I am very honored and excited to serve as the new President for the MPPA. I want to welcome our new members and thank those of you who renewed your membership for another year!
When I look back at how I became a member, I have to smile and shake my head at how it all came to be and acknowledge how it changed my business and gave me a career I love.
Not so long ago, I was invited/encouraged (heck I was pushed) into checking out the MPPA by a friend and past President. It was the year convention was held in Freeport. He told me if nothing else, that I HAD to come to watch print competition.
I reluctantly agreed, telling him that I could only stay for an hour or so. I couldn’t really see myself as a member of the MPPA, I wasn’t ready to become a full time professional photographer, didn’t feel that being a member was something I needed, and couldn’t picture myself as a professional at that level. I was a beginner, a hobbyist, a newbie to the industry. I was making progress and getting known without joining MPPA, or even PPA, but I went and watched.
My plan was to sit for just a bit and then hit all the great outlets in Freeport. As I sat and I watched, it became clear to me that the judging was like none I had seen before in camera clubs, at fairs, or other contests I entered. This was actually educational, informative and highlighted quality photography like I had not seen before.
The idea of leaving was quickly replaced with the need to stay, to watch, to learn, to grow as a photographer and dare I say it? A professional. I remember sitting, watching riveted by the judging, eagerly anticipating the next image rotation.
They broke for lunch, I stayed. I chatted with strangers who made me feel comfortable and welcome. I watched the print competetion to the very last print. At the end of the day, I never did get my shopping spree in. I spent my mad money, not on clothing or home décor; I spent it on my future. Instead of walking out the door to shop, what I did instead was walk through a door that I had no idea existed.
Meeting everyone that day gave me a vision, eventually a path and then goals. I have had so many people encourage and mentor me since joining and I have done the same for others. Joining the MPPA opened avenues I had no idea were even there. It has led me to join not only the MPPA Board but also serve on Regional Boards and the PPA National Council as well. My business has grown and I get to work at a job I love every day. It has given me life-long friends, and made it possible for me to travel to more than 13 states in the last few years as I pursue my photographic goals.
So the million dollar question: Why join and why rejoin year after year? I get asked that a lot. The answer is easy!
In a world of instant information and free education, MPPA gives us several things that YouTube videos and online education can’t. It gives everyone of us the chance to learn and connect face-to-face with experienced photographers who have stayed the course and survived this ever changing industry. It gives experienced professionals a chance to meet new enthusiastic members that are the future of our industry. The meeting of minds and exchange of ideas can’t be replaced by online chats, videos or podcasts.
The ability to call a friend to assist with a job, help with pricing or a special project, to have the opportunity to try out equipment or gear with a friend can’t be found online.
Ask anyone that attends a workshop or convention; 85% of what we learn is gained over lunch with friends, or in the halls outside those presentation rooms.
The internet can’t refer you for a job or mentor you. It doesn’t connect with you on a personal level. In a world where Facebook friends abound, I prefer actual contact with my mentors, peers and protégés.
I am proud to be an MPPA member and look forward to serving as your President, and I know our Board is as enthusiastic and excited as I am. Call us, reach out to us, volunteer and become involved. We would love to have your help and welcome your ideas.
Remember: Together we learn; together we grow.
No one person is smarter or stronger than all of us together!
MPPA President, 2015-2016