Seven years ago this month, I graduated with my diploma in photography from the Hallmark Institute of Photography. I was in for a bit of a surprise when I did graduate though! I went from being immersed in photography 24/7 with 225 other like minded people to nothing. I worked as a studio manager in a large commercial studio in Calgary, but it was just a “job”. Everyone came to work, did their job, and went home to their families. It was a busy studio so we always had a shoot list to pluck away at and because it was commercial work, with very specific requirements for meeting the brand, there wasn’t really time to play or learn new techniques. Within a month of graduation, I was really missing the drive, the inspiration to learn and discover new skills within my photography.
As a part of my education at Hallmark, we were regularly encouraged to join a professional photography organization and become active within it. I very quickly found out why this was so important! I joined the Professional Photographer’s of Canada as a full member in 2007 and became a part of a family of photographers across Canada that are looking for the same thing – to grow as a photographer. I quickly found a mentor, and other members willing to review images and encourage me in my desire to learn more. I set a goal for myself to achieve my Master of Photographic Arts in an effort to push myself to grow.
In order to achieve a master’s, I had to submit images to accreditation portfolios, and image competitions. Each accreditation and each accepted or higher image in print competition earned me merits towards my Master’s. I also had to volunteer within the organization to help promote and strengthen the professional photography industry in Canada. I held several positions including membership chair in Alberta, marketing for a national convention and growing into holding the first national social media chair where I began and grew PPOC’s presence on social media sites and their blog. I learned as much in my volunteer positions from members across Canada, as I did in working to improve my images.
All of this effort and drive landed me in Winnipeg in late April to attend the Professional Photographer’s of Canada national convention. At the awards banquet, I was presented with my much desired Master of Photographic Arts designation by the PPOC’s chairman Jillian Chateauneuf, MPA. I am now 1 of only 184 photographers that hold this designation in Canada! It was a pretty amazing experience for this small town girl from rural Alberta!
At this convention, I attending the judging clinic so I am now a certified photography judge! I am excited to put these new skills to use in my own work, but also in helping to give back to the professional photography community. As well, I received the Frank Kristian Memorial Scholarship from the PPOC. Frank Kristian was an incredible photographer, and photography judge as well as a very active and supportive PPOC member. I am greatly honoured to receive this scholarship which allows me to pursue additional photographic training!
I have spent years chasing down my Master’s and when I look back at my skills when I started, to those that I now possess, I am so grateful that I pushed myself to go for it! The only thing I can ask myself now is, what is next? Because I know there is still more for me to learn, and still more for me to strive for!!!