FOCUS Oregon V2 I1


FOCUS Oregon. Oregon Professional Photographers Association Quarterly Magazine.



Thea Martin




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

M.Photog.Cr., FP-OR

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



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.




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.

Overall Engagement

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

friends posted.

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).




Three Primary

Timeline Factors


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

latest posts.”’

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

Instagram messages

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


Following Numbers

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

your timeline.

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

NOT Instagram

Algorithm Factors

• 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

or Stories.

• 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

Aaron Hockley, M.Photog.Cr, FP-OR, helps photographers grapple with the

intersection of photography and technology. He writes frequently on his

website,, 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.



Digital Art

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


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



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 How do you accomplish this without being a developer?

First, you need to measure your website’s speed.

So How Do I Measure My

Website’s Speed?

Google. It is also available in the advanced settings of, 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 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 -

• PageSpeed Insights -

• Pingdom -

• - (Launched Nov. 12, 2018) currently in Beta)

• GTMetrix -

• WebPageTest - (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 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:// 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 -

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.



PageSpeed Insights

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:


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:

Finally, we come to the newest of Google’s website optimization offerings, 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 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 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

(Fig. 4):

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 ( 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

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.



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

connection speed.

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

on their type, server, Javascript (JS), cascading style sheets (CSS), content, etc.

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 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

and put “PPA Technical SEO Question” in the

subject line. You can also check out my blog at We

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






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.


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

relatable way.


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.


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!






Lisa Dillon recommends: “Building a StoryBrand” by

Donald Miller

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.

What books

are you


Head over to our

Facebook group and share.



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.




From April Kroenke:

Wrap Up

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

and supplies.

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!



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



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.



By Alexis Dowdle



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




Amy West



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.

Please visit:

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!








Serendipity Sunset

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.

Thea Martin

















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



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