Kaye and I just returned from a long weekend in New Orleans, attending the 133rd annual convention of the Professional Photographers of America.
Photography conventions have always been a source of inspiration for me, beginning with programming by industry leaders, a world-class tradeshow, and an extremely large International print exhibit.
But the most inspiring part of this weekend were the people. Everyone I met was a source of inspiration. I remember being one of the younger photographers at these conventions. I looked up to the older, more experienced generation of professionals and worked hard to compete with them in the quality of my images and the success of my studio.
Over the past five years our industry has experienced a large shift in both age and gender of professional photographers, attracting an incredibly large number of females under the age of 40. Suddenly, I find myself not only being older than a majority of my competitors, but something of an “old man” among a sea of “young women.”
While at the convention, I attended the Annual Awards Banquet of the American Society of Photographers. The ASP membership is by invitation only, consisting exclusively of Master Photographers (print competition award winners) and Photographic Craftsmen (Speakers and Competition Judges). By virtue of the time it takes to earn either or both of these distinctions, a majority of the ASP members are over the age of 50 (my playgroup).
Seventy Five percent of the images in the International Print Exhibit were created by ASP members. That alone speaks for itself as to the high caliper of work this small group creates.
Needless to say, that while walking the tradeshow floor or attending programming among all the young, female newcomers, I felt akin to a third wheel or a fish out of water. This inspired me to want to create better images and give the young guns a run for their money competition-wise, not to mention show them how a photography studio is meant to be run.
Then, while attending the ASP banquet, I was inspired again - on a major scale! How could I NOT be? That room was full of my idols - the photographers I’ve been looking up to for 25 years!
Ultimately, the PPA convention was a huge success for me. Good programming, great images, and people who inspire. Whether they inspire me to create better images, or to outwit, outplay, and outlast my competition – I drew inspiration from all of them.