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View Full Version : Photographic Craftsman ... too easy to get?



Marc_Benjamin
02-09-2008, 11:02 AM
Hi Everyone, I wanted to throw this out there since it's something that comes up from time to time when I talk with old school Craftsmen.

Seems that (mostly em who got theirs in the 80's and 90's) some think that nowadays the degree doesn't really carry as much weight anymore since people are getting the speaker merits faster and easier than ever.

Easy they say? I don't really think so but let's take Super Monday for instance. The program allows speakers (or tandem) a maximum of 4 merits a year. Another is the new rule allowing one to receive a speaking merit from their own local. How about the continuing education program where merits are awarded to people who do their own workshops? Some speculate that speaking merits will soon be given for the webinars as well when those start to pick up. Heck I personally think that qualified forum mentors also deserve speaking merits. BTW, I got mines in 18 months though I did the locals tour.

Anyways, it's not hard for somebody get to be a craftsman without ever leaving their city/metropolitan and get it within 2 years. Many have now become craftsmen w/o ever sharing at other local affiliates, speaking in front of a crowd at a convention or teaching a class at an affiliate school.

Since it's not as difficult anymore, I wonder if the appeal of the speaking merit is fading. If so, it's unfortunate since it will get harder for locals now to invite out of towner's since they (speakers) can really get the same merits without leaving home. Also, there might be a trend of having all local speakers since well qualified people don't have much incentive to come anymore. Gosh that's a scary scenario.

So I don't know, I'm starting to see what em oldies have been saying. How about you ... what's your take? How does your local group membership feel about this? Do people even care about the merits? Have they ever? Also when you answer, tell us a little about your background so readers could get an idea of your experience with the program.

D._Craig_Flory
02-09-2008, 12:57 PM
Hi Marc;

I took a while getting the "other" merits over the years. I got my first teaching merit from, of all things, doing a class on using MS Publisher for doing studio forms, price lists, handouts and such. I did it for an early bird program for our state association. I then did up my program on Adobe Photoshop. I taught it as an early bird plus another time at our state convention. I also drove 6½ hours to give it to the SNAPP group(Southwest New York). I taught it to the Northeast Pa. group and also the Central New Jersey group. And, I gave it to the Maryland Association. My last two teaching merits were for serving as a print judge twice for the Northeast Pa. group. I got Craftsman in January of 2006 after setting a goal to get it in 3 years. So, I did do a bit of driving to get mine. The (much) bigger challenge is now attacking Master. I have 10 "other" merits built up and need to start getting the print merits.

Michael_Black
02-09-2008, 01:00 PM
I think it's tougher to get speakers period. I rarely go to our local guild meetings any more. Membership and participation are down.

Why don't I go?

To give up a late afternoon senior session costs me money. I've gone to many programs where the speaker is supposed to be an Adobe Photoshop guru yet I know far more than they do. When I get the email containing the info about any speaker, I go to their website and check them out. If they are good, I will consider going. If their work is subpar or just average snapshot variety then I stay home.

I wouldn't speak at our local guild because there needs to be some physical distance from my audience.

I've done a Super Monday and have gone to various guilds to speak. I have 10 speaking merits so far. I may never get my Craftsman Degree.

Each year we do host a class for our lab. We invite the long time pros that need help with computers and workflow. And we do it all for free. It a way for me to give back to the ones who have helped me.

D._Craig_Flory
02-09-2008, 01:13 PM
Hi Michael;

With only 3 more teaching merits to go to have 13 ... why wouldn't you go for it ? It's a great news blurb to announce in a news release and the certificate looks terrific matted and framed on the studio wall. How far from having the requisite 12 "other" merits are you ?

David_A._Lottes
02-09-2008, 01:37 PM
Don't let it get to you Marc. The truth is it was always pretty easy if you really wanted it. There was always a "circut" of small affiliates that had trouble paying for speakers in every part of the country. Super Monday is/was a terrific idea IMO. I went to one the first time they were introduced and we didn't get merits in those days. It was just a great way to get a look inside someones studio. PPA needed something besides it's annual convention. Super Monday has filled that need very well. It's affordable and targeted. I really like Super Mondays better than any other events. I have instructed two of them. One in 1997 and one in 2007. I might do another one in 2017. (HA) I have given affiliate programs in Dayton, Indianapolis and the Chicago region of Northern Indiana. I had a lab that sponsored me and Kodak even pitched in for my Indy program so the affiliates didn't have to pay for the programs. It's harder for avearge Joe's like me to find these sponsors these days and some of the small affiliates have folded. So it's harder for new speakers to get experience. I think if they cracked down on the requirements they'd wind up where they were when the Masters program was tied to the Cert program. Just less, not better. Change is inevitable, the fact is the programs are still producing great photographers and teachers. Like you for example. :)

Darren_Osgood
02-09-2008, 01:43 PM
Marc,
I'm a newbie to the PPA and I think its great that the trade is encouraging others to teach and give merits as incentive. I for one like the fact that I probably won't have to drive across country to work on a degree and spend time away from my family. However my position on this will change when there comes a time when I look forward to trips to new areas as the children get older.

I don't think that one has to have a room full of 600 people to be deserving of teaching merits.

From a few friends that I know of that are currently pursuing degrees, they are actively traveling the country and merits are certainly one of the bennies of their efforts.

I'm set to join our local guild just because of the facts you listed, as they have a speaker every month.

Darren

Michael_Black
02-09-2008, 02:15 PM
Hi Michael;

With only 3 more teaching merits to go to have 13 ... why wouldn't you go for it ? It's a great news blurb to announce in a news release and the certificate looks terrific matted and framed on the studio wall. How far from having the requisite 12 "other" merits are you ?

I do have one print merit and that is it. When it is time to go to school in June, I have sports leagues to photograph. I've put out some feelers to speak at a few more area guilds.

Don_Chick
02-09-2008, 02:24 PM
I think the Craftsman degree is important to the industry. It rewards people for sharing their knowledge with others. Some choose to get it in a hurry and some take their time - as with anything else!

I began speaking with no specific time frame in mind to get the degree, I just love to teach. One time I was driving to VT to speak at their monthly. An hour into the commute I thought.. "I am going to drive 8 hours today for 1 speaking merit!".. Then I though... "If all the others that I've listened to and learned from thought the same way I wouldn't be where I am today".. and I never gave the 8 hours of driving another thought.

As it turned out, I got the degree in 06 along with the Masters degree. Didn't know D. Craig then, but we were in the same awards ceremony!

Marc, you can only get 2 merits per year from your local Association.

Sandra_Pearce
02-09-2008, 02:56 PM
Does a degree mean you really know what you are doing? I have been a photographer for 13 years. I have been competing in competition for 2 years and a member of FPP for 10 years. I never really thought about a degree. My first impression at the first convention I went to was why are these people wearing these things around their neck. I had no idea what they were or the weight that went with those bars. I know some people that have worked very hard to receive a degree but their business is not a success. Does it make you a better photographer or are you concentrating on having a degree to have those letters after your name, so all the other photographers will know that you are qualified? My husband (a non-photographer) saw a photographer's name with tons of degree abbreviations attached and asked what they all meant. I really couldn't tell him. He said we were the only profession he new that had that many credentials. My clients could care less. They don't understand that an 80 score is great. They wonder why you haven't scored higher, say 95, that they understand. They don't understand what goes into a degree, nor do they care.

I feel that being a photographer is an honor. We fill dreams with our work. The first thing people take in a disaster is their memories. We have made those memories. We record history for all those not born to know what the world was like. A photograph validates that we were here. Have merits and degrees become a driving force in the photography business?

Marc, I am sure this is not what you were asking, but it was what I was feeling. Take it for what it is worth. This all came from someone that usually writes a couple of lines. Love your new avatar. It makes me smile - that is what an image should do - bring out your emotions.

Sandra

Dave_Cisco
02-09-2008, 03:06 PM
Marc,
You know you want it so just go get it. Then, you can run this survey with both Gold and Blue around your neck. It's much more credible to argue about these things, even the down side, when you have them.:D

Stan_Lawrence
02-09-2008, 03:12 PM
"some think that nowadays the degree doesn't really carry as much weight anymore since people are getting the speaker merits faster and easier than ever."

I got my cr in the 80's, it took less than a year. Being on the speaking circuit kinda helped...it's no easier now than then, the trick is do folks want to hear what you have to say....I was lucky then, enough did. I'm sure they'll be a lot of folks that want to hear you....go for it. :cool:

Don_Chick
02-09-2008, 03:33 PM
One reason to have the gold/blue ribbon is that it matches more clothing outfits.

--------------------

Sandra,

Valid points, thank you for sharing.

--------------------

The Master's degree is peer recognition (doesn't mean you've arrived!)
The Craftsman degree is giving back/sharing what you've learned

Each inidividual has to decide for themselves if degrees are important enough (to them) to work for.....

Jeff_Dachowski
02-09-2008, 03:38 PM
Marc,
Just to clarify things. Speakers do not get speaker merits for their cont ed programs. They only get service merits.

Jeff

Cheri_MacCallum
02-09-2008, 04:08 PM
Crafstman was the hardest for me to get so far!!! I was terrified of speaking and it took every ounce of courage to do it. Since then I am a little less terrified and I have grown because of it!


They don't understand what goes into a degree, nor do they care.

It's up to us to educate them. Send in the press releases when you do well in print comp. Display your awards at your studio. And something that I will be doing soon is putting all this on my blog. I have one but have not used it to it's fullest potential.

I have had clients ask me what all the letters after my name meant and they are interested. I've actually gotten a few commissions because they took the time to find out what it all meant.

I know some doctors, educators and real estate agents that have more letters after their name than the entire alphabet!!! We're not the only ones!!!:D

David_A._Lottes
02-09-2008, 04:13 PM
I was terrified of speaking and it took every ounce of courage to do it. Since then I am a little less terrified and I have grown because of it!

Now that is probably one of the best things you can get from speaking. When I was doing career day seminars for the Boy Scouts Explorer program I would tell the kids to do some theatre or chorus or band or debate team or something in High School to prepare them for being in front of people. Because in most cases if your going to become a photographer, your going to be dealing with peole. Great point Cheri!

Michael_Gan
02-09-2008, 04:37 PM
My clients could care less. They don't understand that an 80 score is great. They wonder why you haven't scored higher, say 95, that they understand. They don't understand what goes into a degree, nor do they care.

Didn't want to quote the whole thing and bloat this thread... where should I start?

Ok, let's start with Sandra's. In an industry where the poverty level is higher than any other profession on this planet, all these "abbreviations" have a real place in our industry. I think a lot of points are missed, so here's my perspective.

The degree to the public is a short term thing. Once they know about it, they just know and move on. They know you're "good" as long as you prove it to them (that's why it kinda erks me when someone markets their Masters for portrait clients, yet never hung a portrait in competition....but that's another thread ;))

The degrees are a combination of personal excellence and giving back to the profession. This is a point that has slowly eroded in this industry. There were more Master Craftsman back in the older days where you were able to identify them, look up to them, and learn from them, than now-a-days. And it wasn't so dang expensive to learn from them then. Now, it's a "all about me" in that "I got it, now you're on your own", and the funny thing is, most of those Masters and Craftsmen have incredible stagnated work. Shows what selfishness can do to a person.

The problem is, when people take the medallion and run, there becomes a short supply of photographic leaders. When the photographic leadership goes down, so does the decay of the industry, because, the newer photographers have no idea what is a higher standard!

Think about this: Do you see the membership in your state, or "smaller" local affiliates declining? Typically there are two culprits, lack of photographic leadership, and internal politics (members who want to run the association on their own terms, instead of the mission statement of the organization). So, for the sake of this thread let's look at the former.

Why do people, newbies, join a Pro photo association? Bottom line, to learn better photography. If you have very few, to no Masters or Craftsmen in your association, who can your members turn to on a monthly basis? If you're going to the meetings just for the social aspect, you're in the minority. Most of the older members do that, because they had the proper guidance early in their careers. But now, where Masters are scarce, and even more scarce at the meetings, the newer members have no where to go and ultimately see this as a waste of time.

Michael B. made a great point, with programming. There are far too many photographers teaching the "basics". I never understood that concept in a Professional Association. Shouldn't you know how to work a camera before accepting money from a client? The key is to have programming that stimulates the Masters to come and learn something, and challenges the newbies at the same time!

We have a group of 90 in our local affiliate. Here's an example of our programming since February of last year:

"A Night with the Masters" Where we invited all of the known Masters of Photography in Northern California, members and non-members. We honored them, than had a special print competition of Masters only. Hanson Fong, M. Photog. Cr., keynote speaker.

"An Evening with Lizbeth Guerina, M. Photog. Cr. F-ASP"

Kevin Kubota, Cr., evening and two full day programs and workshop

Fuzzy Duenkle, M. Photog. Cr. Evening and Full Day Seminar.

Kirsti Malvre, Keynote for Night with the Masters (last month)

Eddie Tapp, M. Photog. Cr. Evening and workshop (this month)

Scheduled so far this year: Vicki, M. Photog. Cr. and Jed, Cr. Taufer, and we are in negotiations with Jay Stock, M. Photog. Cr. F-ASP, Char Crail, and members of ASMP on learning how to get published.

In addition to PPA print style print competition each night with judges who are Masters (we have a pool of 11) would you go every month?

Sometimes you have to give to your degree holders so that they will give. Our board of directors have now approved a grant for our Masters to be eligible to go to the judges workshop in Daytona each year. Now we will have judges who are trained for affiliate judging! This is the value of degree when there is something for the degree holders to receive.

KirkDarling
02-09-2008, 04:51 PM
Don:

I think the Craftsman degree is important to the industry. It rewards people for sharing their knowledge with others.

Michael:

The degrees are a combination of personal excellence and giving back to the profession. This is a point that has slowly eroded in this industry.


I'm absorbing this as the purpose of the Craftsman degree. It's not so much what you did to get it or a measure of how good you are as it is a recognition of what you've done for the profession.

It's not a measure of accomplishment, it's a measure of service.

Jeff_Dachowski
02-09-2008, 04:57 PM
There are far too many photographers teaching the "basics". .


Micheal,
This is simply because of the lack of apprenticeship that has plagued our industry. We no longer work for the studio in town, cut our teeth and eventually go out on our own. Folks today, open,and then figure things out. There is such a serious need for basics!!

Take a look at the portfolio of those who attend photo school, and have no ideas on exposure, form, composition etc. There are so many basic programs, because the market demands it. Every time you put forth an advanced idea, the class says that wouldn't work where I live becuase they still have not mastered the basics.

Jeff

Sandra_Pearce
02-09-2008, 05:25 PM
Michael,

Just wanted to say thank you for explaining the problem better than I could.
My guild is weak for that very reason. There has to be a reason to go to a meeting in our busy lives. I have been to Super Mondays when I would have been better off to stay home and work. I spent my money, took my time and was treated to someone counting merits. I am striving to learn, not promote a merit for someone. It appears that anyone can have a Super Monday. New photographers need guidance from experienced photographers. I have driven 5 hours to a workshop to have the speaker push their cd's and marketing plans. It is a big business. I am not even aware of total merits I have. I know competition merits but not all the others. I chair committees, serve on committees and basically do what I can to help our organization. The merits will come if you throw yourself into your profession. My goal is to help new people want to compete to better their work. It has made a hugh difference in my work in the last two years. It's recognition from your peers that understand good images from okay ones.

Does learning how to pass the test make you a Master? No! They give crash courses for $500 to teach you to pass it. Some people test well, some don't. It is about the knowledge you possess that will make you a Master Photographer. I can study and pass, but am I a Master? Not Yet, but maybe one day I will be, if I work hard and learn my craft.

Sandra

Michael_Gan
02-09-2008, 05:45 PM
Does learning how to pass the test make you a Master? No! They give crash courses for $500 to teach you to pass it. Some people test well, some don't. It is about the knowledge you possess that will make you a Master Photographer. I can study and pass, but am I a Master? Not Yet, but maybe one day I will be, if I work hard and learn my craft
I think you might have the Masters Degree confused with the Certification. Certification is, probably, one of the most significant thing in the learning process of this profession. Jeff alluded to not enough basics being taught. How many other professions have a learn from the beginning while charging people for it? Even the plumbers and carpenters have to have a good solid apprenticeship before they start contracting (or, they're supposed to, anyway).

Our affiliate has another basic premise: Make the evening programs challenging for all, including the Masters. Have "Night Schools (Marc's association calls it "4 nights"...or 3?... something like that) three times a month for an additional fee. We raise enough money from these night schools to pay for all our wonderful evening speakers!

Here's another thing that is fundamentally changed from the norm. We realized that apprentices can stand to learn much more than our active professional members. They are like sponges, which are great! So, why do associations charge less for their annual membership? Have ever been annoyed when you have a world class speaker get interrupted by questions like "what f/stop are you using", or better yet, "What camera are you using?".

Make the apprentices pay more for membership and make them work hard for active membership. Our apprentice (some groups call them "aspiring") pay $50 more for membership and they must attend a "Business 101" 2 day course, submit an ongoing portfolio of their work, volunteer for at least three committees, and get their business licenses within a year (or be dropped from membership). We limit this to 20% of the membership, so now there's a waiting list to get in. This 20% rule keeps our association from being a "camera club".

There will be a more detailed information in an upcoming issue of PPA. Stay tuned.

John_Stein
02-09-2008, 07:00 PM
I got my craftsman in 2005 and then got my API just last year.

I have also heard that it is now easier to get both.

But, I have also found that those who have gone before us almost always feel that it was a lot more difficult to get something back in "The Day"

I was a very young E-6 in the Navy and I always heard that it was easier to become an E-6 in 1982 than it was to become one "Back In" 1962. Just to clarify I was young age wise but it took me 6 years to get to E-6 just like it took the person complaining, I just enlisted 6 years earlier than they did.

I usually just respond (if it is someone that I know) " Well I used to walk 3 miles in 4 feet of snow with no shoes to get to school and................."

Jack_Reznicki
02-09-2008, 07:19 PM
I've always heard it was the process of getting the degree, not the degree itself.
It's the journey, not the destination.

And if it's so easy, go for it and tell us today just how easy it is.
If someone can get their degree "fast" (it still takes time and work) than you deserve it.

I'm sorry, but PPA is an association of inclusion, not exclusion.
In the long run, that's better for us as an industry and as individuals.

And remember, Affiliates are not "local" PPA associations. They are affiliated, independent associations, with their own governance, rules, and customs. PPA has no control over them. All we do is handle merits and the rules to earning merits.

Michael_Black
02-09-2008, 07:27 PM
A few years ago we had a new member show up at our guild meeting. She asked all sorts of questions. One was "What do you do for business during the slow months?" A couple of photographers gave her specific examples. She then went after those accounts and did whatever it took to get them.

Something then hit the fan. The two photographers that shared were outraged. We all learned a valuable lesson.

So many new ones show up and no NOTHING about photography. How can you explain cool advanced techniques in Adobe Photoshop to someone who doesn't understand what a good exposure looks like, who doesn't know the difference between raw and jpg, who doesn't understand that you need to charge more than 99 cents, who thinks we should hold their hand and solve their problems without putting forth any effort to figure it out for themselves.

I'm a big one for wanting people to "pay their dues" by struggling a little on their own. It could be through apprenticeship or college, but you have to put forth time, energy and money to learn basic concepts. There is no such thing as an overnight success in photography. You have to lay a sound foundation.

I really want to go to programs to be inspired to do greater things. It means that I need to get off my rear and put in time, energy and money to get better myself. It does mean I may have to travel to do it.

KirkDarling
02-09-2008, 07:49 PM
Make the apprentices pay more for membership and make them work hard for active membership. Our apprentice (some groups call them "aspiring") pay $50 more for membership and they must attend a "Business 101" 2 day course, submit an ongoing portfolio of their work, volunteer for at least three committees, and get their business licenses within a year (or be dropped from membership). We limit this to 20% of the membership, so now there's a waiting list to get in. This 20% rule keeps our association from being a "camera club".

Now, Michael, you and others have pointed out this problem with what is essentially a lack of old-style apprenticeship, and a philosophical problem with "charging while learning," but I'm not seeing where this satisfactorily answers either problem.

Are you presuming that this "apprentice" is working for another photograher, or is he doing something else as his "day job?" Or do you expect him to be a student--and if so, what about the person starting as a second career who has a mortgage and a kid in high school?

If the apprentice must have his business license within a year, then does your program ensure that (presuming he adheres to it) he will be adequately salable by that time?

What is the encouragement--the obvious benefit to a photographer to engage this program. I understand--viewing it from the inside--what the benefit is. But for that MWAC who has the potential of being Suzanne Maitland, what is the benefit of making the front door hard to push open?

Notice that it's easy to enlist into the Marine Corps....

Stan_Lawrence
02-09-2008, 08:01 PM
"you and others have pointed out this problem with what is essentially a lack of old-style apprenticeship,"

I'm not sure it's really that hard to find.....I've had a number of apprentices over the years, and have one working with me right now. It might be that some folks think they don't need to learn from someone, they can take a course in hs or college and be ready to go. I've yet to see anyone ready to go to work from taking those classes.....I've seen too many resumes of people that "graduated" from a jc photo program, listing their darkroom (chemical) skills, their ability to photograph flowers and old buildings, and their knowledge of ps 3 as making them ready to be a fulltime photog.....folks can find an apprentice position if they live anywhere near a metro area....they just have to be willing to put in the time and be willing to learn.....:cool:

KirkDarling
02-09-2008, 08:15 PM
folks can find an apprentice position if they live anywhere near a metro area....they just have to be willing to put in the time and be willing to learn.....

"...and if so, what about the person starting as a second career who has a mortgage and a kid in high school?"

Stan_Lawrence
02-09-2008, 08:35 PM
""...and if so, what about the person starting as a second career who has a mortgage and a kid in high school?""

Funny you should mention that.....I was working for a studio (Ed Booth) during the day, then changing clothes in the car on the way to my gig that night. Did that for about a year.....yeah, had two youngins at the time, made the most of the time we did have, sundays and a couple of evenings. If I could do it, I'd guess a lot of folks could.....if you want something, set a goal and accomplish that goal. I never said it was easy, it is very do-able.... :cool:

Dave_Cisco
02-09-2008, 08:59 PM
""...and if so, what about the person starting as a second career who has a mortgage and a kid in high school?""

Funny you should mention that.....I was working for a studio (Ed Booth) during the day, then changing clothes in the car on the way to my gig that night. Did that for about a year.....yeah, had two youngins at the time, made the most of the time we did have, sundays and a couple of evenings. If I could do it, I'd guess a lot of folks could.....if you want something, set a goal and accomplish that goal. I never said it was easy, it is very do-able.... :cool:

That describe the double life I led for 25 years.:) Worked for a major Aerospace company during the days and spent evenings and weekends on photography. Only after retiring a year ago from my "day job" did I get down to just one job...photography.

Mark_Levesque
02-09-2008, 10:59 PM
"...and if so, what about the person starting as a second career who has a mortgage and a kid in high school?"
We do it as time allows. And spend every spare minute learning, so when we make the leap, we are confident in our abilities to prosper. It sure takes a lot more time this way, I'll tell you, but with a "lifestyle" to support and a kid in college, it is what it is.

KirkDarling
02-10-2008, 12:58 AM
That describe the double life I led for 25 years.:) Worked for a major Aerospace company during the days and spent evenings and weekends on photography. Only after retiring a year ago from my "day job" did I get down to just one job...photography.

Dave, were you apprenticed to a master photographer during any of that time?

KirkDarling
02-10-2008, 02:06 AM
Okay, here's where I'm going with this:

The traditional apprentice/master model is really for a "young grasshopper" arrangement of someone with no mortgage, kids, or spouse to deal with.

Yes, people with all the above have done it, but not a high percentage still had mortgages, kids, and spouses by the end of the process. I speak from harsh experience on that one, so I'm not going to recommend it as the way for anyone else to go.

Beginning photographers need a learning environment, and unless we're content merely to intone "Let them eat cake," we need to give consideration to WMACs who aren't going to give short-shrift to children and spouses just to follow the traditional apprentice/master model.

That's why I'm raising an eyebrow to Michael's "let's make it tough for them to get through the door" approach. I would not make just getting through the front door the tough part. That's why I mentioned enlisting into the Marines--enlisting is easy, but the training is tough.

But I do like his clarifying "beginner" instruction as something they are expected to accomplish. Perhaps all PPA-approved training should be coded in some way to indicate the level at which its intended.

For instance, one level could be advertised as intended for CPP-level people; it wouldn't actually require CPP credentials to enroll, but it would suggest that it's not going to cover any photographic basics.

This could also give some guidance to Craftsmen and those aiming toward that recognition in how to design some of their lectures--to aim them at specific learning levels.

Dave_Cisco
02-10-2008, 03:30 AM
Dave, were you apprenticed to a master photographer during any of that time?

No, not in the sense that I worked for one. However, I went to every seminar, convention, class, workshop, Super Monday, Winona-on-Location, and photography school within 300 miles of my front door...and many were taught by Masters. I went to see every Master in my city that would let me in the front door to see the work on their walls. I did it the hard way, and I'm so glad that I did.:)

Michael_Gan
02-10-2008, 03:43 AM
Are you presuming that this "apprentice" is working for another photographer, or is he doing something else as his "day job?" Or do you expect him to be a student--and if so, what about the person starting as a second career who has a mortgage and a kid in high school?Let me clarify the apprentice aspect that I am talking about. Most of the affiliates in California have different membership classifications. Typically the Active Professional, the additional active (to a studio, ie office manager), the apprentice/aspiring, sustaining (vendors) and sometimes a student classification.

For years we had dues that were about $30 a year less for the apprentice/aspiring classification. We discovered that these people were staying in this classification year after year with no commitment to the profession. They were using our association to practice without a license....and some of them were creating some pretty dang good work from what they learned from us. We felt like we were turning into an amateur camera club (in fact, that was how some of the aspiring members were calling our organization). The definition of an apprentice/aspiring classification is "those who are interesting in entering the profession, but are not ready to.

Soon, we found ourselves overrun with aspiring members, and we were in jeopardy of losing our active members. Not good. We saw our membership dwindle down to 35 members about four years ago (from 120 members) So, we all (and we still do to this day) all became problem solvers of our association's governance. First we identified and recommitted to our mission statement of true professionalism and photographic leadership. Then we recommitted ourselves to the professional ideals in our industry.

So, we decided that if these people are really here to learn about our profession and are serious about being a practicing professional, we decided to do everything we could to make sure they ethically become practicing professionals in our community. We just couldn't sit back and see people we educated practice illegally, whether it was full time, or part time. In essence we strive to level the playing field for the good of all practicing professionals.

Before anyone jumps on us for our tough love stance, here are the stats or this 3 year project: 18 apprentices each year, 15 (on average) continues to become full practicing each year. 13 (on average) have applied for certification within their first year. The first group of 13 all got their certification. The second group had 10 certified, this third group of 15 are starting their CPP study group which I will proctor the exam set for April 10. Five have submitted their images yesterday. We now have a total of 26 CPP's in our group, 6 of those are working extremely hard for their Masters the last three years, with one accomplishing her Masters in that time. This brings our group of 90 with 11 Masters (all but three are Master Craftsmen).

Though love/ Marine Corp? You bet! If you want to see a professional association with a high amount of enthusiasm, you need look no further than what we're doing, and I gotta tell you, based on reports I've heard from various other associations, state and local, I think they could use a little creative help.


No, not in the sense that I worked for one. However, I went to every seminar, convention, class, workshop, Super Monday, Winona-on-Location, and photography school within 300 miles of my front door...and many were taught by Masters. I went to see every Master in my city that would let me in the front door to see the work on their walls. I did it the hard way, and I'm so glad that I did And this is our association's contention all along (and what I'm constantly talking about in the Masters Forum Thread). If there were no Master Photographers or Photographic Craftsmen, you have to ask yourselves, "Who's leading who?". How can you grow a Professional Photography association without any expertise to lead the newbies?

KirkDarling
02-10-2008, 03:55 AM
Michael G,

You had said before,
We limit this to 20% of the membership, so now there's a waiting list to get in. This 20% rule keeps our association from being a "camera club".

And you said you had a waiting list. Do you suppose those people are just sitting on their hands? I wouldn't be--I would be out there blundering on my own, or more likely spending a lot of time on OurPPA and other forums, attending training sessions other than yours, et cetera. And once I'd struck out on my own for a while, it's far less likely I'd have any desire to join at all.

It may be that rather than limit the numbers of "aspirants" to the basic training program up front, perhaps would be better to make functional distinctions, such as permitting certain training, competition, et cetera, only after certain goals are reached.

Dave_Cisco
02-10-2008, 04:12 AM
At one time(I believe) the 20% max aspiring was required. Less than 80% active members and PPA headquarters would not allocate any merits to the Affiliate to give to speakers.

Michael_Gan
02-10-2008, 04:13 AM
Actually, this is the first year we reached a waiting list. The apprentices are not on a calendar basis, so we have apprentices who "graduate" at various times of the year (those who join in September, must complete their requirement by September) so the wait is not , or should not be too long.

Most potential members, will visit us about one or two times, and once they see what they have, they have a very strong urge to join. Oh! Did I say that we in order to be an active professional, they must have all the licenses and must submit 12 images for image review?

Michael_Gan
02-10-2008, 04:15 AM
At one time(I believe) the 20% max aspiring was required. Less than 80% active members and PPA headquarters would not allocate any merits to the Affiliate to give to speakers.
I don't believe that's the case anymore, as I think PPA might not be able to follow that guidline as well :D

The merit allocation is based on the number of PPA members in the affiliate. Our group has something like 60 PPA members.

Marc_Benjamin
02-10-2008, 05:28 AM
Wow boy oh boy what do we have here. I'm back from the wedding and man where has this topic gone to?

Ok, now that I kinda get an idea of what's your take on things and then some. Quite frankly I don't even know what exactly you guys are talking about. So anyways, I think it's time for very specific questions.

1. Michael, I'm not sure if you you agree that the craftsman degree of today is easier and faster to earn. Yey or ney? Also, are you ok with people achieving their's w/o doing the affiliate sharing, convention and affiliated school route? Finally, don't you think that the people whom are earning it aren't really as qualified in comparison to past masters whom were in the teaching circuit?

2. Jeff, thanks for pointing that out though I want to know if you would you be ok if let's just say that rule would change to speaker merits. I have this idea of that change would really be a great incentive for people whom are doing the workshops anyways to add the PPA logo on their promotional materials?

3. Don, you said: "I am going to drive 8 hours today for 1 speaking merit!".. Then I though... "If all the others that I've listened to and learned from thought the same way I wouldn't be where I am today".. and I never gave the 8 hours of driving another thought." Do you think that there are more people who fell the same as you or more of the ones who would just rather stay home and do their own workshops?

4. Stan, you mentioned that being in the speaking circuit helped back in the day. But I ask you: are you ok with people achieving their's w/o doing the affiliate sharing, convention and affiliated school route? Also, are you ok with a person being able to earn 2 speaking merits even if only 1 person registers for the Super Monday? Also, since there many more ways to get 2 merits a pop, what incentive would there be for doing say non-honorarium state convention early bird programs?

And to EVERYONE, am I right in understanding that the consensus is that speakers will share regardless of getting a speaking merit? Hence since the craftsman journey/chase isn't really that much of a goal, then what other incentives are your associations able to offer?


Marc,
You know you want it so just go get it. Then, you can run this survey with both Gold and Blue around your neck. It's much more credible to argue about these things, even the down side, when you have them.
I'm not sure what you mean? I do have blue and gold qualified pending the prints making it to next PEC comp and council approval. ???? :) Can I ask the tough questions now and play devil's advocate?

Jack_Reznicki
02-10-2008, 05:37 AM
At one time(I believe) the 20% max aspiring was required. Less than 80% active members and PPA headquarters would not allocate any merits to the Affiliate to give to speakers.

Dave,

That's not the case. To be an affiliate, your members don't even have to be PPA members. Remember, they are independent associations, they are only "affiliated" with PPA.
PPA doesn't have a say in them. They are not PPA. In fact, we have affiliates that have less than 50% PPA members.

Jack_Reznicki
02-10-2008, 05:55 AM
This thread is getting a bit confusing to me.
I think people need to look at the merit chart and se exactly what it says.
You can't get more than one merit a year speaking to your association. In fact PPA limits how many merits we allocate to the chapters.
In fact I do believe Council increased that number this year as an incentive to have more speakers, as it was getting hard financially for some affiliates.

I'm sorry, but I don't agree with the "tough love", waiting list approach. Yes, it sounds like it worked in Michael's chapter, and more power to them for doing it. But I'd also point to the fact that that was the culture of that chapter. They allowed it to get that way. Different affiliates will have different "cultures" and different active members. The individual volunteers and how they interact with that affiliate makes all the difference.
What worked so well in one chapter doesn't translate well into another.

And for some chapters, more bodies mean more opportunities and education because of sponsorship. I just spoke to the 3 year old Orlando CAmera Club. Canon is sponsoring some great speakers there because with 400 members, they pull over 150 people to a meeting. I met some very accomplished pros at that meeting, who say they love the atmosphere there. The photographers attending those meetings benefit and learn.

I'm sorry but a "closed door" approach will create competition in a bad way. Better to have those photographer included, not excluded in education. It's up to leadership to figure out how to make membership worthwhile. Being "exclusive" is not a good long term solution. If there is enough "exclusion" you will see another local association form and that causes all sorts of political problems. We've already seen that in areas in the past.

And when photographers are divided, we get weaker.

It may be easier to get a degree today because there is more oppertunity. But you still have to do the work, jump through the hoops.

Are there some people who "work" the system? Yeah. Just like there was years ago. But no where near as many as you think. We do have controls.

The problem is you're wanting to let the tail wag the dog. Don't worry about the exceptions. Worry about the majority.

I was lucky. I got a 4 year degree at RIT and apprenticed in NY for 6 years.
I learned my craft. But I think helping others learn is a great goal and we all benefit. None of us were "born" with photography. As we all know, it's not easy to maintain a photography business without good skills. And when we help others in the industry, it helps all of us.
One of the major problems today we have as pros, is the perception because of bad photographers. It behooves us to educate them.

Off the soapbox. :D

Stan_Lawrence
02-10-2008, 06:25 AM
"Stan, are you ok with people achieving their's w/o doing the affiliate sharing, convention and affiliated school route?"

They can do it however they choose....I earned mine doing locals, state and regionals. As I got invited to more conventions, I found myself on the circuit. Very few did the same topics I did, and I was fairly comfy in front of an audience...so it was easy to do a lot of programs. How someone else does it is their concern, not mine.

" Also, are you ok with a person being able to earn 2 speaking merits even if only 1 person registers for the Super Monday? "

PPA is a very well run organization, I'm sure folks have thought this through, so.....not my call.

"Also, since there many more ways to get 2 merits a pop, what incentive would there be for doing say non-honorarium state convention early bird programs?"

You mean speaking gigs for free? (pardon my language) I think there should be some compensation, and I'm sure many will disagree with that. Just my opinion, of course....

"am I right in understanding that the consensus is speakers will share regardless of getting a speaking merit? Hence the craftsman journey/chase inst really that much of a goal than what other incentives are your associations able to offer?"

Once I got my cr, and the 12 that would have gone for my masters, I really didn't care much about the merits. So many speakers make a good portion of their income speaking, I doubt the merits would be a motivation. :cool:

David_A._Lottes
02-10-2008, 04:26 PM
Marc
I think I mis-understood your first post? I thought someone was giving you a hard time about how fast you got your craftsman. I think what your really asking now is.....

Should a PPA member be allowed to earn craftsman simply by hosting 7 Super Monday programs for one student each and then attending twelve others as a student?

My answer would be why not and why should I care? My GPA in High School wasn't as high as the average but I had to work harder than most to get my diploma. So should I get a special certificate for working harder even though my grades were lower than average? No matter how high you raise the bar some people will clear it with ease.

I've been to a Super Monday where I was the only student and it was a great program, the instructor did the same thing he would have done for a room full. And I've been to an early bird program at a state level where there were only four people in the room and two of them were the speakers. I hope your not saying you want to be the guy who picks on the next round of craftsman for "getting it too easy".

Say it ain't so Marc! That just makes me sad. :(

Marc_Benjamin
02-10-2008, 04:38 PM
I hope your not saying you want to be the guy who picks on the next round of craftsman for "getting it too easy".

Say it ain't so Marc! That just makes me sad. :(

Of course not! And like I mentioned in the original, I even support getting merits from non traditional venues like say an online forum.


I thought someone was giving you a hard time about how fast you got your craftsman.

Yes, though not directly, there are some that give me the impression though. However, I'm not really asking about how to answer those doubts, I'm just curious on how everyone else around here feels.

Now that I think (if I'm reading everyones post right) the consensus it there's not really much incentive in the merits to begin with. I'm now really curious to see what are the incentives as I'll be speaker chair for my group pretty soon.

BTW, am I sounding or starting to sound like a douche for asking?

Todd_Reichman
02-10-2008, 04:44 PM
How about a completely ignorant opinion?

I don't have a Craftsman or Master's or CPP or anything of note. When I got my academic Master's 2 years ago I was amazed at how "easy" it was. 1.5 years going part-time? How much could it be worth? After it was over, I think I forgot all the hard work and hours I had put in. Now, I'd like to think it was totally worth it, but at the time I wondered, and I'm sure that the other people in the program might not have appreciated me getting through it much faster than them.

Nevertheless, I think that becoming a teacher is an integral part of the learning process. Also, the Craftsman degree is not only a method of recognizing ability, its also a reward for service, and for that absolutely respectable. However, I'm all for a continued review of the method for dispensing merits, to accodate the increased access to information.

- trr

Don_Chick
02-10-2008, 05:52 PM
BTW, am I sounding or starting to sound like a d***he for asking?

Not to me... I think this has been an interesting and thought provoking conversation......

Marc_Benjamin
02-10-2008, 08:28 PM
---ok, I really think we need to move the leadership and local affiliate dynamics stuff to a different thread--- the value of a speaking merit/weight of a craftsman degree topic is lost now--- Michael and Stan... care to help move the other posts over to a different thread?

Michael_Gan
02-10-2008, 08:32 PM
LOL Marc. We bad, and we're the mods! :D

But like I said, you started this topic in the Afiliate Leadership area, which means we should have moved the original discusions to a differnt area!

But, as a future President of your association, can you see the value of all of this?

Stan_Lawrence
02-10-2008, 08:39 PM
"care to help move the other posts over to a different thread?"

I have moderated myself, and slapped my hand....please accept my apologies.....as for Michael, he's incorrigible ....although he may have moderated himself.....;)

Stan_Lawrence
02-12-2008, 06:40 PM
"I hope, can ferret out the good teachers from the bad ones, and these people get weeded out eventually. Or do they?"

Actually the challenge is weeding out the sales pitch.....too often the "education" is really "here's how and why to buy my stuff". The fault might belong to the organizations that look for "sponsored" speakers instead of paying for them. There are some sponsored speakers that actually give out info (Jack Reznicki would be great example), far too many simply sell their instructional stuff. :cool:

Todd_Reichman
02-12-2008, 06:53 PM
This is an interesting point, Stan. I hate to pay for a sales pitch, and I like to think I'm savvy enough to do my own product research. If I see a sponsored speaker, talking about a topic that dovetails into a sale of the vendor that is sponsoring them, then I tend to steer clear.

I'm all for commerce, and I have no problem with endorsements and what not. I think we all just want a little something beyond "solve your problems by buying this!"

- trr

D._Craig_Flory
02-12-2008, 07:10 PM
On Sunday and Monday we just had Stewart and Susan Powers speak in our state. They gave no sales pitch ... they didn't try to sell anything at all.

Jeff_Dachowski
02-12-2008, 07:16 PM
As a speaker who has several national sponsors, I mention and thank my sponsors who helped to get me to their association.

I do not however tell everyone that they need to use my vendors to achieve the same result.

On the other hand, on several points I might mention that we have tried different approaches to a problem and we found a soloution. That soloution might be one of our sponsors. That doesn't necessarily mean that our endorsement has to do with our sponsor. We mention all of our vendors, whether they are sponsors or not.

Jeff

KirkDarling
02-12-2008, 07:32 PM
"care to help move the other posts over to a different thread?"

I have moderated myself, and slapped my hand....please accept my apologies.....as for Michael, he's incorrigible ....although he may have moderated himself.....;)

Those posts have been moved to a new thread:

Getting More Affiliate Mid-Level Participation (http://www.ourppa.com/forums/showthread.php?t=10548)

David_A._Lottes
02-12-2008, 07:40 PM
The lab that sponsored me never had anything to do with my programs. They made 20x24 canvas prints of my work to display at the seminars and I put their price lists out where people could pick one up. There was no other mention of them in the programs. Kodak ran a video presentation "before" my program in Indianapolis. Once it was go time the video was turned off and no more mention of Kodak was made. Except for the door prizes. Your money for a program goes for a lot more than the speakers. If you want top notch instruction then pony up for it. Don't bash some low budget affiliate that barely has the money to pay for the room. And for Pete sake don't pick on the speakers. They give up more than they gain. If you want an organization to get better speakers you have to support them through thick and thin. Not as a fair weather friend. Eventually if attendance is consistently strong the group will turn a profit and then they can draw bigger names. One affiliate I'm familiar with almost folded three years ago because they spent too much money on speakers the year before. Oh sure they had record attendance but they still barely made it through the end of their fiscal year without declaring bankruptcy because of the tremendous fees the speakers charged. Sponsors could have saved their behinds but the labs and Kodak in particular just don't have the money to help everyone like they used to. Look guys I'm not naive enough to think that I'm going to get a Harvard education for a hundred dollars in one or two days from some group that meets at a Radisson out in the middle of nowhere. I go to support the group, to talk with friends and if I learn something from the speaker thats a perk. Usually I learn more from the other members and the guy I ride to the seminar with. But I have nothing but respect for anyone who takes the platform and shares their knowledge. Even if it just confirms what I already knew. Take a look at what it would cost you to spend a week with your heroes before you go knocking some poor sad sack just trying to do his or her best so they can get that ribbon. I think they deserve it but then I was taught it means they cared enough to try helping others not that it transformed them into some kinda guru. :rolleyes:

Stan_Lawrence
02-12-2008, 07:59 PM
"we just had Stewart and Susan Powers speak in our state. They gave no sales pitch ... they didn't try to sell anything at all."

It's great to see exceptions mentioned.....sadly, that's the minority. :cool:

Stan_Lawrence
02-12-2008, 08:12 PM
"Your money for a program goes for a lot more than the speakers. If you want top notch instruction then pony up for it. Don't bash some low budget affiliate that barely has the money to pay for the room. And for Pete sake don't pick on the speakers. They give up more than they gain."

"the speakers" often make quite a bit (6 figures) from their product sales, and a lot of them make their living that way....I always thought it was funny to learn photography from someone that rarely worked with clients, if at all. Pony up? In a heart beat. Happy to pay for real education, I'm afraid I'm a bit gun shy at this point....I've fallen asleep at too many "seminars" that were nothing more than a sales presentation. I've been on both sides, speaking on the circuit, (selling instructional videos, full disclosure), as well as being in charge of speakers for the local group. I was lucky enough to bring in some great speakers, none of whom were sponsored. Yep, we paid, and yep, we learned. So, although I agree with a lot of what you say, again, it's the exception.......:cool:

"Take a look at what it would cost you to spend a week with your heroes"

At this point, David, there is a shortage of heroes.....I'd pay a king's ransom to spend a week with Ted Sirlin.....

ps am I off your Christmas card list?

David_A._Lottes
02-12-2008, 08:24 PM
am I off your Christmas card list?

No....sorry......I missed snack time again. :o

I appreciate your experience Stan. It just seems to me that there are a lot of unrealistic expectations out there.

Stan_Lawrence
02-12-2008, 08:36 PM
"It just seems to me that there are a lot of unrealistic expectations out there."

There are....it's like everything, it's not cool when it swings too far in any direction....doing the videos was a tough decision for me....the interesting thing was in a full day program, I did all the info that was on the videos, and they still sold really well. I was determined to not do an 8 hr sales pitch....it was 30 seconds at the end of the day. The other really funny thing....I know several photogs, one man studios, that do over a million a year. None of them are speaking, they make too much at home....:cool:

David_A._Lottes
02-12-2008, 08:51 PM
See that makes sense. Not everyone has the inclination to be a speaker for plenty of reasons. There are no silver bullets out there. If you sign up for a program and go into it thinking it can change your life your probably going to be disappointed. Better to be thankful you have the money to invest in yourself and keep your expectations down to earth. Or in other words....have fun! :)

andiegoodman
02-13-2008, 12:34 AM
One reason to have the gold/blue ribbon is that it matches more clothing outfits.

At least the blue goes with more of what I wear than gold does. LOL



The Master's degree is peer recognition (doesn't mean you've arrived!)
The Craftsman degree is giving back/sharing what you've learned

Each inidividual has to decide for themselves if degrees are important enough (to them) to work for.....

I just received my Craftsman in January. One of the reasons I decided to speak is to give back in honor (and memory) of all the photographers who taught me so much over the years.

We have all heard the issues on this forum about some newer photographers who buy a reasonable DSLR and decides they can earn money with it. My goal was not to show how to make better exposures - there are plenty of people who can do that. My goal was and is to enlighten people as to why they could starve charging under $1000 for a wedding...or undercutting any studio, just because they can.

I have spent a great deal of my life educating people and I am not stopping now. I am still planning on hosting Super Mondays and speaking to any group that will allow me to try to educate their group. If only one person gets it, it was worth my time.

The fact that PPA recognizes my efforts is just icing on the cake.

Mike_Fulton
02-13-2008, 01:01 AM
I will receive my Craftsman in less than a year of receiving my first merit, (actually around 8 months or so) HOWEVER that has been ALOT of travel, ALOT of money out of my own pocket (especially the guild state tours of TN where I received 8 merits and LA where I received 6 merits) and well ALOT of time and effort.

However I would not change it for anything, I LOVE sharing, learning and meeting others. For me that 5 mins I have with another person sharing our passions is truly what inspires me to be a better person much less a photographer.

So the more I speak, the more I learn, the more I learn the better I become as a person and well hopefully what I share does the same in some way as the other person has done for me.

As Jack said its the journey not the metal or award, so while I wont walk to get my award around my neck I find the journey has made me a better person.

I need to ad up my merits I either have enough now or will shortly after speaking in Rhode Island and Northern Lights in SD both in Early March. I started my Merit speaking in July of last year.

So as stated before it can be done and done fast but I have not been home much since then. While the Guilds are hard to speak it is well worth it for merits and learning so much about people of the local areas.

Again I would NEVER change a thing I have done to receive these merits, the people I have meet along the way and the friends I have made, well you can keep the merits and it still would be SO WORTH IT!!!

I simply did not do it for the merits, I did it for myself, to meet others and grow as a person. Hopefully I have done that and will continue too!