I recently attended the annual Professional Photographers of America convention known as Imaging USA. This 3-day convention draws over 12,000 photographers from all over the country and even the world.  Besides the opportunities to network with other photographers, attendees can take classes and hear platform speeches on topics varying from lighting to posing to better business practices.

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I’ve noticed a common theme at meetings such as these as well as on online photography forums: Maintaining the quality of professional photography. Back in the “day,” (read–prior to digital photography) it took much more than a decent camera and a “good eye” to be a professional photographer. Most film photographers studied photography in college and probably did apprentice-type work with an established photographer. They learned all the science behind image-making, and had the opportunity to use that science in the darkroom. In my home town (granted, it is a small town) there were only three photographers when I was growing up, and even if I counted those in neighboring towns I doubt there were more than 2 dozen making their living through photography in a 30-mile radius.

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That all changed with the advent of digital photography. For the first time, we could actually see what the camera was doing during the image-producing process and impose adjustments as necessary. This was in many regards a revolution in the photography industry–making good photography available to almost anyone who could afford an SLR digital camera and a decent lens. What has happened in the decades since is an explosion in the number of people calling themselves photographers. I was among them. Although I started with a film camera and learned the basics, I did not have formal photography instruction in film. I got my first digital camera in 2005 and almost immediately found myself with photography “jobs”: prom pictures, family portraits, even a wedding! I learned as I went but truly felt out of my league. I decided early on to get more education and that is the path I have continued to follow to this day. I have attended numerous workshops, conventions, and photography schools and have studied with some of the industry-recognized best photographers in the world. I am currently working towards my Master’s degree in photography as well. I’ll keep you updated on my progress…

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It is an exciting time to be a photographer, but it is certainly not an easy time.  The market is flooded with photographers, and in order to stand out, it is essential to raise the bar on quality and differentiate yourself. For that reason, I set a 2015 goal to get my CPP degree, that is a “Certified Professional Photographer.” It’s much akin to a CPA for an accountant. To get a CPP, I took a 3-day intensive course–basically a semester of college, joined nightly study sessions, and took a 100-question exam. I’m happy to say I passed the exam with flying colors! The next step is image submission and review, which I will do in the coming months.

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Boulay Photography has also expanded our offerings and added a Fine Art line of portraiture paintings. I wish you could touch the screen and truly feel these! Not only are they digitally painted, there is actual acrylic applied to them to give them the look and feel of a fine art painting. These have been very popular with both families and high school seniors. Here are a couple of examples:

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2015-02-11_0002If you would like to have your own family heirloom, give us a call: 615-289-6045 or email me at hello@boulayphotography.com. We are booking into the summer and fall right now for both senior portraits and family sessions. I look forward to hearing from you.

Blessings,

Molly

 

Flashes of Hope: June 2014

category: Families

A few months ago I was approved as a “Flashes of Hope” photographer. To say I was beyond excited would be an understatement. Since learning about this incredible organization a couple of years ago, I have been attempting to join them, but at the time they didn’t have any open slots. So I waited…and I learned more about “Flashes”.

Founded in 2001 by the parents of child with cancer, Flashes of Hope is a volunteer driven organization solely focused on children with life threatening illnesses. There are chapters in 55 cities across the country and according to the website, Flashes of Hope photographers have photographed over 39,000 children at hospitals and camps across the United States since its founding. More from the website:

“For too many families, the portrait is the last one they have of their child…cancer is the leading disease killer of children yet childhood cancer receives only 4% of federal funding for research.”

Therefore, Flashes started a fund-raising initiative in 2009 and has already raised millions for childhood cancer research.

Our local Flashes chapter is based at Vanderbilt Children’t Hospital. The volunteer coordinator told me upon arrival the children coming for portraits could be in- or outpatient in the clinic for treatment. We were encouraged to invite any family members present to get into some of the portraits as well. Nicole (my assistant for the day) and I decided right then and there that we wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

These precious children and their families truly touched my heart. We don’t know many of their stories, but picked up bits and pieces: one just starting treatment…another in his fourth year of treatments who had never agreed to have a photo made before…a girl who had just celebrated her 12th birthday–and had to get chemo that same day…a superstar swimmer…no matter what they were going through, each sat in front of my camera with a big smile on their face; aside from ports and tubes they looked deceptively healthy.

I am honored to share a few of the images I captured with you today. If you would like to know more about Flashes of Hope, you can check out their website: flashesofhope.org I pray these images are forever treasured by their families and I look forward to the next time I get to photograph more children in the program.

Blessings,

Molly

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