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PPA Today

By: Lauren Walters


Family photos are one activity many families dread. What's meant to be a fun, memorable event can quickly become a stressful, panic-inducing nightmare. Here are some tips from PPA family portrait photographers to help your family take beautiful photos.


1. Find the Right Photographer

In addition to reviewing a photographer's online portfolio, pricing and policies, also look at their social media pages and customer reviews on third party websites. If you want a large portion of your session to be in black and white, then find a photographer who loves black and white too. If you want a natural, candid session with minimal posing find a photographer whose existing work reflects that. Don't waste time and energy hoping that the photographer will understand your vision, rather, find someone whose work communicates that.


2. Plan Ahead

All too often people spend the day(s) before their photo session running around to the dry cleaner, hair stylist, and novelty stores for last minute purchases and props. Instead, plan the look you want a few days before. Have everyone try everything on beforehand to ensure they have socks and the desired hair style/length. Your kids and spouse will feel your stress, so prep ahead to reduce it as much as possible. It is often hard for families to recover from a day of being nagged, so setting expectations ahead of time and knowing that the attires will work great is an immense plus. It will help even more if you spend time enjoying yourself and your kids a few hours before your session. Your kids and photographer will thank you and the images will reflect your wonderful family dynamic. 


3. Select Color Themes

Instead of looking for top-to-bottom looks for everyone in your family, look in each closet for color themes. For a soft, elegant look, choose neutral colors with soft, flowing fabrics. Want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family? Choose coordinating colors with bold accent colors to complement each other (but not matchy, matchy which would make you compete with each other). Including fun accessories like scarves, headbands, hats, etc. can add a modern twist and sassy flair to your images.


4. Talk to Your Kids Beforehand

Kids are smart and they love feeling big and informed. Tell them a "professional photographer" is coming over. Show them the clothes they will be wearing, involve them in the discussion of what you will be doing and where you will be doing it. New people and places can be unsettling to kids especially to toddlers melting down in the afternoon hours. So do what you can to turn your photographer into a  new friend familiar to your kids before the session. 


5. Decide on a Reward

Bring your kids' favorite toys or treats and give them to your photographer to use when he or she needs to get their attention. But don't overuse them or they'll lose their magic. Kids need far less prompting and are much better at candid expressions than adults. If you've been needlessly bribing them then, as you know, it loses its magic. If the photographer gets the say if your family goes for frozen yogurt afterwards, your kids will be far more apt to cooperate. 


6. Feed Everyone Beforehand.

Pick a time when your kids are usually well behaved. If they're grumpy in the morning, don't plan a morning photo shoot and expect them to be pumped about it. Bring their favorite snack as long as it's not messy and they can eat it hands-free (no red teeth or chocolate chins needed!). But bring an extra set of clothes and some paper towels just in case! 


7. Trust Your Photographer.

All too often parents get nervous when their child isn't looking at the photographer or smiling "right", causing their child anxiety and robbing the photographer (and themselves!) the chance for candid portraits. Seasoned family portrait photographers know how to make your children feel comfortable so let them work their magic. After all, you're paying them to create just that, right?


Remember: Anyone can take a good picture every now and then. But your kids grow up fast and before you know it they leave for college. Memories fade. So trust a pro; See the difference PPA photographers make and find the right photographer for YOUR family at PPA.com/SeeTheDifference/Family.


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By Sarah Ackerman

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Happy Friday! You survived the week (including Tax Day in the U.S. ), so that is cause for celebration! Take a few to relax, kick up your feet and enjoy our top ten posts from around the interwebs!

BEST PHOTOGRAPHERS IN THE WORLD: The United States took home the World Photographic Cup for the second year in a row. Led by medalists and PPA photographers Ben Shirk and Kenneth Martin, the team took four medals and nine top 10 finishes! Get all the details here.

COPYRIGHT PROTECTION: Happy Copyright Awareness Month! If you've had a run in with copyright infringement, know you're not alone. Check out this write up on PPA photographer Ross Oscar Knight and see what you can learn from his experiences with copyright infringement. PPA is here to help!

HELP TO FIND CLIENTS: Imaging USA speakers Gary Hughes and Booray Perry are back with their PhotoBomb podcast! The two weigh in on reimagining iconic wedding photographs (like the sometimes dreaded "ring shot") and discuss how to attract and keep clients when you're just starting out. Learn from these hilarious pros!

LEGAL MATTERS: You may recall Andrea Polito's case from a few months back - she was sued when she made her clients pay extra for their album cover (catch up on the full backstory here). The parties are back in the news for a defamation suit. Read the article and weigh in with your opinions in this spirited conversation on theLoop

BUSINESS COACHING: As you heard in March two PPA member studios are getting total makeovers! Wes Roberts has been working diligently over the past month with Business Consultant Bridget Jackson, CPA and Marketing Mentor, Ashley Brooke. Check in to see his progress!

DEBUNKING THE SALES TAX: Since Tax Day came and went this week, this article is extremely timely! Rachel Brenke separates the truth from fiction in the world of sales tax when it comes to photography clients in this easy-to-read post. 

BUSINESS BEST PRACTICES: If you've ever wondered what your customers are thinking - Entrepreneurs compiled a list of the top five things you need to know and how it impacts your business! Check the list and see how these tidbits can improve your customer experience, from start to return visit. 

WEB BASICS: Don't judge an article by its headline. This three part series from Go Live HQ offers some great input on not stressing out about those three little letters. Moral of the story: treat SEO like a bad boyfriend, the less you care and the more you focus on yourself, the better it will behave. 

STATE OF MIND: Imaging USA speaker, Jeffrey Shaw is back on the round up with Denise Martin, a master communication specialist. Denise and Jeffrey explore how you can improve communication with your clients by improving communication internally. Think of it this way - does your inner monologue need a pep talk? Tune in. You won't be disappointed. 

INSPIRATION: We frequently talk about getting it right in the camera, and Ray Dennis did just that. Ray ditched the digital editing and created some surreal images that you have to see the behind the scenes photos to believe! 

What's photography blogs or podcasts do you follow? Post your favorites on theLoop! Also, you can email your suggestions directly to OnlineContentCommittee (at) PPA (dot) com.

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Sarah Ackerman is known around PPA as #Sarah in part because she handles all things social media and in order to differentiate herself from the other Sarah's in the office. Sarah loves improv comedy (think "Whose Line") and routinely performs around Atlanta. When she's not tweeting/facebooking/instagramming all of the action at PPA, she can be found gallivanting around the world or wandering around the woods with her pup, but more than likely she's on stage making people giggle.

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By Lindsey Forson

April is Copyright Awareness Month at PPA! Why get involved? Because copyright is arguably the most important legal concern for professional photographers. During the course of your career as a pro, it's inevitable that you will have to deal with copyright infringement at some point. To highlight the importance of copyright protection and give you the opportunity to learn the easy way, some PPA photographers have agreed to share their experiences!

In light of a recent issue with a copyright infringement, we had a conversation with PPA member Ross Oscar Knight.

Ross has been a professional photographer since 2004. He takes great care in protecting his images but still faces around 4-5 copyright infringements per year! He has dealt with infringements from clients, retailers, and other photography businesses, along with those frustrating unknown infringers.

Ross stands with PPA in encouraging photographers to protect their images and sees copyright protection as one of the most important aspects of a photography business. For him, there are reasons to protect images beyond the obvious business-related concerns because his images will live on long after his life and the life of his business. "It's no different than a musician writing a song," said Ross. "I'm a photographer, and for me, images are my legacy."

That's right! PPA has elections and you get to vote! Starting today, April 15, PPA Council nominations will be accepted online at PPA.com/CouncilElections.

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But first...

What's PPA Council, you ask?

It's a delegate body that oversees PPA's bylaws. Volunteer PPA members are elected to represent their states for a 3-year period.

What does PPA Council do for YOU?

  • Assists PPA members and fellow photographers. As a group, they make decisions that guide the association.
  • Elects members to serve on the Nominating Committee and PPA's Board of Directors.
  • Approves PPA degree recipients and maintains PPA's merit system.

PPA Council Nominations will be held for each state. Who do you want to represent you? Give it some thought, and submit your nominee(s). But please, run it by them first...

You've got two weeks to submit your elected nominee(s). All nominations must be submitted by May 1, 11:59pm EST. Take advantage of this chance to give input on your state's PPA representative(s) and help shape your photographic association.

If you're not sure who a good candidate in your area would be, chat about it on theLoop and share what traits/skills you'd like your PPA representative to own.

For more information on the 2015 elections and instructions on how to nominate, please visit PPA.com/CouncilElections.

Don't forget - voting opens May 15!

By Chris Homer

PPA's Super 1 Day Photography Workshops are returning May 4 - 18, 2015. During this time, dozens of studios across the country will invite attendees to join daily workshops featuring portrait and wedding photography, posing and lighting, digital retouching and workflow, and sales and marketing strategies. It's a chance you won't want to miss--a full day of photography education brought to you by fellow professional photographers.

This year, there's more than 100 workshops being offered on various techniques for photographers and business practices, so there's bound to be something that interests you... and hopefully not far from you! Online registration is open until April 28, 2015 for $99 per class. Make sure to register by that date, because after the 28th registration will be on-site only (at the class and space permitting) for $120 per class. So register early, allow the instructors to organize their groups properly with an advance headcount and save some good money! 

If you need more incentives besides the great photography education, keep in mind that PPA members that attend Super 1 Day classes will receive one service merit towards their degree for each class they attend. Plus, you also get the Bonus Pack, with offers and discounts from top photographic companies that will help you save more! 

Be More Inspired. Find a class near you today, and remember to register by April 28, 2015 for the lowest price! 


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About 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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PPA-led Team USA Brings Home Second Consecutive Title

The World Photographic Cup is on its way back to the States as Team USA, made up of PPA members, narrowly defeated the competition for a second consecutive year. The cup was awarded April 12 in Montpellier, France.

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Gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded to the individual creators in each of six categories, and teams were awarded points for top ten finishes. Team USA won the cup with four medals and nine top 10 finishes. Team Portugal finished second with four medals and seven top 10 finishes, and Australia rounded out the podium with two medal wins and eight top tens.

"We're very proud of the stunning images created by PPA photographers for Team USA this year," said David Trust, PPA CEO. "This competition is really all about the fellowship of photographers from all over the world. It's an honor to be the association that represents this winning team of incredibly talented photographers."

The team's efforts were led by medalists Ben Shirk, Iowa, and Kenneth Martin, Wisconsin. Shirk, an Imaging USA and PhotoVision speaker, took two gold medals, in the portrait and wedding categories, as well as silver in the illustrative category. Martin won silver in the landscape/wildlife category. The other gold medals went to Portugal, Belgium, New Zealand and Spain.

By Chris Homer

As a photographer, you're probably always looking for ways to improve your photography skills. One of the best ways to do this is by entering photographic competitions that provide you some very useful feedback. PPA's International Photographic Competition (IPC) allows you to get just that! The IPC entry submissions open May 26, 2015. Participating is already a great way to push your skills to the next level, but if you choose to get your images critiqued by one of the competition's jurors, you're simply bound to learn more as an artist.

If you've never entered an image into a PPA competition, we understand the process can seem a little daunting at first - but it really is a great way to become a better photographer and it is the structured process that raises the quality of the results. To get rid of some of your apprehensions about entering, check out Andrew Jenkins, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, critiquing an image by Gary Hughes, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, called "Just Do It". It  was accepted into PPA's general collection! 




Ready to enter your work? Be More Daring and learn tons! Entries for the International Photographic Competition open May 26.


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About 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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In the previous post 2 Studios Are Getting a Full Business Makeover This Year! you met PPA Studio Makeover recipients, Wes Roberts and Krista Newbill and read the overview of the makeover process.

Now that the makeovers are underway, you can follow along with their progress! First up is Wes as he and the PPA mentor team dove into the financials of his business.

Wes's Story

The Financials

Wes was super excited to get started. He's been working with PPA's Business Consultant and CPA, Bridget Jackson, to get a handle on where he is currently and the best way to move forward.

First, we always did a complete financial analysis of the studio. It's important to know what's working and what's not. We did this by comparing Wes' studio's numbers to PPA's Benchmark Survey. By comparing his cost of sales, overhead and net profit we started to get a good picture of the pitfalls that are causing monetary loss. We also uncovered potential opportunities for savings.

Wes' numbers looked better than the average benchmark studios in 2013 and 2014. However, his 20% cost of sales percentage doubled between 2013 and 2014. While, in general, 20% is a great number to achieve (below the recommended 25%), we had to figure out what has changed to cause such a drastic uptick and put everything in place to ensure that trend would not continue in 2015.

Second, PPA mentors helped Wes develop a photography business plan for 2015 that included three goals:

  1. the number of sessions he wants to photograph (broken down by month)
  2. the sales average of each session
  3. his net profit

By: Lauren Walters

As April rolls along, check out this week's top blogs about ethics. Join in the fun with other posts and learn about the PPA perk - Photovision. Remember to exercise good ethics and inspire your creative self.   

Be More Inspired with PhotoVision

PPA MEMBERSHIP PERK: Now that PhotoVision is part of PPA, you have no excuse! The sources of inspiration to be more inspired and more creative are endless! Pick a topic, pick a genre or pick an instructor, there is something for everyone to motivate and inspire you in photography. With over 800 cinematic HD streaming videos, PhotoVision is now included with your PPA membership! Visit PPA.com/PhotoVision and proactively continue to learn today!

Could the U.K.'s Copyright Hub Provide a Template for Simple Rights Use?

COPYRIGHT: We all know the troubles copyright comes with. The U.K. created a hub to identify all copyright information pertaining to a single piece simply by searching the image, video or audio file. How useful is this? Read this article to find out what the U.S. thinks of this hub.

In the Smartphone Era, Can Street Photography Be Illegal?

ETHICS: Let's find out! In Germany, a Berlin-based street photographer started a project funded by 528 supporters totaling $19,850 for his possible legal fees. Since 1907, the law stated if a photographer didn't have the subject's permission to photograph them, they weren't allowed to publish the image. This interesting article shows how this project turned out.

Photoshop and Photojournalism

ETHICS AGAIN: In a way, photography is manipulation, but photojournalism is about revealing the truth to the public. A photojournalist cannot recreate a moment by asking a subject to pose a certain way - they must be an honest and credible source. Check out this video and celebrate 25 years of Photoshop as it relates to modern photojournalism.

This Camera Survived Three Months at the Bottom of the Ocean

JUST FOR FUN: An underwater photographer, Scuba Monster team member, found a camera among the coral reef near the bottom of the ocean. Guess what? The camera sill worked! What all did this camera go through before being rediscovered? Read more to get the full scoop!

Showing Girls that 'Strong is the New Pretty'

EMPOWER: Instead of photographing little girls in pink dresses and flowery hats, PPA Photographer Kate Parker helps her daughters find their confidence. Through photography, Parker's daughters show their tough side - redefining the term "pretty".

Three Little Letters... Big Meaning.

TREAT YOUR PSYCHE: "Why become certified?" PPA photographer Suan Goralski tells all! Read about her journey on the CPP path and find out what it takes to become a certified professional photographer. It might involve a side effect that helps with you beyond the client perception's rationale... just read on!

When More Is More: Photography and Doing Away With Subtlety

INSPIRATION: Is less more? "If less is more, just think how more that will be!" Where do you draw the line? When intensifying and balancing the right elements, your work will stand out among the crowd. Check out this work and get inspired by this photographer's brave lunge into the bold.

100 Ideas That Changed Photography

REINVENTION: From camera obscura to the iPhone, Fine Art Professor Mary Marien explains the evolution of photography through her book "100 Ideas That Changed Photography". Through this article, catch the highlights of significant historical artifacts that pushed photography toward the art it is today.

5 Steps To Realizing Successful Passion Projects

PHOTOGRAPHY PASSION: In the mini-documentary, "Updating Philosophies", film makers Jared Levy and Justin Hamilton share their secrets about how to get booked for the work you WANT to do. Watch the short video and follow their 5 simple steps to start living your dream.

What's photography blogs do you follow? Post your favorites on theLoop! Also, you can email your suggestions directly to OnlineContentCommittee@PPA.com.

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By Chris Homer

PPA photographers have photography and business learning opportunities, educational programs and best practices through PPAedu and PhotoVision at their fingertips. But there are also a bunch of live webinars coming up in April and May, and these are OPEN TO ALL photographers, no PPA membership required! Check them out below:

April 16, 2015 - 2 pm EST
With Ashley Brooke
Skill Level(s): ALL

The first webinar in the Studio Makeover series is here! This year PPA is working with two lucky studios in all areas of their business, to give them a total "makeover". Follow their progress, challenges and changes. Updates will be posted right here on the blog and you will be able to watch monthly webinar updates to track this year-long process. It's a series worth paying attention to, as there will be strategies and business tactics you can apply to your business too.

With the nature of business changing as rapidly as it is, it's no wonder we consider Social Media our Business BFF. Having grown up in the photography industry, Ashley Brooke knows first-hand what works best and what doesn't! During this webinar, Ashley Brooke will share her tips and tricks for social media and branding, discovered in large part thanks to building a business from the ground up.

April 23, 2015 - 3 pm EST
With Lindsey Forson, PPA's Copyright & Government Affairs Coordinator
Skill Level(s): ALL

Copyright infringement is an important and often complicated issue for professional photographers. This webinar will help you understand what your intellectual property rights are as a photographer, how to protect your images from copyright infringements, and what to do when infringements occur. Join us on World Copyright Day for this webinar, free and open to ALL photographers to help you be more in control of your copyright and be more protected!

April 28, 2015 - 2 pm EST
With Clay Eads
Skill Level(s): ALL

This is a two-part series on outsourcing. In part I, Clay Eads will provide an in-depth look at the process and benefits of outsourcing your post-production workflow. You'll learn when it makes sense to outsource so that you're maximizing your time and finances! Clay will also cover what to expect when working with an editor during the outsourcing process. If you feel overwhelmed with all the tasks you need to accomplish, outsourcing may be a solution for you, so learn the basics during this webinar.


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