After two years, 20 courses and a not so trivial investment in gear, I’ve received my diploma in digital photography from Durham College, Canada. I am now a photographer.
The ceremony was fairly typical for a graduation – gowns, sashes, speeches, the walk on stage to receive the credential. First time I’ve worn a skirt in several years. But more importantly, it was great seeing classmates that I’ve been disconnected from for the past couple of months.
The speeches acknowledged the accomplishment, talked enthusiastically about the future and wished us well. Successful alumni were portrayed in video and greeted live on stage. They each had the same message: the training is one thing, but the rest is up to you. Hard work, motivation, ambition, recognizing opportunities and making your own are all equal to, if not more important, than the credential.
And that puts me at something of a crossroads. My love of photography continues – the art and the science of the craft grab my mind like nothing else I do. That said, chasing clients, advertising my work and negotiating for a gig are frankly not something I thought much about when I enrolled. I am in a different stage of my life, and can afford to work on things that interest me.
But at the end of the day, every artist craves acknowledgement. It can be recognition from peers or kudos from uninvested members of the public. And there is a small piece of me that now competes internally with every other photographer out there. I now find myself saying – I can do that better. I can show that differently. I can get them to pay attention to me.
So now, I just have to do it.