Dear PPA, I Still Love You, ButÖ


Dear PPA,

You know that I have had nothing but mad love for you. Even as I typed those words, I made a peace-sign with my fingers and thumped them against my chest. Iím street like that.

I donít want to say how long Iíve supported you with dues, but the number rhymes with ďfirty.Ē And Iíve been happy to do so. (Although, seriously, if I added up all the money spent on dues and competition and conventions, I could probably have a really nice condo on the beach right now with enough left over for convention registration for the next 10 years).

I have lifted you up as the shining organization on the hill to which professional photographers can look and trust. Youíve been around over a hundred years and as a non-profit, I like to think youíve got my back. And maybe you still do, but when an organization steals photos from photographers and uses them in their advertising, well, itís kind of hard to believe that.

And by ďkind of hard,Ē I mean, not at all.

I know you know what Iím talking about. It was a pet photo quiz and you needed promotional photos, so you went to photographersí social media sites and took them. Not all, of course, but enough to have some photographers upset. Didnít askÖ didnít compensateÖ just took them. Normally, a photographer would be thrilled to have his/her image featured by PPA, but certainly you can imagine the surprise when those photographers saw their own beautiful images marketing your event, and said, ďWhat the hell, PPA?Ē

They were not happy. Not one little bit. And NOBODY can blame them.

Now, PPA, I saw this happening. It was over the 4th of July weekend. Yes, I saw it, but didnít comment for two reasons:

I had 22 family members at a tiny cabin. TWENTY-TWO, PPA. I was cooking, cleaning, navigating a neighbor who was over every 5 minutes to use the phone and borrow stuff and had tiny nieces and nephews making a mess in the bathroom. I wonít explain further. You donít want to know.


I didnít have enough information. I saw the disgruntled posts of photographers who had their work stolen, but felt that you, PPA, would address it fully and completely.

Donít get me wrong, I wanted to comment, and, Iíll admit, I felt hypocritical for NOT commenting. But I just felt that there HAD to be more to the story. I mean, you are flippiní PPA, right? When it comes to you, Iím like Fox Mulder:

ďI want to believe!Ē

And then, last night, while attending an REO Speedwagon concert (donít judge) I glanced at my phone and saw this:


Hey, there, Vaguebook. Thanks for the in-depth explanation and heartfelt apology.


And it disappointed me, PPA. I mean, really bummed me out. I had a margarita at the concert, so I was able to soothe my pain somewhat, but it put a damper on the evening.

Now, I donít expect you to be perfect. Nobody is. EVERY person, child, pet, organization will make mistakes. Things will slip through cracks. We all have and will continue to have ďuh-ohĒ moments. Thatís life. Itís messy. And because we are human, we tend to muck things up.

But this is the equivalent of finding out Martha Stewart, the bastion of all things homemade, makes her brownies from a box.

I know you rely on membership dues to exist. I realize that. But Iíve seen some stuff youíve been doing, PPA, and Iíve remained silent. (And if you know me at all, you know how difficult thatís been. Seriously. Iíve been sitting on my hands to keep them off the keyboard). But this was the proverbial cherry on top.

Please, PPA, donít sweep it under the carpet. Explain fully and completely what happened and give a heartfelt apology. You say you are speaking to all parties involved, so I believe that you are. You are one of the largest non-profit associations out there ó I know you have the funds to fairly compensate those affected photographers. And compensate them well.

But not JUST them. You must also compensate those of us who, in light of this theft, now eye PPA with suspicion. Itís an icky feeling. I donít want to feel this way. Yuck. I was way happier before.

Now, I know Iíll get flack for this, and thatís okay. Iím a big girl. Iíve paid my dues ó literally. For a very very long time (refer to ďcondo on beachĒ statement). If any other photography organization had done this, I would have said something, too, but it wouldnít have been nearly as disappointing.

PPA, you are our last best hope to maintain integrity within an industry that, letís face it, is struggling in that department right now. It doesnít really matter who within your organization was responsible: itís up to YOU to fix this; the last thing I, or anyone, should have to worry about is that ďMy PPAĒ is going to steal a photo.

I still love you PPA, but I love the industry more, and I feel about it the same way I feel when I walk into my childís bedroom: the place is a mess, thereís dirty laundry on the floor, and there she stands, trying to convince me thereís nothing wrong with it. I still love her with all my heart, but that doesnít mean I donít want it cleaned up.


(PS. And if you are going to use a pet image without asking, Iím a little upset you didnít use mine. I mean, is she not sweet enough? Is she not cute enough? Iím trying not to be offendedÖ)

About the author: Missy Mwac is a photography satirist, a lover of bacon, a drinker of vodka, a lover of sparkle, and a guide through the murky waters of professional photography. You can connect with her on Tumblr and Facebook. This article was also published here.

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