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If there's one thing we can guarantee about Imaging USA 2015, it's that this year's speaker lineup is probably the best ever. Last time we highlighted Steve Kozak and found out, amongst other things, that he's a Johnny Cash man at heart. This week we're back with Carl Caylor, M.Photog.Cr., CPP and his class, Hands On Photography: Natural Light Portraiture. In this week's interview with Carl, you'll get why he dove into natural light, where he draws his artistic inspiration from, and who he believes let the dogs out. 

Why do you love natural light so much? 
I like natural light because it is my comfort zone. I have always used natural light for my photo journalistic work and it seemed to transition well into the portrait world. I guess it has always been something that I could see and then record in my pictures. The strobe lights involved me constantly recording and rechecking to see if it worked--natural light is just so much easier for me.

What can people expect to take away from your class?
Photographers will get hands-on experience and feedback with live models. They will learn how to see light and determine where to position their subjects in relation to that light. They will also learn what is possible with the light they find. Light dictates what patterns are possible within the given background that corresponds to a scene--the relationship between the subject, the available light, and the background is something I'll expand upon more at Imaging USA.

What is the one thing about using natural light that most photographers initially struggle with?
The fact that just because you're outside doesn't mean you should throw away portrait lighting. We can still achieve wonderful light patterns that are flattering to the human figure. Natural light doesn't mean getting a correct exposure. Be a professional, be an artist. Give more than just a picture. Create...yes, create a portrait.

Where do you draw your inspiration from as a photographer?
Life in general is a good place to begin. But I draw inspiration from many places. Movies, ads, music, art, and other photographers are great sources of inspiration. For the last 19 years photographic competition has been my biggest source of inspiration. Although I took a few years off of being really serious about it, last year was a good comeback for me. It made me excited again and I played hard. It's important to give print competition a try, because you might find that it pushes you to be a better photographer.

What brought you to the world of photography?
My aunt and uncle are very talented photography hobbyists. From cameras to darkroom work, I was lured in by their love of the craft at an early age. My high school wrestling coach was also the photography teacher and yearbook advisor, which turned out to be a great combination for me, and I instantly was hooked. I went to college for Technical Communications Management with an emphasis in Photography and a minor in Business. While I value what I was taught in school, I learned much of what I know about photography today simply by spending time with talented photographers in classes and seminars. 

What's your favorite image you've ever captured?
I'll let you know when it happens.

What's one image you want to create?
I would love to work on a movie set doing portraits for the marketing end of the movie. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty would have been a great assignment!

Who let the dogs out?
I did. It was her time to do her thing. Seriously--her name is "Canon's Image Stabilizer," we call her Izzie for short. Before that we had "Caylor's Kodak Moment," Kodak for short. She was our photo "lab".

What do you enjoy about photographic competitions?
Competition itself. Regardless of if it is a sport or an art contest, competition gets the blood flowing. You create great friends in competition. You learn new things. You push yourself to new levels. It's not that I'm too competitive; I just think that it is important to always do your best. If you make sure to do that you will always be a winner.

Elvis, Johnny Cash, or Jack White?
Who is Jack White?

Be sure to come see Carl at Imaging USA 2015! His preconvention class--Hands On Photography: Natural Light Portraiture is available at $79. You can sign up for additional Hands On Photography pre-convention courses for $129 for two classes, and $159 for three classes.

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Have you heard? Peter Lik is coming to Imaging USA. Yes, that's Peter Lik, M.Photog., world-renowned landscape photographer, multi upon multi-million dollar print seller and host of From The Edge with Peter Lik, which aired for one season on The Weather Channel and asked the question, "How far are you willing to go to get the perfect shot?"

Peter will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award Tuesday night at PPA's Award & Degree ceremony. He will also, for the first time ever, open up to a crowd of photographers and share his experience and insider's view to his showbiz-size operation. This high-energy Aussie definitely has some stories to tell so make sure you don't miss An Evening with Peter Lik, Monday at 8 p.m.

And if you're wondering what a multi-million dollar print looks like, some of Peter Lik's amazing (and supersized) work will be on display next to the International Photographic Exhibit. See what all the buzz is about Sunday-Monday, 8am - 8pm and Tuesday, 8am - 3:30pm.

Peter recently sat down with PPA president, Susan Michal, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, to share his excitement for Imaging USA. Take a look!


Rooms for Imaging USA are filling up fast. In fact, as we are publishing this post Opryland is already at 80% capacity! So don't miss your chance to stay at the center of it all.  

Register for Imaging USA and reserve your room today. Don't forget, if it's your first year with PPA your registration is free and for everyone else, early bird registration saves you $50 through December 31stSee you in Nashville!


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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.

 

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By Sarah Ackerman

It's time to get to know Ana Brandt, Imaging USA 2015 instructor and maternity photographer extraordinaire! Ana has been in the business over 14 years and has never stopped learning. Get to know this pre convention instructor in nine easy questions!

1. When did you start your photography career? What prompted it?

I became a professional photographer in 1999. I had been taking pictures since I was a teen and had no intention of ever becoming a professional. After shooting for well over 10 years as an amateur, I decided once I moved from the East Coast to the West that I would register my business and get to work. I was a web designer by day and a photographer by night. I started shooting child models in California and one day I just quit my Web Job and never looked back.

2. What do you want for people to take away from your class? 

I want them to feel the power of the amazing talent and gift that photographers have. I want them to leave motivated and encouraged and understand that the marketing, selling, posing and all that is entailed should just flow from their pores. I want them to leave and not sleep for days because I have given them so many ideas, tips, techniques and marketing methods that will take them months to incorporate. I am bringing in a pregnant model and a brand new baby and I want to show them easy transitional posing for both session types that can work in any location.

3. What is your favorite aspect of photographing newborns? 

Watching them fall into such a deep sleep that they just smile in bliss. It is amazing to watch them just curl up and be cozy in a basket. Sometimes I just stare in wonder. They are just days old, and here they are in my space, just sleeping away. It's really amazing. 

4. How did you get into the maternity market? 

Honestly, I wish I knew. When I was in my 20's I was so awe inspired by seeing gorgeous pregnant woman. I was immediately drawn to this phase in a woman's life. I have shared this story so many times, but I am an adopted child, and I have never seen a photo of my biological mother. I think I was just drawn to what I never saw in my own life way earlier then I even knew why. Now 15 years later, I just never get tired of it. I think pregnant woman are just gorgeous and it's such a short time in development. I knew from early on I would specialize in maternity and newborn and I knew my being adopted was a driving force - and still is. I wish I could explain it in words, but it's really hard to. I feel that every path I took in my life, led me to here. To doing this, even when I had no idea what my journey would be.

5.    What is one piece of equipment you can't live without on newborn shoots? 

On location - it's my 5-n-1 - I almost always use a diffuser and reflector to block out harsh light on one side, and reflect in soft light on the other. That is a must when I am traveling. 
In studio, I need good lights. I would never use flash inside and I love my soft boxes and Einstein's. I used Alien Bees for years, and those are great too.

6.    How do you differentiate yourself from other newborn/maternity photographers? 

I think I would have to ask my clients that! I don't really pay attention to other newborn/maternity photographers. I try and just focus on things I like and ideas that inspire me and things that drive me. I let my clients know I can provide everything for them for their sessions, such as clothing and styling and location scouting, so that they can just relax and trust the process. I think each photographer has their own style, even if they use the same props - the style is easily defined. I believe that people choose the photographer that is similar to their own style and has a personality that is comforting to them. I do not believe I am the perfect photographer for every client. 
One product that sets us apart are our behind the scenes videos. We have been providing video for our clients of behind the scenes in their sessions. Clients have told me they love watching the videos because not only can they see who I am but they can appreciate what is involved in a session. It is a win, win - the client receives a gorgeous video, and we have marketing tools for the next client.

7. Who is your favorite photographer? 

I can't pinpoint one person. In my 20's I studied Ansel Adams and Anne Geddes. I bought their books, screensavers and calendars and just stared at their images over and over. I think Ansel defined black and white photography and Anne Geddes showed the world the wonder and beauty of newborns.

8. What defines your photographic style? 

For pregnancy I think its movement and angles. I like curves and to stretch woman's bodies in ways they never thought possible. I adore fabric and how it flows, and if I love to work with fans and just create beautiful images. For newborns, I try and create images that are classic and simple while being a tad artsy at times.

9.  What do you wish more photographers knew before going into business? 

That it is hard, hard work and that you cannot give up. Photography is a business. Like any business, it takes time to learn and grow.  You have to commit and just do it. You need to be patient and not worry about others. This is your journey - your path and you need to let it grow and nurture it with every ounce of your being.

Come learn from Ana live at Imaging USA 2015. Her "The Art and Business of Pregnancy and Newborn Photography" pre-convention class will run January 31 for an additional $129 fee to your registration. Get all the details on Imaging USA and register here!

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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.




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Dan Phillips Photography, Cedar Falls, Iowa

Everyone knows you need to pack comfortable shoes when you come to Imaging USA. But this year the good people at PPA Charities want to remind you to pack a few more pairs--all for a good cause!

Bring Your Party Shoes--PPA Charities Celebration
(Sat. 1/31, 8 - 10pm)
The festivities start the night before Imaging USA opens with the PPA Charities Celebration. Kick off your week in good spirits and come enjoy the fun and browse the PPA Charities auctions. This is open to any Imaging USA attendee.

Bring Your Running Shoes--PPA Charities 5K Fun Run
(Sun. 2/1, registration 6:30am, race begins 7am)
It's healthy to give back! The race begins and ends (it's a loop) at the Convention Center's entrance near the Presidential Portico--don't be late!

Bring Your Old Shoes--PPA Charities Shoe Drive for Dando Amor
Your old shoes can be upcycled to help those that have none! Bring an old pair or two to Imaging USA and they'll be re-purposed for orphanages in South America and Africa. Handy drop-off bins will be located by the Expo entrance and by the registration kiosks.

Image ©Dan Phillips Photography, Cedar Falls, Iowa

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By Chris Homer

Imaging USA 2015 is only 75 days away! With that in mind, I'd like to encourage you toapp_icon_web.jpg download today (it's free!) so you can be more prepared for all the good stuff coming your way in Nashville. It's the best way to be connected with all the latest news and updates while you're there!

With the mobile app, you'll be able to:

  • View and favorite all the details on classes, sessions, speakers, special events and even the exhibitors at the Imaging Expo.
  • Build your own schedule by simply adding the sessions or events you want to your agenda.
  • Message and arrange private meetings with other attendees (even if you have all their contact info: the app will connect you!)
  • Earn points and take your chance at daily prizes by playing with the in-app game.
  • See what other attendees are saying on Twitter and Facebook (and add to the conversation!)
  • Give feedback and help make this a better conference by taking the in-app session surveys after each class.
  • Use the maps to find your way around the convention center and throughout the Imaging Expo.
  • And more!

If you're attending Imaging USA, this app will be your best friend during the convention. It's available now for iPhone and iPad, Android devices and there's also a web version for those of you that don't own an Apple or Android phone or tablet.

Find all the information on how to download for your device here. Stay-tuned to PPA's blog and ImagingUSA.org for videos demonstrating how to use the different features of the app.
 
Of course, if you haven't registered for Imaging USA yet, do it today! Find all the different options on the registration page.

See you in Nashville!  
  
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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. 





By Chris Homer

It's time to get to know another Imaging USA instructor taking the stage at Nashville in 2015.kozak_headshot.jpg In this interview, Steve Kozak, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, talks about why you should sign up for his "The Secrets to Success When Turning Pro" pre-convention class (which he'll be co-hosting with Britney Fullgraf). He also shares why he become a photographer, what he believes his style is, why he enjoys serving on PPA's Board of Directors... and why he prefers Johnny Cash to Elvis.

When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?


I was a professional musician in a band when I got my first camera. I loved music, but there are demands that go with being in a band that make things hard to keep up with that lifestyle. The more I learned about photography, the more I realized the similarities between taking photos and making music. When I figured out I could use my camera to tell stories, make people feel and use it as an outlet for my creativity, I left the band, sold my guitar and bought my first 2.8 lens. There was no looking back!

What are the top 5 things people will learn from your class?


The first thing we discover is that quality photography begins with the fundamentals--the techniques all photographers should know. Participants will learn how to elevate the quality of their images to a professional level through proper exposure, lighting and posing.

Next, we'll look at gaining control over the portable flash by using it in manual mode and the value of using supplemental lighting with off-camera flash. This is a huge game-changer for photographers trying to improve the quality of their images!

Then, we examine the value that studio lighting brings to the financial success of photographers--and I'll show you how you can use this type of lighting even if you don't have a studio space. I plan to really demystify studio lighting and make it an approachable technique for photographers.

We then look at how to market professional photography and the importance of the message that you place in front of the target market.

Finally, we examine sales strategies and techniques to maximize the sale without feeling like you are pushing too hard. After all, the easier sales become for you, the more money you'll make and the more time you can actually spend behind the camera!

Who should take your class?


All photographers who are considering stepping out into professional photography as their full time job, as much as those who "leapt before they looked". It's not too late to learn how to run a photography business properly! It's never too late! I've built this class to answer so many of the questions photographers starting in the business have, and I truly believe it can help you be successful.

Which do you enjoy more: teaching or photographing?

OK, this question is not fair! It's sort of like choosing your favorite child or your favorite Beatles song. The truth is, I love teaching to those who will dare to take information and run with it. Helping others grow and seeing them succeed brings me greater pleasure than just about anything I do.

What makes you and your co-speaker Britney Fullgraf such a great team?

Britney is simply brilliant. She has a sharp mind for business and knows how to make money. We really take two different approaches to what we do, but when it comes to teaching photographers how to find success, our styles complement each other so well that students can take the best of what each of us has to offer.

Describe your photographic style.

I think of my work as "crafted". I do not leave the details of my work to chance and I am very selective about my lighting, posing and technique. I almost always go into a session knowing what I seek to create for the client. I strive to create images that are unique for every client.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Life. Music. The heart of the person in front of my camera. Landscapes. Fashion. Movies. Art. The human emotion. The mountains. The beach. Contrasts. The dark side. Beauty. Love. Lost love. Hope. Just to name a few!

Why was it important for you to serve on PPA's Board of Directors?

It is important that all of us answer the call to serve whenever or wherever we are called. Serving on the PPA Board of Directors means that I really am serving the 27,000+ photographers of this association who have dreams, passions, struggles, needs, successes and desires. By giving my time and service to this group, I become a small yet active part of a larger community that provides photographers a light along a path that helps them be more and get where they want to go. The tools and the opportunities that PPA provides for photographers are limited only by the willingness of each photographer to reach out and take hold of them. Who wouldn't want to be a part of something as special as that?

Elvis, Johnny Cash, or Jack White?

What about the Beatles?! OK, focus...Jack has had a hand in the success of a number of projects, but is not as recognized as Elvis or Johnny Cash. Johnny was, and still is, "The Man in Black". How cool is that? But Elvis... he is so cool he only needs one name.  
This question has me "all shook up", so I think I will "walk the line". I think Elvis had so many people he had to please and so many people trying to own him, so I chose Johnny Cash because I think he did what he wanted to do the way he wanted to do it. Sounds like a true artist to me!

Come learn from Steve live at Imaging USA 2015. His "The Secrets To Success When Turning Pro" pre-convention class will run January 29 - 30 for an additional $199 fee to your registration. Get all the details on Imaging USA and register here! 

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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. 

By Sarah Ackerman

We are literally counting down the days until we get to the Gaylord Opryland for Imaging USA 2015! (As of Wednesday, November 12th - it's 80, in case you were wondering!) Here's a quick video to show you the ins and outs of the home of #ImagingUSA and give you some tips to help you make the best out of your trip. 

Have any tips for newbies? Tweet them at us @ImagingUSA or post them on our Facebook page!

 

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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.
By Sarah Ackerman

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To help you become familiar with the photographers who will be on the Imaging USA stage, we asked them some questions to really dig deep. In this interview, Kareem Black, portrait photographer and philanthropist extraordinaire, talks about inspiration, our changing industry and how to break into the upper echelon of commercial photography. You can check out his program details here but in the meantime, enjoy!

What was the biggest challenge you faced in defining yourself as a photographer?

The biggest challenge I face, just like most artists, is figuring out what exactly I want to say, and how to say it, in a way that is unique to me. This is probably a lifelong exploration. Early on, I was a lot more technical and used a ton of lights, lenses etc., much more so than I use now. I was hiding behind production and lighting rather than letting the image tell the story. I'm not saying that using a ton of lights is bad, but for me, once I simplified my shooting set I started on what to say with/through the image. With that said, I'm happy I did go through that more technical phase because now I'm very confident in my ability to light just about anything.

What do you think the biggest challenge people just starting out in the industry face?

The biggest challenge might be when people are trying to break into the industry and get noticed. There are so many photographers! To be clear, there always have been a lot of photographers, but today there are seemingly less clients because there are more photographers than ever. In commercial photography, the great recession really killed a lot of print media which was the initial stepping stone that lead into bigger advertising and music work. I started out shooting for magazines and then moved onto CD covers. When's the last time anyone bought a CD? What I'm going to say is sort of common knowledge, but I think that it makes a big difference how photographers face there being more competition and less clients. I love competition and I love looking at photography. One of the first things I do every morning is surf Tumblr and Instagram. It inspires me to see what others are doing. I say the more photographers the better, generally speaking. If you love what you do, and thrive off the battle and the battle makes you better at what you do, you'll be fine. Also, show your work to as many people as possible and never ever ever stop making new work!

Define your photography style in four words.

#feelsgoodletsgo

How do you stay ahead of the game in this industry?

I think that constantly creating new work is very important. By new work I mean new bodies of work. Photographers are like sharks--we have to keep moving forward or we die. Evolution is paramount. I start new personal projects, take trips, conduct an experiment, take risks with my photography. That's how I stay ahead. Otherwise, dwelling in my comfort zone for too long will be death.

What are you most excited about at Imaging USA?

I'm excited to meet and talk shop with photographers of all ages and from all over the world. New York and L.A. can become very incestuous. Everyone knows everyone, there are accepted ways of doing things and how things should look. But I want to experience other points of view and share my own insights. 

What inspires you?

I want to be inspired by as much as possible. I'm a photographer, so obviously I am inspired by photography past and present, but also art in general. I want to know what people were thinking when they did certain things, these questions go beyond art. I'm also genuinely interested in the human condition and like to ask myself what I would have done in certain situations, which provides me with great insights. All of that inspires me! As a photographer I am an explorer and I  find inspiration in all of my explorations.

What is one marketing mistake most new photographers make?

Offering a special or a promotion is often a tight-rope walk. You don't want to be bothersome and call/email/mail people too often, but on the other hand, I don't want to do it so rarely that I am forgotten. There must be a happy medium. Sending a promo, maybe twice a year, is appropriate for me, as well as emails with relevant new work samples. Too often photographers bombard editors with work that isn't necessarily their best stuff. I generally prefer quality over quantity.

How did you break into the high-end commercial photography market?

The industry is small and in New York it is very small. I am a pretty social guy and I love a good party. Believe it or not most of the first people I met, were through social settings - parties, bars, shows, that sort of thing. You'd be surprised how many deals and how much business is transacted in venues like this. At the end of the day, people make deals with people and there are a lot of great photographers out there. The people really want to have some sort of connection, or at least get along with the photographers they will hire.

Elvis, Johnny Cash, or Jack White?

Frederic Chopin

See Kareem live and in action at Imaging USA 2015 in Nashville! He will be giving his program "A Portrait Photographer's Survival Guide to a Changing Industry" on Tuesday, February 3rd at Imaging USA. Get all of the details and register today here!

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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 WitPro 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.

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Carl Caylor - Imaging USA 2015 instructor and current PPAedu teacher stopped by theLoop this week for an AMA (Ask Me Anything). 

Carl is a seasoned natural light portrait photographer and has owned and operated his personal studio since 1995. If you are not aware of what an "Ask Me Anything" is, have no fear!  These question and answer sessions are the perfect way to ask Imaging USA instructors literally anything you want. It's also your chance to have your voice heard amongst your peers! 

What sets Carl apart and what made his AMA so interesting is his perspective on natural light and how it can take your images from mundane to awesome in a few simple steps. He also touches on pricing techniques and where he draws his inspiration. If you missed the full conversation you can check it out on theLoop.

Check out a few of our favorite moments with Carl:

On his favorite way to modify natural light:
"I like reflectors and try to carry one or two with me at all times.  I do, however, enjoy locations that have great light with no need to make changes.  It is in these locations, we can concentrate on the subject within the light more.  Those are the magical places."

On choosing a location to shoot:
"I do, however, enjoy locations that have great light with no need to make changes. It is in these locations, we can concentrate on the subject within the light more."

On what inspires him:
"Where do I get inspiration? Watching people. Living life. Sharing with other photographers. Movies. Nature."

Don't forget to register for Imaging USA and stop by for Carl's hands-on class, "Hands-on Photography: Natural Light Portraiture"! Registration information for Imaging USA is available at ImagingUSA.org/Register.

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Ana Brandt, newborn and maternity photographer extraordinaire, stopped by theLoop this weekbrandt_ana_ama.jpg for an AMA! Quickly becoming a fan favorite, PPA's AMA series allows photographers the chance to engage with Imaging USA speakers in conversation and literally ask them anything. Some of the topics covered in this AMA include Ana's origins in the industry, what inspires her, and how she manages to work with newborns so effectively. If you missed out on the full conversation, you can check out her full AMA on theLoop

If you missed out on the live AMA it's all good! Here are a few of our favorite highlights:

1. "Once I pass the two hour mark, newborns start another cycle of feeding, pooping and peeing, which goes on to 3 hours, etc. etc." 
2. "Growing up, my Mom used to come home with bags of things to make wreaths or other items. Time after time I would see her empty a craft bag of random things and whip out a handmade wreath or flower arrangement. Now I find myself doing the same thing." 
3. "I love to create things I can't see. All too often we get wrapped up in our own expectations. The best inspiration is to release your own expectation and let the creativity flow."

Don't forget to register for Imaging USA and stop by for Ana's class--The Art and Business of Pregnancy and Newborn Photography! Registration information for Imaging USA is available at imagingusa.org/register.

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