Life is better with PPA
A journey from being alone to being with my “photo-framily”

Malinda M Julien, CPP
November 16, 2017

The mailman arrived with a small padded envelope last week. I hadn’t ordered anything lately and it isn’t my birthday, so I glanced at the address to see if it belonged to a neighbor. My mail-person is not OCD in any way, shape or form.

Malinda M Julien was the addressee. Return address? PPA! Inside was my 10 year pin. 10 years, at least on this go around, ..nice. I had joined back in the 80’s but living in West Texas where there was no PPA affiliate I dropped my membership for many years.

Ten years. Wow, time flies. When I moved back home to Fort Worth, the first thing I did was apply to the Fort Worth PPA. I was excited and even worried they wouldn’t accept me, perhaps my portfolio wouldn’t be good enough. I had just moved back and was working strictly on location and some in my garage studio, but something was missing.

I got the notification I had been accepted and was thrilled and a little apprehensive going in. Jon and I went to our first meeting at the Colonial Country Club. We dressed nicely and headed out. Arriving way too early, we sat quietly in the lobby where there were other people who were wearing ribbons and pins with cases of printed works for competition. They were laughing and having a great time.

The meeting began and we watched as the beautiful images were placed on the print competition table. These were some fantastic works of art! I thought I could NEVER compete with those people! They were like shinning stars, like the Rembrandt’s of the photography world. How could I EVER compete with the likes of these people? I didn’t even dare speak to them. They knew each other, talked about something called Texas School and Kerrville. Making arrangements like giddy school kids planning a summer vacation. I saw them clap for each other as they got their ribbons and awards, encourage each other to maybe tweak this or add that to make their print just perfect.

What was this? Where I had been was a no man’s land for friends in the industry, competition seen as a game of f-stop football with either side bitter rivals. No one ever helped each other. Now, this behavior, and they meant it! I was hooked.

I entered my first competition with a piece called “The Guitar Player”. I won first in my category and member’s choice. I was on cloud nine and couldn’t believe how everyone was so supportive. (I later merited in my quest for Master Artist with this same print).

The rest, as they say, is history. I continued with FWPPA and am now serving my second term as Guild President. I joined TPPA a number of years ago and have helped by volunteering my time at Summerfest and Photogenesis. I speak at guilds and TPPA / PPA events. Made CPP my first time testing, with the help of my friends. Merited my first competition at SWPPA, with the help of my friends.

I have said “I am not going to compete anymore” and with my friends help, continued to compete. I am working on my Master Craftsman, Master Photographer and Master Artist simultaneously. With…. you guessed it, the help of my friends.

The people at FWPPA and TPPA have become my rock. The people I go to when I don’t think what I just did was good enough, or when I have doubts or excitement or brags, that truly my “photo Framily” understand. You see, they are no longer friends, they are my family – Photo

You can’t win if you don’t get in the ring…. Get in the ring… it will be the best decision you ever made. No one, not one soul understands what we go through the way they do. It is invaluable as a relationship and a continual inspiration. I make it my mission to remember those days with every new photographer I come in contact with. Hopefully you will take a look at the Photo Framily you have around you and join them.

Be active, be a part, compete, get involved with your local guild and TPPA. Those 10 years go by fast, and it is always better with framily.