What makes a photographer a professional?

Many of my readers may know, I am a mother. 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.

Professional Child Photographer Niagara

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 Children's Photographer

This year, 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 Newborn Professional Photographer

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.

Newborn Professional Photography

Where do you keep your memories? {Niagara Newborn Photography}

We are so incredibly blessed in this day and age to be able to take pictures of anything, anytime. Almost everyone has a camera on them at all times, whether it be on their cell phone, their iPad, their video cameras or computers. Photos are snapped at school, work, on trips, in the car, at the park and in the home. Often those photos find their way onto Facebook or they are shared via Twitter and other media sites. These are priceless memories. But where do these images go after that?

Unfortunately not too many people are printing their images anymore. Instead, they are stored on computers, or maybe moved onto an External Hard Drive. Rarely are they being put lovingly into an album or finding their way onto the walls of homes. The sad thing about all this is that it leaves nothing behind for the future generations! Computers and EHD’s (External Hard Drives) cannot be completely relied on- they can fail at any given moment and your images could be lost forever! I often find it so incredibly ironic that our generation is plagued by the need to capture every.single.moment in life, whether it be with video or images. Advertising companies do a wonderful job of convincing us it is our job to capture these moments for our children. And really it is. But if we are going to be taking all of these images, we should also be responsible for preserving those memories. How can we do that? Here are a few tips:

1| Backup those images! Don’t store all of them in one place. Be sure to back them up on an EHD, use an on-line system such as Mozy or BackBlaze, and also burn the images to DVD. I store all my images on DVD at my own house as well as at another location to be sure that they are safe in case of fire.

2| Print those images! Put them up in your home so that you can enjoy them every day. There are so many wonderful ways to decorate with your prints, even on a budget. All the inspiration images below show you how to display a variety of your favorite images, and they’re easy to change out when you like.

Niagara Newborn Photographer1. Framed collage in a bedroom 2. Wallpaper with personal pictures attached inside the frames 3. 9 square prints in clear frames

4. Collage frames 5. Prints hung on wire with bulldog clips 5. Prints hung in a heart shape

3| Create albums. It’s a lot of work, I know it! I have found it’s a lot easier to do it in sections. I have created an album for each of my kids in a Costco account. Every couple of months I upload all their recent pictures and order them. One of the benefits of using Costco is that your images will ALWAYS remain stored- if you do lose your images you can always go back in and order those prints again. Also, Costco often has sales on their 4×6 prints for 10 cents each! When ordering, I always select the matte paper and turn OFF the color correct option. (note that I don’t recommend this for wall portraits! Costco is a great economical option for small prints BUT they are not a professional lab and will not print properly calibrated images) Whenever I have a spare moment, I fill in their albums. It gives me peace of mind knowing that their albums are always up to date and they LOVE looking through the albums. Their excitement in that alone makes it all worth it to me.

Another option for albums would be to completely skip the printing process altogether and create digital albums. I have used Shutterfly in the past and I was pleased with them. They have a large variety of templates for the albums (I chose a plain white template so the images would stand out).

So, won’t you join me in making the effort to get your photos off your digital devices? Do it for the future generations! I have my parents albums at my house and still love looking through them at time gone by. I hope one day my kids will enjoy their albums just as much!

p.s. I’d love if you shared how YOU preserve your memories! I am always looking for cool ideas to hang pictures around the home!