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Annual Convention for Professional Photographers of America in Atlanta, GA

Last week Allen and I flew to Atlanta, Georgia for our second “Imaging USA” hosted by Professional Photographers of America (PPA). “Imaging USA” occurs every January and the location changes year to year. It is 3 days packed full of classes, parties, trade shows and networking. This year is PPA’s 150th year, celebrating their sesquicentennial, making Imaging USA 2019 even more special.  As professional photographers it’s important we stay up to date with the newest technology and sharpen our skills. We always leave feeling inspired and motivated with fresh ideas and ready to put new found knowledge to work.

First a little background on PPA. It’s a group of more than 30,000 professional photographers ranging in specializations from weddings, to pets, to drones, and everything in between. PPA offers its members many resources and education opportunities, insurance, degree and certificate programs, mentoring and so much more.

“PPA was created to fuel a vibrant community of successful professional photographers by providing education, resources and industry standards of excellence. If we help photographers Be More, we fulfill our cause and mission!”

-Professional Photographers of America

Day 1
Day 1 started with an amazing opening keynote program by Scott Stratten. Scott spoke about the ever changing business of photography and how social media and technology affect it every day. He certainly kept the attention of the audience and was a great speaker. Following the keynote speaker a marching band began in the back of the room and lead the audience to the opening of the expo tradeshow. This is every photographer’s dream. All in one gigantic room are all the major camera equipment companies with gear to try out and purchase. There are also booths featuring new software, props, products for clients, and print labs. It is a great way for us to touch and feel different printer paper and album options, and chat with customer service representatives. Later in the evening we went to a class on family portraits, and another on mini sessions. The evening ended with a welcome party for all the attendees. The parties are a great time to mingle with new and old friends, and did we mention the food and drinks?

Day 2
Day 2 was an early start for us beginning with a photo walk hosted by Canon. It was so worth setting the alarm clock early. We had use of professional models and members of the Canon Explorers of Light program showed us some tips and tricks on natural lighting. We really enjoyed the program and learned a lot. We then attended traditional classes on studio lighting and speed posing. More shopping in the expo tradeshow, followed by time on our own to explore Atlanta. That evening the Grand Imaging Awards took place. Some of the country’s best photographers received awards and degrees, including several of our friends. It is quite an honor to walk across that stage and we congratulate everyone that went home with a trophy or new ribbons and medallions to wear.

Day 3
Our final day of Imaging. We enjoyed the photo walk hosted by Canon so much that we jumped at the opportunity to attend another one, and set our alarms early again. This time it was all about the Canon speedlites we use. We left this class amazed at what we learned and was able to practice. These photo walks were both mine and Allen’s favorite part of Imaging USA, we really got a lot out of them, and can’t wait to put to use the knowledge we gain. Following the photo walk we attended more traditional classes on weddings and blogging. Something different about this Imaging was that they included a closing keynote program by Judi Holler. Judi was highly energized and used improv theatre to teach us how to face fear and take action. Following the closing keynote we all walked over to the Georgia aquarium for the closing party. It was more networking, eating, drinking, and dancing but this time we had the added backdrop and entertainment of whales, sharks, penguins, and hundreds of species of fish.

By the end of Imaging USA 2019 we were exhausted. Each day was packed full of hands on photo walks, classes, networking, and so much more. We stayed 2 more days after to give us time to be tourists and explore Atlanta some more. It is no surprise that on the day after imaging we didn’t leave our hotel room until noon. On our flight home we thought about all that we gained from attending Imaging USA 2019. From all the new knowledge from attending classes, the hands on experience we gained with our equipment, new gear bought in the expo tradeshow, new friendships made, and questions answered from multiple vendors. We’re really excited to start using all we gained in our upcoming sessions and weddings this season.

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