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Accreditation Announcement

The only things missing from my happy dance celebration is confetti and balloons.
Photo by Maddie Owens.

A frequent question that I am asked is when did I start with photography. Answer: I’ve been making photographs for practically my entire life. When I was but a wee lass I asked for a camera for my birthday, a Kodak 110, a pocket size camera that was all the rage at the time.

Mom said no, as mother’s do. She thought I didn’t quite understand the concept of how camera’s worked. First, she explained, cameras are expensive. If that wasn’t bad enough, even worse is that those darn cameras require film, which is expensive. And if the film wasn’t expensive enough, then it is even more expensive to develop the film. Photography is a vicious cycle she stated in her concerned voice (which should have been a signal at the time to buy Kodak stock). The more photos I took, the more expensive the whole hobby would become, so the answer was a firm no. Mom wasn’t paying for any of it. Not one bit.

I went into problem solving mode. I’ve always been pretty good with problem solving to get what I want. Aren’t we all? I determined if she wasn’t going to pay for the camera, then I needed to figure out how to pay for it along with all the ongoing costs associated with what Mom described as that money sucking hobby (which, in reality, is indeed EVERYTHING about photography). Mama wasn’t wrong. Photography is expensive, but I didn’t care. I was obsessed. I wanted a camera, and I would have a camera. But how?

The 61 portraits above were submitted and awarded merit points that contributed to my earning Associate level accreditation with The Portrait Masters. Thank you to everyone who has stepped in front of my camera and trusted me with capturing their portraits.

Enter the paper route. I pedaled my bike all over the hills of Solvang, California delivering the weekly issued community newspaper every Thursday. When I saved enough money I promptly rode my bike to the camera store and purchased my beloved Kodak 110 pocket-sized camera.

The first thing I did upon exiting the store was to remove the camera from the box and throw all the packaging into the nearest public trash can. I figured if the packaging was gone then my mom would not be able to force me to return the camera from whence it came. No packaging? No return. My estimation was correct. Mom acquiesced. I got on with capturing photographs of seemingly everything, but especially of friends and family.

After the paper route I graduated to babysitting, which I did not enjoy, but youngsters will put up with a lot to earn a few bucks. In high school I started working in a Scandinavian bakery serving up pastries and coffee. I earned an hourly wage plus tips while masquerading as a Danish girl wearing a nerolac blue Danish dress, a white lappet upon my head, a laced edged white apron tied with a big bow around my waist and comfy clogs on my feet. Every film cartridge I bought and developed was paid with my own money. Mom was sure I would tire of spending money on buying film and the costs of developing the film. She was wrong. I kept on keeping on.

Seeing that photography was not a waning interest but a true passion, my parents helped me buy my first Canon SLR after graduating from high school. The Canon wasn’t even close size-wise to fitting in my pocket like that sweet little Kodak 110 point and shoot camera. The canon had all the bells and whistles and I finally had to learn the exposure triangle. The popular saying is that everyone is a photographer until the camera is set on manual. The Canon SLR served me well for many, many years. I still have it tucked away on a high shelf in my closet next to my satin covered wedding heels. Both items are sentimental keepsakes and those heels are now a size too small for me.

I have continually upgraded my camera equipment over the decades moving from analog to digital. In addition to buying cameras and equipment, I’ve invested extensively in books explaining famous photographers’ methods, attended in-person workshops and purchased on-line trainings pursuing my photography hobby while simultaneously working to climb the corporate ladder in my hi-tech career that spanned thirty years.

In 2017, after caregiving for my oldest sister, Linda who died after a brutal fight with breast cancer, I decided that if I wanted to open a photography business and become a professional photographer it was now or never. I had crossed over the threshold of fifty years old and I ruefully considered that my life might already be two-thirds over. I had outlived two sisters. My tribe don’t live much past eighty. I spent the summer portfolio building while simultaneously doing a deep dive into Photoshop to learn portrait retouching techniques. Today I’m still learning about retouching techniques just as I will never stop learning about new techniques in the art of photography.

In January 2018 I felt as if I was ready to take the next step on my professional photographer journey so I joined a BNI chapter, a business networking group that meets weekly, and I boldly stepped forward into the unknown while holding forth a stack of freshly minted business cards. As the saying goes, “Leap and the net will appear.”

Every day I am actively creating – with a grateful heart – a business that I love. I receive an abundance of joy in the planning and making of beautiful legacy portraits for my clients.

Every day I am focused on continual improvement. I’m not satisfied doing the same techniques over and over. Pursuing accreditation is a way for me to push my craft and measure my growth by earning merit points awarded by a group of internationally recognized photography industry experts. I started on the accreditation journey in 2018. In August 2021 I earned the first level of accreditation of Associate from The Portraits Masters. Next step is Masters, then Fellow.

The Associate level accreditation is a goal that I set for myself and it feels great to achieve it. Not one to rest on my laurels, I’m already planning creative photoshoots that will help me achieve merit points to work towards attaining the Masters level of accreditation. The only competition is myself and I am led by the insatiable desire to create and to collaborate with likeminded people. Which leads me to this question, what can I create for you?

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