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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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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

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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.



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PPA is always looking for ways to get you to Imaging USA and help start your year off right each January with six days of photography fun. We are pleased to announce that, for the third year, four lucky PPA photographers will win Imaging USA scholarships and the opportunity to soak in all the fresh, new ideas available at Imaging USA 2017. They'll get full access to every session, all of the after parties and events and can freely browse the massive expo tradeshow floor. The scholarship also includes the choice of a pre-convention class that happens the Thursday, Friday or Saturday leading up to the show. 

No matter where you are in your career, there's a class for you. Pre-convention programs range from multiple-day workshops to half- and all-day classes on topics like fashion portraiture, post-processing workflow, certification process, the business of senior photography, and more! 

Plus, there are also Hands-On pre-convention classes, which take you on a photo shoot with the instructor and practice the skills you are taught with your camera right there on the spot! These classes are designed so you can attend multiple sessions during the day and get all the hands-on practice you want.

The Kickstart scholarship includes: Choice of a pre-convention class and a full Imaging USA registration all for FREE. Travel, meals, and lodging are not included. Visit ImagingUSA.org for more information on hotels, travel and more. 

To apply for the scholarship, you must be an active PPA member and you can't have previously received an Imaging USA Kickstart Scholarship. Applications for the 2017 Imaging USA Kickstart Scholarship open August 1!  Applications are due by November 11, 2016. Recipients will be announced November 23 and notified via phone. 

What are you waiting for? PPA is making it SO EASY for you to attend Imaging USA 2017 in San Antonio and begin next year with the knowledge and connections you need to Be More! 

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This has been a HUGE week for Drones! The FAA finally released their new regulations covering UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) and PPA has read all 600 pages to help YOU better understand how to (legally) incorporate drones into your business. 

You can head over to www.faa.gov/uas/ to get all the latest information, but we've got a summary for you to get you started and answer your most basic questions.

So...You Want to Be a Small Drone Pilot...

To become a pilot you must: 

Be at least 16 years old
Be able to read, speak, write and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet this requirement for a medical reason, such as hearing impairment)
Be in a physical and mental condition to safely operate a small UAS
Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center

How Do I Apply for a Remote Pilot Certificate?

1. Schedule an appointment with a Knowledge Testing Center (there are over 700 locations in the U.S).
2. Pass the Aeronautical Knowledge Test. 
3. Complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a Remote Pilot Certificate.
4. Pass the TSA security background check. You will then receive a confirmation email containing instructions for printing a temporary remote pilot certificate from IACRA (Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application). 
5. Receive a permanent remote pilot certificate via mail once all other FAA-internal processing is complete. 

Once certified, your certification must be easily accessible by the remote pilot during all UAS operations. It is valid for two years, after which you must pass a recurrent knowledge test to renew your certification.


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PPA is back on Capitol Hill this week, and we have some updates on the progress of copyright small claims legislation.

Currently, there are two copyright small claims bills being worked on by members of the U.S. House of Representatives - one bill is being produced by Congresswoman Chu (D-CA) and the other by Congressman Jeffries (D-NY).  Due to recent world events, other issues have been at the forefront of Capitol Hill discussions over the past several weeks.  Consequently, the introduction of Congresswoman Chu's (D-CA) small claims legislation has been delayed, but only slightly. This slight delay is not all bad news - the more issues that can be worked out among stakeholders on the front-end, the more likely the legislation will be successful.  

We are pleased to announce that Congressman Jeffries (D-NY) and Congressman Marino (R-PA) introduced a bipartisan small claims bill today. Congresswoman Chu's bill will be introduced when Congress reconvenes after its upcoming six-week recess. The House of Representatives will be on recess from July 15th until September 6th.  PPA continues to give input as this process unfolds, and we continue to work especially closely alongside Congresswoman Chu's office as they finalize legislative language.

After both bills are introduced, PPA will review the legislation and direct members of the Grassroots Action Team to take action. Your first call to action will be to ask your representative to co-sponsor the small claims bill that we believe is most favorable for professional photographers.  This call to action will most likely begin in September.

Let's take advantage of this unexpected little bit of extra time and focus on getting more photographers and visual artists to join the Grassroots Action Team!  We are encouraged by the number of participants so far, but we still have a long way to go.  We need to be prepared to make a very loud statement on Capitol Hill.  Additional delays are always possible - especially during an election year - but that shouldn't stop us from mobilizing now.  Please continue to encourage every photographer, as well as other creators that you know to sign up at PPA.com/Grassroots.  Remember, you do not have to be a PPA member to join - this needs to be an industry-wide effort.

PPA's government affairs team will be attending important, small claims-related meetings on the Hill this week.  Be sure to stay tuned to PPA Today for updates from D.C.! 

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We had a wonderful meeting with the Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, and the Copyright Office's Director of Policy, Karyn Claggett. We thanked the Register for her tireless support for small creators in creating her plans for a modernized copyright office and testifying to Congress as an expert in the policy area. This meeting provided a great opportunity for us to explain the registration-related difficulties photographers face and how that effects their ability to enforce copyright. We were extremely encouraged by listening to some aspects of her vision for registration reforms which include creating a process that is not one-size-fits-all for all classes of creations. In the coming months, we will be working closely with the Office by giving input on much-needed registration improvements. The Copyright Office (at the request of Congress) has produced and published an extensive plan for modernizing their systems and processes. This plan is dependent on the policy and appropriation decisions of Congress, so PPA plans to continue to be involved in the discussion on the Hill.

We also met with a representative of the American Bar Association to discuss the progress of small claims legislation. The ABA has generally been supportive of the ideas. We will continue to be in contact as the copyright review process evolves.

Headed back to Atlanta!


1:30pm: We are pleased to announce that Congressman Jeffries (D-NY) and Congressman Marino (R-PA) introduced a bipartisan small claims bill today. We appreciate Congressman Jeffries' and Congressman Marino's support on this important small business issue. We look forward to reviewing this bill and Congresswoman Chu's bill and working with these offices and others as well as important stakeholders to make copyright small claims a reality. 


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10:00am: We are at the US Chamber of Commerce for our first meeting of the day. Here we will pitch the idea of copyright small claims to the chamber, explaining why it is such an important small business issue. We hope to have their support on this issue as the process unfolds.



4:30pm: We're walking from our meeting with Zach Whiting in the office of Congressman Steve King (R-IA) to the office of Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) for our next meeting. Our meeting with Zach was great. He seemed very interested in our message and asked great questions about how to create an effective small claims process for small-business creators. We brought him up to speed on the forthcoming bills. He is looking forward to reviewing the legislation. Hopefully, the Congressman will choose to get involved with this issue as the copyright review enters the legislative phase. 
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3:30pm: Good meeting with Congressman Cohen's(D-TN) staff. We brought them up to speed on the progress of small claims legislation. They were very receptive of our message and plan to connect with the offices sponsoring these bills and review the language. We are asking all of these offices to consider co-sponsoring small claims legislation upon introduction.

We have are headed into our last two (back-to-back) meetings with Congressman Steve King's (R-IA) office and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren's (D-CA) office. 


2:45pm: As always, we had a very productive meeting with Linda Shim, Congresswoman Chu's (D-CA) Chief of Staff. We are working through final details of the bills. At this point, we are facilitating discussions on smaller, technical details between congressional offices and stakeholders. Linda is working closely with the copyright office and counsel to finalize legislative language. We expect that Congresswoman Chu's bill will be introduced in early September when Congress reconvenes from the upcoming recess (which starts this weekend).

10:15am: 
PPA is back in our nation's capital for the last week of the House's current session before their recess. There is a LOT happening with our top priority: a Small Claims Copyright bill. We hope the bill is introduced this week (rather than being held until the next session in September). Stay tuned here as we will update the blog throughout today and tomorrow with all the latest news on this front. 








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 Lindsey Forson

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The FAA has released its long-awaited new rules for small drone operations! These regulations apply to the use of any unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) weighing less than 55 pounds for any reasons other than for hobby or recreational purposes. The rules, of course, apply to operating small drones as a part of your photography business.  

As expected, the finalized rules are very similar to those which were proposed by the FAA in February 2015. According to these new rules, you will no longer be required to obtain an exemption from the FAA and hold a manned aircraft pilot's license to offer drone photography services. Instead, you will be able to become a certified UAS operator (or "Remote Pilot in Command") by passing a computerized knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center.  

FAA certified small UAS operators will be required to meet specified criteria (age requirement, English language proficiency requirement, health requirements, etc.), follow instructions for maintaining and inspecting the aircraft, and stay within FAA-specified operational limitations (some of which are summarized below).

Operational limitations include (but are not limited to):
- Daylight-only operations
- Operations in Class G airspace only without permission from air traffic control (in Class B,         C, D, or E with permission)
- Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level
- Maximum airspeed of 100 mph
- UAS may not operate directly over any person not directly involved in the operation

Read the complete regulations from the FAA here and a summary of the rules here. Stay tuned for more information from PPA!

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



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