It's The Journey, Not The Destination: PPA Degrees

When I first joined PPA in 1986, I wanted to be one of the “cool kids.” I thought that in order to join the “cool” group, I needed to prove my competence as a professional photographer. What I found, instead, was something that vastly improved my own imagery and business.

My first goal was reaching Certified Professional Photographer status (I felt it was a good place to start since I had come from another profession). To reach that goal, I started studying, entering print competitions, and attending classes. My journey had begun.

It was amazing to me how many of those photographers with degrees were willing to help me. They critiqued my work, answered my questions, and made suggestions to improve my photography and my business skills. I was soon certified!

Being a goal-oriented person, I searched for a new carrot to dangle in front of myself. That Master of Photography ribbon seemed like the obvious objective to push towards. It meant putting my work into the big show, the International Print Competition. Amazingly, those same photographers were there to lend a hand again.

As those helpful photographers went through my stacks of 5x5 proofs and gave critiques and suggestions on what to enter, I started to better understand the elements that make up a great image. I would go home and work on the things that I learned from the critiques…and apply those pointers to my client work, too. My client work started to look better than ever, and my hope of earning a degree was becoming a reality! (My clients also seemed to enjoy the improving qualities of my work.)

A few years later, I earned the Master of Photography degree. What a bummer…another goal was done, so now what? Of course, I looked for the next step and started wondering how I could achieve a Master Craftsman ribbon. It was time to start sharing the knowledge I had gathered on my journey to the Master of Photography degree. I started presenting programs on lighting, posing, and marketing. In order to become a better instructor, I really delved into the depths of these subjects. Again, my photography improved from the knowledge gained along the way.

When I started, I thought I was trying to reach a final destination with each goal. But each one took me farther on the journey of improving my imagery, meeting new friends, and sharing that knowledge. It’s that entire journey that has made me happiest.

I’ll always need a carrot dangled in front of me to keep me moving forward, but I’ll always know it’s the process of getting there that keeps me growing.

By Dave Huntsman, M.Photog.Cr.

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