My photography journey the past year and a half has been intense for both me and my family. I have been studying really hard because I felt called to work on my photography. Yes, it is a calling. I worked in IT for many years until we had our second child when we decided I would stay home the kids. My sweet husband purchased me a digital camera, a 1 megapixel Jam Cam, and then a fancy point and shoot camera. During that time and I just started to fall in love with photography. Over time both my friends and family started to notice my work and encouraged me to move forward with it—that all started 13 years ago.

I have mentioned before that my dad’s side of the family is full of creatives. It is so wonderful to know that you share something, that is genetic, a love of creating, be it through wood carving, drawing, painting, and photography with other members of your family. I asked myself many times if I actually wanted to try and develop these newfound skills further, and again, at the encouragement of my good friends, I decided why not? I enrolled in the Texas School of Professional Photography and took my first class with Carl Caylor.

It was a hands-on natural lighting class. Thinking I knew my camera well enough, this would be a great experience for me. My hubby didn’t realize what he was getting into when he sent me to school. Haha! Carl’s class was SO much more than natural light photography. He taught us how to look at light and shadows, and find backgrounds to complement our subjects and really think outside of the box. He taught us about looking at master artists’ works, how they painted their subjects, and to look at the composition and light in their artistry. Carl’s class blew my mind. He was so inspiring, he set my passion on fire for photography. I got home from a week of intense instruction in Carl’s class and knew THIS what I wanted to do.

It takes a great deal of hard work and effort and SO many many failures to succeed. I didn’t just walk out of Carl’s class with all the confidence in the world because even though I knew how to USE my camera, there is SO much more to photography than pressing a button! I have to work really hard, study really hard, and practice practice practice in order to “get it” sometimes. I have taken so many photographs of my children they are SICK of me. They were my test subjects. All my friends and family who let me practice on them, thank you very much, you know who you are! I have since attended Texas School 3 more times. All of the photographers and vendors and people I meet there, we are like a little family, a big little family! I enjoy going to improve my skillset every year, to be inspired and learn new techniques and it was here that I decided I needed to be around like minded people who shared this passion.

Two years ago, I joined the Dallas Professional Photographer’s Association. Hello?! Why did I stay away so long? I had visited several times before but never joined. And then I did. And I grew to be friends with the BEST people. The most AMAZING talent. Internationally known talent. WHAT? I can learn from these people and just go hang out with them?! I started entering print competition. Not because I want to win awards, but because I simply wanted to get better. Well, OK, I lacked confidence and wanted validation at first, but then it became a contest with myself. What better way to improve than to get critiques from several master photographers and learn not only what you did wrong, but what you did right and how you could take your work to the next level! I was hooked. I made it my goal that for the entire year of 2014 I would enter every single month without fail. I drove my family mad with my intensity but soon they were on board and were helping me to come up with titles and critiquing my work. I surprised myself at the end of the year. I earned 2014 Illustrative Photographer of the Year in my guild. Not only that, but I earned my first Loan image at the International Photographic Competition! What?! I was achieving my goals. I was proud of myself and gained confidence to talk to others because I could easily talk about the printing process and learned how to make images that had impact. I want to thank my friend Edward, for pushing me and looking through my entire portfolio and teaching me how to look at print competition. I want to thank Martin Graham-Dunn for lifting me up and listening to me cry on the phone when I just didn’t think I could do it. And everyone that I look up to at DPPA, David, Luke, Tony, Margaret, Elena, Gail, John, and just about everyone at DPPA for cheering me on, laughing at me and with me and accepting my silliness!  ????

Finally, I want to thank my friends, PG, and Penny and Lee Ann and Beth when I thought I was going to go out of mind this past February…to take THE test or not. THE test is the Certified Professional Photographers Exam. I decided to take it only because I wanted to make certain I knew what the heck I was doing. I mean, when people ask me to take their portraits I want them to know they can trust me without doubt with their precious memories. That is why I am doing this.  There is always a  need for more growing and learning! I almost didn’t take this test, but Brooke and Rolf convinced me to do it so I changed my flight and went and gave it my best shot. PG and Penny drilled me on exposures and ratios at night, and back in the hotel room my good friend Gena, drilled me on the color wheel and use of gels. When I got home, my super fave teacher Carl, mentored me and guided me as I built my portfolio.

I have had a long journey thus far enjoying every damned minute of it.  I am so grateful for everyone who lifts me up. I am SO excited at this moment to announce that this phase of my journey is complete and I am officially a Certified Professional Photographer!

I am so looking forward to the next phase of my journey with my family and friends and to new friends! 2015 you are TOTALLY being my jam! Here’s to learning even more!!

Who wants to take a picture?  ????


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  1. Chrystal LeGrand says:

    You inspire me Angela! Thanks for sharing and congrats on becoming a CPP! 🙂

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