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.
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.
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.
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.