I have been photographing for as long as I can remember, documenting everything from little things (like pine needles, ornaments on a tree, and stuffed animal fuzz) to big things (moving vans as we left Indiana for Kansas when I was 11, houses, oceans). I didn't understand how our basic camera worked, and I pushed it beyond it's limits. I didn't realize why the camera always made my creative photographs look blurry.
My neighbors were not as unwilling as my parents.
I photographed friends and family. I got my first "big" picture framed when a dear friend printed a photograph as an 11x14. That was HUGE! I took the senior photos of a classmate, and it was projected on an even HUGE-er screen.
As a freshman in college, I photographed my first wedding. It was terrible and I lacked any kind of reasonable system, but I loved it. My professor probably thought I was insane- I learned later that he is a well-known wedding photographer and knew what he was doing and I definitely didn't. He at least told me to take a tripod. Thanks, Dominique!
At each step I wondered if I was really "professional" - and even still today doubts creep in. I'm young, and I know I always have a lot more to learn in this ever-changing industry. I hear stories from clients, unfortunately way too often, that previous photographers didn't act professionally- no guidance, no creativity, never got the images finished, or were just confusing. Though it saddens me that so many fellow photographers have fallen into this category, I am glad that my professionalism stands out.
I have been in process of becoming a Certified Professional Photographer, for quite a while, and I am finally there. I have a title beyond Nikki Dukes, superwife-awesomemom.
After passing the image evaluation phase, I wrote, "The most intimidating and nerve-wrecking part for me is over. I have passed a portfolio review by masters in my craft and have been seen fit to be called professional. I cannot express how unbelievable that is to me- others have said it's no surprise, but for me, it really is."
I was almost there. Just a test away. I called upon my awesome-high-school-test-taking-skills, studied hard, made some old school flash cards, learned many helpful things along the way, and took my #2 pencil to the exam site.
I passed, with a sigh of relief, on the first try. Both of the hardest parts of earning certification I did on the first try.
Now I get to live up to it, continue in professionalism and high standards in the photography industry, and work to earn my re-certification here in a few years.