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PPA Today

By Chris Homer

Happy Friday! As always, we're back to deliver you a selection of the top photography blogs
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 of the week. From portrait photography to business advice, there's a little bit of everything in this week's roundup. Check them out below. 

BUSINESS: Many photographers have started to offer video as part of their services. If you're thinking of getting into this market, read this post from Fstoppers first! It covers some good points you'll want to consider before you start offering video. 

GEAR GEEK: Do you ever find yourself paralyzed when it comes time to capture a shot - running through a mental list of lenses, lights, and other equipment? You may be suffering from 'Gear Acquisition Syndrome.' Find out how you might be able to slim down some of that gear and still get great photographs, and have a healthier bottom line, in this post from The Phoblographer. 

LIGHTING TIPS: With summer approaching, chances are you're starting to get requests for outdoor portraits during 'golden hour' (that time right around sunrise or sunset). There are some tricky lighting situations to consider, but this post from Digital Photography School provides some advice to overcome these challenges. 

INSPIRATION: This video features the Gulf Photo Plus ShootOut, where three photographers (including past Imaging USA instructor Joel Grimes) were given the challenge of capturing intimacy between strangers with only 20 minutes to plan, shoot, edit, retouch and present their results. The photographs are pretty astonishing given the time frame. Plus, you'll get to listen to their thought process behind each photograph, which may give you some useful tips for your own work! 

PPA Competition: Here's something we don't see every day! At a recent PPA District Photographic Competition, photographer Monish Mansharamani witnessed how his image scored a perfect 100. You can watch the judging of Monish's "Brooklyn Twilight" image and see what it is PPA judges are looking for in an image. Hopefully, you'll be inspired to enter a District Photographic Competition or the International Photographic Competition

TIPS FOR POST: If you struggle with lighting darker skin tones, this post from PhotoFocus is for you. Some quick tips are provided for getting the light correct so you can always give your clients flattering results.  

SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY: With March Madness going on, basketball is probably on the top of the mind for the sports photographers out there. H & H Color Lab has compiled a great series of videos that show photographers in action at the NCAA Tournament. You may pick up some tips you can use the next time you're hired to cover a basketball game. 
NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY: If you enjoy nature photography, check out this post from the Photo Naturalist. It discusses how to subtly retouch an image so you get exactly what you had envisioned, without over-doing it to the point that a photograph no longer looks like it was captured in the wild. 

INSPIRATION: A solar eclipse is a rare occasion, which makes this video pretty impressive. Watch the behind the scenes video of photographer Rutger Pauw scout the perfect location to capture the eclipse on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Rutger definitely overcomes some tough challenges to get the shot. Check it out on DIY Photography. 

BUSINESS: Do you find yourself stuck in a rut - taking photography jobs you don't really want? Check out this post from Fstoppers on three really simple ways you can market yourself to get the jobs you actually want! 

There you have it, our top blog posts of the week! What blogs do you enjoy? Let us know on theLoop.

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. 

By: Lauren Walters

PPA is constantly helping photographers be more successful through the benefits, education, copyright advocacy and more offered with membership! As a nonprofit photography association (and the largest!) that's what we do! PPA photographers use and make the best of their membership in many different ways. What matters is to leverage that pool of resource that PPA pushes forth for photographers. Take a look at these "Behind the Camera" videos. This series shows real photographers and how THEY are putting PPA to work for them. Consider how or how else YOU could be using PPA too.

Atlanta-based photographer Arlene Dicks touches on an issue ANY photographer fears and eventually faces: Data Loss. What happens when your hard drive crashes or your memory card malfunctions? Do you have your clients' work backed up on another device? Are there ways to get the files back?

Data loss, hard drive sudden death, memory card deep water dives and other accidents compromising your photos do directly jeopardize your work and... can be a death sentence for some businesses. Watch the video below to learn how PPA helped Arlene with recovery after such a mishap.

Data loss protection comes with most PPA memberships, head to PPA.com/MyPPA to see if you're covered. If your hard drive crashes, PPA can refer you to specialist to recover damaged or lost files and your deductible should cover you. Oh and if you're clients are threatening to sue because of data loss issues... your PPA membership covers you for that too, but that's in another piece we wrote on malpractice protection. Long story short, if you are not with PPA, consider it and... Be More Protected.  

Join PPA today and Be Proactive!

PPA's District Competitions are in full swing and the International Photographic Competition (IPC) is on its way! Entries will be accepted in the beginning of May so make sure you have your images ready.


If you're still on the fence about entering--hop on over and give it a shot! Getting over your fear and entering competition is an incredibly rewarding experience for a photographer--especially when you have your work critiqued by one of our accomplished judges. It's one of the best ways to improve your skills and gain confidence!


If you're wondering what a critique looks like, here's an example! In this video, juror Donna Goodhale, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, explains to Kevin Floyd, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, why his image, Mister Mischief, went into the Loan collection.


Another great way to learn about photographic competition is by live streaming the district competition judging. You'll be able to view the images and hear what the judges take into consideration. The Western district judging airs live this weekend, March 26-28, from Vancouver, Washington! It's free to watch, you don't even have to be a PPA member, just head to Stream.theIPC.org and create an account (no worries, it's free and no credit cards are required!).


Ready to enter your work in a photographic competition to learn and get recognized? Entries for the International Photographic Competition open May 26.


John Owens is PPA's resident wordsmith. Know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? That's where he comes in. The Connecticut transplant and (still) avid Hartford Whalers fan is an aspiring adventurist/novelist/racer on a lifelong quest to find the best trails, brews and burger


Southeast Photographic Competition Now Open

The Southeast District photographic competition is now open! Ring in spring by getting your images ready for the last district competition of the year. Image submissions will be accepted until April 24. Entered works will be judged May 1-3 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

PPA urges members to enter photographic competition to push themselves to be more, improving their craft and confidence in the process.

"Once photographers get over the initial fear of competition, most keep entering year after year and become better photographers in the process," said Randy McNeilly, PPA's international photographic competition committee chairman. "Even if they don't earn a merit right away, there's so much they can learn. Plus, it's a huge confidence boost, not only for the photographer, but also the client who commissions their work--especially once they start to win awards."

At the district level, images either earn a "merit" or "does not merit" score. Merit images are sealed and move on to the International Photographic Competition (IPC), held each August. Non-merit images may be worked on and re-entered into the IPC that same year. Critiques from a PPA judge can be ordered to give entrants personalized feedback on the reason for the score. Entrants and non-entrants alike can watch the judging live online in January.

The best of the best images will enter the prestigious Loan Collection and be on display at the International Photographic Exhibit during Imaging USA 2016 in Atlanta. They will also be in a coffee table book published by Marathon Press. For inspiration, PPA produced a video featuring 2014's Loan Collection images to show what the best look like.

PPA's District Competitions and the International Photographic Competition are open to the public. PPA photographers and non-members alike are also encouraged to attend the judging. Photographers who belong to PPA are each assigned to districts based on their studio's geographic location. For full district competition information, visit PPA.com/Competitions.

Northeast and Northcentral District Results Now Online

If you entered the Northeast or Northcentral District competition, results are now up online! Check out the list to see how you and your photography friends fared this year. And when the time comes, don't forget to re-submit to the IPC!

Watch Western District Judging LIVE This Weekend

Judging for the Western District takes place this Thursday through Saturday (March 26-28) in Vancouver, Washington. But you don't have to be there to watch! The judging will be streamed live for anyone curious, whether you're involved in the competition or not. Go to the Western District competition page for a link to the stream.



Congratulations to our newest round of Certified Professional Photographers! These folks have taken the effort to pass the Certification exam, as well as the image submission portion to set themselves apart in the photographic industry. 

Debbie Andrus, CPP - Camden, AL

Jennifer Ashby, CPP - Meridian, ID

Marina Baklanova, CPP  Albany, CA

Ryan C. Bates, CPP - Vacaville, CA

Dawn  Baxstrom, CPP - Drumright, OK

Roben Christian Bellomo, CPP - Carmel, IN

Humberto F. Boncristiani, CPP - Odenton, MD

Jaelene A. Bryan, CPP - Pullman, WA

Sandra M. Burns, CPP - Massapequa, NY

Stephanie R. Carnessali, CPP - Johnsonburg, PA

Sabina Cavalli, CPP - Naperville, IL

CL Clay, CPP - Elgin, SC

Diane K. Costello, CPP - Half Moon Bay, CA

Joshua A. Cuppek, CPP - Blairstown, NJ

Dalisa Jo DeChiara, CPP - Entiat, WA

Veronica Dennis, CPP - Huntsville, AL

Lori Jill DiBiase, CPP - Charleston, SC

Meghan Elizabeth Doll, CPP - Minneapolis, MN

Dan Ferguson, CPP - Wylie, TX

Russ Forthofer, CPP - Fishers, IN

Juliah K. Ginos, CPP - Quincy, IL

Susan A. Goralski, CPP - New Hartford, CT

Meggan Harper, CPP - Ormond Beach, FL

Blair Wyatt Haynie, CPP Houston, TX

Ryan Higgins, CPP - Phoenix, AZ

Jenn Hindman, CPP - Ellsworth, IA

Aubrey L. Hord, CPP - Kahului, HI

Kathryn Tracey Jennings, CPP - Stilesville, New Brunswick, Canada

Russell L. Jensen, CPP - Rapid City, SD

Bill S. Johnsen, CPP - Baraboo, WI

Felicia Jane Jones, CPP - Richland, WA

Edward Keller, CPP - Monroe, MI

Bob J. Laramie, CPP - Moorestown, NJ

John Lee, CPP - Little Neck, NY

Javon D. Longieliere, CPP - Valdosta, GA

Carla M. Lynn, CPP - Smyrna, TN

Ross D. Magnuson, CPP - Billings, MT

Laura H. Mansur, CPP - Houston, TX

Jeffrey L. Mason, CPP - Silver Spring, MD

Renee K. McCardell, CPP - Greensboro, NC

Scott A. McDougall, CPP  - Highland Park, IL

Mac K. Miller, CPP - Tyler, TX

Steve L. Morrow, CPP - Abilene, TX

Ann Nester, CPP - Ravenswood, WV

Rodney O'Dell, CPP - Middletown, OH

Bradd A. Parker, CPP - Chatsworth, GA

Jari Poulin, CPP - Ithaca, NY

Jaiel Prado, CPP - Barueri, Brazil

James Remington, CPP - South Riding, VA

Tim Roebuck, CPP - Winter Garden, FL

Amanda A. Sharpe, CPP - Columbus, IN

Simone Cristina Silverio, CPP -  Barueri, Brazil

Krystal L. Stankowski, CPP - Madison, WI

Chrystina Straughan, CPP - Cibolo, TX

Kimberly Diane Teichrow, CPP - Bend, OR

Zach Thomas, CPP - Saint Augustine, FL

Stephanie W Turner, CPP - Newton, NC

Graciela Valdes, CPP - Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Joan Hustace Walker, CPP - Norfolk, VA

Qian Wang, CPP - Lexington, SC

Kerri S. Weiss, M.Photog., CPP - Saint Charles, IL

Rodney Williams, CPP - Columbia, SC

James M. Woltjen, CPP - New Bern, NC

Why should you consider becoming Certified? Check out our blog here that hits on the four key reasons Certification can boost your business and your confidence. Learn more here! 

By Sarah Ackerman

Spring is finally here! Before you take off to enjoy the beautiful weather and cure any lingering cabin fever - check out the top photography blog posts from around the Internet. 

FINDING YOUR PURPOSE: Past Imaging USA Speaker Jeffrey Shaw is back on the roundup with his podcast! This week he features an interview with Jeff Goins, author of "The Art of Work" (you can get a copy for FREE through his post!). The pair discusses finding your calling and offer practical ways to find it in your everyday life. 

NOT FOR EVERYONE: Don't get us wrong, we wish all photographers could make bajillions of dollars doing what they love... but we all know the real world is full of challenges. Truth is, photography as a profession is just NOT for everyone. This article from PetaPixel gives an interesting look at why people get into photography and what a small shift in attitude can do for your mental clarity.

BE MORE PROFITABLE: Two lucky studios are getting the chance of a lifetime - to get full studio makeovers from a dedicated team of pros from PPA! From marketing to sales, design to operations and everything in between Wes Roberts and Krista Newbill are embarking on a transformative year and you're along for the ride!

THIEVERY: Gary Hughes and Booray Perry take to the podcasting airwaves with their show "Photobomb". In this week's episode, the entertaining duo explores Star Wars Pinball, but more importantly photography thieves! (Pro tip: if you find yourself in the same situation as Booray, use the PPA Cease & Desist letter that comes as one of your member resources!)

DIY PHOTOGRAPHY: If you want to go to a larger format than 120 film, making your own camera might be a great option! You read that's right! Check out what Lucas Landers pulled together on a reasonable budget on the PhoBlographer. 

BARTERING BASICS: As a photographer, chances are you've been approached to barter your services. What constitutes a good bartering deal? How do you handle saying no? See what Rachel Brenke from the Law Tog has to say about the situation here. 

CERTIFIABLY GOOD: Becoming a Certified Professional Photographer is no small task - but as Dave Goldman, Cr.Photog., CPP explains, it's worth it. Becoming technically sound in your craft doesn't inhibit your creativity, it enhances it. Get Dave's take here!

INSPIRATION: Are you stuck when it comes to developing your personal style and vision? How do you define yourself in photography? This is a wonderful, inspirational blog by Gary Crabbe from Enlightened Images to guide you on the path to discovering your unique art. 

MYSTERIES OF THE PAST: National Geographic takes a look at the Rescued Film Project, an effort to discover and develop images from the past. Project manager Levi Bettwieser hopes this project will help photographers realize the importance of their craft on our individual histories. Check out the moving works here.

PRO TIPS: There's never a shortage of good portrait photography how-to articles, but this great read from FStoppers calls into focus some things to really avoid. Dani Diamond goes through his top five things portrait photographers should stop doing immediately. 

There you have it, our favorite photography posts of the week! What blogs do you enjoy? Let us know on theLoop

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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.

What's This About?

This year PPA is working with two lucky studios in all areas of their business, to give them a total "makeover". Every facet of their businesses will be scrutinized to help them be more profitable. The makeover will touch on and improve their business model, branding, pricing, marketing, sales strategy, workflow efficiency and overall profitability--all based on the tools, information and resources set by PPA's Benchmark!

Follow these two studios' 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.

"PPA is providing these makeovers to provide photographers with real-life accounts of how to be more profitable and to give studio owners actual takeaways they can use in their own businesses," said Angela Kurkian, PPA director of education. "It's an all-encompassing approach looking at sales, marketing, workflow and finances to see if the participants are set up to realistically reach their financial goals. PPA's team of mentors will work with them individually on a monthly basis to help them reach their goals."

By Chris Homer

Have you ever entered PPA's International Photographic Competition (IPC) or one of the District Photographic Competitions? If you haven't, you really should consider it. Why? Simply put, entering the competitions and having your work critiqued by one of our accomplished judges is one of the best ways to improve your skill as a photographer. 

If you've never entered before, you may be a little intimidated. Fear not! Instead, take a look at the critique below. Once you've seen how it works, hopefully you'll be more comfortable entering and... you'll understand how much you can get from getting feedback on your images! In the video, juror Larry Lourcey, M.Photog.Cr., CPP goes over "My Dad" by PPA photographer Lisa Duncan. 

Another great way to learn about photographic competition is by live streaming the district competition judging. You'll be able to view the images and hear what the judges take into consideration. The Northcentral district judging airs live May 20 - 21. It is free to watch, you don't even have to be with PPA and a link will be posted on the Northcentral District website and PPA's Facebook page.
Ready to enter your work in a photographic competition to learn and get recognized? Several District Competitions are accepting entries now and entries for the International Photographic Competition will open May 26. Get those images ready! 

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. 

The Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) is one of the most prestigious designations a photographer can own, but some photographers seem to think they don't matter. Dave Goldman, a CPP liaison from North Carolina, would argue to the contrary. He's helped hundreds of photographers earn their CPP and grow to become great artists in their field. In the guest blog below, he discusses how becoming a CPP is not a hindrance to your creativity at all, but can enhance your technique in ways you didn't imagine.

Enhance Your Creativity by Becoming a Certified Professional Photographer

By Dave Goldman, Cr.Photog., CPP

At a recent meeting with some local portrait artists, I heard photographers say things like "using ratios are bogus because no one uses them" and "photographic certifications hold no weight with clients" and "customers do not know what they are". These photographers have even gone so far to say that technical certifications are not needed and only hinder creativity by the constraints they make you follow.

By: Lauren Walters


Prom season is coming up! For a photographer, prom can be a tricky setting to work in - not to mention the formality of the portraits. So how do you survive a prom photo session? Read up on these tips from theLoop! Don't wait; it's just around the corner.


1.     Make sure you communicate with the coordinator often to ensure you both are on the same page. You will want to discuss backgrounds, props, times, etc. Prior to the prom, drop off advertisements for the school to distribute to the students including prepayment information, brochures, samples, etc. This will let students know of your services, pre-pay, or ask questions. Also, bring extras to the event.


2.     Arrive early to allow plenty of time to set up. Odds are the venue won't have all the supplies you need like a nearby wall outlet. Bring extension cords, pens, paperclips, a stapler, change, and a secure place to store money. If you can, bring along an assistant to help process the paperwork and payments. Make sure to let your assistant know the image number for each couple, so he/she can write it on their paperwork. High school is full of awkward moments, which may make for awkward photos. If possible, bring sample photos of poses.


3.     Make sure to clarify for each shot if the participating students are just friends or are a romantic couple. It's not uncommon to see a few same-sex couples come up for photos. Some of the time, they are just friends, but others may be an actual couple. If it is a same sex couple, pose them just as you would a heterosexual couple. This can be a sensitive subject, but if you're open and accepting about it, the students are much more comfortable. Considering you're a professional, it is most appropriate to keep your personal beliefs to yourself when on the job.


4.     It is important to have a reasonable turnaround time. It shouldn't take more than a few weeks max to get back to photos returned to the school. Notify the school and students of your estimated turnaround time ensuring your quality work.

Thank you to Crystal Prahl at Forever Me Photography for your contributions on theLoop. Have any further tips or opinion about prom photography? Check out the thread on theLoop.

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