View Full Version : ASP Fellowsip

08-26-2009, 04:13 PM
Sorry for the long post...but Monday was an absolutely...incredible day...! Something very special happened. Something that I have been working on for the past ten months and with the help of God and some very special friends I have accomplished.

I could not have done this without the help of such people like Pat Hansen, Rich and Esther Beitzel, Don and Nancy Emmerich, Bob Golding, Doran Wilson, Jim Chagares, Randy McNeily who was the first person to encourage me to do this, Joyce Wilson who gave me the inspiration for my thesis, and of course my wife who has always been there as a constant source of support through this project and who has always believed I could do this.

Several years ago after one of our annual print judgings a couple of the judges approached me and encouraged me to apply for my Fellowship with the American Society of Photographers (ASP). For those of you who are not familiar with ASP you are invited to join this organization after you have received either your Craftsman or Master's Degree from PPA.

Well...I kind of laughed it off. This is the highest degree and honor that ASP can bestow on one of it's members. The list of recipients reads like a who's who in photography. Such names as Joyce Wilson, Monte Zucker, Don Blair, Joseph Simone, Tim Kelly, and Phillip Charis. All giants of the industry. To this date there have been only some 101 recipients of the Fellowship worldwide. So...for me to even consider that I was worthy of such an honor was well...just a little ridiculous sounding.

But...my wife and some very well meaning friends kept at me for the next several years. They watched as my passion was re-born in the form of my wildlife photography and felt I was ready for this life challenge.

Fellowship is comprised of two parts (a thesis and a portfolio of your work) that is judged by a panel of ASP Fellows and one non Fellow. First is a thesis of at least 3000 words on your philosophy of photography and how you have arrived at this point in your life and why you deserve such an honor. The second part is the portfolio judging. The portfolio is comprised of 25 images up to 20x20 in size and is to have more of fine art presentation and feel to it. The portfolio has to be more than just pretty pictures. The individual images are not only judged on technical execution but how they work and flow as a body of work. Believe me when I say this... was a very...very painful process. A process that brought with it a whole lot of self doubt and a whole lot of frustration.

As a friend of mine told me this would be a journey of incredible self discovery. Even if I was not accepted that I would be a much better person for having gone through this process.

When my Dad passed away in July I really didn't think I would be able to finish everything in time. The deadlines were only weeks away and I was in the middle of all of the arrangements for my dad's funeral. Fellowship was the last thing on my mind.

After his funeral and being called upon to do his eulogy as the oldest I came to realize just what an influence he had on my own photographic career. He was a photographer too and I worked for him for many years. I can remember it like it was yesterday sitting under those hot light for hours on end while he did our portraits. My kids don't know how good they had it with flash and softboxes. I can honestly say he taught me just about everything I know about traditional darkroom processes. He gave me my first camera...helped me set up my first darkroom...and showed me how to process my first roll of film. He was an incredible influence on my career.

So July wasn't a good month and it really took the wind out of my sails. At that time I had not even started the 25 prints for the portfolio and was ready to put the project aside for next year. Then some very good friends and my wife interceded and encouraged me to complete it. That my dad would have wanted me to finish and to do a good job to honor his memory. Ouch...no pressure there.

Those words really hit home so I dug my heels in to complete all the requirements. It was too late to send the prints to our lab and for the most part I had not even picked a lot of the images. Then came some divine intervention or fate…whatever you want to call it. A friend of mine called me and had an Epson 7800 printer they wanted to "give" me in exchange for some work by our daughter on their Facebook page.. A printer that would handle 24" material and would be perfect for this project. Sometimes things happen for a reason. No sense trying to figure out what the reason is. Just go with it. In this case I just feel this was meant to be because so many things had happened to guide me in the direction I was meant to take.

Monday morning I got the call from Bob Golding who chairs the ASP Fellowship application committee that I had been accepted as a new ASP Fellow. Of course he was a real brat. Told my wife that there was stuff missing from the case I had submitted. I talked to him and he went into some long thing about needing a new case. The case I sent was pretty big and it would be impossible to send to National. He strung me along for some time. Dense ole me just didn't get what he was trying to tell me. He finally just came out and told me and I was sincerely blown away. I didn't even know when the judging was so I wasn't even expecting the call.

Being accepted on your very first try is indeed an honor. And...it was a unanimous vote based on the power and the impact of the thesis and the portfolio presentation. Some of the people involved in the judging process have called or emailed me and said it was a wonderful thesis. And that the portfolio was an amazing body of work in a class of it's own. I was really worried about doing a thesis and portfolio based on wildlife photography. Didn't know if the judges would appreciate the work. I guess I got my answer.

Needless to say I have been on cloud nine.

People are always asking me why I have competed for so many years.I entered my first print competition in 1992 and have been active ever since in both Maryland, Pennsylvania, SEPPA, and PPA. They always ask why keep at it for so long when I have won my share of awards. I guess this is the answer. All of those years of competition was in preparation for this. I believe that print competition is not all about the awards. Yes...the dingle dangles are nice but print competition is much more than that. For me it has always been a constant source of inspiration to do better. That I am always looking for that next great image. But most importantly, on a very personal note, for me print competition has taken me on an incredible journey of self discovery that has allowed me to discover my true passion in life. I have never thought of myself as a great photographer. But...when you find your true passion in life…all things are possible.

It has definitely been an incredible year for me!

08-26-2009, 04:17 PM
Congratulations, that's an amazing accomplishment!!

Can I read your thesis?

08-26-2009, 04:20 PM
Congratulations! Great read.

Can we see your portfolio images too?

08-26-2009, 04:20 PM
Congratulations!!!!! :D

08-26-2009, 04:37 PM



08-26-2009, 10:50 PM
Thanks...I will try and get the thesis and portfolio prints posted on our website next week.

All of our kids are flying in from Florida tonight to celebrate our grandaughters first birthday. Will be nice to spend some r and r time with them at the lake.

08-26-2009, 11:23 PM
To say congratulations is simply not enough. It will have to do for now. Congratulations.

08-26-2009, 11:46 PM

08-27-2009, 01:19 AM
Congrats on not only have a dream, but making it happen.

08-27-2009, 03:17 AM
Congrats on not only have a dream, but making it happen.

That's interesting that you should say that because I used a similar thought in my thesis.

Something like we all need to dream better dreams...and then we need to make those dreams happen.

08-27-2009, 05:15 AM
Congratulations, Joe.

Any idea in which issue of the ASP magazine your thesis is scheduled to be printed? I'll be looking forward to reading it. I guess this means that you'll be attending the banquet in Nashville !!! Diamond and Fellowship - what a year !!!
Congratulations again.

08-27-2009, 05:26 AM
It will probably be in the spring issue. Congrats Joe! Right behind you in going after the Fellowship...

08-27-2009, 02:10 PM
Very inspirational story, thank you and Bravo!

08-27-2009, 02:15 PM

08-28-2009, 09:37 PM
No...I haven't gotten any details about when and if it will be printed in the ASP magazine.

They are still getting things organized.

08-29-2009, 01:12 PM
Way to go . . . Joe!

08-29-2009, 09:54 PM
Congratulations Joe, I look forward to viewing your displayed images at IUSA at our ASP booth. I hope all the IUSA attendees makes time to come to our display and enjoy the collections from all three of the new Fellows from 2009!
Sam Gardner M.Photog.Cr.CPP

08-30-2009, 01:29 AM
Congratulations Joe, I look forward to viewing your displayed images at IUSA at our ASP booth.

That's right, they'll be on display there. Another item to put on my list of "must see"!

08-30-2009, 01:38 AM
Very impressive, Joe. Add my voice to the chorus of those asking you to share your thesis and portfolio. It would seem to be a very valuable piece of work for other photographers to learn from.