Monday, January 31, 2011

A Camp David Minute; Become a Certified Professional Photographer

Why Become a Certified Professional Photographer?

Your clients bring their taxes to a Certified Public Accountant and trust their automotive repairs to an ASE Certified Mechanic. Doctors, dentists and attorneys all passed certification exams before they could practice.

In this flood of new photographers, it is Certification that can set you apart from your competition!

Studies show that more consumers understand the term "certified" than any other designation. With it comes a degree of trust that not only leads a consumer to believe that the final product will be high-quality, but is an assurance of competency that will distinguish you from others not holding this important credential.

Using the Certified Professional Photographer logo on your business cards, website and marketing materials boldly identifies you as a photographer who has met the requirements for Certification and upholds the Standards of Conduct.

I chatted with the Professional Photographer Certification Commission's Heather Smith during Imaging USA. Watch our interview here:

Becoming a Certified Professional Photographer require you to complete 3 steps:
  • Declaration of Candidacy
  • Certification Exam
  • Image Submission Review
The Declaration of Candidacy is your first step towards becoming a Certified Professional Photographer. Once you've declared your candidacy, you will have three years to successfully complete the two additional requirements: Image Submission Review and the Certification Exam.

The Certification Exam and Image Submission Review may be completed in any order — one may submit images for review before taking the written exam. If you do not complete all requirements during the three year period, your candidacy will end. You must re-apply, pay the appropriate fee, and re-start the process.

All Certified Professional Photographers must adhere to the Standards of Conduct for Certification, as outlined on the PPCC Website.

Certification Exams and Image Submission Reviews are scheduled periodically throughout the year at a variety of locations. Check the PPCC Website for dates and times.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

Odds are you're as geared in to Social Media as the rest of the photographic community. You love your Facebook status, sharing photos online and tweeting your status to your loyal followers.

Since it's #FollowFriday (in Twitterspeak), why not give your favorite people some extra love by following them on Twitter? Add us to your Twitter feed and stay updated on all things new and exciting in the industry. You may even learn a few new tips and tricks to make your workflow (and life) go more smoothly!
Camp David Photo
Twitter @DavidGrupa

Kirsten Holscher - First Things First
Twitter @FTF_Coach

NPC Lab (Northwest Professional Color)
Twitter @NPCLab

Professional Photographers of America 

Twitter @ImagingUSA 

Northern Light Professional Photographers Assn 

All the links below are clickable . . . so take a minute to follow and like!

- David

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Camp David Minute with Beth Forester of photoDuds!

Last week during ImagingUSA in San Antonio, I had a minute to catch up with Beth Forester of photoDuds.

If you're not familiar with the product, photoDuds is a great way to take your sales to another level by creating products that your clients will love. From collages to greeting cards, photoDuds offers you some awesome options!

Best of all, even if you missed ImagingUSA you can still take advantage of a 20% discount on all photoDuds products if you order by January 31, 2011! 

Check out my interview with Beth right here:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How memory cards are made; great video from Lexar!

We all know about flash memory cards; we depend in them for our livelihood, not to mention all the other places we use them. Whether they end up in cameras, phones, mp3 players or other electronic devices, they're an important part of the world in which we live.

But who makes them? Where do they come from? How do they get so small?

Interestingly, the process starts at the Micron Technologies plant in Utah. Watch this cool video from Lexar, a division of Micron technology, who is a leading global provider of memory products for digital media. Check out this behind the scenes look at the extensive work and care put into each Lexar product.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Revisiting ImagingUSA - Part 3

Of course, the culmination of ImagingUSA is the Award and Degree Ceremony on Tuesday evening. Here, photographers from across the globe are honored for their achievements in an Academy Award-style presentation.

It is at this ceremony where photographers receive the coveted Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman degree ribbons, earned for excellence in photography and sharing of knowledge through teaching and mentoring, respectively.

Earning a degree is a proud moment in the life of every professional photographer.

After the ceremony, we party . . . because it's all over until next year!

- David Grupa

Monday, January 24, 2011

Revisiting ImagingUSA - Part 2

One of the most awesome parts of ImagingUSA is the massive trade show. Vendors from all over with some of the latest and greatest products display here!

In addition to being one of the largest photographic toy stores in the world, it's a great place to learn. There are speakers giving mini-programs in many of the booths throughout the day, while other vendors give live demonstrations of the latest camera hardware, imaging software and creative accessories. A simple walk through the massive trade show floor can take hours to complete because there's so much to see!

If you take your time and keep an open ear, you can often chat with other photographers at the booths of their favorite vendors. This is an excellent time to ask questions and find out how others are utilizing some of the new and existing product lines.

All of this combines for yet another solid reason to plan for next year's ImagingUSA. In the meantime, check out your regional, state and local associations to keep your appetite for new information well-fed!

- David Grupa

Friday, January 21, 2011

PPA Charities T-Shirts Available!

For the past few years, PPA Charities has sold commemorative t-shirts during ImagingUSA. These limited-edition shirts sell quickly and have become a collectible item.

If you didn't get your shirt at ImagingUSA (or didn't attend), here's your opportunity to support PPA Charities and Operation Smile.

Here's the San Antonio edition:

Sizes available in the San Antonio shirt run from Small to XXL in both traditional crew neck and women's v-neck cuts.

If you'd like one of last year's "Rockstar" shirts, check these out:

Sizes available in the Rockstar shirt are limited. Choose from Small crew neck, or M & L women's v-neck.

Finally, there are just a few of the long sleeved "Photographer" tees left.

Available in XL and XXL; crew neck only.

These shirts are 100% cotton and are superb quality. Price is just $20 each (add $5 for shipping.)

Make your check payable to PPA Charities and mail to:
David Grupa
PPA Charities
1994 Duluth St
Maplewood MN 55109-3415

Revisiting ImagingUSA - Part 1

ImagingUSA was an incredible experience. The 2011 Event in San Antonio broke records for attendees and also featured the largest Trade Show in IUSA history!

During the course of IUSA we took the opportunity to chat with some friends and check out a number of things. Take a peek at the videos over the coming days and relive some of the fun from ImagingUSA 2011!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

ImagingUSA is the place to be!

You've heard all about it. You've probably even considered giving it a shot, but for whatever reason, you're sitting home reading this on your computer screen while we're down here in San Antonio, host city for ImagingUSA 2011.

PPA ( members from all over the world are gathered here this weekend to take part in what is the largest, longest running photographic exhibition under one roof. There are opportunities for education in both classroom and tradeshow settings, a huge trade show of vendors featuring photographic products of all types and of course, fellowship and fun. Three of the Camp David crew are down here this week learning new tips and tricks to bring back to our own studios.

You can see what you're missing at

Professional associations are well worth your membership investment because of the educational and networking opportunities they bring. PPA is no different; this the oldest and largest photographic association in the world, serving photographers since 1869. It's member-owned, so your dues money goes into providing benefits for YOU, the member.

Want more info on PPA, or state and local organizations? Drop a note here and we'll get you pointed in the right direction!

Stay tuned for more fun from ImagingUSA and some of the phenomenal people here . . . you'll love what's coming in the near future!

Gotta run . . . early class tomorrow!

- David Grupa

Thursday, January 13, 2011

FREE Webinar - Color-balancing in Camera Raw made easy!

Coming up one week from today (January 20th), the folks at X-Rite are presenting a FREE webinar on color-management using the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport. You can tune in at either of 2 different times to learn about things like:

  • Creating and Using Camera Profiles
  • Custom White Balance with the Passport
  • Once click accurate color edits
  • Matching color response of two or more cameras
  • Matching color response under different lighting conditions
  • Color editing in Adobe® Lightroom®
  • Color editing in Adobe® Photoshop®
Do YOU need to tune in and watch this webinar? That depends. If you're not passionate about proper color in your final images, you can probably skip it. If you don't ever need skin tones to look natural, don't bother. If you have never had difficulty getting beautiful, vibrant colors from your files, then you may not care about watching.

However, if you're like most photographers, you are always searching for a better, more efficient way to manage color and get the best images possible. For you, this will be an excellent investment of your time. Best of all, it's free.

You can register for this event here:

I personally use one of these great tools and love the way it has taken the guesswork out of color-balancing.

Check it out.

- David Grupa

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Got Questions? We'd love to help!

One of the things I love about the photographic industry is how open and willing people are when it comes to helping their colleagues. When I got into the profession oh-so-many-years-ago, there were those "go-to" photographers who were confident enough in their abilities and their clientele that did not hesitate to share the things they did. When you had a question that totally stumped you, odds are they either had the answer or knew someone who would know.

Camp David is like that. Not that we have all the answers (we're always learning new things, too), but we love to help when we are able. Sharing only makes this industry stronger and better.

So . . . here's the deal:

Send us your questions. You may either leave them in the comment box below or if you're shy, email us at

We'll give it our best effort and answer as many as we can right here in future blogs.

- David Grupa

Monday, January 10, 2011

So . . . just how DO you eat an elephant?

I was watching my Twitter feed this past weekend when a tweet came across my screen from Kirsten Holscher (aka @FTF_Coach):

Q. How do you eat an elephant? A. One bite at a time. - Overwhelmed by a big job? Break it down into manageable tasks!

We've all heard the Q & A before, but for some reason, we fail to translate it into something meaningful. Kirsten's assessment is simple and realistic.

With a new year comes new goals, resolutions and promises made to ourselves to "change the way we will do it in 2011." The year starts, we've got great intentions, the lists get made . . . and then what? We walk into the office on a Monday morning, sit down at the computer to check Facebook, Twitter and a few blogs we follow, only to realize that half the day has slipped away without accomplishing anything productive. We then proceed to slide back into our habit of looking at the list and making excuses why we don't have enough time today, or perhaps we just do a couple of the easier little things and leave the big ones "until tomorrow". Then tomorrow comes and we do it all over again.

I felt this way myself when walking into my less-than-organized office one day. Knowing that I had to tackle this project, I even resorted to cleaning the bathroom instead of organizing the clutter. It was simply overwhelming. During a phone conversation with Kirsten, I said "I'm not even sure where to start."

Her reply was "at the door and to the right . . . but since you're left-handed, you can go to the left if you prefer." Simple.

This weekend I had an email exchange with another photographer who is struggling with a similar task. Revamping a website can be daunting, but there's no need to fear doing it. Mine is under constant revision. Rather than try to reorganize the entire thing in one evening, I work on one area at a time. Maybe it's a single page. Today, work on weddings. Set aside tomorrow for HS Seniors and plan to tackle families the day after that.

When broken down into easy-to-understand pieces, the task becomes less daunting. Once you begin to see progress, you actually become energized to complete the job and see the final product.

Take a look around your studio and find the "elephant in the room." (Poor elephants get no respect!) Tie on your bib and take a bite; pretty soon, you'll have it well under control!

- David Grupa

Friday, January 7, 2011

Subtle lessons from a random email . . .

If you were to ask my friends and colleagues, they'd tell you that I usually have no problem coming up with something to say. However, some thoughts come more easily than others; meaningful writings can sometimes be a struggle.

When I opened my email this morning, the following message was inside. At first, it didn't look any different than any other "forwarded" email with a bunch of unfamiliar addresses in the "To:" line . . . until I started to read it. For some reason, it just struck me as important and relevant. Sometimes, things arrive at just the right time.

"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." -  Buddhist Proverb

Here's what was in my email:


Cab Ride

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I walked to the door and knocked. "Just a minute", answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

"Would you carry my bag out to the car?" she asked. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. "It's nothing", I told her. "I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated."

"Oh, you're such a good boy," she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, "Could you drive through downtown?"

"It's not the shortest way," I answered quickly.

"Oh, I don't mind," she said. "I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice."

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. "I don't have any family left," she continued in a soft voice. "The doctor says I don't have very long."

I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. "What route would you like me to take?"

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, "I'm tired. Let's go now."

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

"How much do I owe you?" she asked, reaching into her purse.


"You have to make a living," she answered.

"There are other passengers," I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

"You gave an old woman a little moment of joy," she said, "Thank-you."

I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware - beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.


Take one minute to reread the bold, italicized line one more time. How will your actions make someone feel today? Is the experience we provide as important as photographs we create? What will your clients say about you when they show off their image?

It's often not about the money. People are willing to pay for service, quality and a positive experience. Too often when photographers offer "discounts", they end up discounting the experience as well because they're not doing it for their regular rates. Don't discount your attitude toward your client . . . you never know with whom they may share their experience.

Think about it.

- David Grupa

PS - You won't get any big surprise in 10 days if you forward this to ten people. However, you might help make the world a little kinder and more compassionate by sending it on and reminding us that often it is the random acts of kindness that most benefit all of us.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

So . . . what's on your "bucket list"?

I'm not a big movie-watcher; it's probably my ADHD that keeps me from just sitting on the couch for 2 hours staring at a screen. (I know it's ironic, given what I do.) However, I'm not opposed to turning one on in the background while I'm doing dishes or working on the computer. It's rare that I can just sit and watch and do nothing else. For me, the feeling of "I've got other stuff to do on this Earth" is a strong driving force.

A few months ago, I rented "The Bucket List" from one of those Redbox kiosks. For a buck, I could put it on in the background and let it play. In case you're like me and haven't seen this one, it features Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as men who, due to terminal illnesses, have been given a short time to live. The unlikely pair meet in a hospital setting and decide to "go for it" and cross as many items as they can off their "Bucket Lists".

This got me thinking; what things are on my own "Bucket List"? After a cardiac scare a couple of years ago, I definitely pay more attention to areas like diet and exercise, but I don't want to turn into a hermit who can't eat or do the things I enjoy. Who wants that? No one.

But here's the hard part: what exactly does one put on their "Bucket List"? What things are important enough to do? What things would I want to make sure I do before I leave this Earth behind? Making the list falls back into the "SMART" goal-setting area.
(Remember?  Specific  Measurable  Attainable  Realistic  Time-sensitive)
I came across this list while doing a search on "Bucket List" and was reminded of it again today by a colleague who posted the link on a Facebook page.

Take a peek at the hints it gives. since we are all thinking about New Year's resolutions right now, you may be able to incorporate some of the ideas into short-term goal-setting as well.

All of us want to feel as if we are accomplishing something in our daily activities as well as in the overall big-picture of life. Make your list and start crossing things off!

- David Grupa

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Choosing the right education for you

In the current economy, people tend to keep a closer watch on their money, where they spend it and the value of what they are getting for it.

Photographers are no different. In the lifespan of a photographer there are many different phases:

- Student (learning F-stops and shutter speeds)
- Hobbyist (photographing for themselves)
- Semi-professional (wading into the waters of business to see if it is the right fit)
- New professional (finding a style, learning the business side)
- Experienced professional (knows the ropes but also needs motivation so it does not become “just a job”)

Depending on where you are in your journey will make a difference on the type and level of education as well as the type of motivation that will work for you. The thing that lights the fire for one photographer may not do the same for another.

To give you an example, I attended one of PPA’s Imaging USA conventions in the first year or so of my business. I sat in on Julieanne Kost’s program. For those of you who do not know, she is an evangelist for Adobe and knows EVERYTHING about Photoshop (plus, she is really funny.) Since I was new to Photoshop I learned a lot of new and useful information, but some of it was clearly over my head. Every year I attend Imaging and Julieanne is always there as well. I still attend her program because I am now at a level where I understand the more advanced techniques she explains.

While Julieanne does a wonderful job of presenting information to every skill level in the room, not all education is this way. When I was first starting in business I mistakenly sought out speakers who spoke about abstract ideas such as motivation, creativity, finding my style, connecting with clients and so forth. All of this was great information, but it really wasn't the helpful tools I was hoping for.

You see, at the beginning what I really needed was more direct information, more meat. What I needed to learn was information I could immediately incorporate into my business once I got back to the studio. I didn’t know things like what information to keep for taxes, what a workflow should be like, how or why I was marketing to specific clients or how to price my products. My style of photography took me years to figure out and it wasn’t because I listened to a speaker telling me to do a creativity assignment!

On the flip side, a photographer that has been in the industry for a while doesn’t necessarily need to hear a speaker teach posing. On the contrary, they may need to know about sparking creativity, feeling motivated, etc. Most new photographers I see coming into the industry are so happy to be here, they are full of "passion"; however they need specifics of what to do and how to achieve it.

My advice for those who may be new professionals or semi-professionals would be to choose your education carefully. Look at the speaker lineup for conventions, seminars or workshops and determine if this will be the proper fit for what you need in your business RIGHT NOW.

As a speaker, I can assure you that if you have questions about a seminar and whether it will apply to your current phase of business, don't hesitate to contact the individual directly. We're glad to help!

- Kirsten Holscher

Monday, January 3, 2011

Your photographic talent can make a difference in the life of a family.

While we're on the subject of making changes for 2011, I'd like to introduce a new wrinkle to the discussion.

Many of you may be familiar with the organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS). Sandy Puc and Cheryl Haggard founded the organization in April 2005 and called it Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep after the children’s bedtime prayer. The Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation administers a network of approximately 7000 volunteer photographers in the United States and nineteen International countries who provide no-cost bereavement photography services to families suffering the loss of a child. The task of photographing is not an easy one, but it is extremely worthwhile. For many parents, these will be the only professional photographs ever created of their child.

NILMDTS volunteer photographers are asked to be "on-call" a few dates each month. The actual number will depend on how many NILMDTS volunteers are in your service area. Some of these days the phone will remain silent, while others it rings with a call from the hospitals served by NILMDTS. Once a session is photographed, the photographer edits, color-corrects and retouches the images. They are then resized and burned to a CD for the family's personal use. All copyrights are surrendered to the family. Most photographers also prepare a DVD slideshow of the images for the family as well. The expected turnaround on these services is 4 weeks.

We've been given an incredible gift; the ability to earn a living doing something we love. I'm asking you to consider volunteering your services for this very worthwhile organization. Applicant photographers asked to complete a brief online questionnaire.

Once your work is reviewed and accepted, you will be contacted by local coordinators to arrange training.

PLEASE NOTE: Applicants are expected to have a website showing a good working knowledge of technical skills, exposure techniques and auxiliary lighting. Because we often work in hospitals where lighting conditions are less than ideal, you will be asked to display work created with auxiliary lighting equipment. Available-light-only photographers are rarely accepted.

Since the review process can take up to 8 weeks, please be patient.

If you have any questions at all, please go ahead and post them so we can do our best to provide you with answers.

Thanks for considering NILMDTS.

- David Grupa