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With the new FAA regulations regarding drones going into effect August 29th, you need to have the most up-to-date information to fly and use a drone for business or work purposes. Bottom line: you MUST take the aeronautical knowledge test (the "Drone Test") and have your drone registered. Here are important links and guidelines that will be helpful while navigating through the process.

In order to sit for the "Drone test", and be able to apply for the remote pilot certification, the applicant must be at least 16 years old, be fluent in English, be in good physical and mental condition to operate a drone, and take the test at an approved FAA knowledge testing center. Step by step guidelines are posted on the FAA website under requirements and process for becoming a pilot.

Approved Testing Centers are listed here.

All applicants need to take and pass the Drone Test in order to apply for their remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating. The cost of taking the test is $150 and, once certified, the certification will be valid for two years. Taking the test and getting certified allows photographers to use drones during photo sessions in accordance with FAA guidelines. To ensure that everyone has the knowledge necessary to pass the drone test, the FAA has posted various study guides and sample test questions for applicants to study. These materials can be found under the FAA's suggested study materials

Once an applicant has passed the drone test, applied for and received their remote pilot certification, they MUST register their drone. The drone must be registered if it is over .55 pounds, up to a maximum weight of 55 pounds. The 55 pound limit includes any equipment you attach to the drone, such as your camera. Registration cost is only $5 and will be valid for three years. All drones need to be registered at https://RegisterMyUAS.FAA.gov/.

Your drone must also undergo a pre-flight check to ensure it is in proper condition to be operated. This link has a .pdf of the FAA's pre-flight checklist. 

The FAA has addressed some Drone Regulations frequently asked questions here. Here is also an easy-to-read recap chart with all the necessary information regarding both pilot and drone requirements:
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You can find even more information in the FAA's Getting Started guide. We hope you're as excited and ready to fly your drone as we are! Share your (legal) drone photography with us on theLoop, Facebook or Twitter! Now, get out there, take some amazing photos and share them with the world!

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By Autumn Rice

At PPA we love to help photographers save money on the products and services you use most! So, every day we find new ways to incorporate bigger and better savings into your photography business. 

Through your PPA membership you not only have access to thousands of dollars in discounts from companies like Apple, Office Depot, and Zenfolio, but you also get access to amazing savings from PPA! The full membership, called Professional Active Membership, includes: 

  • Online education: You have Access to all PhotoVision online resources and videos + all of PPAedu online tutorials and webinars
  • Magazine: you get your print and digital subscription to Professional Photographer magazine 
  • Marketing tools: You have all the See The Difference® tools and PPAedu marketing tutorials at your finger tips
  • Client Trouble Shield: you are protected with PPA's unique data loss and malpractice protection program, PPA's Indemnification Trust. It covers you when a client sues you for negligence or if they get injured on a shoot, and while it is a service we hope you will never have to use, it is there to protect you and save you and your business thousands of dollars when Murphy's Law strikes.
  • Insurance: You get 15,000 worth of equipment insurance, as your main insurance or as a secondary one if you already have one! Plus you can add other kinds of insurances such as medical, dental, general liability, and others, at discounted prices!
  • Online and off line professional networking: you are de-facto connected to PPA's Photographer-only discussion forums called theLoop. Tap into them to seek advice, image reviews, find mentors, talk through business dilemmas, etc.

So, remember to take advantage of all of the savings that come with you PPA membership. 

If you're not a member, all of these savings are waiting for you. All you have to do is become a PPA member for $27.92 a month. Other businesses would charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars for the information that PPA members get for free. 

Keeping money in your pockets in a lot of ways is just one more thing PPA does to have your back and help you Be More Savvy!

Visit PPA.com/Benefits to see all the ways you can save with PPA!

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With so many resources available online, you may be asking whether it's worth your time and money to attend Imaging USA. Especially if you are a member of PPA, you already have access to online networking and education with theLoop, PhotoVision and PPAedu. So what makes Imaging USA so special?

There's literally a bajillion reasons to go to Imaging USA, but here are 10 you can't ignore:

Sharpen Your Saw
Stephen Covey talks about this in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It's the idea that if you don't step away from your daily grind to take care of life's other needs, you won't be doing your best work. It's a simple fact that the dull saw cuts less wood.

When you socialize, learn and network with your peers at Imaging USA, you are "sharpening your saw." When you return to your studio, you'll have new ideas, inspiration and connections that will help you work more creatively and efficiently.

Your Next "Ah-Ha" Moment
You never know where your next "ah-ha" moment is going to come from. But when you're surrounded by 10,000 photographers it could come from a new friend, the keynote speaker (this year it's Mel Robbins!), a tradeshow vendor, or the photographer sitting next to you in a session. One thing for sure, you will have several of these each day, and it's all worth it!

The Value of Face-to-Face Connections
Social media has its place in keeping you connected and forums like theLoop are great if you need a quick answer. But it's hard to make a strong, lasting personal connection when you aren't meeting face-to-face. At Imaging USA you get the face time you need to make connections that will last a lifetime with speakers, vendors, other photographers, or all of the above! People do business with people they like. And when you spend several consecutive days under the same roof, strong connections are bound to happen. The benefits of your networking at Imaging USA will serve you long past the end of the conference.

That Thing You Didn't Know You Needed
You never know what you'll find on the Imaging USA EXPO tradeshow floor, but you can be sure it's the latest and greatest. After all, these vendors are in the business of providing photographers with the equipment and services they need to thrive.

And the Expo is more than just a shopping mall for photographers. It's your opportunity to get hands-on demos of the products you need, check out the winners of the International Photographic Competition and take the opportunity to discuss your specific business challenges with the vendors that can help. Oh, and the discounts that you'll find on the tradeshow floor are well worth delaying your Christmas shopping for your studio until Imaging USA! 

Get Out of the Studio
Being in the same studio or sitting in front of the same computer monitor day after day is a sure way to find yourself in a rut. A change of scenery always leads to a fresh perspective, and Imaging USA is the perfect setting to spark new ideas... photography speaking, business speaking and for your creativity in general!

Business Solutions That Work
Sometimes the problem with having the Internet at your fingertips is that there is simply too much information. How do you find the exact solution to your problem and how do you know that it will work for you.

Imaging USA can help cut through the clutter. Bring a list of your business challenges and discuss them with your fellow photographers. You're likely to find others who have successfully overcome similar challenges and you can put their ideas to work for you. Plus, all speakers are available at the end of their sessions for questions. Those of you who sign up early enough to get a portfolio review are in for a treat! And there will be even more speakers on the tradeshow floor, with mini sessions and demos, and at the IPC Merit Café on photographic competition.
 
The Energy of Like-Minded Individuals
At Imaging USA you will be surrounded by like-minded people who are there to learn, share and teach. It brings a new level of energy of motivation to the learning that you can never get anyplace else. You WILL end up making (new) friends for life and this WILL boost your motivation and inspiration... perfect timing to start 2017!

The Power of the Random Workshop
Attend one class outside of your specialty and find one thing from that session that you can take back for your business. It could be a new product line, a new workflow method, a bit of marketing genius or a new way to sell prints. Imaging USA has 10 educational tracks so there is bound to be something new for you. Often times we have heard of exploring classes in a track outside your day-to-day practice as becoming a game changer. News ideas, new approaches, new techniques, new best practices, all make for more inspiration, more motivation and more power to you!

Invest In Yourself
Attending Imaging USA is a small investment in yourself, and you're worth it 20 times over! Constantly learning and growing is vital to your bottom line and essential to keeping you one step ahead of your competitors. Imaging USA is organized by PPA and because PPA is a non-profit, it is able to keep the registration cost so much lower than any other conference of this caliber, that it would be a mistake not to leverage it! Don't spend top dollars with fauxtographers! Come where the real pros come year after year to learn, grow, connect and have fun! There's no way you'll regret it ? 

Photography is Your Passion
Like with any great love, you must nurture it to sustain it. Your life can get so full and hectic with all the things you have to do throughout the year. You most likely need a jolt to recharge your passion after the busy holiday season. So come join us at Imaging USA and re-discover your love of photography.



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

The International Photographic Competition (IPC) is now open. Have you entered your images? IPC gives photographers the opportunity to improve their work through competition and critiques from some of the most noted photographers in the business. Entering the International Photographic Competition has many benefits, including:

Engage with the passionate and supportive photographic competition community 
Improve your best work (Raise your hand if you want to get better!)
Earn the admiration and recognition of your peers
Ultimately improve your business

Your images will be evaluated based on the 12 Elements of a Merit Image. You'll receive a recording of an IPC Judge giving you dedicated feedback and explaining to you how the elements are present and impact YOUR image. By competing and getting your images critiqued, you'll learn what you do well as a photographer, as well as identify the areas in which you may need improvement. It's an amazing learning experience!

Entering your work in a competition can be scary for first-timers. So, to make it a little easier, here's an actual critique from last year's International Photographic Competition. This image is "DENIA" by Jamie Mezquida and is being judged by International Juror James Wyant, M.Photog.Cr..

Take a look back and see how constructive criticism from the judges and application of their feedback can improve your work as a photographer.



We hope this critique will give you a better understanding of what the judges are looking for when scoring your images. Enter your images into the International Photographic Competition today! Registration is open from now until June 22, 2016. Late registration extends to July 7, with an additional fee. Be sure to enter your images by 5 pm EST on June 22 to avoid paying the extra fee! The IPC judging dates are July 31-August 4, 2016 and you can stream it live at Stream.theIPC.org. Be sure to request a critique so you can receive some personalized feedback on your works of art. Familiarize yourself with the rules for the Photographic Open and Photographic Artist categories today at www.PPA.com/IPC!

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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 Autumn Rice

Need inspiration? PhotoVision has everything you're looking for and more! This great resource provides an all-access, behind the scenes look at the techniques used by some of the biggest named professionals in the world of photography. These videos cover a wide range of best practices to inspire every element of your business. The best part about PhotoVision is that it's free to PPA members.

Check out the latest release!

In this video, Beth Forester photographs a high school senior while she breaks down her in-studio lighting setups. As she progressively builds it up, the difference each light makes in an image is shown on camera. Beth shows how to use a softbox as a background to achieve an editorial look, and shares some tips on how to avoid having your model squint when using a fan and directly hitting them with light.


Want to see more? Hop on over to PhotoVisionVideo.com and begin exploring all the website has to offer. Not a PPA member but want access to PhotoVision? Right now, use the promo code PPA49 to receive a full year of PhotoVision for only $49. And when you become a PPA member you get all of PhotoVision online unlocked with your membership AND you get a 50% discount on all DVDs! 

Why wait? Join today!


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By Autumn Rice

At PPA we want to create a unified community of professional photographers, so we construct outlets to connect you to other professional photographers all around the world. From IPC, to Imaging USA, to theLoop, there are countless ways to Be More Connected. And we all know that connections are part of the key to success. 

The Find-A-Photographer database on PPA.com is a resource that allows professional photographers to display information about themselves and their business in front of a captive audience of prospective clients. 

Every PPA member is listed in the Find-A-Photographer database, but not all listings are created equal! Did you know that?  You can indeed make your profile pop and be much more convincing by updating it. It's completely free to upgrade your profile; you just have to do it! 

To upgrade your Find-a-Photographer profile (again, it's free!) follow these simple steps:

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1. Log in to PPA.com/My-PPA 
2. Once logged in, click on My PPA

Then simply scroll down to FIND A PHOTOGRAPHER. Click the "Update Your Find-a-Photographer Profile" link. Then you can:
Add additional information to your profile page
Create up to 4 photo albums
Upload up to 8 images to each album
Upload a headshot or logo
Preview your listing

3. Once you make your changes, be sure to enable your listing. It's a super-simple step, but if you don't do it, your updated profile won't be visible to the public (you'll only have a standard listing in the Find-a-Photographer search.)

There are other simple tools to make your business more visible and recognizable. Hop to the See The Difference Resource section on PPA.com to find what works for your business. PPA is here to help you Be More Proactive.

Become a member to be a part of the Find-A-Photographer database and Be More Visible today!


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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 iStock_money bag.jpgJust a friendly reminder! PPA members get amazing discounts and special offers from a slew of companies. It's all meant to save you money on the products and services you use most.

Hurry! There are offers from DriveSavers, Manfrotto, Profoto, H&H Color Labs and Pounds Labs that are expiring soon! Be sure to use them while you can and keep the Special Offers page bookmarked so you don't forget the deals.

Member Perks & Savings are just more of the ways PPA helps you Be More Savvy. 


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