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Message from the Board - March 2014

David A. Sacks AZPPA Board member

AZPPA, Education, and Developing Your Style

Charles Dickens opened A Tale of Two Cities with his famously paradoxical line, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...". Here at AZPPA in 2014, it is solely the best of times.

It is only the beginning of March, but already, this year is shaping up as one of the best ever in terms of the breadth and depth of educational opportunities available to Arizona photographers. Approximately six weeks ago, we concluded Imaging USA (IUSA) right here in Phoenix, and in about six weeks from now, AZPPA will be holding its Photo Frenzy State Convention.

AZPPA was extremely active at IUSA. As the hosting PPA state affiliate, we had a booth to showcase our impressive program to both local and nationally based photographers. We had members participating as host ambassadors, committee members, general volunteers, program leaders and attendees. The educational opportunities both pre-convention and during IUSA were extraordinary, and all found many valuable sessions to attend. There were also opportunities to participate in the exhibition and to visit the print competition gallery. I especially found it valuable to meet with a print competition mentor.

Looking forward, we have an incredibly deep educational program lined up for Photo Frenzy, April 12-13. Our nationally known speakers include Ryan Brown on Lightroom, Michele Celentano on family portraiture, Steve Kozak on marketing and Tim Meyer on studio lighting for portraits. There will of course, be print competition and numerous hands-on instructional opportunities. There will be some activities occurring simultaneously, resulting in lots of choices for our attendees.

One could say that this year can’t get much better than that, but wait, it does! Our regular monthly meeting lineup includes educational sessions by experts in the fields of real estate photography, weddings, image editing with various software programs, landscape photography, posing, and business and pricing. All of this is in addition to two print critique events that are modeled after print competition, providing expert advice on how to improve your images. AZPPA also offers two studio tours during the year. During the studio tours, your colleagues open their doors and show you how they do business. You can learn first hand how successful photographers operate their studios with respect to technique, workflow and business practices. This is a form of education that is not easily found anywhere else.

So how can we as photographers maximize the benefit from such a multitude of educational opportunities? We all recognize that one of the wonderful aspects of photography is that there are many ways to light, compose and otherwise capture an image. Experienced photographers have different ways of doing things, and they all work for them. Each of the speakers has developed his or her own style and they are graciously sharing that style with us through their presentation.

Whether or not the presenter does the same type of photography that I do, I always look for methods, techniques or tips that can help me in my work. I generally do not expect that I will do what the speaker does, although there might be a similarity. Nevertheless, I can expect to improve my skills by learning methodology from the speaker that I had not previously thought about or been exposed to. Maybe it is an approach to posing that is intuitive and easy to implement. Or it could be a technique that causes me to think about lighting in a different way, and subsequently makes my own work easier. I have often been educated in how to use my equipment and/or software more efficiently. We have all learned new approaches to pricing, customer service, marketing or some other business issue. Often, it is simply a way of thinking that inspires me to be more creative, that frees me from technical concerns and lets my work flow. The latter can sometimes be the most significant form of education we receive.

I call this process – “developing my style”. Each of us has our own style that makes us unique as photographers. We all strive to improve our abilities within our own style. Our growth as photographers and artists is extremely dependent on being constantly exposed to photographic education. Thus, I am very grateful that AZPPA offers so many educational opportunities, and plays such a critical role in the process of developing my style.

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