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Professional Accreditation or Certification for Photographers

This week’s guest post is from one of our charter members, Tamsen Donker of Creative Clicks Photography in Niagara, Canada.  She will be discussing professional photographer accreditation through PPOC (The Professional Photographers of Canada).  There are other organizations in other countries that also offer professional photographers the opportunity to become certified such as the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) which has a Certified Professional Photographers program.  Clients in every industry seek out credentialed professionals, as the public recognizes certification as a sign that one is an authority in the field. A certified/accredited photographer designation offers potential clients the comfort in knowing they will receive professional-quality goods and services.

My most important job in life is being a mother to my four precious babies. When we were married, my husband and I knew that above all, I would always be a stay at home mom as long as it was financially doable. The Lord has blessed us with the ability to be at home with our littlest blessings, and this has brought so much happiness to our family. Adding photography to my job description was not planned. I loved photography and the more I learned, the more I enjoyed it. I wanted to take it a step farther by creating a business that would work well around our family life. But one thing I often struggled with was a feeling of being ‘real’. I did not attend college to study the art of photography. In fact, I learned everything I know between bedtime and feedings and diaper changes. I work from my home, with kids at my feet and on my lap and crayons scattered throughout my office. I took the necessary steps to ensure that I was running a legitimate business. I had a business license, paid taxes, took workshops and continually worked towards higher learning. But I wanted to feel like a professional. I wanted to believe that I was a professional! No matter how much someone would say they loved an image I had produced, I did not feel like it was anything more than high praise from a friend who didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

Enter the PPOC. The Professional Photographers of Canada is a diversified group of creative artists dedicated to the highest standards in professional imaging” (taken from their website). I attended a few meetings locally before taking the plunge and joining the association. The other photographers in our chapter completely awed me- I couldn’t believe some of the people who I blog stalked and FB creeped were hanging out in the same room as me, learning together and sharing their knowledge as well. I loved every minute and knew right away that I wanted to become accredited within the association – to receive critique from some of the most professional photographers in Canada on my work was exactly what I was looking for. On November 13, 2011 I received my first accreditation for Infant and Child Portraiture. This was a wonderful feeling- to be acknowledged as a professional actually gave me a boost of confidence that I needed to take my business to the next level.

Niagara Professional Photographer 306 Professional Accreditation or Certification for Photographers

Now many would say that being accredited is something that means nothing to our clients, they might argue that we are professionals with or without that piece of paper, or they might ask why I didn’t feel that confidence within myself. I can’t speak for my clients, but one thing I do know is that photography is becoming a VERY saturated market. Anyone can fall in love with the beautiful imagery we are now able to produce with affordable DSLR equipment and they might decide to up and start their own business as well. And they have the freedom and the right to do so. But just because they own a nice camera or great lens, does not mean that they are able to consistently produce high quality work for their clients. So what makes a photographer a professional? Well, in my opinion, having this accreditation from the PPOC proves to discerning clients that I have taken the necessary steps, the training and the education to learn all that I need to produce the work they see on my website under any given circumstance. Finally I was able to feel like I could legitimately call myself a professional in this field.

Niagara Professional Photographer 307 Professional Accreditation or Certification for Photographers

In 2012, the PPOC also created a new category, one that I was able to have a small hand in creating. Newborn photography is a booming market, and there was a need for a separate category within the Accreditation program. I am thankful to the many people who also spoke up and encouraged the board to create a category that speaks directly to this market. I submitted my images and received my accreditation for Newborn Portraits on October 27, 2012.

Niagara Professional Photographer 308 Professional Accreditation or Certification for Photographers

I am so proud to display the PPOC logo on my website and I’m honored to be considered a peer among the incredibly talented photographers in Canada. The creativity and joy I receive from photography has greatly enriched my life~ thank you to my wonderful clients who have enabled me to grow and learn, to my family who has always supported me and loved me and above all, to my Lord who has given me this gift.

Thank you, Tamsen, for this extremely informative post.  

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Behind the Scenes with Laura Zander

This week, we are taking a look at some behind the scenes at a glamour portrait session with Laura Zander of Add to Heart  Photography, a maternity and newborn portrait photographer located in Silverdale Washington.

What was your inspiration or reason for wanting to do this session?
I’ve watched Sue Bryce on Creative Live several times and the way she makes women look and feel I find inspiring. As a photographer and mother it’s not often I find myself in front of the camera and realized that many photographers and mothers miss out on having a beautiful portrait of themselves. It just so happened that as I was thinking about a session like this a fellow photographer, mother of two little ones, and friend of mine texted me and as soon as she agreed to sit for me, I began to plan it out.

addtoheart beauty portraiture Behind the Scenes with Laura Zander

What sort of lighting was used and did you create any special effects?
Natural window light was my main source of light. Throughout the shoot, I also used a Photoflex white translucent Lite Panel as a large reflector and a thin polystyrene sheet clamped to a wheeled stand to bounce additional light. Because the day ended up being a particularly dark and cloudy day, I did put white wood boards underneath the chair for part of the session as it helped to bounce light up as well.

studio session pullback Behind the Scenes with Laura Zander

Did you shoot with the intent to have processing play a large part in the finished piece?
I made sure to crop in camera while shooting because I knew that during processing I wanted to focus on a quick and simple workflow avoiding Photoshop actions or special processing treatments.

simple and beautiful photo1 Behind the Scenes with Laura Zander

Tell us about the styling please.
Planning this session included me finding a few outfits to create different styled looks. A gold sequin dress and blue/black mod dress were both great finds during a few trips to TJ Maxx. I picked up a sheer black shirt at Target that I thought had a classic look, but still a bit sexy. The red dress was my special splurge, a vintage 1950′s candy apple red gown that I found on Etsy. I made a couple accessories to have for the session such as a chiffon skirt and red hairpiece with vintage flowers. Not everything fit perfectly, though.  The red dress was too small and the blue mod dress was too big, but I made sure to have safety pins at the readyicon smile Behind the Scenes with Laura Zander

fashion wardrobe for glam photos Behind the Scenes with Laura Zander

Here are a few more images from the session and the client stated, “My session with Laura was wonderful.  I felt so beautiful and comfortable in front of her camera.  She was very detailed about posing and you can definitely see this shine through in my final images.  I just love my pictures and would highly recommend her for any fun glamour pictures.”

silverdale photographer glam session Behind the Scenes with Laura Zander

stunning vintage red dress Behind the Scenes with Laura Zander

beautiful portrait photographer Behind the Scenes with Laura Zander

Thank you, Laura, for sharing your behind the scenes portraits!  Here is where you can find more of Laura’s beautiful images:

Website:  http://www.addtoheart.com
Blog: http://addtoheart.com/blog/
Facebook Fans: http://www.facebook.com/addtoheart?fref=ts

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Ellie - May 28, 2013 - 7:09 am

Wow, they are beautiful and thanks for sharing your behind the scenes :-)

tamsen - May 28, 2013 - 4:29 pm

she is GORGEOUS! Love the posing, you can definitely see the attention to detail! Love them!

Melissa VanLeeuwen - May 28, 2013 - 7:45 pm

Gorgeous Laura! Thanks for sharing your tips :)

Kelly - May 29, 2013 - 8:17 pm

Gorgeous work! Love all the clothing you found!

Kay Pickens - May 30, 2013 - 7:31 am

These are wonderful, Laura. Love the clothing, the posing, the lighting. They are fabulous!

Bright Light Award {Photographers Charitable Cause}

This week, I’m excited to share this exciting charitable cause founded by one of our long-time members, Kelly Quashnick of Creatively Yours Photography in Spokane, Washington.

Chrissy 45 Bright Light Award {Photographers Charitable Cause}What is the Bright Light Award?
It is an award for a deserving upcoming senior. We look for an outstanding student, or someone that has overcome a personal or family difficulty, or someone who is a great community servant.

Who sponsors the award?
It is sponsored by myself, Kelly Q with Creatively Yours Photography, Finders Keepers a local boutique, Jenn Barlos with Elixir Salon, and Shasta Hankins, a freelance makeup artist.

Chrissy 16 Bright Light Award {Photographers Charitable Cause}

What does the recipient receive?
The senior receives an amazing senior portrait experience. The winner receives a $150 gift certificate to go shopping at Finders Keepers, which has a large selection of gorgeous dresses, skirts, shorts, and tops, plus tons of fabulous accessories.   Then Jenn Barlos, of Elixir Salon, sets up an appointment for a beautiful new haircut to be done about 2 weeks prior to the session and also offers complimentary styling on the day of the session.  On the day of the session, Shasta Hankins  applies makeup for the winner.  Then they come see me for their senior pictures! After the session, the senior and their family gets to come over for their Image Premier where they will select 10 digital images to be able to print and share.

Who can receive this award?
Anyone from the Class of 2014 can receive the award this year. The deserving senior must live in the greater Spokane- Coeur d’Alene ID metropolitan area and can attend any local public or private school, or even be a homeschool student.

Chrissy 8 Bright Light Award {Photographers Charitable Cause}How do you receive nominations?
Anyone can nominate a student. In the past we’ve received nominations from parents, teachers, coaches, and friends. They can find the link to the nomination form on my blog.

How did you get involved with the Bright Light?
The Bright Light was started in 2011 with myself, Finders Keepers, and Shasta Hankins. We started the award to acknowledge the amazing high school students in our area. So often in our society high school students are not acknowledged for all they do both academically and in the community, plus acknowledging the adversities they’ve overcome. We wanted to show them some love and our support!

How long has the Bright Light been going on?
We started the Bright Light in 2011, and gave out the first award last summer to Chrissy. Chrissy received the award to recognize her amazing academic success in the face of a huge obstacle in her learning journey. She also serves at several different community outreaches. It was our pleasure to work with her. She is a sweetheart and it was such an honor to be able to create an amazing experience for her.

Chrissy 61 Bright Light Award {Photographers Charitable Cause}

Who decides who will receive the award?
All of the sponsors will decide who will receive the award. As the nomination period draws to a close, I will forward all the nomination emails to the other sponsors. Together we make a decision on who will be our award winner. Last year was a tough choice, but also a unanimous decision. We are looking forward to all of the nominations this year!

Can others get involved in the Bright Light?
I would love to see other senior portrait photographers follow in our footsteps! I believe it is truly an amazing thing to be able to offer this to the community. You can start out small by doing it alone as a photographer, or reach out to the community and have other businesses join you. I’d love to hear what others are doing to recognize seniors in their own area!

Thanks so much, Kelly, for sharing this wonderful cause with our readers.  I agree that it would be really great to have other senior portrait photographers join in and create a similar community give-back campaign.

Chrissy 37 Bright Light Award {Photographers Charitable Cause}

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Jenny - May 21, 2013 - 1:29 pm

This is so wonderful! And I love that you started it all on your own Kelly! You have an amazing heart!

Pet Photography Workshop – Lake Tahoe


AUGUST 22-24, 2013

in the tranquil beauty and splendor of


iStock 000002715083Small1 Pet Photography Workshop   Lake Tahoe

ppdwidget custom image 22 1362411682 copy Pet Photography Workshop   Lake Tahoe

*This intensive & fun 3-day hands-on workshop will include:

Dog Photography & Post Processing

all with an emphasis on the creative process and

Business & Marketing for the Dog Photography Business Model.


Enrollment is limited to only 12 attendees.

This workshop will fill up quickly, so we encourage you to register early.

This workshop is for the serious amateur to seasoned professional photographer.

Attendees should have a basic understanding of exposure, photographing using manual mode and feel comfortable working with dogs.

For more information, please visit Paw Print Divas Website

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Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep {Photographers Charitable Cause}

sandytyson300px Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep {Photographers Charitable Cause}This week’s post is brought to us by Sandy Tyson of Heavenly Eye Photography in Jacksonville, North Carolina.  She gives freely of her time to families in need of bereavement portrait services through the charity Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.

“When moms have babies, they study every detail of that baby, day after day. When a baby is taken too soon, mom has one day or mere hours to learn every detail of the precious child. Having photos of our daughter is the greatest gift to remember her sweet little face. We cherish them.”  Written by Maggie’s Mommy.

Maggie was born and passed away on May 3, 2012, and Sandy was there to give the grieving family a printed memory of their baby.  Sandy also had the honor of photographing Maggie’s Mommy today; she is in her third trimester with Maggie’s little sister.

IMG 9384eweb Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep {Photographers Charitable Cause}

What is NILMDTS and how did it get started?
Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is a non-profit organization that provides infant remembrance photography through a network of professional photographer volunteers. It came about when Sandy Puc’ and Cheryl Haggard realized portraits were an integral part of healing for Cheryl. Cheryl’s son, Maddux Achilles Haggard was born on Feb 4, 2005. They were told that he would not make it, so on his sixth day of life Cheryl and her husband had chosen to have Sandy Puc’ come in to document his short life. They wanted black and white portraits to remember him by. Those portraits were the start of joining together to help other families in the same situation. The organization was founded in April 2005. They named it Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep after the children’s bedtime prayer. In the eight years since it was founded, there have been over 11,000 volunteers that have participated. NILMDTS is in every state and has reached 40 countries across the world.

NILMDTS LOGO Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep {Photographers Charitable Cause}

Why did you choose this organization as your charity?
NILMDTS is so important to families who have lost an infant or child. It is such a blessing to be able to deliver images of their child for them to keep forever and have something tangible to keep their memory alive. It is very difficult at the time of the session and when I edit, but I know that these will bring healing for the family involved. I have been a volunteer for just over a year now.

How do families know who to contact in their time of need?
Usually the families are asked by the hospital staff if they would like to have a photographer come in to photograph their child and family. The hospital then contacts the area coordinator who in turn contacts the on-call photographer. Right now there are only three active volunteers serving two hospitals in Jacksonville, NC.

What do families receive and do they need to pay anything?
The families receive the session and a disk of all of the edited images at no cost to them. The photographers volunteer their time and any resources needed.

What is the process like from your perspective?
There are no typical sessions, every single one is different. They start the same though. When the doctor knows that the baby will not make it, or has already perished, the parents are asked if they would like to have a volunteer photographer come in. If they do, the nurse or Chaplain will make the call to the area coordinator. Moms may still be in the process of labor when the coordinator calls me. That information is passed to me to help set the timetable. I try to get there as soon after birth as possible. I do a lot of praying and prepping myself in the car on the way. It is always a different scenario, so I usually walk in with only the basic information. I go straight to the nurses’ station to talk with the nurses and the chaplain. After making sure the paperwork is filled out, I ask the nurses if there are any empty rooms to leave my gear in and then take only the bare essentials into the parents room. I talk with the family to express my condolences and ask them about who they want in the images. Some parents do not want to be in the portraits, most do. When I have a plan, I start setting up and photographing. I start with room shots, the contraction monitor and then start with my list of poses for the family and the infant. There are no set poses per se, but a list of breakdowns. Example: baby alone, mom and baby, dad and baby, both parents and baby, etc. I know that seems basic, but the emotions in the room are usually so palpable that I will lose my direction if I don’t have a set plan. After photographing, I tell the parents about the rest of the process. I will then leave and go back to the room with my gear and cry. My heart breaks for each and every family. It is an effort to keep it together in the room with the parents, but these families do not need a photographer breaking down in front of them. It is their loss, I’m only there to photograph it. After I compose myself again I ask the nurses to make sure the parents have my contact information and the NILMDTS information. Then I go back to the studio and make a back up of the images. I usually wait a few days to edit the images, allowing time to process and then I’m able to go back and give the images the attention they deserve. It is always hard, but it is something that gives me hope for these families.

How do you, personally, deal with the emotional stress of this job?
It’s a very real stress of the job. A lot of photographers find that they cannot handle it after a few sessions. It has been very challenging for me, but I try to put myself into the parents’ shoes. It brings perspective back to the reason I wanted to do this, which is to help these families. I only have one image of one of the two babies I lost from miscarriage. It’s an ultrasound image and it proves to me that my child was real and was mine. So while I do not have the full experience that they are going through, I do understand that those images will comfort parents who are aching with empty arms.

What sort of training is required of photographers?
NILMDTS is very particular in their selection process. Here is an excerpt from their website.  “Thank you for your interest in becoming an affiliated photographer for NILMDTS. Due to the nature, sensitivity, and complexity of this work, many factors exist in which most photographers wouldn’t consider necessary to fill this role. Our work seeks to help families soften their pain, and help create photographic memories of their baby that they can be proud to share with other family members and future generations.  Please view this application in the same manner you would for a professional photographer position. Submit your best portrait work showing your ability to use auxiliary lighting and natural lighting. If you were applying at a magazine for a photographer position you would submit the appropriate professionally crafted photos, your best photos in hopes of obtaining that position. In this case, we need to see abilities in portrait work. “

How can other photographers apply to become a participating member?
Here is the volunteer application page https://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org/volunteer/photographer-application/

Anything else you care to share?
I know it sounds cliche’, but this is the hardest job you will ever love. It is one of the most difficult situations to be a part of. But it isn’t about me, of course. I’m just along for the moment and to be a blessing in a small way. I feel just a tiny piece of what these parents are going thru and know that I need to do something to help ease their pain, even something small. Thank you for allowing me to share. Please visit NILMDTS and consider volunteering, there are so many hospitals that still need photographers.

For more information about this charitable organization, please visit the website at https://www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org or the Facebook fan page at  https://www.facebook.com/nilmdts.



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