President’s Message: The Most Worthwhile Investment

©Kira Derryberry

I’ve procrastinated writing this column. I could say it’s because I’m swamped, I could say I’m pulled in several directions at once, but the truth is that I’m struggling to express how I feel about writing my last article as PPA president. I want to share my gratitude for a year that has been professionally and personally fulfilling and that has taken me around the world for PPA. But I won’t sugarcoat it: It’s also been hard.

Juggling a full-time studio, a full-time family, and what I didn’t realize would be a full-time job as PPA president takes a toll. I’d sometimes start writing an overdue article at 11:30 p.m. after a day of shooting and before packing for a trip that included an out-of-town job and a drop-in at a local guild. Of course, if we don’t do the hard work, we don’t see the rewards.

Just when I thought there was no chance I’d be able to come up for air, I received a call from a longtime client with a last-minute request for an afterhours family session. She’s a steady client, though one of modest orders, who is perpetually a year away from a home remodel that would necessitate a large installation and accompanying great sale. I was tempted to say I just didn’t have time. While that would have been easy, it would have also meant missing out on one of my best sales this year. Because this was the year she finally said, “You know what? The remodel may never come. I can’t live with blank walls forever. Let’s do it!”

It’s understandable that the stresses of our jobs sometimes wear us down, whether those stresses come from serving on the PPA board of directors or working as a weekend photographer. But we have to hang in there if we want to succeed. My client’s family portrait going up on her wall is the culmination of years of trust, hard work, and dedication that in the end gives me an immense sense of pride.

It’s understandable that the stresses of our jobs sometimes wear us down … But we have to hang in there if we want to succeed.

Kira Derryberry

I can’t help but see a correlation to my time as PPA president. While I have felt spread thin, I’ve had an experience of a lifetime traveling the country and the world, learning and sharing with some of the most passionate and dedicated people I’ve had the honor to work with. I am forever changed by those who care so deeply for the industry and the success of photographers. I have loved those late nights at conventions, talking shop and sharing stories with people about our experiences in a profession that requires so much of us.

There are days when we feel like we can’t cut it, can’t handle any more. Doubts sneak up and squeeze themselves in and throw a shiny wrench in all our well-laid plans. But we can do this. Keep your head above water long enough, and those moments of hard-earned victory can help us find the fulfillment we’ve been searching for.

I cannot express how grateful I am for the opportunity to serve the photography community not just as PPA president for a year, but as a member of the board for the past eight years. Serving as president has been a privilege, an opportunity to give back to an association that has given me immeasurable support throughout my career. As I step down from the role of president, I look forward to going back to being an active part of this community—a contributor, an educator, a learner, and a fellow within this awesome group. You guys are my foundation and you remind me that we are all in this together and that I belong here with you. Thank you for making this one of the most worthwhile investments of my life.

Kira Derryberry is a studio owner and portrait and headshot photographer in Tallahassee, Florida.