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PPA Today

Georgia photographer, Judith Ann, was lucky (and talented!) enough to earn a merit on her first time entering PPA photographic competition. In this guest blog, she shares the funny story behind her merit image and an afterword with her thoughts following the International Photographic Competition (IPC).

 

Dog Gone, I Received a Merit!

By Judith Ann

A lack of communication and poor note taking almost cost me a very important session last year. I'll tell you upfront, the good news is everything turned out better than planned. Pardon the puns, but it caused me to dig deeper into my artsy side when I realized I had been barking up the wrong tree for most of my morning.  

The day started off like a typical morning at my studio, beginning with a review of appointments, ordering sessions and events to help my day flow smoothly for the next eight hours. I have always prided myself on my ability to plan and custom fit each client's session based on their requests. This particular time, my daily calendar informed me I had a pet session scheduled for 10 a.m. My assistant had booked the appointment the day before and the details were sparse. So bright and early I got my chain rattled and had to react quickly to this situation.

The notes said, "English Bulldog/pet picture" and being comfortable with dogs I believed for a hot minute that this would be an easy session--that is until I got up from the computer and started walking to my shoot room. My assistant appeared suddenly and filled in the details about my soon-to-arrive client. The client recently added a "man room" to her home--thus the need for the bulldog portrait for the wall.

"Really?" I asked excitedly. Then she said the portrait was to be based upon the poker playing dogs. I stopped walking.

"Huh? What are poker playing dogs?"

My assistant gave me the look that only the younger generation can give as if to You gotta be kidding me! Have you been living in the dark ages!  "Like, they're everywhere" she said, "I'll show you."

I must have had the dumbest look on my face realizing I was totally unprepared for this session while I stared into a computer screen to see bulldogs playing cards, smoking cigars and looking generally illegal.  

"How old is her dog?" I asked.

"I believe it's a puppy."

 What da' what?

Soon after I heard a car door close and a barking dog headed my way--my moment of truth had arrived. The only thing I had going for me was the fact that this client was a regular customer who trusted me with her family portraits for years, at least up until this point. The studio door cracked opened and the tip of a furry nose nuzzled through and the wrinkly bulldog puppy came barking, jumping and running straight into my lobby.  

I stood there dazed and confused and in my squirreliest­ voice said, "Hi Jennifer!"  

Jennifer gave me a curious smile and said, "What's up?"

"I just realized I don't have a deck of cards," I said. "Would you mind leaving your puppy with me and running over to the store to get a pack while I get the lights set?"

Ha! lights set? How about trying to pull off the fastest-built set in 15 minutes flat?

She agreed and when I heard her car start up I sprang into action. The puppy was left to run around the lobby while I began to think...

My son-in-law was in the studio the day prior drinking the brown, old-fashioned root beer glass bottles. I dug through my trash and apprehended two bottles from the bottom of the garbage can. Yes! Close enough to a beer bottle and now I need a cigar and I think I have one from the proud parent of a baby boy! I hope this pup won't eat my only cigar!

Some further hunting around the studio produced an antique checker board with chips, an old camera and a quick hand dive into my purse brought up some change and dollar bills to hopefully round out the set. We cleared off a side table from the lobby, moved it into the shoot room and carefully arranged the newfound items. Jennifer returned with the fresh deck of cards and it was time to put our puppy to the test.

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We placed our furry little friend on the table and he curiously looked left, right, up and down and in a split second scooped the cigar into his mouth and brought his head up into the cutest pose. Click. The image was captured in the blink of a (puppy's) eye!

(Side note: The puppy was not harmed in any way in the capturing of this image. As a matter of fact he enjoyed all the attention. The cigar was not lit--we created the smoke and red ash in post-processing.)

My assistant and I discussed better communication techniques through more detailed note taking and a big HEADS UP on unique session requests. As a bonus, we have had several clients request that particular image as artwork for their home.

In this, my first year of PPA image competition, I included "Hold 'Em Ace," and was pleased to earn a merit seal at my state (Georgia PPA) and district (Southeast) competitions I'm excited to hear the results from the IPC! My fingers are crossed on being chosen for the Loan Collection.  

 

Afterword:

It's official! I've come full circle in completing my first year of competition. I entered the same four images from start to finish (GPPAàSEPPAàIPC) and am excited to say that three of the four images merited! After I received my judge's critiques from the GPPA/SEPPA level, I made some adjustments on three of my four images. "Hold 'Em Ace" had already sealed and I was told you NEVER break the seal once you merit.

My judge's critiques helped me see her perspective on how I could improve my images and I was mostly happy to make the suggested changes. I have to admit I did take a little offense on my critique of "Bonny Boy." The judge made mention on my child's sausage fingers on the bike handle, I took it personally because, to me most children have little sausage fingers. After growling about the comment for several days, I took another look at those baby sausage fingers and began to see why the judge had pointed them out.

I agreed that maybe they were standing out more than they should, so I took my burn tool and ever so slightly browned those little sausages. My images went from being what I considered really good prints to great images with just a few small changes. As a suggestion, don't take the judges' comments to heart--they are there to help you become an even better photographer.  

I was glad I took the time to compete and successfully survived entering into a whole new world. I bet you have already guessed about how I feel about next year, that's right, I'm thinking about conjuring up brand-new ideas that will hopefully earn more merits. It's a win, win situation that will benefit my clients. My final thought is that being able to resource a judge with years of experience, compete with your fellow photographer peers in the industry is bringing me closer to my goal: award-winning photographer, Judith Ann, M.Photog. (master photographer).

 

Acclaimed wedding photographer and Imaging USA speaker Booray Perry stopped by PPA's member-only online community, theLoop, last week for an AMA and it was awesome. He waxes poetic about any and everything--from his "desire" to be a doctor to mastering bounce flash in order to shoot weddings more effectively. It's an awesome and illuminating conversation which you members should absolutely check out. (Sorry, members only!)

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We've selected 5 of our favorite quotes from the conversation if you missed out:

"I did not fake the moon landing. Not officially."

"I remember feeling pretty good when a fellow photographer asked me to shoot his wedding. I had a successful business already and happy clients but when a fellow pro trusts you with their wedding, that's a pretty good validation that you might know what you're doing."

"The first time I booked a Bar Mitzvah I told the client, "I've never shot a Bar Mitzvah." She said, "That's okay, I've seen your wedding work." I felt pretty good that she felt my expertise was such that I could be trusted with a job that was totally new to me."

"You have to sell yourself. It's hard to be a wedding photographer if you are the shy type. People want someone who they think will be good, but also fun to have around for 7 hours. I've talked to photographers who complain that they just aren't getting booked and I think, "Dude, I can't talk to you on the phone for 10 minutes without starting to pray for the sweet release of death to spare me from your uncanny Deputy Dog-like demeanor."

"This may sound hokey, but I like that I get paid to work at weddings and Bar Mitzvahs where there is fun and celebration and love. It's not a bad place to spend your time. " :)

If you want to learn from someone who is passionate about what he does and is willing to speak freely about his tips on being a successful photographer, check out the full conversation here. (theLoop is an exclusive, online community for photographers to discuss privately their problems and solutions. Join PPA to get in theLoop!)

And make sure you stop by Booray's program at Imaging USA!

 

Have a gloriously productive Friday! Here are some interesting photography related articles
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 from the around the internet to help you make it to the weekend. 

Learn all about Instagram's revolutionary new app which allows you to take tracking shots and quick, time lapse videos that would make PT Anderson jealous.  

Listen as two photography masters harp on photography clichés and how they make even the most mundane shots unique in their own way.

Understand the difference between "pushy" marketing and marketing that can illuminate and help your customers in this post from Psychology for Photographers. Everyone hates getting spam emails or an annoying commercial jingle you can't get out of your head, but when done well your marketing can be your key to success.  

Use these tips to successfully build your portfolio through creative thinking and practical planning from The Law Tog. And check out some of their past works - it's an awesome resource for the legally minded photographer!

For your inspiration, here are some of Nat Geo's favorite photographs of the cosmos--from aerial thunderstorms to long-exposure images of stars in Greece. 

Yeah, that Socrates. Learn the Socratic Method for photography sales from Elizabeth Halford and find how it can lead to an increase in your bottom line.

What software should you be using for your photo editing needs? Jeff Guyer of DIY Photography covers the basics of both Photoshop and Lightroom and lets you know what you can do to maximize your workflow.  

Learn from Joe McNally how ambient, natural light should be the first element of photography you think about on location--and how it can drive the narrative of your pictures.

Chase Jarvis gives his personal recipe for cultivating creativity and how you can break out of even the worst creative ruts. Read this and see where it might take you on this holiday weekend!

Even the photography greats get nervous before shoots. Learn how National Geographic's Jim Richardson deals with his anxiety and captures some of the most beautiful environmental photographs around. 

And there you have it! The top posts from around the interwebs. What sorts of photography blogs trip your shutter? Let us know on theLoop!
Summer is ending, but these conversations are just starting up! Check out these topics heading up on theLoop:

Do you have a marketing strategy that works? Have a story of one that went horribly wrong? Share it in this thread and learn from everyone's successes and failures!

If you do any street photography, this is a great thread for you! Do you usually get releases? Do you have to? The short answer is yes. Get in on this great conversation for more - it could protect your business down the road!

If you've ever struggled with client gifts--this is a thread for you! Get some creative, cost-effective inspiration for your next client present. 

Have you gone down the path of creating your own studio? Weigh in with advice to a member who is looking to build her own from the ground up! Any tidbits you wish you would have thought of beforehand? 

If you're in need of some full-size reflectors, you can either shop around or make your own! Get the directions to build your own cost effective reflectors here!

Did you know you get a higher weight limit if you're a photographer flying with gear? It's true! No more heavy baggage fees in your future! Get in on this thread and see if there are any other helpful travel tips you can be saving money on!

Before you get to Nashville for Imaging USA 2015, we wanted to provide a platform to get to know your speakers better! In this thread, get to know Booray Perry, his photography and the man behind the camera. We'll have a whole line up of speakers participating in Ask Me Anythings this year - so stay tuned to get in on the next one!

Don't forget, theLoop is PPA's safe and secure online community where members can discuss various photography topics! Not a PPA member? It's easy: join today!


By Danielle Brooks

I seriously think PPA hit the jackpot when they asked me to guest blog for them. I'm not saying I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread, rather so much has happened to me in the past year that I am running the gamut of all things newsworthy. It started with Imaging USA, me losing my job, jumping head first into full-time photography, and literally applying everything I learned at Imaging USA as a business owner. I am so honored to be sharing my ups and downs with you all, and this post is certainly no different. 

This past month I had the most horrific thing that could ever happen to a photographer happen to me. I broke my camera and lens. I still wince even when I type the words. 

I was at Harley Davidson in Daytona Beach when it happened. My husband's company sold them some LED lights for their showroom. I was tasked with taking the before and after photos. My tripod had been acting up lately and I should have taken that as a sign. Sometimes one of the leg joints would give out--the latch wasn't tight enough to keep the leg extended, and because my tripod was cheap there was no way to tighten them. Although at the time, I didn't know that's what was happening. I just thought I was being careless and didn't latch my tripod leg all the way, so sometimes when I was taking a long exposure, it would start to tilt.

Well, this time I left my tripod unmanned to remove some stuff from view. Don't judge. You know we ALL do it. The leg gave way. I didn't see it happen fortunately, or else I might have passed out. All I heard was the crash and the slew of profanities that left my mouth. I ran over to my camera and saw that the lens essentially broke off at the mount. The mount for the lens was still attached to the ring. Luckily no glass was broken. I didn't notice it at the time, but the top of my camera body was cracked. It still seemed to function normally, but we needed to get that fixed too. The only thing I can compare the feeling of breaking your camera to would be accidentally slamming a child's finger in the car door. It probably hurts you more than it hurts them. Plus you're left with the residual guilt.

Fortunately, as a PPA photographer, my gear is covered. I called the insurance company and immediately spoke with a representative. No automated service. I was impressed. 
The woman I spoke with was so calm and reassuring. I'm sure she went home that day and had a good laugh with her family about my quivering, nervous voice on the verge of a breakdown. They emailed me the packet of info I would need to start a claim that day. They told me I could take my gear anywhere to get it fixed and get a quote. My husband and I were already headed to Orlando for our anniversary trip. It just so happened that the biggest Canon representative in the state of Florida is in Orlando. So we swung by. 

They quoted me for the work and then pointed me in the direction of the nearest camera rental facility, which just so happened to be right down the street. We went over there and were able to get a rental. They aren't open on weekends and I had a shoot scheduled for Monday. So I HAD to get a camera. All the while I had two clients call back and book sessions. I was beyond relieved that things worked out for me what would have otherwise been a stressful situation. 

Needless to say, I threw away my tripod and bought a legit one. Never use subpar equipment when it comes to cameras. Unfortunately it was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. 

So if there is any takeaway from this, it's GET INSURANCE ON YOUR GEAR! You can't afford not to. Just by being a PPA member, you have up to $15,000 of PhotoCare Equipment Insurance. You'll be thankful you have it when you need it!

Happy Friday! You've made it through another week - and here are some of the crazy things in the world of photography you may have missed. 

That's a mouthful for a headline, but you'll want to read this piece. The US Copyright Office released the Third Edition of Copyright Office Practices this week - what's that mean for you? A more accessible and transparent document on what copyrights are and aren't, and who can claim them. It's the result of more than two and a half years of work, so settle in, grab a cup of coffee and get up to date!

With the aforementioned updating of the Copyright Office Practices, the Monkey Selfie from a few weeks ago resurfaced. We also learn about monkey selfies, images captured by plants, robots, ghosts or "divine beings". Read more from PetaPixel here. 

National Geographic is no doubt a highly coveted job - you get to travel around the globe, experiencing some of the most majestic places and getting paid to do it. Sounds pretty awesome, right? Well it does come with a long list of hazards. Check it out and get a chuckle from The Photo Society! We can't get over the one that hits every photographer that was interviewed... statistically, almost twice!

NPR's All Tech Considered tackled the topic of the longevity of compact discs this week. If you're still using CDs to store and archive images, it's worth a listen to see what other measures you should be taking in the future. 

The Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture (Frech for "little belt railway") ran during the Industrial Revolution until 1934 and has been completely abandon for 80 years. Photographer Pierre Folk has spent the past three years photographing this historic rail line, and watching nature slowly but surely take over. For some inspiration and some daydreaming imagery, check this piece from This is Colossal here!

Get up close and personal with your subjects with some macro photography! Here's the quick and dirty guide from the Digital Photography School. You will start to see things in a whole new light after this tutorial! 

Is photography an ethical field? Photographer, blogger and author Scott Wyden Kivowitz argues that yes it is, despite getting a bad rep the past few years. Read on here. 

Water is the arch nemesis for any outdoor photographer. What can you do to protect your equipment and still get the shot? Photo Naturalist has some pro tips for surviving damp or wet conditions. 

Saul Leiter has long been recognized as one of the most important street photographers of his time in the arts community. With such great visual subject matter, Filmmaker Tomas Leach produced a work on Leiter's life - In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons In Life from Saul Leiter. Go behind the scenes of this film and gain insight into this icon's life. It is truly an inspirational piece.

And there you have it! The top posts from around the interwebs. What sorts of photography blogs trip your shutter? Let us know on theLoop!

By Mariah Ashley

Author's Note: Required Reading! The Go-Giver, by Bob Burg and John David Mann. A little story about a powerful business idea.

Thumbnail image for louboutins.jpgI was alone in the upstairs bedroom. Amanda (the bride) was late getting back from the salon so I spent my time photographing her dress and invitation. Her mother kept popping in with other things she thought I might find interesting, among them a pair of fabulous Louboutin sequined heels.

"Oh, fancy! Shoes are like porn for women," I joked cradling the shoe near my face.

"So true," said Amanda's mom, with a chuckle. "Everything about this wedding is a little over the top. (nods toward shoes).

"But Amanda is such a good girl, so smart and hardworking. She's such a humble and sweet girl. I just want this to be an amazing day for her."

Amanda's mom left me alone with the shoes and my thoughts. A few days earlier I listened to a podcast by former Imaging USA speaker Jeffery Shaw. He interviewed author Bob Burg on his national best-seller, The Go-Giver, which describes "giving as the most fulfilling and effective path to success."

Burg and co-author John David Mann map out the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success all focused on giving instead of getting. Intriguing! Trish ordered me the book and I devoured the parable in one sitting, highlighting passages like a mad woman. Since then I haven't been able to think about much else besides adding value to my clients lives, with the exception of thinking about how much I was dreading photographing Amanda's wedding.

When Amanda first contacted me, she had just experienced what she described as a "bad engagement session experience" with another photographer she had originally booked to photograph her wedding. She wanted to talk to me about that experience, get my opinion on whether or not her expectations had been unrealistic, and discuss the possibility of having us photograph her wedding instead.

Super1Day_1200X1200.jpgFrom October 6 to 20, fall Super 1 Day classes will take place all over the globe on every photography skill and strategy you can imagine.

PPA will offer members and non-members alike the opportunity to attend a litany of daily workshops ranging from a class on working with strobe & speed lighting units in California to newborn photography in Daegu-city Korea.

All of the classes are taught by professional photographers and are tailored just for you. There are dozens of different courses offered at a variety of different times and dates, so finding one that fits your busy schedule is a piece of cake.

These events offer both up-and-coming photographers and seasoned veterans the chance to learn from one another and also the chance to network and grow their local market. At just $99 if you book online ($120 in person), the day-long classes are an awesome value. And if you're thinking of joining PPA, this is a perfect opportunity to see what we're all about. If you're already a member you'll receive one service merit for attending each class-- a crucial step towards attaining certifications/degrees.

And also another step forward to BE MORE!

Head to PPA.com/super1day to find a class near you.

 

booray_ask_me.jpgImaging USA 2015 speaker, Booray Perry, CPP has signed up for a dangerous assignment--he's going to be our very first subject in theLoop's Ask Me Anything on August 20 & 21! There are two really obvious questions you might have right off the bat: 

First, what's a Booray? (It's ok - he gets this all the time.) Booray is a Cajun name. This particular Booray is an accomplished wedding and portrait photographer based in Tampa, Florida. He started his journey in photography in 8th grade and started with football games and pep rallies for the yearbook. Now he's a Certified Professional Photographer that recently went Bronze at the International Photographic Competition. We'd like to think that's a bit of an improvement from Chess Club Vice-President. He's a fun-loving, ukulele-playing photography machine. Read up on his bio here.

On Monday at Imaging USA 2015, he'll deliver his "Wedding Photography: Prepare to Succeed" program (here's the link to the full course description)! 

Second, what's an Ask Me Anything (AMA)? An AMA is a simple conversation where you can ask the "me" anything. In this case, try to keep it  photography related, but really anything goes! We're excited to make a place for you to get to know your Imaging USA speakers before February. There will be a discussion in the ImagingUSA community on theLoop, and Booray will take all of your questions Wednesday, August 20 and Thursday, August 21st! 

Start asking your questions - we can't wait to see what sort of great things you'll have to ask one of the most fun-loving photographers at Imaging USA!

Happy Friday! We're back with our favorite photography blog posts of the week. From
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 timelapse to lighting, you'll find a little bit of everything in this roundup. 

If you ever shoot on location and have to travel there by airplane, you know how challenging it can be to figure out what gear to bring, especially with airline luggage limits. If you're one of those photographers that want to error on the side of caution and bring as much gear as possible, check out this post on PetaPixel. Photographer Benjamin Von Wong (and past Imaging USA instructor) shares how you can take advantage of special luggage allowances for media professionals that will allow you to bring as much gear as you want. 

If you shoot timelapse videos, you know how annoying shaky footage can be. Well, Microsoft may have a solution to this problem! Check out this article from Cnet about Microsoft's work on the "hyper-lapse" tool, which has the goal of turning rough timelapse footage into smooth videos. 

One photographer on Fstoppers discusses how switching back to shooting on film as opposed to his DSLR has improved his creativity. There's a lot of interesting points raised in this post. See if you agree! 

Here's some unique photography for your inspiration. Photographer Thomas Leveritt used an Ultraviolet camera to show people what their skin looks like in only UV light. The project was created as a public service announcement on the importance of wearing sunscreen, and the photos are pretty surprising. Check it out on DIY Photography. 

It doesn't matter how long you've been in the photography business, occasionally you'll miss a shot because something is incorrect in your camera settings. Light Stalking provides 5 quick things to always check before you start shooting to make sure you get the photographs you want! These are useful reminders for all photographers.

This post is worth a look for those new to professional photography as well as those that are more experienced. Digital Photography School has collected 15 of the best cheat sheets and infographics that are full of great reminders for photographers. Print them out and keep them for your reference! 

In Focus has a great collection of images of last Sunday's "Supermoon", the largest full moon of the year. If you missed your chance to photograph it this year, get inspired for the next Supermoon with these photographs. And as always, feel free to share your images on our Facebook page: facebook.com/ourPPA 

If you struggle with lighting, or just need some new ideas, check out these lighting tips and ideas on Photography Talk. 

As a professional photographer, you want to keep your business profitable. In this post from the Creative Live Blog, PPA member Joel Grimes outlines 10 pitfalls to avoid that can mean disaster for your business. These things to be on the watch for all come from a class Joel taught, which was inspired by the idea of what advice Joel would give his two sons who recently entered the photography business. There's a ton of great tips here! 

In today's world of digital photography, all photographers are faced with the challenge of competition. Making yourself stand out is key. In this post from The Phoblographer, the impact great lighting can have on your business and your photography is discussed. 

There you have it! What are your favorite spots to get some photography knowledge and inspiration? Let us know on theLoop!


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