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By Guest Blogger Rachel Brenke

Taxes can be extremely overwhelming, exhausting and downright annoying. In fact, figuring out how to do taxes can feel like one big ball of these emotions with no real path to navigate. Unfortunately, we have no choice but to make it happen. The downfall for many photographers is that they don't take the time to pick apart the needed tax information and strategies that are available out there, including keeping up with remitting the proper tax, identifying your deduction strategy and keeping up with reporting.

Remit the proper taxes 

Paying the proper amount of taxes is scary. You want to do it right, but may not be sure if you are. There are three major tax categories to keep in mind: federal income, state income, and state sales. 

Income taxes at both the federal and state level are taxes on the money that is determined to be your income. As you'll see at the end of this blog, you can identify certain expenses as deductions to help reduce your personal income tax liability. On a state sales tax level, figuring out what rate to take and what products/services are taxed can seem tedious. You are a middleman between client and state, but you need to fulfill the duty of ensuring that the sales tax is collected properly. Other information for sales tax includes whether the state is a destination based, origin based, or hybrid state, as well as whether use or franchise taxes are needed for your business. It is highly recommended you engage in a yearly review of this information to ensure you're walking the tax lane on the straight-and-narrow. Whether you feel comfortable and competent enough to handle it yourself or hire a trusted accountant, it will avoid you getting penalized for failure to fulfill the required duty of remitting accurate taxes and while this seems taunting, it truly is needed as it protects your photography business and ends up saving a lot of time, money and energy in the long run.

Keep up with reporting

Keeping a handle on reporting your income and expenses can help you be more efficient at tax reporting time, as well as identifying appropriate pricing and paralleling to evaluate marketing strategies for effectiveness. The baseline information to get your head around is the monies coming in the bank account, as well as the monies going out. These outgoing amounts include overhead expenses such as the cost of goods, insurance, legal fees, hosting, marketing materials, subscriptions, etc. Without getting your arms around these numbers, you'll end up shooting in the red. But not only that, you're unable to accurately and easily deduct (see tax tip #3 shortly) these expenses, resulting in paying taxes on money you didn't really "pocket".

By John Owens

Greetings photography community! Hope you've all had a wonderful start to summer. To cap things off, here are our favorite 10 blog posts from the week. Dig in!

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1. Have or Want To Open Your Own Studio? Read This

STUDIO ADVICE: This post from Million Dollar Photographer shares common pitfalls that you'll want to avoid if you have or are considering opening your own studio. Author Bradford Rowley offers 9 things to keep out of your studio space. Take a look around and see if they apply to you!

2. Why Compete? Photographers Weigh In

BE MORE INVOLVED: First, some good news: The deadline for submissions to the International Photographic Competition (IPC) has been extended to July 10! Why should you enter? We asked photographers just that on theLoop. Check out their responses in this post. Hopefully they inspire you to compete too!

3. People Skills? Yeah, You Need Those Too

NEGLECTED NECESSITIES: Here's a trick of the trade that's not often talked about but generally assumed we all have: people skills. The word 'skill' is there for a reason--it's a talent! This post discusses their importance and asks three insightful questions for you to consider. Take a look!

4. Skin Retouching: What To Do (And What Not To Do)

POST-PRODUCTION: Here's a post from Lindsay Adler, all about skin retouching. (did you know she's speaking at Imaging USA in 2016?!). I this post, she discusses five things that ruin skin in your photos. Are you guilt of any of these photography sins? Lindsay tells you how to fix them.

By Mariah Ashley

I would like to officially announce my candidacy for the office of President.

(Cheers and Applause)

Oh wait a minute; I'm going to need to retract that statement. I'm already the president around here. In fact, I've served two and a half terms.

I know it seems pretty important and glamorous, being the most powerful woman in my office and all, but have you ever seen the side-by-sides of the presidents before and after their terms? Ouch! Being President DOES NOT do a body good- check it out

Wrinkles are in fact... bipartisan.

Whether you are the President of the United States or President of your Small Business, the job description is the same; 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Endless worry, countless decisions and constant public scrutiny. Success in pleasing your constituents? Unlikely. 

So who would want this for themselves? Well, Hillary, Ted, and Rand so far but maybe they'll give that a second thought after they read my blog post. Sure, right now they're all caught up in their patriotic passion to serve their country but do they realize what a grind the next four years will actually be for them?

I mean, you have got to wear A LOT of hats when you are president. I can't believe how many decisions I have to make in the course of the work week. I heard on NPR once that President Obama does not make any non-essential decisions. He has so many big decisions to make that he's eliminated all choices like, what to wear, what to eat etc. He simply does not have room for one more decision. I think maybe George W. Bush said it best when he famously said, "I am the decider." I hate to admit it, but he was right if, you are president you are the decider. Period. That's what you do, you decide.

The thing is, everything (including your skin) turns grey when you become president. It seems like much of the frustration with our elected officials comes from wanting them to take a hard line on an issue. I'm here to tell you, as someone who sits in the big chair, it's nearly impossible to boil things down to black and white and all that grey is exhausting. Let me illustrate with three examples of presidential decisions I had to make this week.

By John Owens

It's Friday! And you know what that means--photography geeks blog round up time! Flip your way through this top 10 to see what's going on in the photography world this week. There's sure to be some good stuff that applies to you!


Copyright Awareness Month
AWARENESS: April is Copyright Awareness Month! Do your part and raise awareness with your local photo retailers. They might be helping people infringe on your images without you even knowing it! You can help them know what they don't know during this month's campaign. Read the details and sign up! Be sure to check out the free-to-all copyright webinar later this month to educate yourself on your rights.

PhotoVision is Now a PPA Member Benefit
DID YOU KNOW? PhotoVision is now a part of PPA! That means the best photography education videos out there, for PPA photographers. 24/7 access to PhotoVision's entire catalogue of 800 videos through online streaming at no cost. Read more for details.

Attention to Detail: Get the Photo Your Client Will Cherish
INSPIRATION: In this heartwarming essay, Jenna Martin shares her wedding story and the image she wishes she had from the day. She gets introspective toward the end and it's something any photographer, especially wedding photographers, can practice. What's the one image you wish you had from your big day? How can you make sure you capture those moments for your clients?

Tips for a Long, Healthy Career
ADVICE: Learning from mistakes is a tried and true method, but chances are someone has already made those errors before you. Use this 40-year professional photography veteran's hindsight to your advantage and check out this post on the five biggest mistakes he's made during his career. Read through and make sure you don't fall victim to any of these shortcomings.

PPA Helps Potentially Harmful Arkansas Bill Get Vetoed
PHOTOGRAPHY LAW: Early this week, PPA was notified of a bill in Arkansas that would be incredibly harmful to the livelihoods of photographers not just in the state, but nationwide. The bill contained unintended and potentially dangerous implications to photographers, but was thankfully vetoed just in the nick of time. Read the full blog to see what this could have meant for photographers and what PPA did to make sure it didn't happen!

Goal Setting with Dr. Julie Connor
MOTIVATION: Past Imaging USA speaker Jeff Shaw has Dr. Julie Connor on this week's podcast to share her tips for dreaming big and achieving them. Dr. Connor travels the world spreading her mission helping people reach their goals. In this podcast she and Jeff discuss aligning tasks and goals with vision and mission, how to get unstuck and making your lifetime goals your habits. 

Portrait Retouching Workflow
POST-PROCESSING: Here are some handy tips from Fstoppers to help you spend even less time in front of that dreaded computer screen editing your images! Photographer Jeff Rojas uses a male portrait session to demonstrate his 6-step workflow process that could apply to any portrait session. If you're spending too much time retouching, give these a try!

Give and Receive Critiques with Grace!
CRITIQUING YOUR WORK: Here's a great post full of advice on how to give and receive photography critiques. The author gives tips for both sides and it's a pretty solid way to think of them. Don't forget, critiques are one of the most valuable pieces of photographic competition so make sure you get yours when you enter!

Make Your Subject Pop Off the Background
TECHNIQUE: Does the subject of your image ever get washed out by the background? Don't let it happen again with these helpful tips from The Phoblographer.

The Best Photography-Related April Fools' Day Spoofs
JUST FOR LAUGHS: A round up in a round up?! So meta, John. April Fools' Day came and went Wednesday, hopefully without incident for you all. PetaPixel did us all the favor of gathering the best photography hoaxes. I'm pretty partial to the SteadiKid Baby Carrier. What's your favorite?


There you have it, our top blog posts of the week! What blogs do you enjoy? Let us know on theLoop.


John Owens is PPA's resident wordsmith. Know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? That's where he comes in. The Connecticut transplant and (still) avid Hartford Whalers fan is an aspiring adventurist/novelist/racer on a lifelong quest to find the best trails, brews and burger.

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It's another week and another Friday the 13th. Eek! We hope things aren't getting dodgy for you photographers out there (but if they do, please chat about it on theLoop). Here's the top 10 blogs from this past week to help you get stoked for "busy season".


It's in the Details - Advice on Shooting for Competition

PHOTO COMPETITION: In this post, Christine Walsh-Newton picks apart some of her past submissions to show you what she learned about photographic competition and what to do to  get Loan collection worthy images. We also note here that Christine is a PPA photographer M.Photog.Cr. and CPP! After reading her piece, you'll be ready to get off the fence and enter yourself. And good news: many PPA district competitions are accepting submissions now AND when judging starts, you can watch a live streaming to see it in real time!

By: Lauren Walters

Have a case of the judging jitters? If you've entered a photographic competition such as IPC, you know how intimidating the process can be, but that fear is far exceeded by its reward.

The IPC is proven to benefit photographers' technique and assure their credence. But if you've never entered, you might wonder: How does the judging process work? Competitions are a great way to improve your work by getting pointers via critiques from accomplished photographers such as international juror Jeff Dachowski, M.Photog.Cr., CPP. Once you get a hang of the process, you'll be more confident to enter your work into a competition yourself!

Below Jeff Dachowski critiques "Framed Classic" by Mark Bowers, M.Photog. in the Artist category for IPC. Watch how one's work is analyzed and see how the exercise can help you continue to perfect your craft. Once you get a hang of the process, you'll be more confident to enter your work into a competition yourself!

Nothing like a Friday the 13th to send you into Valentine's Day! Here's some very non-scary posts from the week for you to eat up and take into the weekend and beyond.

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IMAGING USA: Day 1 of Imaging USA 2015 brought photographers in droves to Opryland, eager for the opening of the tradeshow and the many classes of the day. The night was capped off with what was easily the biggest Super Bowl party around! Read the day 1 recap.

IMAGING USA: Things got even better on day 2, with more deals and learning. And the Grand Imaging Award winner was crowned. Find out who won!

IMAGING USA: The convention and tradeshow came to a close Tuesday, with the final tally of attendees surpassing 11,000, officially making Imaging USA 2015 the biggest show to date. Things culminated with the handing out of Awards and Degrees and the official Closing Party on Delta Island.

ADVOCACY: Just before the end of the last Congress, a bill was handed down to declare that "still and motion photographs are speech". The bill will need to be re-introduced, and you should want it to since it is fighting for your basic rights--to photograph! Read on to see what all this entails and look for a blog on the matter from PPA next week.

MARKETING & SALES: Do you have an online shop for clients? Perhaps you should. According to eMarketing Inc., ecommerce sales in 2017 could top $434 billion. You don't want to miss that gravy train! This lengthy infographic from ecommerce platforms is full of great tips to get you started.

INSPIRATION: Iconic images stand the test of time, but do you remember who created them? Photographer Tim Mantoani has compiled a collection of 150 artists behind the photographs into a book of 20 x 24 polaroid's with a short story on the image in the creators handwriting. Take a look at a few, and also this making of the project video.

SOCIAL MEDIA (part I): No one likes a Debbie Downer. Especially not when looking for a photographer. This post from Fstoppers takes a look at what not to post on your social media pages. Are you guilty of any of these?

SOCIAL MEDIA (part II): Okay, who saw this one coming?! The original post garnered so much feedback a follow-up on the positives of social media marketing was warranted. Hopefully you are indeed guilty of these practices, and keep it up!

INSPIRATION: This post from PetaPixel is a bit biting at first, but you'll see what the author is getting at quickly. She argues that a certain D word is much more important to your continued success.

ADVICE: Here's a cool podcast with one of the best in the business--Joe McNally. This award-winning photographer has seen and done it all for some of the biggest publications out there, and he's done it for quite some time now. Learn his approach to photography, how to deal with hardships and some honest advice.

There you have it, our favorite posts of the week! What photography blogs do you enjoy? Let us know on theLoop.  


John Owens is PPA's resident wordsmith. Know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? That's where he comes in. The Connecticut transplant and (still) avid Hartford Whalers fan is an aspiring adventurist/novelist/racer on a lifelong quest to find the best trails, brews and burgers.

By: Lauren Walters

Happy New Year! Catch up on the new blog posts of 2015 (thus far!).

1.       Maps Showing the Pro Photography Landscape in the United States

STATISTICS: Take a look at the newly released statistics about employed professional photographers in 2013. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated about 54,830 professional photographers were employed in the US in 2013, excluding self-employed photographers (which from our stand point significantly skews the data, but that's why there's the Benchmark). Also, a few of the top cities for employed photographers are Los Angeles, Orlando, New York, Atlanta, and Chicago. Can you believe that Washington D.C. has the highest average annual pay for professional photographers?!

2.       Live From Yosemite's El Capitan: Photographer Captures Attempt at History-Making Climb

INSPIRATION: Climbing the 3,000-foot El Cap is hard enough, but capturing the action is quite the challenge. National Geographic photographer and filmmaker Corey Rich attempts to capture rock climbers Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell scale El Cap. Read more about the struggle and similarities between the photographers and the climbers.

3.       Renaming your Photos on Import with Adobe Lightroom

ORGANIZATION: Developing a file structure can keep your work easily accessible. In Adobe Lightroom, you can use their built-in template if you like. The author of this blog uses a similar structure. Renaming your photos can be helpful when you've been shooting for multiple days with multiple cameras.

4.       20 Photographer-Specific Things You Can Do Today To Start 2015 Off Right

PERSONAL GROWTH: Consider some of the following tips to feel refreshed for the New Year: Calibrate your monitor, install a new hard drive, re-print some new studio samples, implement email filters, restock office supplies, and check your credit card statements. Continue reading this blog for more ways to relax and start fresh in 2015! Well, of course, all of that is on top of coming to Imaging USA!

5.       Preparing and Packing A Portable Studio Efficiently

HOW TO: Is your studio mobile? Learn how to effectively pack your supplies on the go! Every photographer carries different supplies and in varying quantities. No matter the variance, one will need a rolling storage bin that is padded on the inside such as a Stanley mobile tool box from Home Depot. Bungee cords and a rolling cart are also used for efficient transportation.  

6.       Useful Photography Tip #127: The Importance of Turning Negative Energies into Creativity

POSITIVE VIBES: Do unfortunate events leave you feeling unproductive? Next time you have a bad day, don't throw in the towel. As creative people, photographers have the gift of capturing emotion. Channel your negative energy into a positive experience!

7.       The 2 Faces of Running a Photography Business

DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE: As a photographer, running a business can be difficult when you're being pulled toward creative endeavors. Try setting a time limit to your sessions, and plan out your creativity. Most importantly, learn to say no to yourself and others by making financially sound choices. Get this advice and more from the Law Tog!


8.       9 Tips To Help You Get Sharp Focus At Night

NIGHT OWLS: Love to shoot at night? Learn how to sharpen your focus! Most cameras use contrast detection to focus; aim for an area of high contrast. Instead of focusing on the midpoint of the frame, focus on the edge of the frame to regain focus.

9.       The Ansel Adams Act Goes To Congress; Details Clear Laws Protecting 1st Amendment Rights Of Photographers

COPYRIGHT: Violation of the First Amendment has led to photographers being wrongly accused. Because of this conundrum, a state of Texas representative brought the Ansel Adams Act to light intending to reinstate the First Amendment. On January 2, 2015 Congress was confronted with the Ansel Adams Act outlining the need for clarity for photographer's rights.


10.   Creating Compelling B&W Aerial Images in Backlit Situations

TECHNICALLY SOUND: Make the most out of Lightroom for those significant details. The described method entails intentional overexposure of the photos. This overexposure picks up the shadows and details making your blacks blacker.


Enjoy the new blog posts of 2015! Have specific blogs or topics in mind that you'd like us to feature? Tell us on theLoop.

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By Bridget Jackson, CPA, PPA Business manager

As you look to 2015, it's important to assess where you've been and where you want to go. It's impossible to achieve your goals if you don't have a plan to get there.

Here are 6 things you can do in 2015 to meet your financial goals:


Need your weekly photography blog fix? You're in luck! Here it is...

1. What Tuesday's Elections Mean for Photographers

COPYRIGHT: PPA was all over this one so we're giving ourselves a little pat on the back. If you have followed the ongoing discussions for copyright reform, you might be interested in how the election results will affect the movement. Well here you go! Who wrote this by the way? That guy is good...

2. Making a C-Section Beautiful

NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY: You might have seen this one from the Huffington Post making the rounds on Facebook among your new mom friends. A C-section might not have the glamour of a traditional birth, but Canadian newborn photographer Jessica Bender was up to the challenge. She captured beautiful images and is now helping to debunk some fears about photographing of C-section births. Now that's a win, win!

3. This Is How You Fake It

EARNING POINTS WITH YOUR CLIENTS: Surely you know those "before and after" photos hawking the latest diet or nutritional supplement are the product of clever lighting and posing tricks (granted, a lot of Photoshop actions too). But what's cool about this video is how confident and happy the subjects of the experiment seem after they see the difference working with a pro who knows how to work with lighting and any body type. This is a cool piece to share if you want to show people what a difference it makes to hire a pro. Plus, you might get a few ideas from the shoot itself too ;-)

4. Give Back with Help-Portrait

PHILANTHROPY: Help-Portrait is only a month away! Past Imaging USA speaker Jeremy Cowart co-founded Help-Portrait to empower photographers, hairstylists and makeup artists to use their skills, tools and expertise to give back to their local community. It's your chance to use your talents to help someone in need of a smile. This year's event is December 6th. Click through to learn how to participate!

5. How to Tell a Story with a Drone

TECHNIQUE: Drones... so hot right now. Drones. A lot of you already have had clients ask if you use one by now. And while it might just seem like a cool toy (and it is), how can you use one to effectively tell a story? The folks at photofocus offer some tips.

6. Tis the Season for... FOOD!

TECHNIQUE: The Holidays are approaching, which = happy, happy bellies. Gear up for your Instagram feed to blow up with everyone's tasty, Pinterest-approved creations! But you're better than Instagram--you're a pro! Check out these tips on how to make that turkey or fancy pinkies-out cocktail drink the envy of all your friends.

7. Results from the San Diego Photothrowdown

In part two of the San Diego throwdown with Levy Moroshan and Dan Hughes, the photographers battle it out under high pressure situations. Check out the video and see who won!

8. Frank Doorhorf and Joel Grimes Podcast

PODCAST/HELPFUL HINTS: Got 30 minutes? Actually, just 27! photofocus sat down with two of the industry's best, including past Imaging USA speaker Joel Grimes, Cr.Photog., for a chat on their lives behind the camera. It's not just a fluff piece, they dig pretty deep! 

9. Advice from Renowned Photographer Steve McCurry

INSPIRATION: Looking for advice on how to be a successful photographer... from a truly successful photographer? Then check out this video featuring Steve McCurry, one of the best portrait artists in the business. The video also shows his new exhibit in Italy coming together, showcasing some of his best work from all over the world.

10. Time-lapse from the International Space Station

INSPIRATION: Let's wrap things up with the most rad time-lapse this blogger has ever seen--from SPACE! French photographer Guillaume Juin put together this video from hundreds of thousands of images taken from the International Space Station. The results are out of this world! Enjoy.

That's, that y'all! The top 10 photography blog posts from around the web this week. What photography blogs have you been enjoying? Let us know on theLoop!



John Owens is PPA's resident wordsmith. Know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? That's where he comes in. The Connecticut transplant and (still) avid Hartford Whalers fan is an aspiring adventurist/novelist/racer on a lifelong quest to find the best trails, brews and burgers and wishes Taylor Swift would just stop.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Helpful Hints category.

Faces of PPA is the previous category.

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