I know my non-photography friends won’t understand exactly how exciting this is, but I had 3 prints “merit” this week at the International Print Competition of PPA (Professional Photographers of America).
Photography is an industry that has standards, a certification process, and legal requirements (like acquiring business licenses, collecting and paying sales tax, being insured). It shouldn’t be just a matter of purchasing a “good” camera and deciding you will make a little extra money by taking pictures of your friends. True professional photographers educate themselves and work hard to hone their craft.
I guess it was about 5 years ago that I decided to go through the process of certification. I had to travel to Memphis to take a written exam (probably the hardest test I’ve taken since World History in college!!). I then had to submit images for review. It was an important milestone for me. Five of us began that journey together (I still remember meeting in Chappy’s on Perry Hill to map out a plan.) I think Lori Mercer and I were the only two of the five to complete that journey.
This year I decided to jump into the competition ring with professional photographers across the world. I heard (not an official number yet) that over 2700 entries were received. Traditionally about 30 percent of those receive merits. I’m very proud that 3 of the 4 images I submitted merited.
This is not only a personal achievement for me, it is one for my clients. I work hard to exceed the expectations of all my clients — from a simple headshot to an elaborate wedding. Entering competitions and working towards a Master of Photography Degree through PPA will help me achieve that goal. Everything I learn and perfect will improve your experience with me — from the session to the final results. You are worth every penny I have spent and every hour I have worked and every legal requirement I have fulfilled.
I owe a big thank you to many people, especially to Diana Bunch for being my accountability partner in this journey. We are going to push each other until we both gain the coveted Master of Photography degree. The process will take about 2-3 years, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted!
Here’s my “case” and the results. I’ve included the image that did not merit because I absolutely love it even though it did not meet the high standards of “merit.” I’m not sure why at this point — I’ll receive a critique from the judges that will shed more light on their decision.
DiAnna Paulk is an award-winning Certified Professional Photographer specializing in weddings and portraiture in Montgomery, Alabama and the River Region (Montgomery, Prattville, Wetumpka, Millbrook).
I am currently between studios. While the plan was to move from the current location to the new one, the new location is not ready yet. So I will temporarily be without a physical studio location for a month or so. However, I will continue to accept on-location sessions. I am just moving -- not closing.
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