When I was in college, I made up a list of things that I wanted to do with my life. Somewhere in the Top 3 was to learn — really learn — how to use my camera on manual mode.
As an undergraduate, I enrolled in a photography class in the Art Department (something I now advise beginners not to do) where my instructor gave me a “C” and told me to move on. So I did what any broken hearted college freshman would do: I went back to the English Department and embraced my first love, writing, which took me to graduation and graduate school and subsequent Real Jobs.
Fast forward 20 years. On my way out the door to make Christmas Eve party rounds with my family, I stopped to grab the mail and discovered my Christmas gift to myself:
“The Professional Photographic Certification Commission would like to extend its congratulations to you on passing your Certification Exam. Your image portfolio was reviewed and your images passed the rigorous standards that our PPCC judges have set for the program. Since you have completed and passed both of these steps, your CPP process is now complete. Congratulations!”
On the way to the second party, I noticed the letter was addressed to Christine Gacharná, CPP. 🙂
“The Professional Photographic Certification Commission is the leading body for certifying imaging professionals. Certified Professional Photographers must complete a written examination, an image evaluation and adhere to a stringent code of conduct. PPCC recognizes less than 2,000 Certified Professional Photographers.”
The best I can describe the feeling is a deep sense of accomplishment, not for me per se or for my photography business, but rather for my 19-year-old soul whose struggle is somehow vindicated. That’s a CPP after my name, Harrison! My undergraduate instructor inspires me to teach photography not by his subjective standards or fear of youthful competition but by the mastery of technical skills which then blossom into an individual’s unique perspective as an artist. It’s not so much the recognition or the photo credit or the referrals or the commissions or the letters after my name; it’s about accomplishing a goal and sharing what I love. (Having said that, it’s also nice to be respected and compensated for my work.)
Suffice it to say, I can now put an official checkmark next to “learn — really learn — how to use my camera on manual.” 🙂