Nancy Steele, C.P.P.
If I could add all the emotions I feel when I see this, I would. It is pure happiness and blessed, so much so, I am having a hard time describing it. The pride I feel with those little three Initials behind my name. I didn’t know how big of a deal it was until I completed the process!
C.P.P. Certified Professional Photographer
For the past three months I have devoted hundreds of hours to this journey. They say it’s a two year process, but once I set the goal I wanted to get it done. Let me tell you, the process is difficult. Once you declare your candidacy and are accepted, the process begins and is made up of a technical exam and a port of image submissions. The exam was VERY difficult, math, inverse square law, lighting ratios and patterns, words, definitions, and lots of technical ‘stuff’. I passed 🙂 so then I thought after the exam the images would be the easy part, it’s all about light right? Well, not so much.
Hours of sorting through client images to get just the right mix of color, light, definition, exposure, and feel to the image. It’s about lighting patterns, catch lights (at the correct position) the color tones, saturation, exposure, depth of field, directional light, light control, color and light harmony, and did I mention spot on exposure? We live in the land of grey sky, directional lighting is not always present… .so you have to find it. These are a few of the items in each and every image that need to be identified, clear, exact, and precise. It was so much harder than I imagined. Luckily, there is an amazing support group, helping, guiding, critiquing, and advising. These wonderful people are there to help others in our chosen profession to improve and hone their skills. It is so great to be surrounded by such knowledge and see each other learn, grow, and improve our skills by each image we submit.
Then it was the time photographing (and sometimes learning a specific light pattern in the studio). A huge shout out to my wonderful clients and friends who volunteered their time to help me, by modeling for specific lighting patterns. Thank you to many friends. Thank you to Sam, our Oregon PPA leison for leading a class and teaching us your knowledge and on how to take tests! And for taking the time to meet with me and talking through things for image submissions. Even when you can’t think straight, he’d answer and ask the right questions to help.
It was quite flattering as one of the discussion threads went on for a LOT of comments and in the end, was said THIS is a perfect image for selective focus. (one of the compulsory image classifications) All the elements are displayed, subtly. It was flattering to hear from so many. (Thank you Sydney for your amazing session this summer to help me meet one category… before I knew I needed it!)
Heck, for the image submissoin, I even pulled an all niter, working endlessly to submit just the right images! Thank goodness that 5am image switch was the right one.
Reflecting on this accomplishment, I didn’t realize what or how I would feel when I’d hear about passing it all. So much this past year has extreme highs and lows, a year of loss of dear friends and relatives, a year of uncertainty. WOW, this feels good.
I am blessed with amazing friends, clients, and family. I am extremely grateful for surrounding my life with people of passion in my professional life and filled with love in my personal life (okay both have passion and love, but I have especially passionately artists in my work life!).
But being awarded the C.P.P, this has brought pure JOY, excitement and pride. Personal satisfaction in a job well done. This is a milestone that has changed my business, and only for the better. I wish I would have began the journey sooner, but everything has its time.
So, you ask “what’s this mean?” To others, probably just initials behind a name. To me, it’s a professional level I have meant, which was extremely challenging. It is exams and acknowledgement that the work I produce is on a level of professionalism that meets Professional Photographers of America’s standards. It’s a process that was difficult, hard, trying and frustrating. But the rewards are beyond any emotion I thought I would feel. In the daily demands of running a full time photography business, it was refreshing to work SO very hard to accomplish the goal.
Did I mention there are no other C.P.P.’s in my town? Out of 101 photographers West Linn, I am the ONLY one at this time with this certification. And a shout out to Michelle Smith in Tulatin as the other Oregon passing photographer this round! (she is also earned her Master Photographer in ’13!!!) There are currently only 17 C.P.P.’s in the state of Oregon. Nationally that is only 3% of photographers have worked for this certification. Yep, I am overjoyed, excited, and elated to pass both the test and submissions.
With all this said, I hope these numbers of C.P.P.’s change dramatically. I would love to see the level of education, professionalism, and knowledge rise. I am elated I have chosen this path and am excited to help any others achieve the goal of certification. My career has been build around others, about giving, about community. I am extremely proud that my business is about Love, Passion, and Art. So, this one blog, I will boast… just for a bit, as now I have achieved something I have put on the back burner for several years. Family and business have come first, but the certification I see as an honor to achieve. It’s knowledge and education, commitment to excellence.
Now, I will be begin the journey toward my Master Photographer Degree. It’s part of the degree program with Professional Photographers of America. We have a few Masters in our community that are a great inspiration and help with this process. I have half the merits I need now need to focus on competition prints to fulfill the rest. Competition is having my images judged regionally and nationally by a panel of Master Photographers. I have only competed a bit, as it’s an entirely different world than client images, but once rested, I will focus to achieve this goal. It takes a few years to get enough Merits, but I am excited to begin this new journey!
Thank to all who helped me along this C.P.P. journey and for celebrating with me.
Nancy Steele, C.P.P.
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