Statesboro played host to the Georgia Professional Photographers Association (GPPA) this weekend as members gathered for the trade group’s winter educational seminar series. Local photographer and vice president of GPPA LaRita Hulsey hosted the organization as group members continued to hone their skills in the face of ever changing technology.
“We have 500 members, and about 100 are registered to attend this meeting,” Hulsey said. “We think it is very important that photographers keep abreast of new technology and how it affects the product that they are producing. You are creating cherished memories and pieces of history.”
Hulsey, a professional photographer for the last 20 years, said the number of commercial photographers is increasing because it requires much less “up front” capital to get into the business than before.
“When I started, the equipment you needed was at least $20,000,” she said. “Now, someone can buy a $600 camera and go for it. There is no licensing in this business, so the quality from one photographer to another can differ greatly. That is why we encourage people that are selling their photography services to join our organization so that they can get some very good training.”
Lori Grice, another area photographer and the most recent recipient of the GPPA’s coveted Georgia Professional Photographer of the Year award agrees with Hulsey.
“When you get married, the people who do your hair, nails, cater the event, and perform the ceremony all have to be licensed,” Grice said. “Photographers do not. The reality is that when all is said done from a wedding, what you have left are the images. Again, that is why we think as industry professionals that is very important to study and train in your craft. It is a matter of public trust.”
In addition to their annual convention, the GPPA puts on two educational seminars per year. Tom McCollum, executive director of the GPPA and the Southeastern Professional Photographers Association, said the digital age has taken the industry by storm.
“I started as a professional photographer some 30 years ago,” McCollum said. “In some respects, it has totally changed. Before digital, you shot your images on film and sent them to the lab. No more. Images are processed in the computer before they ever make it to the lab. You have to have an additional set of skills.”
Hulsey pointed out that computer enhancement has become such an important part of the business that the true art of photography is beginning to lose a foothold.
“Photography, like any other visual art is a craft,” Hulsey said. “I see pictures that are so computer manipulated and retouched that they don’t even look real anymore. I don’t think that is where we need to be going. I don’t think that that is what people really want.”
Hulsey said computer enhancement cannot substitute for correct lighting or posturing.
“Just learning how to manipulate and use light takes years of experience,” she said. “An automatic camera just doesn’t do that for you. Let’s face it. You can’t always use God’s light which has become a phrase in our business. Some days it is raining, some churches or settings are dark.”
GPPA strives to provide its members with up-to-date training and encourages those entering the field to join.
“If you are serious about photography and want to derive income from this industry, then this organization is a great place for you to get involved,” Grice said. “The GPPA is the Georgia’s affiliate of our national trade association, the Professional Photographers of America. This is a wonderful group of people who share your interest in photography.”
Hulsey is scheduled to serve as the GPPA’s next president.