. There are also a lot of posts on social media and talks on tradeshow floors of how it's legal to use drones for photographic purposes. And that's mostly true...

Here's the rub: It becomes unlawful the moment you use UAS for anything beyond hobby or recreational uses, to include using drones for business purposes (selling drone images or using them in promotional material), except for the very limited exception described below.

There is only one specific situation in which you are allowed to use drones for business use. You're a professional photographer AND your business has a Section 333 exemption from the FAA (a complicated process which usually involves an attorney) AND your drone is being operated by an FAA-licensed pilot.

PPA has been working with the FAA to change that, and just this week had a very informative discussion in D.C. with five members of the FAA's UAS integration team. We are pleased to report that the new rule for business-related drone use will most likely be released by June. They confirmed that they are prepared for a late spring/early summer release. The rule will take effect 30 days after it's released. These regulations will apply to drones weighing under 55 lbs. PPA expects the new regulations will be similar to the proposal released by the FAA last year which would allow for the use of drones by professional photographers if three requirements are met:

1.    The user has obtained a small UAS airman certificate which will be earned by passing a computerized knowledge test.
2.    The user has registered all drones. The FAA's online drone registration system should be expanded to include registration of drones that will be used for business-related purposes by the end of this month (March).  
3.    The user follows all of the rules - There will be restrictions on maximum height, maximum speed, airspace etc. Based on the proposal, we expect the restrictions to be very reasonable.   

This is a lot of exciting progress coming very soon that will allow professional photographers to use drones in their business...but for now, the moment you sell your drone images or use them to promote your business, you're operating outside of legal regulations. And if you're caught, you could face very significant fines.

If you're using drones as a hobbyist and taking images for image-capturing's sake, that's totally ok! Keep on honing your skillset, so when the FAA changes their rules, you'll be 110% ready! Just be sure your drone is registered - regardless of your pro-status, or the purpose of your images, you'll need to register your drone and yourself as the owner. Here's a quick and handy guide on how this easy registration process works!

As we expect more changes in the coming weeks and months, PPA will continue to keep you updated on the new rules and regulations regarding drone use. Be More In The Know.


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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

Registration has opened TODAY for PPA's Super 1 Day Photography Workshops! The workshops are scheduled to take place between May 9 and May 23, 2016. For those two weeks, hundreds of studios across the country will hold day-long workshops covering every topic from portrait and wedding photography, posing and lighting, to digital retouching and workflow and sales and marketing strategies. The workshops comprise a full day of photography education for professional photographers.Super1Day_1200x1200.jpg

In Scottsdale, Arizona, they can learn lighting and posing from Andrew Faulds, M.Photog., CPP and Ryan Higgins, CPP. In Alexandria, Virginia, attendees can experience a complete location senior portrait session with Kelly Schneider, CPP. Do you live closer to Owensboro, Kentucky? Master Photographers Kate and Jason Higdon will be there to go over their "Social Capital" theory on how to network with clients.

Super 1 Day aims to strengthen the photographic and business skills of professional photographers. Classes are taught by photographers who host seminars in their studios (or other locations), with the proceeds going to support PPA educational projects.

Classes are expected to be a full day, so that CEU merits can be awarded to both attendees and instructors. You have three easy ways to register:
•    ONLINE: Register online for only $99 between March 2, 2016 and May 3, 2016.
•    BY PHONE: Call your PPA Customer Service team at 1-800-786-6277 to register by phone until May 3, 2016.
•    ONSITE: All registrations after May 3, 2016 must be completed onsite and in-person for $120. Please contact the instructor prior to attending to ensure there is space available.

PPA will send confirmation letters with class information to all pre-registered attendees. Not a PPA photographer? Don't fret! All photographers are encouraged to attend.
 
To get all the latest info on Super 1 Day, head on over to PPA.com/Super1Day.

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by Lindsey Forson

Professional photography is undoubtedly an art form. But the images you create are so much more than your art - they are your meal ticket... your livelihood... your blood, sweat, and tears. This is why copyright protection is so important to photographers, and this is why PPA works so hard to fight for strong and effective copyright laws.
 
Based on the level of importance for small-business copyright owners along with considerations of feasibility, PPA has narrowed down three primary priorities for legislative action:

1.  The creation of a small claims option for copyright enforcement

2.  Modifications to the current copyright registration process to improve functionality and have more photographers register their work

3.  Modernization of the United States Copyright Office

If you have kept up with our advocacy updates throughout the past year, you have heard about these priorities before. It is increasingly apparent that updates are underway. There is a real possibility that legislation will advance as soon as this year! Therefore, the time has also come for all photographers to form a (much) deeper insight into what each of these issues could mean for their businesses and why they are worthy of your support.
 
So why modernize the United States Copyright Office? Technological advancements have occurred at a much quicker rate than the federal government has been able to keep up with. This has become a big issue and greatly affects creators like you. As incredible as it seems, the U.S. Copyright Office is simply not properly equipped to operate in today's world and effectively meet your copyright needs. Its main three needs are: adequate administrative capacity, authority, and accountability. All of which are currently lacking, at least to a certain degree.

As is, the U.S. Copyright Office is not a federal agency. It is an office situated within the Library of Congress (LOC) and is really more like one department within a larger agency. This means that the Copyright Office's systems and processes are tied to the LOC's. Most people understand that the needs of the millions of creators throughout our nation who deal with copyright issues are very different than the needs of a library (a very important library, but a library nonetheless). We are talking about IT needs, staffing needs, and budgeting needs - just to name a few.
 



by Lindsey Forson

PPA has a full time presence on Capitol Hill fighting for the rights of professional photographers. In fact, as you read this, PPA's CEO David Trust is in Washington, D.C. meeting with key lawmakers. As we kick off our 2016 advocacy efforts, we have hope that this will be the year that a lot of hard work will pay off.
 
Know that PPA is fighting for your rights! This is why we want you to know exactly what the issues PPA advocates for are and why these issues have been prioritized. As a result, during the next six weeks, we'll post more updates right here, on the PPA Blog. Weekly posts will cover key priority areas of PPA's legislative advocacy efforts and provide updates on the most recent progress on Capitol Hill. You can also follow these stories on PPA.com/Advocacy.

This blog series will also offer a webinar to dig a bit deeper on the same topics and discuss strategies for grassroots advocacy. Here are the advocacy priorities you can expect to learn more about:

1.    The Creation of a Small Claims Option for Copyright Enforcement
2.    Modifications to the Copyright Registration process to create a more functional system
3.    Modernization of the United States Copyright Office

Do not miss out on these opportunities to become fully informed on these vital issues which directly affect your livelihood! The time to become educated is now - very soon PPA might be calling on you for help!

Why now?

The House Judiciary Committee of the U.S. Congress has executed a comprehensive review of copyright in America during the past few years. PPA has been there all the way through, speaking out for the issues most important to the industry. In the next year or two, we hope to see legislation from this committee on issues vital to photography businesses, such as those outlined above. When, exactly? No one knows - which is the reason to prepare now.

If and when any copyright legislation moves from the Committee to the House floor, PPA will call on you! We will ask each and every PPA member to contact their representatives so that our voice truly is 29,000 photographers strong. Timing is essential - so it is extremely important to time this right. But when the day comes (hopefully soon!), PPA members will be educated and prepared to fight for your rights. Do your part now by taking full advantage of PPA's educational opportunities - Be More Protected!

Lindsey Forson is PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs Coordinator. She works with members on a daily basis addressing copyright questions and works closely with our CEO to advocate for  professional photographers on Capitol Hill and to keep members informed on the issues that affect their businesses. She's new to Atlanta and spends most of her free time exploring the city (restaurants, markets, parks); spends three nights a week playing soccer and is a huge Auburn fan.

by Lindsey Forson

There is a lot of information floating around right now regarding new FAA regulations for drone or UAS use. We want to clear a few things up for you and give you some helpful tips!

The new regulations released this week from the FAA require the registration of all Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). As of Monday, the FAA launched a very simple online registration process for hobbyist users of small UAS. There is a paper application currently available for commercial users, but it is important to note that commercial use is still only currently permitted for professional photographers who have been granted a Section 333 exemption and are licensed pilots or have exempt licensed pilots operating the UAS.

We expect the FAA to finalize new regulations for business-related use of small UAS during the first half of 2016. The FAA has also said that the online UAS registration system will be expanded to include business-related use by the spring of 2016. If you are using UAS for hobbyist or recreational purposes while awaiting new regulations for business use, be sure to register your UAS with the FAA as soon as possible. Please see our recent coverage (link to last blog post) for more information on the most recent regulatory change.

Here are step-by-step instructions for how to register your UAS after the jump:



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