President’s Message: Giving Thanks

©Hayes & Fisk Photography

I’m writing this article from 42,000 feet in the air, on another plane with another Diet Coke and a bag of gummy bears. It’s crazy to me that I’m this many months into my PPA presidency and that Imaging USA is right around the corner. It’s been an honor to visit so many PPA Affiliates and meet so many fantastic artists across the country. I have truly loved every single minute.

The opportunity to gather and share with other photographers is something I’ve always valued. The collaboration, sharing of ideas and concepts, plus the fellowship are so important to me. I still remember my very first local Affiliate meeting, where I met and listened to a presentation by Virginia photographer Jeff Lubin, M.Photog.Cr. That night, Jeff taught me about the concept of good, better, and best product lines and, unbeknownst to him, gave me the fuel to believe I could be a success in this industry, not just a starving artist. It was the first of many times my involvement in both my state Affiliate and PPA brought people into my life who guided me to be better, do better, and try harder.

After that initial program, I began searching for more instructors to help me grow our studio and make it a profitable, successful business. Who knows if it was kismet, divine intervention, or just great luck, but I stumbled upon a PPA workshop by Ann Monteith, M.Photog.Hon.M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI, API, A-ASP, and knew it was for me. I took that first class and … wow. It was exactly the guidance I’d been craving. Not only did I find instruction that would most definitely take our business to new heights, but I had found a mentor in Ann.

My career in photography would have been very different without the support and instruction this association offered. I can’t imagine trying to navigate this industry without it.

Mary Fisk-Taylor

When I say I stalked and followed Ann for about a decade, it’s not an exaggeration. She was one of the most authentic people I’d ever met, and her no-nonsense approach to our industry was exactly what I needed. In the beginning I was just a sponge in her classes, soaking up all the amazing information she shared. As time passed, Ann became more than an instructor to me—not just a mentor, but a friend. In my eyes she broke glass ceilings and paved the way for me to be where I am today. The gratitude and appreciation I feel for her is bigger than I can even express. Ann was my first mentor, and I’m not sure, quite frankly, where I would be today without her encouragement, support, and advice. I’m so glad I never have to find out.

I’ve had many amazing mentors, friends, and teachers through the years—all thanks to PPA. My career in photography would have been very different without the support and instruction this association offered. I can’t imagine trying to navigate this industry without it.

It means so much to me that now, at this point in my career, I can give back to others. I’m proud to do that. My teachers and mentors always asked just one simple thing from me: to learn, put my fingerprint on it, then pass it on. I hope I’m making them proud because that’s what I try to do every day. Nothing is more exciting to me than to see someone who studied with me or watched one of my programs use what I shared to elevate their own photography business.

About 10 years ago I received a phone call from one of my great friends and lifelong mentors, Ralph Romaguera Sr., M.Photog.Hon.M.Photog.Cr., CPP, API,F-ASP. That was the day I joined PPA’s Board of Directors. When Ralph finished his tenure and left the Board he had one request of me, “Leave this association and industry better than you found it.” I truly hope that’s what I’m doing, not just to make myself proud but to make proud all the amazing people who have believed in me and given to me all these years. I’m blessed and full of gratitude for those mentors and this association.

Mary Fisk-Taylor is the co-owner of Hayes & Fisk Photography in Richmond, Virginia.