VOLUME 2 | ISSUE 1
OREGON PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS ASSOCIATION
WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 1
2019 OPPA BOARD
Hal Harrison - Rose City Photography
3 Presidents Message
5 The Instagram Algorithm
8 Digital Art - How I Got Started
10 How to Measure the
Performance of Your Website
16 What’s On Our Shelf?
20 ImagingUSA Wrap Up
24 Tips for a Rainy Day
26 What’s In My Bag?
28 Cover Image
President - Sam Tarrel
M.Photog.Cr., CPP, FP-OR, CPP Liaison
Vice President - Linda Keppinger
Immediate Past President - Lisa Dillon
M.Photog.Cr., CPP, FP-OR,
PPA Councilor 2013-2021
Secretary - Alexis Dowdle
Treasurer - Aaron Hockley
Bylaws, Rules, & Ethics - Bryan Welsh
M.Photog.Cr., CPP, API, FP-OR,
PPA Councilor, 2016-2021, CPP Liaison
Competition - Thea Martin
Education - Jon Parker
Marketing & Communications - Howard Lao
Member Value - Rekha Varghese
Director at Large - Altheia McCallum
VOLUME 2 ISSUE 1—WINTER 2019
Published by the
Oregon Professional Photographers Association
14925 SW Barrows Rd.
Ste. 109 #501
Beaverton, OR 97007
Send editorial queries to:
Magazine Designer: Julie Countryman
Editors: Julie Countryman, Lisa Dillon, Alexis Dowdle
Contributors: Lisa Dillon, Alexis Dowdle, Aaron
Hockley, Kim Kuhlman, Sandra Pearce and Amy West
It’s 2019 and things are really picking up! I just returned
from Atlanta where we had a very productive and
FUN few days at Imaging USA! I went a day early
to attend the Affiliate Leaders meeting with a few
other members of the board of directors where our
very own Bryan Welsh led us through discussion
and exercises with other affiliate leaders around the
country. We also continued to establish in the eyes
of the other organizations around the country that
OPPA is a model organization, and is looked-up to
in the industry.
Our board this year is comprised of many new
Sam Tarrel, President
members, and each one brings enthusiasm and a
specific skill-set to the position they are in. We had
the opportunity to speak with David Trust, the CEO
of PPA, and he shared in the excitement of what we have in store for the coming
year as we told him about our new board and what we have planned.
Several of our OPPA members received degrees in Atlanta this year as well! Raj
Sarda, Nancy Smithman and our current treasurer Aaron Hockley, all received their
Master of Photography degrees. Congratulations to you all!
We’ve got some great things planned this year. We are starting the year off with
some great speakers in our monthly meeting programming which is ALWAYS free
to the public, and we have our three members-only image competitions scheduled
for March, June and September!
We are gearing up for another round of mentorships starting April 1st, so be
watching your email for a call to be a mentor followed soon after by a call to be a
student. Did you know you can do both? If you have a special skill or knowledge
base to share, you can be a mentor. But if you need help in another area, you can
also be a student!
I’m excited for all that 2019 has in store for OPPA and I am so appreciative for
YOU - our members - along with our talented and dedicated board of directors.
These volunteers put in countless hours of work to bring valuable programs and
benefits to our members and I appreciate their hard work. Our committees are also
working tirelessly to help improve your member experience and to bring value to
our membership in OPPA.
However, we always can use more helping hands. An organization like OPPA
is run by members - FOR members - and it can’t continue without everyone’s
help! So if you’re interested in being on a committee or simply helping out in
some small way, please email me or pop onto our Facebook group and let us
know what your skillset is! OPPA is what you make it—it’s not the board’s OPPA.
We are ALL OPPA.
2 • FOCUS OREGON
WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 3
The Instagram Algorithm:
How It Works
By Aaron Hockley, M.Photog.Cr, FP-OR,
The Instagram algorithm: What’s the Deal?
As with many social networks, Instagram originally featured a reverse-chronological
feed of updates posted by those who you were following. In mid-2016, the feed
shifted and is now fed by an algorithm of the content that the service deems will be
most interesting to those who are browsing photos.
Photographers often wonder how the Instagram algorithm works, why it’s in place
(instead of just showing everything chronologically), and whether it’s helping or hurting
your time on Instagram.
Recently Instagram held an event with some press where they revealed how things
work, as reported by TechCrunch. Let’s dive in.
Prior to the switch to the algorithmic feed in July 2016, Instagram says that users only
saw about 50 percent of their friends’ posts.
As we look at how Instagram works and its motivations, we must keep in mind that
like Facebook (its parent company), Instagram’s revenue is from advertising. Users
never pay to post to Instagram, explore the service, or browse their feed. Instagram’s
revenue comes when advertisers place advertisements on the service and when users
to take an action (tap) to learn more.
Because Instagram makes money when you view and take actions on advertising,
Instagram has a compelling business interest to entice users to spend as much time
using the application as possible.
As a user, you want to see photography (presumably from your friends).
As a business, Instagram wants you to keep looking at photography.
But the prior chronological timeline only led to folks seeing about half of what their
With the new algorithm, Instagram users now see 90 percent of the posts from their
friends and spend more time in the app overall. In theory, that’s a win-win for both you
and for Instagram, right?
But if you’re not seeing things chronologically anymore, what dictates the order in
which you see Instagram posts? Turns out it boils down to three main things (with three
other supporting factors).
4 • FOCUS OREGON
WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 5
The first factor used is based on how interesting
Instagram thinks the photo will be to you. This
includes your past behavior – have you liked
similar images in the past? Is this the sort of work
with which you typically interact?
How does Instagram know what you like? At
this point it’s not difficult for computers to
roughly categorize photos into groups such
as people, travel, sports, food, and the like.
If you routinely engage more with images
of a certain category, there’s a good chance
that Instagram will rank those images higher
and show them earlier in your feed.
This one is pretty simple: more recent posts will
be prioritized over ones that are days or weeks
old. Some of this depends on your usage… if you
check the app frequently, then naturally there
will be more recent updates to see. If you’re a
sporadic user, you’ll only be seeing the highlights,
and those highlights will favor regency.
Instagram wants to ensure you don’t miss content
from your closest friends and family. In fact, in
2016 when they introduced the algorithmic
timeline, they specifically said:
“And no matter how
many accounts you
follow, you should
see your best friend’s
How does Instagram know who are your best
friends? It considers factors such as these:
• People you know in real life
• People whose Instagram content you
like (photos, stories, live videos)
• People with you who leave comments
on their Instagram posts
• People that you search for
• People that you send direct
Three Lesser Factors
Although interest, timeliness, and relationships
are the main drivers of what you’ll see in your
Instagram timeline, there are three supporting
factors that also play a part.
How often you use the Instagram app will
affect what you see. As mentioned above in the
Timeliness section, when you log in, Instagram
will try to show you what it feels is the best
content for you to see. If it’s been a long time
since you opened the app, there’s a much bigger
pool of content to determine what’s “best.” On
the other hand, if you open the app several times
each day, each time Instagram will have a smaller
pool of fresh content from which to determine
The greater the number of accounts that you
follow, the greater the pool of content from
which Instagram can pull from. If you only follow
a handful of folks, it makes sense that you’ll have
less variety (and probably more predictability) in
Length of Usage Sessions
If a user typically has very short sessions browsing
Instagram, the app will do its best to show only
the most relevant stuff in that short period of time.
If a user routinely spends much longer periods
browsing back through their timeline, the service
may spread things out a bit since there is more
time to surface a wider range of content.
Things that are
• There’s no preference to photos or
videos overall. But if a given user has
shown a propensity to prefer one or the
other, that user’s timeline will feature
more of what that person has found
• There are no changes to the feed
algorithm based on whether you use
other features of the app such as Live
• You won’t be hidden or down-ranked
for posting too frequently.
• Speaking of hiding… Instagram doesn’t
hide posts at all. If someone scrolls
long enough, eventually they’ll see
everything that was posted by those
who they are following.
Additionally, Instagram notes that there is no such
thing as an Instagram shadowban, despite what
some articles online might lead you to believe.
That’s the Instagram
Algorithm. So What?
We’re in an age now where algorithmic feeds are
the norm for major social networks (Instagram,
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest…) and longing for
the “good old days” of a chronological feed
isn’t productive. Whether you like it or not, the
algorithmic feed is here for a while, if not forever.
As I noted earlier, if it works well, the Instagram
algorithm meets both your needs as a content
browser (see more of the stuff that’s most
interesting to you) as well as the social network’s
desire to have you spend more time on the
The more you use Instagram and interact with
the posts that you enjoy, the better you’ll be able
to “train” the Instagram algorithm to show you
more of the good stuff. Go forth and enjoy!
Originally published at techphotoguy.com
Aaron Hockley, M.Photog.Cr, FP-OR, helps photographers grapple with the
intersection of photography and technology. He writes frequently on his
website, TechPhotoGuy.com, and speaks at photographic events around
the country. Aaron's images have been selected for inclusion in PPA's Loan
Collection and he was a World Photographic Cup finalist.
6 • FOCUS OREGON
WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 7
How I Got Started
By Sandra Pearce, M. Photog ., M Artist. CR., CPP
Digital Art or in my words Photoshop
Painting—is my art of choice until something
better comes into my path. I have been an
Artist since I was 4 or 5 with a pencil. At one
time I taught seven traditional painting classes
a week. Upon becoming a photographer
25 years ago, I still painted with traditional
paints until I learned there was a program
that could be used to paint on the computer–
Corel Painter. I took classes from all the Corel
Painters that were teaching through PPA.
I loved being in Photoshop and just knew I
should be able to paint with it. I couldn’t
8 • FOCUS OREGON
find a teacher who could teach painting in
Photoshop, so I embarked on the journey of
teaching myself to paint using only Photoshop.
At first, I started using the air brush (as it was
called at that time) and the smudge tool to
mix with. People kept telling me you just can’t
paint with Photoshop—you need Corel. Then
Adobe added the mixer brush to Photoshop
and that was a game changer that made
painting with Photoshop a much easier task.
It was a tool to mix all the paint I had added
with my regular brush. With this new tool, I
had the confidence to begin entering my
Photoshop paintings in competition.
People could not believe they were done
exclusively in Photoshop and not in Corel. More
and more people began asking me how I was
able to paint realistic paintings in Photoshop
so I decided to offer a class on how I did it. I
held a workshop with 15 people attending at
my studio. Marybeth Jackson,
Florida School administrator,
asked me to teach Painting
with Photoshop that next year.
From there people began to
learn they already had the tools
necessary to paint without
buying or learning another
I have now taught hundreds of
people how to use the tools in
Photoshop to make beautiful
art pieces. It makes my heart
happy to see my students do
so well. I was once asked by
a student “What if we beat
you in competition?” I answered, “It means that maybe I am a better teacher than a
competitor.” I have had students who have learned that painting in Photoshop has
made their retouching skills much better and faster. You have all the tools it is just
learning how to use them.
The differences between traditional
art and digital art are vast and
varied. There is one common link:
the knowledge and skill needed to
create true art, regardless of the
medium. I have a working knowledge
of traditional and computer
based art as well as experience
teaching each form as well. I know
that photographers are already
comfortable with the tools used in
Photoshop, and this enables them
to concentrate on the techniques of
painting rather than learning a new
My class will teach you what tools
you will need for painting. How to remove glass glare, stray hairs and blemishes in less
time with a realistic look. You will learn a different way to paint eyes with a sparkle in
them. My students have told me what they learned in class is definitely a game changer.
I invite you to learn painting while having a fun time in my painting with Photoshop class.
I believe anyone with small amounts of Photoshop ability can paint in Photoshop. I use
one layer only and that is just to see what you have done. I teach so simple it is not a
rocket science course.
Sandra will be teaching a 2 day class in Portland,
April 5th and 6th. For more information and to register
WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 9
How to Measure the
Performance of Your
By Kim Kuhlman, PhD, M.Photog.Cr, CPP
In the last issue, I discussed why your photography website needs to load fast. Our shift
to mobile devices, ever-decreasing attention span and accelerating need for instant
gratification can impact the number of visitors and the conversion rate of your website
and hence, your bottom line. Google recommends that your website loads and becomes
usable within five seconds on a 3G mobile connection or three seconds on a 4G connection
https://blueskydigit.al/GoogleScorecard. How do you accomplish this without being a developer?
First, you need to measure your website’s speed.
So How Do I Measure My
Google. It is also available in the advanced settings of webpagetest.org, in Chrome’s DevTools and
as a Chrome extension. Lighthouse features advanced diagnostics on 1) performance, 2) accessibility,
3) best practices, and 4) SEO. The basic performance metrics I pay the most attention to are “first
meaningful paint” and “time to interactive.” “First meaningful paint” is the time it takes for the user
to feel that the primary content of the page is visible. “Time to interactive” is the time it takes the
page to respond to user interactions within 50 milliseconds. Remember, your main goal is to satisfy
the user. If you don’t, they will go elsewhere, and so will Google. It is worth noting that Lighthouse is
not all encompassing. It does not handle testing for mobile-friendliness or your website’s structured
data. There are links to those particular tools in the SEO section of the Lighthouse report.
I’m going to talk about the first five of these tools in this article and leave the sixth for the next issue
along with a list of action steps you can take to speed up your photography website. Let’s see what
the first five tools can tell you about your website.
Free Tools from Google
The tools from Google are pretty basic because they don’t allow you to use different connection
speeds and server locations. However, they are from Google, so you better pay attention to them.
Both TestMySite and PageSpeed Insights give you lots of suggestions for speeding up your site, but
PageSpeed tends to break it down a bit better. If you want all the gory details, the Lighthouse report
will give them to you. PageSpeed Insights was recently revamped and now incorporates Lighthouse
A word to the wise; don’t waste your time trying to get scores of 100, especially on mobile. Even
https://google.com only got a 91/100 on mobile optimization and 99/100 on desktop (Fig. 1) before
PageSpeed Insights was revamped. Now you can’t even analyze this URL with PageSpeed Insights.
Free Online Performance Tools
There are several free tools for measuring website performance. Some of the tools I use are:
• TestMySite - https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com
• PageSpeed Insights -https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
• Pingdom - https://tools.pingdom.com/
• Web.dev - https://web.dev (Launched Nov. 12, 2018) currently in Beta)
• GTMetrix - https://gtmetrix.com
• WebPageTest - https://webpagetest.org (sponsored by Google)
I always audit websites with several of these tools because each has a different physical location,
different algorithms, and different connection and software emulators. Google tweaks its tools all
the time, so results change over time, too. The first three of these websites are good for beginners,
while the last three are for more advanced users. TestMySite, PageSpeed Insights and Web.dev are
products from Google, so there is some overlap between them.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Google’s relatively new “Lighthouse” tool. Lighthouse (https://
blueskydigit.al/lighthouse) is an open-source, automated tool that underlies all of the tools from
Figure 1. Mobile (left) and desktop (right) results from PageSpeed
Insights (September 2018) for Google’s own homepage.
TestMySite - testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com
Google’s TestMySite mobile tool will test any URL and generate a report that can be emailed to you
(or to your webmaster). It will measure how long it takes your website to load over a 3G network
and estimate what percentage of visitors you may lose due to loading time. It will also compare
your website’s loading speed to those in your industry. Furthermore, it will give you Google’s top
recommendations for speeding up your website.
10 • FOCUS OREGON
WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 11
How do the websites of the PPA Board members stack up? Today I re-analyzed them all through
the new version of PageSpeed Insights (December 17, 2018) and compared them to the data from
September 2018. Using the same color coding as Google does to indicate “site health,” I have listed
them in no particular order in Fig. 2 below. According to Google, there’s some room for improvement.
With the changes in PageSpeed Insights , the desktop scores appear to have increased dramatically
while mobile scores have generally decreased.
Figure 2. Homepage PageSpeed Insight scores for PPA Board members’ websites in
no particular order. Data source: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/
As a cautionary note, I
have also been tracking a
photographer’s website on
the Wix platform (Fig. 3).
This site did extremely well
in September 2018, but the
analysis today was dismal at
best. Without further analysis
using the Lighthouse tool, It
is difficult to explain why this
drastic change happened.
Needless to say, if you have a
website on Wix, please check
your own results as soon as
Figure 3. Homepage PageSpeed Insight scores for a photographer’s website on
Wix. Data source: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights
Finally, we come to the newest of Google’s website optimization offerings, Web.dev. It was launched
in mid-November 2018 and aims to help developers build modern capabilities into their websites and
apps. It contains two sections, “Learn” and “Measure,” both of which are broken down into manageable
categories. In the “Learn” section, you can explore “Fast load times” (note that this is listed first),
“Network resilience,” “Safe and secure,” Easily discoverable,” “Installable,” and “Accessible to all.”
In the “Measure” section, you have the opportunity to measure the performance of your website and
monitor your progress over time (with a Google account, of course). Measurements are performed using
the Lighthouse tool and are broken down into “Performance,” “Accessibility,” “Best Practices,” and
The workflow comes next, and includes 1) “Audit your web page,” 2) “Analyze for improvements,”
and 3) “Learn how to fit it.” Once you plug in a URL, this tool will run Lighthouse and provide you
with a detailed listing of metrics for 1) performance, 2) progressive web app, 3) best practices, 4)
SEO, and 5) accessibility. If you have never heard of “progressive web apps,” don’t worry, you’re not
alone. PWA is basically a means by which an app or a website can be viewed and used while a device
is offline, allowing for a seamless experience even when the user is disconnected from the Internet.
If you’re running WordPress, as usual, there’s a plugin for it called, Super PWA.
Keep in mind that Web.dev is not for the faint of heart. It will give you an overwhelming amount of
data about your website. Do not try to fix everything all at once. Try to pick one or two of the most
important things to fix, and start there. You will never get perfect scores, but every little bit you can
improve will help your SEO.
One of the old standby website performance analysis tools is Pingdom from Solar Winds. You can
access the free version at https://tools.pingdom.com. Pingdom allows you to analyze your website
from seven locations around the world, so pick one that is closest to your server’s physical location and
your target audience. The free version is fairly limited and gives you four pieces of basic information
The “performance grade” from Pingdom is basically
your website’s grade from YSlow and gives you a relative
measure of how you compare to other websites. YSlow
is based on Yahoo’s rules for high performance websites
and has been incorporated into both Pingdom and
GTMetrix. You can also install an extension for it in most
modern browsers (http://yslow.org). Pingdom’s “page
size” is simply a measure of how much data has to be
transmitted from the server to the browser. You want to
keep this as small as possible. The “load time” simply
Figure 4. Pingdom analysis of https://google.com
tells you how fast Pingdom was able to load your data
at your selected location. Finally, the “requests” tells
you how many times the browser had to request an “asset” (file, image, video, etc.) in order to
completely render the page. The more times the browser has to request an asset that requires
round-trip communication between the browser and the server, the slower your website will load.
It also makes a few limited suggestions to improve performance, but beyond that, you will get into
Pingdom’s paid service.
GTMetrix is one of my favorite tools because of the amount of information it gives you about how
to improve your website. It also allows you to sign up for a free account from which you can run
regular reports on your website and compare your results over time. The folks at GTMetrix have also
provided several resource guides, including one for optimizing WordPress. GTMetrix gives you results
for both Google’s PageSpeed and Yahoo’s YSlow. However, Google has not updated the PageSpeed
Insights SDK in quite some time, so the version used by GTMetrix will yield different results than
Lighthouse. One of the great things about GTMetrix is that it ranks its recommendations in order of
priority. The biggest improvements in performance will come from this tool’s top recommendations.
12 • FOCUS OREGON
WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 13
GTMetrix also gives you more options to choose for your analysis. In addition to the server
location, you can choose the browser and connection type. Just click on the unobtrusive
“Analysis Options” button that I’ve highlighted in red to open up the “dashboard” (Fig. 5).
Once the dashboard is opened, you’ll see options for server location, browser type and device,
and connection speed (Fig. 6).
Figure 5. GTMetrix dashboard indicating button for additional options.
Figure 7. GTMetrix results opened with details for unoptimized
images and links to optimized versions (outlined in red).
In the Next Issue…
Figure 6. GTMetrix dashboard opened with options for location, browser and
Just like we saw for Pingdom, we see general scores from PageSpeed and YSlow along with
“Fully Loaded Time,” “Total Page Size,” and “Requests.” Here, however, we also get listing of
the problems in order of their priority. GTMetrix also classifies these recommendations based
Finally, I recently discovered what might be the most important feature of GTMetrix for
photographers: optimized images!! I was running a website SEO audit for a site on SquareSpace.
The GTMetrix analysis told me that there were images that weren’t optimized. Then I realized
that GTMetrix could show me the losslessly “optimized version” of every image (Fig. 7). All
you have to do is analyze your website through GTMetrix, click on the “Optimize images” tab,
display the optimized versions of your images, right-click to save them to your hard drive, and
upload them back to your website. The really great thing is that this service is NOT platform
dependent. Yes, it will take a little more work, but it could give you a loading speed advantage
that’s truly worth the extra effort. If you’re using WordPress on your website, there are several
free plugins that can optimize your images for you. Personally, I use the premium version of the
Smush plugin by WPMUDEV.
I hope all these web page test tools keep you
busy, and that you find them useful. In the
next issue, I’ll explain the advanced settings of
webpagetest.org in measuring website loading
speed. Then I’ll give you a list of action steps you
can take to improve your website performance.
I’ll also walk you through how to set up my
favorite WordPress caching plugin, Comet
Cache, because caching plugins are not simply
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop
me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
and put “PPA Technical SEO Question” in the
subject line. You can also check out my blog at
also have a fledgling private Facebook Group,
Blue Sky Digital Strategy (https://www.facebook.
com/groups/blueskydigitalstrategy), where you
can ask for help and find lots of good information
on all aspects of SEO and Social Media. If you
made it this far, I’ll also give you a complimentary
website audit. Just mention that you saw it here.
OPPA members and one website only, please.
Kim Kuhlman, PhD, M.Photog.Cr, CPP is a professional photographer and owner of Kim Kuhlman Photography and
Chile Dog Photography. She earned her PhD in Engineering Physics and worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
and the Planetary Science Institute. Imaging of one form or another, most recently at the nano-scale, has been
involved in her scientific endeavors. She brings a knowledge of physics to her photography that gives her a
unique perspective on creating an award-winning image.
Kim is also the owner of Blue Sky Digital Strategy, LLC, a digital agency that helps small businesses with WordPress
website design and security, search engine optimization (SEO), content and email marketing, and social media
management. Blue Sky Digital Strategy also provides WordPress coaching, security and website maintenance
14 • FOCUS OREGON
WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 15
By Alexis Dowdle
Entrepreneurs are always looking for educational opportunities. Sometimes these
opportunities are huge investments such as going to school and seeking higher education,
sometimes they are workshops, or classes offered through OPPA (insert shameless plug
here), and sometimes these opportunities come in the humble form of a book. Books are
probably the most affordable and accessible way to further educate ourselves. At 26 years
old, books are an attractive option. I don’t have to make a huge financial investment, I don’t
have to find a babysitter for my daughter, I don’t even have to put on pants. If you are an
on-the-go type, you don’t even have to read. You can just listen to a book on your mobile
device, kindle, iPad, etc. If you find yourself in want or need of a book to help you learn
something about Photography or Business, here are a few of our favorites.
IF YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MONEY
I recommend: “You are a Badass at Making Money” by Jen
Sincero. This is the follow up to her first book “You are a
Badass” (which is equally as wonderful).
Synopsis: “You Are a Badass at Making Money will launch you
past the fears and stumbling blocks that have kept financial
success beyond your reach. Learn to:
• Uncover what's holding you back from making money
• Give your doubts, fears, and excuses the heave-ho
• Relate to money in a new (and lucrative) way
• Shake up the cocktail of creation
• Tap into your natural ability to grow rich
• Shape your reality—stop playing victim to circumstance
• Get as wealthy as you wanna be
Why I like it: The author gets vulnerable about her own financial failures in a hilarious and
IF YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT INSPIRATION
I recommend: “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Synopsis: Elizabeth Gilbert shares “her wisdom and unique
perspective on creativity, offering potent insights into the
mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our
curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how
to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what
we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and
habits we need to love our most creative lives…”
Why I like it: She lets us know how fleeting inspiration can be
and helps us to recognize it and use it to make our dreams
a reality. I know this is technically not a business book, but
we work in a creative field and this is a book that analyzes
creativity and inspiration so I feel like it passes.
IF YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT TIME MANAGEMENT
Lisa Dillon recommends: “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown
Synopsis: Greg McKeown teaches you the Way of the
Essentialist which is not getting more done in less time
but rather about getting only the right things done. The
Essentialist asks not “how many of these things can I do” but
instead asks “what can I go big on and what can I let go of.”
It’s not really a time management strategy. It’s the systematic
discipline of discerning what is absolutely essential and
eliminating everything that is not so we can find out where
we can make the highest possible contribution towards the
things that really matter. It’s the art of doing less, but better,
and it can be applied to every area of our lives.
Why she likes it: Like most everyone, I find myself feeling
stretched thin with so many demands on my time. Using the
philosophy and techniques in this book, I am reorganizing my
life so that I can determine where the most effective use of
my time will be and clearing out all the things that are there
by default. Sometimes you find yourself doing things “because that’s the way we’ve always
done it,” which is a pretty poor reasoning for doing something. I’ve eliminated pointless
meetings and pulled myself out of groups where I wasn’t a solid contributing member to
give myself more time for the things where I can make the biggest contribution. It has
helped tremendously with my state of mind but I still have a lot more work to do!
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WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 17
IF YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MARKETING AND BRANDING
Lisa Dillon recommends: “Building a StoryBrand” by
Synopsis: Native Portlander, Donald Miller has made
every mistake in the book for an entrepreneur before
he developed his 7-step framework for building a story
brand for your business. Many businesses (maybe most?)
like to position themselves as the hero in their messaging
but Miller teaches you that the most effective marketing
and branding puts the customer in the hero position
and puts you as the trusted guide who will help them
identify the villains (problems) and solve those problems
with your help. Using the elements of story, Miller shows
you how to clarify your messaging so you connect with
your customers on a deeper level than ever before. He
shows you the real reasons customers make purchases
and how you can tap into that basic human need for story
to position yourself and your product differently and set
yourself apart from the rest of the me-too brands.
Why she likes it: Miller breaks down the process so easily that anyone can understand the
framework and use it, not just for your advertising but as a framework for your whole business
culture and customer touchpoints. I’ve begun implementing many of these techniques and
now my website is tighter and more efficient and tells a story. When I talk with my clients, I
continue using story elements to help them identify their villains and how I can help them
defeat those villains. It’s a brilliant concept--dare I say, even revolutionary?--and one that will
serve you well.
Head over to our
Facebook group and share.
IF YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BUILDING A PORTFOLIO
WITHOUT A STUDIO
Howard Lao recommends: Studio Anywhere: A
Photographer’s Guide to Shooting in Unconventional
Synopsis: “With photographer Nick Fancher as your
guide, you’ll learn how to get portfolio-ready photos
while working in some of the most problematic
scenarios imaginable. Whether shooting a corporate
portrait, a test shoot with a model, or a promo shoot
with a band, you’ll discover that most of the time,
there’s no need for an expensive studio–you just
have to get creative.”
Why he likes it: I’m a beginner when it comes to
using off camera flash, and I also don’t have access
to a studio. Although it’s a short read, it’s filled with
colored photos of how the photo was taken, with
lighting position marked. Being able to see the
process helped me start to see light differently.
Having the author explain why and how made this
book worth having on the shelf.
The investments we make as entrepreneurs aren’t all financial. Sometimes the best investment
is time-time spent reading, or these days listening to, a book. Books that teach us about how
to better our businesses or make more money, how to improve our photography, or books
that inspire us to be fearless artists are always worthwhile. Invest your time and maybe a little
money and pick up one of these. What books are you reading lately?
Alexis Dowdle is an emerging photographer who is passionate about wedding and milk
bath photography, and being a mom. She is currently serving on the board of Oregon
Professional Photographers as the Secretary.
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FOCUS OREGON • 19
From April Kroenke:
From Kolu Westcott:
I can't wait for Imaging USA 2020!
My first Imaging was an amazing experience. The speakers were educational and
inspirational. At the trade show, I was able to speak to vendors and view their products.
My favorite part of Imaging was connecting with other photographers from across the
country. Everyone was so friendly! I gained a lot of knowledge about the business of
photography and how to better serve my clients. I left Imaging inspired and excited
about my business. I can't wait for next year!
From Aaron Hockley:
Imaging USA was a fun experience again this year, and I feel like PPA really stepped up
its education game with the new “Closing the Gap” programming - great speakers with
a lot of great material. As a returning attendee, Imaging is partially about education
but also about networking and catching up with old friends from the photography
world across the country.
One highlight every year is seeing the great photography at the Grand Imaging Awards,
and being there to see friends recognized for earning PPA degrees. I was proud to
receive my Master of Photography medal this year, presented by my wife and PPA
President Stephen Thetford. It’s nice to be recognized (along with a couple other OPPA
folks) for an achievement representing several years of imaging work, refinement, and
You Never Know What You Have Until It’s Gone!
As many of you know this past summer, because my husband is on Active Duty with
the US Army, my family and I had to relocate from Oregon to El Paso, TX. I was sad to
leave everyone in Oregon behind, but I was looking forward to being near an Army
Post again. I was also looking forward to starting my membership back up with Texas
PPA and getting to know other photographers in the El Paso area and joining the local
guild. Once I arrived, however, I quickly learned a few things.
1. The cultures in Oregon and Texas are very different, yet the still same
because of the friendly people in both locations.
2. We have over 300+ days of sunshine, which I have enjoyed and yet
surprisingly I have missed the rain of the PNW sometimes.
3. There is not a single camera shop in El Paso. The closest one is in
Albuquerque, NM which is over 4.5 hours away. Needless to say Amazon,
Adorama, and B&H have become my best friends for camera equipment
4. There is no local guild (local PPA affiliate). The one in El Paso closed
several years ago. So now, the closest guild for me is in Albuquerque, NM
which is 4.5 hours away or in Lubbock, TX which is about 6 hours away.
I would do anything to spend 30-45 minutes (even in terrible Portland
traffic!) driving across the metro to have an organization like OPPA in my
area. This is the biggest thing that I have missed so far. There is nothing
like OPPA for the like-mindedness of other photographers and to have
quality education at a reasonable price. For education I will have to
budget at least $1,000/workshop, which will have to cover travel, food,
hotel, and the workshop. Because of that, instead of attending several
workshops a year, I am planning to attend only 2 workshops/events due
to the dramatically increased costs. This is why I decided to apply for one
of the OPPA Scholarships and was awarded one at this past banquet.
Thank you OPPA for that and allowing me to attend Imaging USA so I
could hear all of the Bridging the Gap Speakers, and see so many of my
OPPA friends that I hold dear. So, please hear me when I say do not take
what resources and educations you have right in your area for granted.
Hop in the car and take the commute every now and again to one of the
OPPA’s events this year. You will be so glad you did and being in traffic
will be so worth it!
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WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 21
From Linda Keppinger:
Nuggets of Wisdom
There were so many reasons to venture
across the country for PPA’s epic event,
Imaging USA! From a phenomenal
line-up of speakers to networking, award
ceremonies, and education to having
time with colleagues - each day was
A highlight for me was having the
opportunity to spend some 1-on-1 time
with PPA’s CEO, David Trust, together with
our President, Sam Tarrel. Trust’s dynamic
personality and visionary style energized
us during the time we spent together.
In leaving Atlanta, I felt compelled to
share some nuggets of wisdom from our
meeting with David Trust.
Bridge the Gap
Trust began our conversation by sharing
that ‘bridging the gap’ is of single highest
importance for photographers to address
in today’s world. The gap, as he explained,
is about “how our photographic
community needs to adapt to the changes
taking place in our free market economy
in order to remain relevant”. The research
he shared indicates that consumers are
spending more money than ever on
everything, including photography. Data
indicates that Baby Boomers, ages 55-75,
average 41.6% of all spending in the U.S.
While Millennials are fast approaching,
the Baby Boomers are here now. Trust
elaborated that Baby Boomers are
positioned at the height of their salaries,
are smart spenders, conduct research
online, and play and work hard. What
this means for photographers is that “we
need to understand today’s consumers
and invest in ways that we can adapt and
be more relevant to them”. Furthermore,
Trust outlined some examples that appeal
to this consumer base, such as, pet
photography and images of grandparents
and grandchildren. The reason for this
largesse is that Baby Boomers would
rather spend their money today while they
are still alive than pass it on in inheritance.
Actionable Vision Plan
“Having a clear vision with an actionable,
time-based plan to execute against will
make a significant difference for your
business”, Trust explained. He described
the importance of developing actionable
plans in support of a vision that will
continue to evolve, as consumers and
markets change. The way to strengthen
your entrepreneurial muscle is through
the use of an actionable plan which
encompasses a range of topics such as
financial and personal development,
family/social time, and daily reading
(business and personal). With focus and
discipline being equally important to
vision—your business will succeed!
Strengthen Your Entrepreneurial Muscle
Some instrumental areas in creating a successful business include:
• Understanding your market and target consumer
• Being more serious about your business skills and understanding
• Being smart, aggressive, and thick-skinned business people
• Studying successful people and what they do
• Reading, reading, reading
Branding is about Relationships
“In today’s digital world, networking and relationships are vital to our industry.
However, branding is completely about relationships...about having authentic, personal
relationships,” Trust shared. Online interaction contains value but in-person contact
cannot be replaced. The key to building a brand is about developing relationships with
people that are meaningful by being engaged and listening to what they are saying.
Find out about people and write down the details of these conversations so that you
move from simply being a contractor to having a relationship with them. Show your
authenticity and loyalty by focusing on the customer - because it’s always about them!
In doing so, you will provide so much value they won’t want to miss out - you will simply
overwhelm the people that you work with.
Read, Read, Read!
As we concluded our time with Trust, he mentioned once again about the value of
reading, because Trust explained, “it creates discipline and business skills”. Here are
some favorites from his 100+ bookshelf -
• “The Experience Economy” by B Joseph Pine II
• “Road for Relevance: 5 Strategies for Competitive Associations” by Harrison
• “It’s Your Brand: Make Your Identity Clear” by Andrea Callahan
• “Discover Your True North” by Bill George
• “Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth
• “The Power of Focus” by Jack Canfield
• “Ground Swell” by Charlene Li
• “Innovate the Pixar Way” by Bill Capodagli
SAVE THE DATES.
JANUARY 19-21, 2020
In today’s dynamically changing world our profession has considerable access to many
opportunities. And we as photographers play a vital role in bridging the gap, that is, to
adapt and be more relevant to today’s consumers.
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WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 23
By Alexis Dowdle
TIPS FOR A
PROBLEM: Protecting your gear
SOLUTION: Many of us know how to protect our gear, but for those of you who don’t
know, you can purchase official rain gear to protect your camera from the elements at Pro
Photo Supply or online. Or, if you are like me, and don’t mind a little D.I.Y. you can make
rain gear out of a garbage bag. I know a photographer who swears by wrapping her camera
tightly in an old t-shirt. There are many ways to protect your gear.
When I was ten years old, I moved to Oregon from Utah. It only took bringing my umbrella
to school one time before it was made apparent to me that in Oregon, where it rains
100 days out of the year, only nerds and tourists use an umbrella. Clearly, Oregonians
don’t let a little rain get in their way, but for photographers--especially portrait or natural
light photographers--rain can be a real problem. On a rainy day, the light isn’t always as
good, you can’t always make the agreed upon location work, you may not have access
to a studio, you need to protect your gear, and heaven forbid you or your client may
need to use an umbrella. Rescheduling isn’t always an option--it’s like the cheesy sticker
I had on my binder when I was ten that said, “LIfe isn’t about waiting for the storm to
pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” (I thought that was so poignant at ten). So
here are some tips and solutions for your typical Oregon rainy day shoots.
PROBLEM: Having to use an umbrella
SOLUTION: Use a photogenic light-friendly umbrella. Clear umbrellas are a great
alternative to ugly light-blocking umbrellas. They keep the client dry and the pictures pretty.
I have seen these umbrellas make an appearance in many PNW wedding photos.
Rainy days are an inevitability here in Oregon, but I wouldn’t trade Oregon’s beauty for dry
weather any day. And when all else fails, dancing in the rain would make for some great
Here are a few local rainy day spots to add to your own “rain route”
PROBLEM: Less than ideal lighting
SOLUTION: Off camera flash or a reflector can help make up for/augment the natural
light that is available. Obviously, a light-filled and dry alternative would be ideal, but reality is
that’s not always available. When shooting in less than ideal lighting, I have found that doing
a custom white balance and shooting in Kelvin really helps.
PROBLEM: Having to choose an alternative location
SOLUTION: The best indoor solution would be a studio, but we don’t all have access to
one. The best alternative location is light, dry, and free. Check your local parks for aesthetically
pleasing covered areas. Lobbies, coffee shops, and book stores can also be all those things.
Of course, always ask permission before shooting in any spots like these. Parking garages
can also have amazing natural light. The 2017 OPPA Board photo was taken in a parking
garage! Portland is known for its bridges and they are a great way to get out of the rain
(though you may have competition for the driest spots if you’re in certain areas of Portland).
Awnings provide protection from the rain as well--I know one OPPA photographer who has
a “rain route” that uses only downtown bridges and awnings to protect from the rain and it
has been very successful for her. She rarely has to reschedule a session because of rain.
• Tualatin Community Park
8515 SW Tualatin Rd, Tualatin, OR 97062
• Pearl Auto Park
1111 NW Davis St, Portland, OR 97209
• Champoeg State Park
8239 Champoeg Rd. NE, St. Paul, OR 97137
If you would like to share your favorite rainy day locations
please make a post on our OPPA facebook page under
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WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 25
Many thanks to our sponsors for their support of OPPA
• Nikon D3 camera body
• Nikon D700 camera body
• Nikon AF-s Nikkor 50mm f/1.4
• Nikon Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8
• Sigma 70-200mm
• Cyber Commander
• Strobe: Alien Bee 400 with parabolic umbrella
• Two YN560III Speedlights
• MagMod flash diffusion attachment
• Expo disk for color balance outside of studio
I am in love with Nikon’s professional line of cameras.
My D3 is a beast and has made it through some rough
terrain with me. While I primarily shoot indoors, it is
nice having a camera I know can withstand a little more
rugged work when needed.
I use a 50mm lens because I need to be able to photograph
my baby clients within an arms reach away for
safety. Any wider and subject distortion is too evident,
any longer and I cannot have a hand on baby when
needed. 50mm is the sweet spot for newborn photography.
It is basically the only lens I use.
I use a Paul C Buff Alien Bee 400 strobe due to the
nature of my work and clientele. You do not want to
use high powered strobes when photographing newborns
or babies. Little things like super bright strobes
can cause a session melt down quickly. While there are
plenty of photographers who stray away from these
entry level strobes, they have served me well over the
years. If you are just getting started with studio lighting
there this is a great place to start. They are very
affordable and easy to use. And they will last you a
long time if cared for properly.
to see our exclusive members only offers from: Hoodman USA, Light Atlas Creative,
ON1 Software, Pro Photo Supply, Spider Holster, Tether Tools and Think Tank Photo.
Not a member? JOIN TODAY!
26 • FOCUS OREGON
WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 27
Being a nature photographer, I most always have my camera gear with me wherever I go in case
Mother Nature decides to grace us with good light. On this day, I was in Bend with time to decide
if I was going to stay in Central Oregon or head back to the valley for sunset. One of the tools in
my arsenal when I chase light is the app called TPE (The Photographer’s Ephemis) with the Skyfire
add-on. I also checked in with a few fellow photographers to confirm that the valley was too stormy
for a good sunset and they reported sideways rain and hail. I headed to Smith Rock State Park as
the clouds were looking promising there. After hiking around, I found an area that seemed familiar
to me which I later realized that Gary Randall had some beautiful images from that general area and
some photographers have named this ravine “Gary’s Crack.” As I set up, a golden eagle flew above
me and I knew I’d be in for a magical sunset. The colors popped long enough for me to get several
shots with different compositions and this is my favorite. This was shot with my Nikon D850 and the
Nikkor 24-70 at 52mm, at the camera’s native ISO of 64, f/18 and for ½ second with a CPL. I do all
of my initial processing in Lightroom and polish up in Photoshop when needed.
A Night with the Pros: Bill Whitmire
- Breaking into the Business
Newborns and Babies 101: Safety,
Soothing & Sustainability - Amy West
Think Like a Competition Judge
- Lisa Dillon & Bryan Welsh
Photoshop 201: The Method behind the Madness
- Sam Tarrel
Quarterly Image Competition
The Art of Painting with Photoshop - 2 Day Class
- Sandra Pearce
Long Exposure Photography
- Thibault Roland
Quarterly Image Competition
28 • FOCUS OREGON
WINTER 2019 FOCUS OREGON • 29