Latest Accreditation Award
One thing I’ve been doing over the past couple of years is participating in a few professional photography and arts organizations, including the Alberta Society of Artists (ASA) and the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC). So far I’ve been enjoying my activities with these groups. I’ve been able to understand more about other artists’ mindsets, approaches, tools, techniques and media; network with others who are seriously pursuing some form of art in a professional capacity; get opportunities to present some of what I’ve learned; and refine my focus for my photography artwork.
Part of participating in the PPOC in particular, has been submitting my work for juried review by panels of master practitioners. A short-term goal of doing this is that it forces me to sharpen my own critical eye. I want to submit a package of photographs for review that are the best I can produce at a point time. Sometimes I think I’m ready to go, but when I look really closely at the work I see things that can be improved; or perhaps images that I had a subjective liking for at one point simply aren’t strong enough to retain their appeal over time.
A phrase I’ve read says “art is never finished, only abandoned”, and I believe that’s true — the point being that the purpose of making art is not to keep sitting on it or polishing it, but to get it out there, whatever “out there” means for any individual artist. Still, knowing that others are going to be looking closely at the work spurs me to step up my game, rather than just “phone in” a submission. Thinking critically about my past or present work, and looking for specific things to improve, benefits all my future work. Longer term, with the PPOC, I’m also working towards various professional designations that are awarded based on evidence of consistently producing good work over time.
One form of PPOC designation is called the accreditation: evidence that a photographer is able to produce good work in a specific genre. There are many accreditation categories, well over 70 the last time I looked. I’ve written previously about getting my accreditations in the Pictorial / Scenic and Fine Art / Decor categories. This year I submitted again, this time in the category of Nature. A few days ago, coincidentally while doing some winter nature photography on & around frozen Lake Abraham, I picked up an email message informing me that my latest submission was accepted. This marks my third portfolio accepted by the national panel of judges — woohoo! 🙂
As I’ve mentioned before, PPOC accreditation is not a competition. Each submission stands on its own as an example of the best work the submitter is capable of producing at that time, in the given category. If a submission is not accepted by the judging panel, the photographer can resubmit a limited number of times to address whatever weaknesses were indicated. The judges evaluate a range of criteria, looking for above average impact, creativity, style, composition, presentation, color balance, centre of interest, lighting, subject matter, image file quality, technique and story-telling. Some of these are technical, matters of craft; while others are much more about the art of the image.
I’m pleased at this latest designation. True, in part it brings a rewarding feeling of satisfaction that some knowledgeable people looked at my work and felt it was above average in the criteria that they’re looking for in professional photography. But more importantly, it’s another milestone on my personal journey to experience aspects of the world, interpret them, and then express them in photographic form as vividly as I can. The way I do this is evolving, in terms of tools, techniques, visual style, and even subject matter. But the goal remains the same — to recognize things that inspire me, and share visual representations that hopefully inspire others in turn.
If you’d like to see the work I submitted for the PPOC Nature category, click this link to see a Flash slideshow. If you can’t view Flash animations on your system, you can instead simply view the gallery of images. Thanks for looking!
Do you photograph or pursue some other art form, and if so are you taking concrete steps to further refine your creative expression? What do you think about judging art — does it have any merit at all, or is art something purely subjective to each artist or viewer? Feel free to comment on what works for you…