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It's another week and another Friday the 13th. Eek! We hope things aren't getting dodgy for you photographers out there (but if they do, please chat about it on theLoop). Here's the top 10 blogs from this past week to help you get stoked for "busy season".

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It's in the Details - Advice on Shooting for Competition

PHOTO COMPETITION: In this post, Christine Walsh-Newton picks apart some of her past submissions to show you what she learned about photographic competition and what to do to  get Loan collection worthy images. We also note here that Christine is a PPA photographer M.Photog.Cr. and CPP! After reading her piece, you'll be ready to get off the fence and enter yourself. And good news: many PPA district competitions are accepting submissions now AND when judging starts, you can watch a live streaming to see it in real time!

By: Lauren Walters

Have a case of the judging jitters? If you've entered a photographic competition such as IPC, you know how intimidating the process can be, but that fear is far exceeded by its reward.

The IPC is proven to benefit photographers' technique and assure their credence. But if you've never entered, you might wonder: How does the judging process work? Competitions are a great way to improve your work by getting pointers via critiques from accomplished photographers such as international juror Jeff Dachowski, M.Photog.Cr., CPP. Once you get a hang of the process, you'll be more confident to enter your work into a competition yourself!

Below Jeff Dachowski critiques "Framed Classic" by Mark Bowers, M.Photog. in the Artist category for IPC. Watch how one's work is analyzed and see how the exercise can help you continue to perfect your craft. Once you get a hang of the process, you'll be more confident to enter your work into a competition yourself!

Nothing like a Friday the 13th to send you into Valentine's Day! Here's some very non-scary posts from the week for you to eat up and take into the weekend and beyond.

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IMAGING USA: Day 1 of Imaging USA 2015 brought photographers in droves to Opryland, eager for the opening of the tradeshow and the many classes of the day. The night was capped off with what was easily the biggest Super Bowl party around! Read the day 1 recap.

IMAGING USA: Things got even better on day 2, with more deals and learning. And the Grand Imaging Award winner was crowned. Find out who won!

IMAGING USA: The convention and tradeshow came to a close Tuesday, with the final tally of attendees surpassing 11,000, officially making Imaging USA 2015 the biggest show to date. Things culminated with the handing out of Awards and Degrees and the official Closing Party on Delta Island.

ADVOCACY: Just before the end of the last Congress, a bill was handed down to declare that "still and motion photographs are speech". The bill will need to be re-introduced, and you should want it to since it is fighting for your basic rights--to photograph! Read on to see what all this entails and look for a blog on the matter from PPA next week.

MARKETING & SALES: Do you have an online shop for clients? Perhaps you should. According to eMarketing Inc., ecommerce sales in 2017 could top $434 billion. You don't want to miss that gravy train! This lengthy infographic from ecommerce platforms is full of great tips to get you started.

INSPIRATION: Iconic images stand the test of time, but do you remember who created them? Photographer Tim Mantoani has compiled a collection of 150 artists behind the photographs into a book of 20 x 24 polaroid's with a short story on the image in the creators handwriting. Take a look at a few, and also this making of the project video.

SOCIAL MEDIA (part I): No one likes a Debbie Downer. Especially not when looking for a photographer. This post from Fstoppers takes a look at what not to post on your social media pages. Are you guilty of any of these?

SOCIAL MEDIA (part II): Okay, who saw this one coming?! The original post garnered so much feedback a follow-up on the positives of social media marketing was warranted. Hopefully you are indeed guilty of these practices, and keep it up!

INSPIRATION: This post from PetaPixel is a bit biting at first, but you'll see what the author is getting at quickly. She argues that a certain D word is much more important to your continued success.

ADVICE: Here's a cool podcast with one of the best in the business--Joe McNally. This award-winning photographer has seen and done it all for some of the biggest publications out there, and he's done it for quite some time now. Learn his approach to photography, how to deal with hardships and some honest advice.

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

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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 burgers.

By: Lauren Walters

Happy New Year! Catch up on the new blog posts of 2015 (thus far!).

1.       Maps Showing the Pro Photography Landscape in the United States

STATISTICS: Take a look at the newly released statistics about employed professional photographers in 2013. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated about 54,830 professional photographers were employed in the US in 2013, excluding self-employed photographers (which from our stand point significantly skews the data, but that's why there's the Benchmark). Also, a few of the top cities for employed photographers are Los Angeles, Orlando, New York, Atlanta, and Chicago. Can you believe that Washington D.C. has the highest average annual pay for professional photographers?!

2.       Live From Yosemite's El Capitan: Photographer Captures Attempt at History-Making Climb

INSPIRATION: Climbing the 3,000-foot El Cap is hard enough, but capturing the action is quite the challenge. National Geographic photographer and filmmaker Corey Rich attempts to capture rock climbers Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell scale El Cap. Read more about the struggle and similarities between the photographers and the climbers.

3.       Renaming your Photos on Import with Adobe Lightroom

ORGANIZATION: Developing a file structure can keep your work easily accessible. In Adobe Lightroom, you can use their built-in template if you like. The author of this blog uses a similar structure. Renaming your photos can be helpful when you've been shooting for multiple days with multiple cameras.

4.       20 Photographer-Specific Things You Can Do Today To Start 2015 Off Right

PERSONAL GROWTH: Consider some of the following tips to feel refreshed for the New Year: Calibrate your monitor, install a new hard drive, re-print some new studio samples, implement email filters, restock office supplies, and check your credit card statements. Continue reading this blog for more ways to relax and start fresh in 2015! Well, of course, all of that is on top of coming to Imaging USA!

5.       Preparing and Packing A Portable Studio Efficiently

HOW TO: Is your studio mobile? Learn how to effectively pack your supplies on the go! Every photographer carries different supplies and in varying quantities. No matter the variance, one will need a rolling storage bin that is padded on the inside such as a Stanley mobile tool box from Home Depot. Bungee cords and a rolling cart are also used for efficient transportation.  

6.       Useful Photography Tip #127: The Importance of Turning Negative Energies into Creativity

POSITIVE VIBES: Do unfortunate events leave you feeling unproductive? Next time you have a bad day, don't throw in the towel. As creative people, photographers have the gift of capturing emotion. Channel your negative energy into a positive experience!

7.       The 2 Faces of Running a Photography Business

DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE: As a photographer, running a business can be difficult when you're being pulled toward creative endeavors. Try setting a time limit to your sessions, and plan out your creativity. Most importantly, learn to say no to yourself and others by making financially sound choices. Get this advice and more from the Law Tog!

 

8.       9 Tips To Help You Get Sharp Focus At Night

NIGHT OWLS: Love to shoot at night? Learn how to sharpen your focus! Most cameras use contrast detection to focus; aim for an area of high contrast. Instead of focusing on the midpoint of the frame, focus on the edge of the frame to regain focus.

9.       The Ansel Adams Act Goes To Congress; Details Clear Laws Protecting 1st Amendment Rights Of Photographers

COPYRIGHT: Violation of the First Amendment has led to photographers being wrongly accused. Because of this conundrum, a state of Texas representative brought the Ansel Adams Act to light intending to reinstate the First Amendment. On January 2, 2015 Congress was confronted with the Ansel Adams Act outlining the need for clarity for photographer's rights.

 

10.   Creating Compelling B&W Aerial Images in Backlit Situations

TECHNICALLY SOUND: Make the most out of Lightroom for those significant details. The described method entails intentional overexposure of the photos. This overexposure picks up the shadows and details making your blacks blacker.

 

Enjoy the new blog posts of 2015! Have specific blogs or topics in mind that you'd like us to feature? Tell us on theLoop.

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By Bridget Jackson, CPA, PPA Business manager

As you look to 2015, it's important to assess where you've been and where you want to go. It's impossible to achieve your goals if you don't have a plan to get there.

Here are 6 things you can do in 2015 to meet your financial goals:

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Need your weekly photography blog fix? You're in luck! Here it is...

1. What Tuesday's Elections Mean for Photographers

COPYRIGHT: PPA was all over this one so we're giving ourselves a little pat on the back. If you have followed the ongoing discussions for copyright reform, you might be interested in how the election results will affect the movement. Well here you go! Who wrote this by the way? That guy is good...

2. Making a C-Section Beautiful

NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY: You might have seen this one from the Huffington Post making the rounds on Facebook among your new mom friends. A C-section might not have the glamour of a traditional birth, but Canadian newborn photographer Jessica Bender was up to the challenge. She captured beautiful images and is now helping to debunk some fears about photographing of C-section births. Now that's a win, win!

3. This Is How You Fake It

EARNING POINTS WITH YOUR CLIENTS: Surely you know those "before and after" photos hawking the latest diet or nutritional supplement are the product of clever lighting and posing tricks (granted, a lot of Photoshop actions too). But what's cool about this video is how confident and happy the subjects of the experiment seem after they see the difference working with a pro who knows how to work with lighting and any body type. This is a cool piece to share if you want to show people what a difference it makes to hire a pro. Plus, you might get a few ideas from the shoot itself too ;-)

4. Give Back with Help-Portrait

PHILANTHROPY: Help-Portrait is only a month away! Past Imaging USA speaker Jeremy Cowart co-founded Help-Portrait to empower photographers, hairstylists and makeup artists to use their skills, tools and expertise to give back to their local community. It's your chance to use your talents to help someone in need of a smile. This year's event is December 6th. Click through to learn how to participate!

5. How to Tell a Story with a Drone

TECHNIQUE: Drones... so hot right now. Drones. A lot of you already have had clients ask if you use one by now. And while it might just seem like a cool toy (and it is), how can you use one to effectively tell a story? The folks at photofocus offer some tips.

6. Tis the Season for... FOOD!

TECHNIQUE: The Holidays are approaching, which = happy, happy bellies. Gear up for your Instagram feed to blow up with everyone's tasty, Pinterest-approved creations! But you're better than Instagram--you're a pro! Check out these tips on how to make that turkey or fancy pinkies-out cocktail drink the envy of all your friends.

7. Results from the San Diego Photothrowdown

In part two of the San Diego throwdown with Levy Moroshan and Dan Hughes, the photographers battle it out under high pressure situations. Check out the video and see who won!

8. Frank Doorhorf and Joel Grimes Podcast

PODCAST/HELPFUL HINTS: Got 30 minutes? Actually, just 27! photofocus sat down with two of the industry's best, including past Imaging USA speaker Joel Grimes, Cr.Photog., for a chat on their lives behind the camera. It's not just a fluff piece, they dig pretty deep! 

9. Advice from Renowned Photographer Steve McCurry

INSPIRATION: Looking for advice on how to be a successful photographer... from a truly successful photographer? Then check out this video featuring Steve McCurry, one of the best portrait artists in the business. The video also shows his new exhibit in Italy coming together, showcasing some of his best work from all over the world.

10. Time-lapse from the International Space Station

INSPIRATION: Let's wrap things up with the most rad time-lapse this blogger has ever seen--from SPACE! French photographer Guillaume Juin put together this video from hundreds of thousands of images taken from the International Space Station. The results are out of this world! Enjoy.

That's, that y'all! The top 10 photography blog posts from around the web this week. What photography blogs have you been enjoying? Let us know on theLoop!

 

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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 burgers and wishes Taylor Swift would just stop.
By Sarah Ackerman

Happy Halloween! We'll cut to the chase - there's candy to eat! Check out our top ten favorite blogs from the week! 

LOOKING BACK: Whether you've been in business for decades or you're just starting out, there are some things nobody teaches in photography school and... Ummm, that's what PPA's here for, but that's not the point: check out these great pieces of advice seven professional photographers WISH they would have learned earlier in their career from PetaPixel.

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS: The Law Tog is back with some great advice inspired by her kids - manage your clients with your words. Here are her three tips on how to manage expectations, guide them in the process and keep everyone happy!

BUILDING YOUR DATABASE: How do you build your client base? Here are some great tips from Contrastly that go above and beyond relying on word-of-mouth advertising. 

CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE: No matter how long you've been in this business, you should never-ever stop learning. This blog from PhotolisticLife shows how even the smallest of changes can make a huge impact on your perspective. What have you tried lately to jazz things up and improve your craft?

GOOD FOR BUSINESS: We know you're past the point of working as an assistant photographer, but check out this article from Light Stalking and get inspired to possibly take on your own. Bring up a new talent in the business and show them how to do it right, not how to do it cheap.

PACKING CHEAT SHEET: So you're going to a remote atoll? What do you bring? Check out this great timelapse video and blog from National Geographic photographer Corbun Dukehart on his trip working on Aldabra atoll. It's a great lesson on learning your environment regardless of where you are and knowing how to best protect your equipment. 

EXTRACTING STILLS: Learn from PPA photographer Michele Clentano how to take stills from high quality video, and why that might be a great option for capturing once-in-a-lifetime portraits on this great blog from PetaPixel.

WORKFLOW: Want to optimize your workflow? Customize your workspace in Lightroom! It's really simple with these tips from Photofocus and can help streamline all of the tools you need regularly, versus the ones you use once in a blue moon. 

BEHIND BARS: You? Get arrested? Not since that one time on spring break in college*! In any case, as a professional photographer, you should know your rights. Check out this great interview with Mickey Osterreicher from the National Press Photographers Association to make sure you have your facts straight.

*Authors note: I've never been arrested, but have had more than my fair share of speeding tickets. Oops.

REALITY TV: Our favorite photography reality show is back with Part II of its San Diego Challenge! Catch Levy Moroshan and Dan Hughes go head to head (lens to lens?). Voting ends November 2nd, so take 20 minutes, watch the show and vote!



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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 with Witless Protection around the Atlanta area and at Dad's Garage Theatre Company. When she's not tweeting/instagramming/facebooking 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.

Here's your latest guest column from none other than Bridget Jackson, resident guru for all things numbers and profitability. Bridget is the manager of PPA Business (formerly known as SMS) and also a CPA. She's helped hundreds of photography studios owners be more profitable and will address some common questions each month. Heed her advice folks--this lady knows her stuff!

Do the Work...
By Bridget Jackson

Educating yourself is only half the battle. You have to actually roll up your sleeves and do the work. 

I'm not talking about taking pictures (although you have to do that too). I'm talking about coming up with the elements of a marketing plan, a sales strategy, a documented workflow and a financial management plan. 

That's right. It's not enough for you to just understand what they are. You need to have them well documented so you not only have a strategy to guide you, but so you can update those strategies based on your strengths and weaknesses. Successful studios assess what worked, what didn't work and what needs to be changed so they can continue to stay on a path to reach their goals. 

World-renowned studio photographer, Mary Fisk-Taylor, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API, is set to

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 be the second host of theLoop's Ask Me Anything Series on September 22 & 23! We couldn't be more thrilled to have Mary on board to follow up to Booray Perry's inaugural eccentric and informative AMA

Mary Fisk-Taylor has been with PPA since 1998 and has been the recipient of numerous awards including Photographer of the Year in 2007, Best in Show, Kodak Gallery, and Fuji Masterpiece awards.

Mary will deliver her #BeMoreSuccessful program at ImagingUSA 2015, where she'll illuminate us on her effective marketing, sales and public relations practices. Consider this AMA as a chance to get to know an IUSA speaker before you get to the big show.

For the uninitiated, an AMA is a simple online conversation where you will have the opportunity to ask Mary anything you'd like (mostly photography stuff) and she'll be able to respond at her own pace! It's an awesome way to really get a sense of who someone is, and an even better way to ask a true professional anything your heart desires (mostly photography stuff). After the success of Booray's AMA we're extremely excited to see where this one goes!

On September 22, just start asking your questions, and let the conversation begin!

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Here's your latest guest column from none other than Bridget Jackson, resident guru for all things numbers and profitability. Bridget is the manager of PPA Business and also a CPA. She's helped hundreds of photography studios be more profitable and will address some common questions each month. Heed her advice folks--this lady knows her stuff!

7 Questions to Ask Before You Start a Business

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Most people think that the barrier to entering the photography business is low. All you need is to buy a camera, create a Facebook page, and start taking pictures. But consider the odds: 25 percent of new business start-ups close in the first year, and another 25 percent fail in the next four years. How do you beat the odds? You have to set your business up to succeed by asking and answering the following critical questions:

1). What products and services will you provide?

Your business plan should clearly define what you are offering in terms of products and services and how that compares to competitors in your market. It is important for you to carve out a piece of the market to make a profitable and sustainable business.

2). Who is your target client and how will you reach them?

In other words, it's not only important to identify your target client, but you also need to reach them through different marketing mediums. Your integrated marketing strategy should include a blend of marketing mediums such as print, digital and interactive and social media. The results of these efforts should determine if you have an adequate population of potential customers to reach your sales goals.

3). How does your business stand out?

Your one unique selling proposition is YOU. It's who you are that makes all the difference. It's the reason that the one product or service you provide is different from and better than that of the competition. This is where you need to shine through your art, product offerings and customer service. You must be distinguishably different from your competition.

4). Where will business be conducted, and how many employees will you need to provide the level of customer service your ideal client will expect?

It's important for your physical presence, the way you present yourself, where you conduct business and how you conduct business to be an extension of your brand and should resonate with your ideal client. Initially, the number of employees you need to deliver the level of customer service you want to project might not be ideal, but don't compromise. Find ways to outsource workflow in seasonal times so customer service isn't neglected.

5). How much start-up money will it take to open the doors and keep them open until you turn a profit?

I mentioned the barrier to a photography business is relatively low; however, after answering the first four questions, I'm confident you have realized that the barrier is misleading. It requires an investment of money and time to set up a photography business to achieve profitability. Prepare a conservative five-year projection of income and expenses, and re-evaluate yearly to confirm you are on track as most businesses are to show a profit in the in the first year of business.

6). What will be the source of the funds needed for start-up and sustainability?

Consider how much you are willing to invest and potentially lose, how much is needed from outside sources and how much you can generate in profits to reinvest in the business. Clearly identify these sources and include in your five-year projection a plan to pay back yourself and anyone else.

7). What type of business structure will you choose?

What forms do you need to file, and which licenses do you need to obtain to assure compliance? The type of business structure you have will depend on two factors: liability and taxation. PPA recommends when you are just starting out and you have substantial personal assets to be a LLC.

Your business can also benefit from business advisors and mentors. You should develop relationships with a banker, an accountant and an attorney before you start. Additionally, as a PPA member, you can get malpractice insurance, up to $15,000 of free equipment insurance, free education, connections to industry mentors, certification and other vital resources to help you run a profitable business. The Benchmark Survey and its principles are also helpful when setting up prices and measuring your business' growth.

There are no assurances that a business will succeed, let alone be profitable, but setting yourself up for success through planning certainly can help.

It's a shameless plug, but after all, we're here to help: Join instructor Jen Basford, Cr.Photog., November 15-16 in Atlanta for PPA's Business Basics Workshop. You'll learn strong business principles that will help you create a solid foundation for your business. The class will give you the information and confidence you need as you plan for a profitable and sustainable business.



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