I’m so pleased to announce that my submission for accreditation in Nature Photography passed with flying colours! One image received an ‘excellent’ and four images received ‘very good’. This is now my 5th accreditation! I am also accredited in High Key Children Portrait, Wedding Story, Child and Infant Portrait, and Pictorial/Scenic.
Now some of you may ask what does accreditation mean?
Accreditation is the first elevation above the general membership level, and is achieved by submitting samples of the applicant’s photography to a PPOC Board of Review for Accreditation. Accreditation demonstrates that the photographer is capable of delivering above average quality photography in a chosen category. In assessing Accreditation Submissions, the judges will consider the following criteria: Impact, Creativity, Style, Composition, Presentation, Color Balance, Centre of Interest, Lighting, Subject Matter, Image file quality, Technique and Story Telling.
Why is this important to me?
Joining the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) was one of the first things I did when I started my business 6 years ago. Like all associations, it’s not perfect but there have been lots of positive changes in the last few years, with more to come. There is great energy and momentum with all those who work hard to make sure the PPOC serves its members well.
Without the PPOC and another great association CAPIC, we would still have very outdated copyright laws in Canada. I truly believe that if you want to be a professional, you need to back that up. While producing great work and having lots of love and accolades are enough for some, I’m a ‘piece of paper’ kind of girl. I earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Image Arts from Ryerson University and am proud of that accomplishment. I then got a certificate in graphic design from Algonquin College. With the number of new photographers entering the field, being part of the PPOC makes me not only feel more credible, but part of a supportive community rather than on my own, wary of all the ‘competition’ out there. It’s also allowed me to push my craft, become better educated about the business of photography and have goals.
One of those goals was to become accredited. This means that I submitted 10 images in one of 75+ categories and a panel of qualified judges and they review each image. Sometimes all 10 will be accepted, other times one or more may be rejected and you need to resubmit new images to replace the ones that didn’t make the cut. Both have happened to me.
It can be downright crushing not to get accepted because when you get down to only 10 images, you think those are your best so it can sting and you are probably used to getting lots of love and praise from family, friends and clients. It’s hard to take rejection but the critique has been more helpful in making me improve than any workshop I could have taken. It’s pushed me to look at photography, especially MY photography, more objectively and I really take to heart suggestions on improving. It also made me WANT to be better and prove that I could do it, that my work was good enough to pass!
Sometimes, it is about learning what the judges will dismiss and choosing appropriate images. I often had the images I needed to pass all along but I needed to better understand how to read images and what makes one stronger than another, what little things might be hurting an image, different cropping, etc… It’s very hard to separate the emotional attachment we sometimes have for images and when we first try, we start to see flaws and that’s tough. Just the process of choosing can get me down about my work. But no one has gotten better at what they do without being tough on themselves. And the rewards are worth it!
Once you get that email saying ‘congratulations!’, it’s the best feeling! I feel validated by my peers and photographers who’ve been at it longer and have more talent than me. Whether or not it’s important to clients, it’s hard to say. Some do care, some don’t but everyone should know that if you do hire a photographer that has received an accreditation, they have pushed themselves to ensure the quality of work they produce is at a very high standard.
Now, my next goal is to earn my Craftman of Photographic Arts (CPA) by next year. To get there, I will hopefully have some of my images accepted in the National Image Salon Competition and by earning print merits and service merits – I’m currently the Vice-Chair of the PPOC-Eastern Ontario Branch – I’m getting there! Wish me luck!