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PPA Today: Imaging USA Archives

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By Lisa Sharer

People came from far and wide to San Antonio for the annual professional photographers' conference, Imaging USA 2017, to hear amazing speakers, and absorb their wisdom. Of all the educational series featured at the event, the PRINT program talks emphasize print product sales as a core component of your photography business. Now, you can get an exclusive look at the live recording of this inspiring program. Watch Photographers and Print Artists Tim Walden, Allison Tyler Jones, and the world renowned photographer, Sue Bryce, as they walk you through their processes. Each speaker has unique experiences that you can apply in your everyday business to help you sell more prints.

When you're done hanging on their every word, join the PRINT movement! Once you sign up, you'll get monthly tips, info, tools, videos, etc. to help you grow as a Print Artist and help you grow your photography business. (By the way, these resources will be completely FREE to you!)

By Lisa Sharer

Welcome to the Shoot & Burn Era. These days more and more clients ask for digital images, and don't even think to ask about prints. That's where you come in.

One of the things that sets the professional photographer apart from the amateur is the knowledge and respect for printed images as an art form. It's the photographer's responsibility to show clients the beauty in print, and why they are necessary for their lives. Show your clients the difference hiring a professional makes by educating them on Print Art and producing amazing products for them. We live in a time filled with opportunities for those who sell printed products and here's why: People are decorating their homes with DIY décor. Photos are the single most unique way to personalize a space and photographers who help their clients see that potential are always better off.

In this video, famed photographer Allison Tyler Jones explains why and how a professional makes the difference when it comes to that perfect print for your client's home. This talk was part of Imaging USA 2016, the conference for working photographers in the U.S.

The full video can be viewed by PPA members.

Looking for ways to help promote yourself as a Print Artist? PPA members can enjoy all the benefits of the See The Difference® marketing tools today.

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Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs. 
By Tristin Vaccaro

January has come and gone, and so has Imaging USA 2017. It was a week filled with fun, friendship, and learning and we know you're probably missing it just as much as we are. While we were sad to see it end, all of us here at PPA are thrilled by the memories and opportunities created for everyone in San Antonio. In order to help you (and us!) relive the awesomeness that was Imaging USA, we've perused the Internet to gather some of the best stories and testimonials from attendees. Enjoy!

From the Blog of Amber Reinhardt
"I was one of those hungry photographers seeking out answers to many business questions. I felt I had answers, but needed to search out a plan of action. As a photographer, my job involves so much more than a photo shoot and camera. It goes beyond. Having built a successful business is only the first step. I came into Imaging USA, concluding taking my business to the next level successfully begins with me. Monday was a busy day, reaching beyond my expectations. Attending classes, back to back, left me to jot down key points from each speaker and moving on. By the end of the day, my questions were all answered."

From the Blog of Cristie Reddehase, B.A., M.Photog.M.Artist.Cr.
"As some of you may know, I LOVE to compete in the annual print competition held by PPA. This year was an extraordinary year for me. I was so glad that my friends and family were there to celebrate with me! I received Double Diamond Photographer of the Year. This means that during IPC, all 8 of my images were worthy of a merit and that all 8 of them were accepted into PPA's Loan collection. I'm the first female to ever accomplish this and also 1 of only 5 other photographers to ever receive this distinction."

From the Blog of Ron Vesely
"Not only was Imaging USA a great platform to share my experiences, techniques and general photo related insights from a baseball photographers perspective, but I had the chance to rub shoulders with some of the greatest photographers in the world! In particular, I had the privilege of spending some quality time with photo legends Dave Black and Ami Vitale, along with Nikon Professional Services Manager of Product Marketing, the one and only Mike Corrado. Great times, great stories!  The best part was witnessing a contest of Bear, Ninja and Hunter after the check for dinner arrived. You had to have been there to get the full effect, but think rock, paper, scissors. This spectacle alone was worth the flight to San Antonio!"

From the Blog of Amy Dokken, CPP
"Imaging USA was the first major photography convention that I've ever attended. I wasn't really sure what to expect. I chose to go mainly so that I could take my CPP exam and attend the portfolio reviews that were offered. I came away with so much more than I bargained for. I had downloaded the list of speakers in advance and combed through the schedule outlining the programs that sounded most interesting or relevant to my business. One I was particularly excited about was Jennifer Hudson's "The Handmade Life". It did not disappoint. Seriously, I could say Jennifer may have changed everything for me."

From the Blog of Lauren Nygard
"I was in San Antonio last week to attend the Professional Photographers of America's annual convention, Imaging USA. It was awesome for two reasons: (1) Imaging USA was an incredibly amazing experience, and I learned a lot from the speakers and other attendees, and (2) I got to spend a week with my family, which was kicked off with my dad's 60th birthday party!"

From the Blog of Suzette Allen Cr. Photog., CPP, API  
"I was recently at Imaging USA...The keynote speaker, Mel Robbins, was brilliant and her message was one I will not soon forget. In fact, it is probably one I will use the rest of my life. Its concept, clearly written in her book, "The 5 Second Rule:" (no, not the one about dropped food) ???? describes how we make decisions every day, all day long, and many times we agonize or overthink or delay to get more information, etc., choosing to do something else, instead of taking action. We distract ourselves instead of taking positive action that would actually take us toward our goals and success! Each decision is made in about 5 seconds.  The truth is, we KNOW what we SHOULD do. If we would just DO it, we would be far more successful.  For example, when the alarm goes off in the morning, we KNOW we need to get up. If we would just say "5-4-3-2-1" and GET UP, instead of laying there agonizing about the day, dreading what we need to face and hitting the snooze, we would be far more successful!...

So, while this concept is super simple, it is incredibly powerful. In fact it applies to almost every area of our lives. It certainly challenged me to start taking action and DOING the things I know I need to do but habitually avoid... Like exercise, blogging, phone calls, etc....and the list goes on...

Thank you, PPA, for the great programming at USA and for giving us tools to BE MORE. Your campaign is for real, and it is relevant."

And there you have it, some of our favorite memories of Imaging USA shared by photographers just like you! Consider sharing your Imaging USA stories, testimonials, or photos. It's super simple: just hop on over to your social media and use the hashtag #ImagingUSA. If you missed Imaging USA 2017, fear not. There will be plenty of memories to be made at Imaging USA 2018 in Nashville, TN!

Imaging USA 2017 wrapped up on January 10th, and, to be honest, PPA is still buzzing with excitement. The energy from the thousands of attendees, the inspiration from the speakers, the incredible gear from the Expo vendors, and the beautiful city of San Antonio... everything came together to make a truly spectacular conference. 

If you want to relive some of the fun, check out these video recaps! They are chock full of some of the funniest, most touching moments from Imaging USA 2017!

And don't forget: YOU can be a part of the action in Nashville, 2018. Registration opens very soon at!


by James Yates

The temperature in San Antonio today reached a sunny 80 degrees. As I mentioned on Day One, I'd like to thank Imaging USA and the 10,000 amazing professional photographers who descended on the city for bringing the warmth. It was a remarkable three days, packed with so much networking, friend-making and bonding that, if you're leaving here not making at least one new contact, friend or did it wrong! The education has been so life-changing that, again, if you didn't take away at least one thing for your business in 2017...maybe you should look back through your notes. 

We had the pleasure of interviewing attendees on the Expo floor all day and they were amazed at the camaraderie to be found at Imaging USA. As people exited the International Photographic Competition exhibit they were beaming, having been inspired by the images. Several members said they had received feedback from IPC mentors at the Merit Cafe and it had encouraged and motivated them to enter in 2017. If YOU haven't entered photographic competitions, there is no better way to improve your craft and push yourself forward. 

PPA Charities gave away their annual "Dream Studio", a prize package of gear and equipment worth over $50,000. Throngs of people gathered around to hear the winner's name called and, fittingly, the award went to a brand-new Business Challenge participant, Lindsay Syme. Stay tuned to PPA Today to find out what happens with her new Dream Studio throughout the year.

Imaging USA 2017's program closed with the Award and Degree ceremony, honoring those who have earned a PPA degree, excelling and uplifing PPA and its thousands of members. There were 163 degree recipients this year, more than ever before, demonstrating that more and more people are taking their craft seriously, entering competitions, earning merits and elevating professional photography through their PPA membership. 

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Robert Freson, the legendary photographer who has captured the last half of the 20th century in his photographs. Everything and everyone from President Eisenhower to Charles and Diana's wedding has been viewed through Freson's lens. President Lori Craft presented the award to Freson, who found it "remarkable and quite unexpected". He said he was "truly amazed" by the work of PPA's members and, coming from him, that is quite the honor. 

The closing party rages on. Business cards are being passed out, social media links are being exchanged. New friends for a new year, bonded through a love of professional photography, is what Imaging USA is all about. Do NOT miss Nashville next year. Take it from this year's attendees: Imaging USA is the greatest photography show on earth. 

by James Yates


See, you have to know if you just give things time and put the right energy into it the clouds will give way and the sunshine will break through. This applies to Imaging USA 2017 and how amazing Day Two was, but it also applies to the story of our winner of the 2017 Grand Imaging Award, Barbara Breitsameter M.Photog.Cr., CPP. But more on that later...

The day started with another round of amazing classes. One of the newest and most exciting things at Imaging USA this year is the Drone Zone, a ballroom sectioned off to host classes and demos on all things "drones". Local television news was on hand to get footage and let viewers in San Antonio know they still have another day left to get their Free Expo Pass and come check it out! 


I spent a lot of time on the Expo floor today, interviewing attendees and finding out what was on top of everyone's mind for Day Two. Between the special vendor deals, the networking and the International Photographic Competition Exhibit (look for the IPC signs), the word "overwhelmed" came up a lot. Oh, and there's also the PRINT Theatre, where there are sessions every hour on how to incorporate printed products into your studio's portfolio. The looks of amazement on everyone's faces at the trade show are priceless.


Now, speaking of to put into words the amazing human being that is Barbara Breitsameter, M.Photog.Cr., CPP and winner of the 2017 Grand Imaging Award for her pet photography portrait, "Send in the Clowns"? Barbara took the top TWO prizes in her category and then won the overall award, an honor she was shocked to receive. I got to interview Barbara after her big win and, while seated with six of her closest friends (almost all of whom she mentored!) the joy and camaraderie that comes from a life well-lived and a hard-won and well-deserved honor was contagious. Barbara created this hilarious image during a particularly "dark" period of personal struggle in her life but, the image and its humor not only helped her through but has put her in a whole new direction with her pet photography work. 


"I never even dreamed I could attain this," Barbara says. "It's like looking Parkinson's in the face and saying, 'I've got this.' It's my legacy to my kids to never give up and go for it. I love what I do. I have the best job in the world---I get to work with dogs!" 

Barbara (and all of the Grand Imaging Award winners) are a reminder to push yourself, enter competition, find a mentor and really make sure you're living your life to the fullest...even in the dark and uncomfortable spots. The sunshine will show up. Warmth is coming right around the corner.

Tomorrow is the last day of Imaging USA 2017 and, if it's anything like today, there won't be a dry eye in the house. Now, everyone get out there and make Day Three count! Go see the Drone Zone, PRINT Theatre, speakers, the photo exhibit, the Merit Cafe, the Expo, the Award and Degree whatever you can to fit it all in. You can sleep next week.

by James Yates 

You want to talk about sunshine and warmth on a cold and cloudy day? We've seen it and it's Imaging USA 2017. Terrible weather and travel delays couldn't stop the 10,000 photography professionals who have descended upon San Antonio, Texas for Imaging USA! It may have taken some doing, but now that (mostly) everyone is here, it's on! 

The world's oldest and best photography convention is happening as we speak. If you weren't able to get out of the snow and make it down to the Lone Star state, have no fear. You'll find plenty of info here and on the Imaging USA social media to make you (almost) feel like you're here with us! (we really, really wish you were here with us). 

The final day of Pre-Con on Saturday brought with it the New Member Meet & Greet and...WOW. Hundreds of new PPA members attended the event which saw Board Members and Newbies alike, mingling and having a great time breaking the ice. It may have been freezing outside, but inside the Henry B. Gonzalez convention center, everyone was warm and having fun networking with their new photography friends.

Today was the first "official" day of Imaging USA 2017 and, as the weather improves and flights clear, the cold January doldrums are melting away and the party is really taking off! Everyone got an immense jolt of inspiration this morning at the Keynote Presentation with author, CNN star and motivational speaker Mel Robbins taking stage. Mel comes from four generations of small business owners and has photographer family, so she was uniquely capable of relating and speaking to the packed house. She acknowledged that being a small business retail owner is one thing but it's an entirely different thing when your small business is also your passion. Mel's signature idea is that you're your biggest obstacle. You know exactly what you need to do and you can begin to take control of your life using the "5-second rule". 

Attendees were also welcomed by PPA CEO David Trust and President Lori Craft. David really 
stirred the crowd with his call to FIGHT for your small business! With the Print Movement, the Drone Zone and the grassroots campaign for Small Claims, there are major signposts that point to professional photography's best years being ahead of us. PPA has been an association of professional photographers just like YOU being there for each other "since 1869...and we aren't going anywhere." It was very exciting to see a video message from Rep. Judy Chu (CA) who urged everyone to call or write your congressman to ask for co-sponsorship of the Freedom for American Small Creators Act. 

There's nothing like the Imaging Expo, of course, and President Craft cut the ribbon immediately following Mel Robbins. This writer hasn't had the chance to really take it in yet, but I know I'll find amazing gear there along with the Print Theatre, IPC exhibit and Merit Cafe. Can't wait!

Finally was the Business Challenge class themed "Four Things You Need to Know to Be Successful". It was led by Angela Kurkian, Mary Fisk-Taylor and Gregory Daniel and it was such a bountiful session for small business photographers at any level. The hosts took the audience through the testimonials of four current Business Challenge participants, relating each one to one of the "Four Things You Need". Be sure to sign up for the next Business Challenge, which begins Feb. 1st. 

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Whoa. The Opening Party just started! And guess what? The weather is getting better each day at Imaging USA 2017. By the time we leave San Antonio, it will be a sunny 80 degrees. I'd like to say we (along with Louis and Annabella, pictured) brought the warmth. 

photos by Alex the Photo Guy
By Autumn Rice

The wait is over, so let the Imaging USA festivities begin!

As you arrive at Imaging USA 2017, there will be loads of intriguing sights and sounds filling the air, but before you dive into the greatest pro-photography convention, there are a few important tasks that need to be completed. 

Be sure to mark the following items off of your arrival checklist.
 • Hotel Check-In. Before you head to the Henry B. Gonzalez convention center, you'll need to stop by your hotel room and check-in. You'll get the chance to drop off your luggage and gather all of your important items to attend classes and the convention. 

• Registration Check-In. You'll need to stop by the registration desk to receive your convention badge, lanyard, ribbons, bag and show guide. The badge is important, as it is required for attending the Imaging USA expo, classes, parties, and more. Hold on tight to your badge! If you lose it, there is a reprint fee of $25 for the first badge reprint and $50 for one additional reprint. Stop by the main registration area for assistance. Pre-Con registration will be located at the Marriott Rivercenter, 101 Bowie St, San Antonio, TX 78205, 3rd floor. Main Registration will be at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention, Main Lobby, street level. There will be signage, so you won't miss it!

• Make a plan. Your show guide is a great way to get a complete list of the events hosted at Imaging USA. Use your show guide to schedule your days at Imaging USA, and stay on schedule using the official Imaging USA app! Be sure to attend the trade show, and as many classes and parties as you can pack into each day!

• Have the time of your life! Imaging USA is all about learning and connecting with your peers, while having the best fun of the year. So, shake off your nerves and dive into the greatest photographic convention around!

Imaging USA has begun, and your PPA Team is happy to answer any of your convention questions. You can also head over to to get answers to any questions you may have!

Enjoy Imaging USA 2017, and stay tuned for daily convention recaps and updates!

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By Mariah Ashley 

**originally published February 11, 2015; Don't have your badge for this week's Imaging USA 2017 in San Antonio, TX? There's still time! Register here and we'll see you on Sunday!**

This is one of my all-time favorite quotes: "Such a pleasant thought, if you improve overall conditions everyone can sail happily into the sunset".

It's an idea I try to set my moral compass to and a philosophy I practice in my business. When I recognize this quality in others I want to latch onto them because lately it seems most people practice the "every man for himself" motto and would sooner see you walk the plank than steer your own ship.

...except at Imaging USA. There, everyone is raising the tide. Unfortunately, it's not possible to latch onto 11,000 people, not even if you're a Kraken (mythical sea beast with many arms). Still, I wish I could give every special person I talked to a big old slimy tentacle hug. I guess I'll have to settle for squeezing them with my words instead.

But before things get awkward, let's consider ships.

If your business were a ship what kind of vessel would it be?

A cruise ship, big and solid chugging along smoothly?

A classy vintage sailboat effortlessly shuttling beautiful people from one sundrenched Mediterranean island to the next?

A hardworking lobster boat, a little messy and a little stinky and filled with salty characters?

A leaky little rowboat adrift in a sea of questions looking for a safe harbor? (Me too).

I met people at Imaging who were sailing and bailing all of these kinds of ships. PPA is the 
tide rising under us all. I'm so proud to know such a positive, cheery, and enthusiastic crew. Team PPA, easily identified by their bright orange shirts; registering, directing, tweeting, photographing, interviewing, organizing, and helping in a million other ways all the guests on the big festive Imaging USA party boat.

A particularly perceptive PPA team member asked me how my first Imaging differed from my current experience. It's funny thinking back to that convention just three years ago. I didn't know anyone at all. I felt like the new kid in school, the lame-o at the lunch table all alone. What a difference a few years can make.

Imaging feels like a family reunion now. It's not because I am so outgoing and that I easily made friends. I'm actually more like a nervous weirdo. But you'd have to be a Kraken (misunderstood mythical sea creature) not to make friends at Imaging. Team PPA is so open, so encouraging, so willing to go the extra mile, and so darn nice. Making friends with the crew that first year is what kept us on course. Plus, it's nice to know we have a place at the cool kids table. If you didn't get a chance to acquaint yourself with Team PPA this year make it your mission to do it at the next Imaging, join the reunion!

Another difference--the first time I went to Imaging I didn't speak to other photographers (nervous weirdo, remember?). Two years later I found myself chatting it up left and right. Talking with random attendees from all over the country renewed my faith in our industry. Photographers are good people, people! Not only are they creative and interesting but they are curious and kind as well. They want to know where you are from, what you shoot and how you are doing.

They are quick with encouragement and insight. They want to share how they got their photograph in the Loan Collection, where they found the perfect album, and where the shortest lines for coffee are in the morning. I'm so glad I came out of my shell and took the time to chat with fellow photographers. We photographers can be solitary creatures 360 days a year, why not be more social the other five? If it was your first Imaging and you felt a little hermit crab-ish, then shed that shell at Imaging USA 2016.

The first and second time I went to Imaging I sat in the audience of many lectures listening to the great advice of the speakers. This time I had the perspective of being behind the podium looking out at the crowd and you know what I discovered? Of all the people at Imaging the speakers are the most selfish! We get the most out of it. Knowing that your message is reaching and helping people is like crack (not Kraken, that's an ominous sea creature).

Honestly my sails have never felt quite so full. I felt I had a small part in the tide rising and was so proud to see it release some of my beached buddies. I've been in that leaky row boat too, though I've recently graduated to a semi stable canoe. I want to share my canoe with others now, but not so many that I tip (just kidding). I want to see all of the hard working passionate people I met succeed. You deserve it!

Lady I talked to next to the post-it note clad Imaging USA Idea Wall, tying for her CPP: I hope you passed and got your certification!

Girl that borrowed money for the convention pass and slept in her car because she couldn't afford a hotel but knew Imaging would give her the answers she needed: I hope you got them!

Tall dude who told me he felt he had been given permission to express his true personality: Be you! Be tall and let that big personality shine through in your business!

Lady who told me she had decided to quit photography on Friday but felt inspired now to keep trying: Don't give up! I know you can do it!

Isn't it comforting to know that we are all in the same leaky boat? We have the ability to throw each other a life line. Toss it when you can! Imaging USA has done that for us over and over again. If it did for you too, make it your pleasure and your addiction to return the favor.

I cannot imagine what Imaging USA 2016 in Atlanta will bring, but one thing's for sure, the tide is already a lot higher, let's keep it rising all year.

About the author:
Mariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van,  grew up on a cranberry farm and is happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree.

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By Chris Homer 

With New Year's Eve right around the corner, chances are that you've been examining your
 photography business and making some New Year's Resolutions to improve in the coming year. Attending Imaging USA, January 8 - 10 in San Antonio, can be a great way to start the year off right and get the knowledge you need to make your resolutions a reality! Here are 4 resolutions photographers commonly make - and how attending Imaging USA can help you achieve these. 

Sell More Products/Make More Money
One area many photographers struggle in is selling printed products to their clients. Selling these products can often greatly increase your business' profitability. The PRINT For Success Theater at Imaging USA provides the answers you need to start selling more printed products! At the PRINT For Success Theater, top photographers will share sales advice in nineteen 30-minute sessions over the course of three days, all happening during the trade show. Come by and get the sales advice you've been looking for. It's open to all badged attendees - including Expo Only! 

Learn a New Photography Skill
Adding a new specialty to your business is a great way to bring in new clients, and at Imaging USA we'll be hosting classes on one of the most popular new specialties - drone photography! The Drone Zone will allow you to learn anything and everything drone-related. There will be speakers who are pioneers in the area, a representative from the FAA to answer all your questions, and rumor has it that you might even get to FLY A DRONE! Photographers can have access to the entire Drone track (10 classes, presentations, and demos) with your Imaging USA badge (Expo-Only and All-Access passes alike)!

Find a Mentor/Become a Mentor
It's easy for photographers to feel like they are all on their own when running a photography business. In reality, there's a vast network of professional photographers who are willing to share their knowledge with you and provide support when you need it! Imaging USA is a great opportunity to find a mentor, because you'll be mingling with 10,000 other professional photographers. You may just meet that person with the knowledge to jump start your business - or become someone's photography mentor and create a life-long friendship. 

Enter a Photography Competition
Photographers who have participated in PPA's International Photographic Competition (IPC) commonly mention that the knowledge you gain by entering is one of the best ways to improve your images. At Imaging USA, you can browse the International Photographic Exhibit; It's the largest photographic display out there with over 3,300 photographs featuring the top images from 2016. Come take a look and be inspired to create your own images! 

There's also the opportunity to speak with an IPC Mentor about your own images you're thinking about entering in competition and get their advice. Check it out and remove the fear that comes with entering your images in a competition!

Now that you've seen how Imaging USA can jump start your resolutions, go to today and sign up to attend. Keep in mind that you can attend the Expo trade show, Drone Zone classes, PRINT For Success Theater, Keynote speech by CNN anchor Mel Robbins and International Photographic Exhibit with an Expo Only pass for just $35. If you want to attend all of Imaging USA's classes, parties, and events, upgrade to an All-Access pass! 

Don't be left out; Join us in San Antonio!

ch_headshot_100x100.jpgAbout the author:
Chris Homer is PPA's SEO & Web Specialist, which basically makes Google Analytics his best friend. A graduate of the University of Georgia, Chris cheers passionately (and obnoxiously) for the Bulldogs in all things from football to checkers. When he's not hard at work on PPA's websites, you'll find Chris at auto racing events around the southeast, where he's known as a master architect of tent villages.


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