One of the first seminars I attended was a presentation on high school senior photography by Wah Lui from Seattle. He started the transition that led to a total makeover of our senior photography market. There were many other photographers in that transition, but the two that have influenced me the most are Gary Jentoft and Larry Peters.
I am not only inspired by the photographers that crossed my path in the early years; I am also inspired by those who are up and coming. For instance, I had the opportunity to photograph Chris Cox, my son's best friend, while he was home visiting last summer. An aspiring photographer who has won awards in a New York student competition, Chris and I spent a few hours creating images that reflected his personality.
Today I see many new faces who still push the creative envelope, not only with their photographic style, but also by embracing the changing technology. The young, creative talent of students like Chris is an inspiration. I am excited to see what transformations await us in the coming years. This is what makes the industry so great: There isn't a standard that we must follow. We don't just create a likeness of our subjects; we have the ability to create unique images that say something about those we meet on this journey called photography.
May your journey this month allow you to cross paths with someone that will inspire you.
Friends Met Along the Way
Three of my early mentors were not photographers. They started out as individuals helping me be successful in business, but they became dear friends in the process. To each of these people I owe a big thank you.
After purchasing the studio, my first contact was my Burrell Colour Imaging Lab's rep. Bob Clark walked into my studio early on and kept pushing the need to get involved with photographic organizations and learn more. He must have wondered more than once if I would make it in this business! But his persistence led me to PPA, my state organization PPM, and the local Triangle affiliate.
Evelyn Lageman was our studio consultant in the late 80's. She came to our studio at least twice to help us learn how to run a photographic business, training the staff where we were struggling. She was a master of dealing with people--while kind and gentle, she accomplished all of her session goals.
Then, at one of my first Michigan conventions, I met a frame salesman, Brian Runnels with Culver Art and Frame in Ohio. Over the years our friendship grew beyond the photographic industry. Brian would plan his studio stops around Marshall, so we could meet for dinner. He became close to our children. And he always had an encouraging word or listening ear as I worked my way through a challenge.
Bob and Brian have since passed away, but I will always treasure the friendship and lessons they shared with me. None of the three taught me a thing about photography, but all taught me about the importance of relationships. Cherish the relationships that come into your life, they truly are a blessing.
Dennis Craft, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, API, F-ASP
2008-2009 PPA President
image copyright Rod Gleason