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The International Photographic Competition has seen substantial growth over the last few years due to the consistent efforts of its members, staff and competition volunteers. PPA is thrilled with the renewed interest in competition among its members. With this growth in mind, we're excited to share some changes in both the District and International Photographic Competitions.

Here are some of the changes coming to the 2017 Competitions:

  1. All panels convened to determine merit will operate with a five-member panel. This will increase efficiency in the judging. In 2016, a six-juror panel was seated and the lowest score was dropped, therefore five scores were used in determining score. This change is an alignment of the amount of scores required to determine a final score to be congruent with the number of jurors on the panel. The lowest score will no longer be dropped. When a judge associates an entry with an entrant, the judge is required to disqualify themselves from scoring an entry. When this scenario happens, the Jury Chair will enter a score for that entry. In the case of two jurors needing to disqualify themselves, the entry will be skipped until a panel with five jurors can be convened to score the entry.

  2. To further bring consistency between the District Competitions and the IPC, scores will be used to determine merit at both events. A majority of members surveyed stated that they would like the two scoring systems to be the same.

  3. The PPA Loan Collection will be determined in a different manner as well. Images scoring in the "deserving of a merit" category (80-84) will not be reviewed for the Loan Collection. Entries that receive a score of 80-84 at a District judging have the choice to send those Seal of Approval entries on to IPC for a merit towards their degree, or to break the seal to chance a higher score at IPC. 

    • Entries scoring 85-94 at the District or IPC will be reevaluated for the Loan collection at the IPC event. 
    • Entries scoring 95-100 will be automatically accepted into the Loan Collection. Entries in this scoring range from the District events will still need to be submitted to the IPC to be included in the Loan collection and to receive the merits associated with those entries.
  4. Critiques ordered in conjunction with the IPC will be produced off site from the IPC judging. Critiques ordered for both events will be available within four weeks of the competition.

  5. The review mechanism of "outs" will no longer be utilized. Currently, entries scoring 78-79 were reviewed again for merit. The introduction of the majority challenge effectively activates this review on each entry.

  6. Entries into the Artist Competition will now be required to have guide images within the entry.

  7. In the Photographic Open category, an entrant will now be required to have made all elements in the entry. Entries involving elements from other artists may be entered into the Artist Competition.

Beginning in 2018, all district competitions will utilize a minimum of two panels during their judging events. This will allow each district to continue to grow and accommodate those members who are looking to earn their Seals of Approval prior to the IPC.

Once again, PPA is looking forward to further encourage its members to take advantage of these incredible educational opportunities. Look for 2017 District Rules and Schedules this fall on PPA.com/Competitions

Be sure to check out the results from this year's exciting IPC

By Autumn Rice

PPA photographers are a diverse group of people who begin as friends, but ultimately become family. Through connecting with one another and sharing experiences, they provide a support that contradicts the thought of being in business alone. PPA's YouTube video series, Behind The Camera, features professional photographers who share their trials and tribulations, and their relationship within the PPA community. Today, Lisa Thayer pitches in. 

None of these interviews are scripted or paid for. These are real photographers, members of PPA, who value and share the power of their PPA community. 

In this video Lisa Thayer shares her experience at her first Imaging USA, why she joined PPA, and what she enjoys most about her photography career. 


Help your photography friends and share this video. The power of being involved and deeply connected goes beyond professional development. It's a support system no one should be left without. You can also view a full playlist of the Behind The Camera Video series on PPA's YouTube channel and learn more about the Imaging USA here.

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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.




Keynote Speaker: Mel Robbins
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Mel Robbins has worn many hats: criminal defense attorney, entrepreneur, life coach, CNN host...Now she's wearing her 10-gallon hat and joining us in Texas for Imaging USA 2017's Keynote Speech. Mel has picked up valuable life-lessons from her experiences and crafted a dynamic way to share them with an audience. She's the author of Stop Saying You're Fine and has a top-viewed TedTalk, "How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over". Mel's going to jumpstart Imaging USA 2017 in her signature, pants-kicking way Sunday morning, January 8, in San Antonio.  


Other Imaging USA Speakers Include:
 

By James Yates

PPA photographers are a very diverse group of people, but one common thread is their passion for the support that their peers provide. PPA's YouTube video series, Behind The Camera, features professional photographers who share their trials and tribulations, and their relationship with their PPA community. Today it's Trish Logan, Cr.Photog, who pitches in!

None of these interviews are scripted or paid for. These are real photographers, members of PPA, who value and share the power of their PPA community.

The world of professional photography spreads far and wide, which makes it easy to feel that you have to "go at it alone". PPA's goal is to link professional photographers together, providing a support system and business backbone that helps photographers grow, sustainably. 

In the video below, Trish talks about how she became interested in photography and why she loves shooting portraits, as well as the important role PPA's See The Difference® campaign plays in showing her clients why they should choose her over cheaper, hobbyist photographers.



Help your photography friends and share this video. The power of being involved and deeply connected goes beyond professional development. It's a support system no one should be left without. You can also view a full playlist of the Behind The Camera Video series on PPA's YouTube channel and learn more about the See The Difference campaign here.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for James.JPGJames Yates is an Atlanta-based writer/actor and the Communications Specialist at Professional Photographers of America (PPA). A graduate of Georgia State University, James has worked in the non-profit sector his whole life and is proud to be able to help artists achieve their goals. In his spare time he can be found walking his dogs on the Beltline or partaking in the nightly theater and comedy scene in the ATL. Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for pvblogfooter0716.jpg
How and Why the Business Challenge started.
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In 2015, PPA had an idea for a case study. A group of five photography mentors and I took on the challenge of working with two studio owners to help them transform their businesses. We not only wanted to help these two entrepreneurs, we also wanted to learn from them by documenting the challenges they faced, the changes they underwent and how both they and their businesses thrived. The "Studio Makeover" was initiated and our goal was to take all the information we were using to help our makeover participants and bring it to PPA members to learn from as well. 

We did this through the entire year of 2015 with live webinars, blog posts and even personal video updates. Then, at Imaging USA 2016, all eight of us took the stage and revealed each studio's final numbers, shared their biggest "a-ha" moments and discussed their transformation from both a business and personal perspective.  

Leading up to Imaging USA, as I was putting together the program for the rest of the team, I had my own "a-ha" moment. We were about to share some extraordinary moments and information as both studios made amazing leaps forward...but we didn't have anything in place for the attendees who might want to do their own "studio makeover." 

Well, I shouldn't say we didn't have anything because PPA has a plethora of educational tools available to members: the Benchmark Study, PPAedu's online education platform with more than 350 video classes, PhotoVision with over 800 episodes, Square One, downloads, Professional Photographer magazine, specialty courses for CPP and IPC, etc. As you can see, we have quite a lot of knowledge to offer and perhaps that works against us a bit. It can be a little overwhelming. Which brings me to my point...we didn't have anything/anyone tying it all together, giving it to photographers in an order that could easily be digested, and helping you as you needed it. 

So the idea for the Business Challenge was born.

Literally, right before Imaging USA, at our busiest time of the year, I was asking other departments to help me implement a brand new concept. And everyone here jumped in to help make it a reality, so that by Imaging USA itself we were able to let people know they could sign up for their very own studio makeover through PPA's Business Challenge. (Huge thank you's to our Marketing, Membership and I.T. teams for all of their hard work.)

I had an idea. I had the recently completed PPA Business Guide to use as an outline. I had the Square One tool to share. I had amazing friends and mentors who were willing to be part of this project. I had (and have) a strong desire to help photographers as entrepreneurs learn how to build profitable and sustainable businesses so they can live their dream. That was it. 

I didn't have a long syllabus. I didn't have a very exact plan for how to execute all of it. I was still learning how best to use theLoop platform as our means of communication. But I knew that if I waited to put it all together first, things would be missing anyway. You would be missing. All that I've learned from you, each and every group, would not have happened. And your questions and ideas and support are the actions that propel the Business Challenge forward.

PPA's Business Challenge is, by design, a living thing. 

No two groups are alike. The February 2016 group is very different from the June 2016 group. The curriculum, while similar, is not identical because conversations sway the topics and move them in a variety of directions. Questions are asked and answered. Friendships are born. Mentors are invited who generously share their experience and knowledge. While the foundation of knowledge of the Business Challenge is all the same, and it is scalable to a large group, the unique experience of each group is shaped by those who are involved.

I've written in a few different places that it's important to show up and be present in the conversations that take place in this 12-month program. It was not intended to simply be a place where information and assignments are posted. It can be, if that's what you want, but I want to give you so much more. I want you to feel part of something bigger; I want to give you accountability; I want you to meet and be inspired by some of the smartest people out there; I want to give you the opportunity to share your knowledge; I want you to remember why YOU are doing all this hard work in the first place; and I want you to build a body of knowledge that will propel you so much further.


I'm so glad you're here,
Angela


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Angela Kurkian is PPA's Director of Education







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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 James Yates

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New York City-based fashion, portrait, and commercial photographer Jeff Rojas saw an opportunity and went for it. He noticed there were plenty of classes and workshops on how to photograph women, but, men? Not so much. Now, Rojas teaches other photographers how to get the best results from male subjects. His less-is-more philosophy, including attention to styling, dealing with men's insecurities (hello, receding hairlines) and the difference between directing and posing have made him internationally renowned at the age of 27. 

Read about Jeff and how he gets the best from his male subjects in, "Manly Pursuits," on the newly redesigned PPmag.com website.

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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

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.



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