The following is an article published in Focus on Carolina, the Professional Photographer's of North Carolina's magazine. You may read my article, "Confessions of a Photographer", below or check out the publication by following this link. FOCUS ON CAROLINA
CONFESSIONS OF A PHOTOGRAPHER by Christina Holcomb
I must confess I was not sure what to expect two years ago when I attended my first PPNC seminar. I had just made the jump from photographing as a hobby to photographing for hire. I had a website, business cards, and a small portfolio, but I defiantly didn’t consider myself a “professional” photographer. Worse than that, other than a friend in California, I didn’t even know any professional photographers. The lonely realization that I had no local community to collaborate with, learn from, bounce ideas off of or even recommend others to, is what prompted me to attend my first PPNC seminar. I am so glad I did!
Continuing with this theme, I would like to ‘fess up to a few unguarded thoughts that have popped into my head these past two years during PPNC events. Following each confession is also a truth regarding PPNC. Ultimately, all of these truths support the reason why joining PPNC is worthwhile and the reasons why I consider it the single best business decision I have ever made.
CONFESSION: “That’s a lot of BLING!”
This was honestly my first thought when I met Mr. William Branson. He was a living prism, reflecting light with all kinds of pins and metals. I tried not to gawk too much and I’m sure my small talk inquiry with Mr. Branson about his many awards seemed so awkward. After all, he is only one of the most recognized photographers in the world. Somehow, I went from knowing only one photographer to discussing “bling” with a highly decorated photo champion and Fellow of the American Society of Photography. Yes, at my first PPNC seminar William Branson III taught me what a merit award is!
THE TRUTH IS: PPNC is full of talented and notable artists who are masters in photography. They have spent years dedicating their life to studying this art. Their knowledge is deep and wide. PPNC’s expertise is something to brag about! It is reflected in its leaders’ achievements. PPNC members earn a lot of "BLING"!
CONFESSION: What am I doing here? Am I really a professional photographer?” Admittedly, after my first PPNC seminar, I was a bit overwhelmed. At first I couldn’t take enough notes and then finally I couldn’t possibly record anything more in my notebook or my brain. It was overload! All I could do was wonder, “Was I meant to do this…whatever this was?”
THE TRUTH IS: If you want to be an EXCELLENT professional photographer, PPNC can help you! Being part of PPNC provides opportunities to learn from and be mentored by the country’s top photographers. Each quarter PPNC puts together a themed seminar with a top-notch group of speakers. Thus far, I have learned how to photograph everything from NASCAR to models. The annual convention provides an even more comprehensive learning arena, including: a print competition, individual print critiques, vendor presentations and plenty of opportunities to connect with fellow photographers. By far, the most impactful learning experience has to be PPNC’s East Coast School. This is an intense week of focused study in an area of your choice. I am still applying things learned from my experience this past summer. Jamie Hayes and Mary Taylor Fisk’s class was the perfect fit for pushing me forward as a professional photographer. It was here that I discovered what I was meant to do! I am grateful to have been able to attend this course, learn much and develop true friendships with other photographers. I am already signed up for next year!
CONFESSION: “I want to do that!”
Last year, I heard Adrian Henson speak on print competitions. I had no idea of the intensity and seriousness of this event. His presentation compelled me to volunteer for PPNC’s print committee and sign up for my first-ever print critique. Being involved with the print committee was great training and fun work. I loved handling all of the prints and hearing the judges’ banter. But, I was scared to death to go to my own critique. Even so, the critique was extremely helpful and encouraging. Thanks to this opportunity, I plan on enter at least one of those images in next year’s competition.
THE TRUTH IS: Mastering photography takes time. Learn it! Do it! Share it! PPNC is a friendly, sharing community. This is what I most appreciate about this organization. If there is something you want to learn, there is someone willing to teach you! Check out PPNC’s Pro Share classes, library collection, attend East Coast School or simply reach out to others and ask questions. Allow yourself to make mistakes… plenty of them. Then share what you have learned with others!
Finally, no confession would be complete without a humble heart. And with that spirit, I recognize that no matter how much more I learn, I will always remain a student of photography. Thanks PPNC for giving me a place to learn, grow, and share.