President’s Message

Presidents Message: The “Almost Russia” Texas School Cruise

The 2012 Texas School Cruise was a who’s who of professional photographers and it was there that Jennifer and I truly got to know Charlcey and Don Dickson. They were so personable, kind, and made us feel so welcome. It seemed to us “nobodies” that they went out of their way to make sure we were included in all unplanned activities before the majority of folks arrived. That included one special night at one of Sweden’s most acclaimed restaurants.

The room itself looked eerily similar to that of a WWII bunker. I could tell, once folks started to arrive, the space was going to fill up and it was going to be a challenge for anyone to attempt to move around. So, who happened in and ended up at the end of the room with us? None other than Cindy and Ralph Romaguera. After we introduced ourselves, I informed them that we were not the cool kids (being volume photographers) and if they wanted to move away from us before it was too late, we wouldn’t be offended. Not only did they sit by us that evening, but they became our mentors and made it a point to always include us.

So why is this story so important? I’m attempting to illustrate the importance of being active within TPPA and attending events like Texas School and the iHeart Photo Expo. Jennifer and I hadn’t planned for this trip to be life-changing. We just wanted to see the world while earning a few merits. But we ended up with something far greater that would put us on a completely different path while unknowingly making lifetime friendships. It’s my hope that, by sharing our experience, others will find motivation to take the next step of getting involved.

Speaking of getting more involved, what better way than making plans on attending iHeart Photo Expo, October 14 – 16 in Grapevine, Texas? That’s three days and two evenings of education and fellowship. Plus, everyone receives one merit for attending. Notice I said “evenings” because this year we will make it a point to have more social events. I believe that is something that has been missing in the past. Details on evening social events will be announced later.

Before I forget, the sponsors of this event have really stepped it up. Let’s start off with a free 16×20 canvas wrap courtesy of ProPrints, 50% off a new website from PhotoBiz, and of course everyone’s favorite camera store, Arlington Camera, will be there along with other industry vendors. Our experience on the “Almost” Russia cruise can only be experienced in person. You aren’t going to find these types of experiences or opportunities online, so get involved. For more information please visit iheartphotography.org.

Another opportunity, and taking it up another notch in getting active, is TPPA’s very own Texas 10 Spring Workshops. If you are wanting to help others by sharing what you know, we need volunteers who want to teach a full-day class (6.5 hours) in their hometown. Volunteers will earn two merits. It was the kindness of the Dicksons and the mentorship of the Romagueras that put us on a path to becoming more involved and wanting to help others. So with some encouragement, we started speaking and helping others at Texas 10 which helped us grow as educators and speakers with the culmination of becoming a 4x platform speaker at IUSA. For more information please visit: form.jotform.com/210677024521953.

Who knows? Perhaps, by becoming more involved, you might find yourself a new lifelong friend or friends, a mentor who will help you succeed in areas you only dreamt of or, even better, finding yourself mentoring others.

Presidents Message: The “Almost Russia” Texas School Cruise2022-09-07T12:17:26-05:00

President’s Message: Encounter With a Legend

Robin Janson, TPPA President

As most of my fellow Texans know, in my past life I owned and operated one of Houston’s largest and renowned DJ companies prior to becoming a professional photographer.

In 2010, I attended my second Texas School and I was fortunate enough to get into Tony Corbell’s class. It was there that I got a glimpse of the great Frank Cricchio. Our class had many incredible attendees who have remained dear friends of mine like Mandy Lundy, who would later be called Mandy Corbell, along with this salty old timer, Larry “aka Lightmeter” Doonan. The stories Larry and Tony would share with the class about the impact Frank Cricchio made in their lives, along with thousands of others in our industry, left me blown away.

It also left me saddened to know that I was late to the table and missed the opportunity to learn from him and other greats including Don Blair, Monte Zucker, and so many others. These photographers were selfless in educating and inspiring others within our industry.

So, skip forward to 2014 where my DJ company was contracted by the AAPI to provide A/V services. As luck would have it, the original employee was out sick and I had to service this event. I had no idea what AAPI stood for nor did I really care. It was just another event where I was providing sound. While I’m setting up, I was approached by the President of AAPI who was none other than Bill Vahrenkamp. He was the all-knowing Digital Darkroom Core instructor and photographer at Texas School’s themed parties.

I am setting up sound when Bill (who doesn’t know me and I don’t know him) informs me that they have paid for my meal to enjoy during their keynote speaker’s presentation. The stage was set, the mic was hot, and in walks Frank Cricchio!

I was like a kid in a candy store. I could not believe I was getting paid, and paid well, plus had a free meal while getting to hear Frank Cricchio speak. Had Bill or anyone at AAPI told me in advance their keynote speaker was going to be Frank Cricchio I would have happily paid them.

Sadly, I am writing this because Frank aka “The Great” Cricchio recently passed. Another great one is gone.

I am blessed to have been able to hear Frank speak and be inspired by his actions and his words. I have comfort knowing that there are 1000s of like-minded photographers who have been helped and inspired by Frank Cricchio and other great legends of our industry.

Learning from legends is just one of the reasons I will always be a member of TPPA.

Best regards,

Robin Janson, TPPA President

President’s Message: Encounter With a Legend2022-03-04T09:20:42-06:00

Presidents Message: In the Words of Forrest Gump

I have a confession. I’m half-way through my term as TPPA President and I still wonder at times how I got here. If you have spent any time at all around me, you will notice that I am very quick to say, in my best Forest Gump voice, “I am not a smart man.” I believe the term is “self-deprecating” and it’s easy for me to be that way when I find myself in such esteemed company or when I want others to feel at ease.

I bring this up because one of my responsibilities as TPPA President is to write the Presidential Message for every issue of The Photographer Magazine. For me, it’s a huge task that is very stressful as I’m left trying to figure out what needs to be said. Others before me have always seemed to say the most incredible things that are so inspiring and uplifting… much like the work they create as photographers.

My creativity doesn’t always flow when I need it to, especially when I know I’m opening up myself for the world to see. So, “not being a smart man,” I find myself going back to previous issues of The Photographer and reading previous President’s Messages in hopes of finding inspiration. What I have found is a treasure trove of not only inspiration but inspiring work, incredible ideas, and educational gems.

When was the last time you visited TPPA.org and surfed all that it is? For me, all I had to do is read “Our Mission” and “What We Do” off the front page and I’m once again motivated and confident in my position. That feeling of dread I had before starts to leave my body and mind and I start feeling like Forest Gump breaking his leg supports and saying, “From that moment on I was running” (remember it must be said in the Forest Gump voice).

I would encourage all of our members to put some time aside and really look at TPPA.org and all that is there for you. Obviously, there’s a link to ThePhotographerOnline.com and the current and archived The Photographer magazines, which I honestly love reading and plan on making that a habit long after my term as TPPA President. On TPPA.org there is also the TPPA365 digital library that consist of all kinds of incredible information, CPP Study guide, videos, and (channel your best Don Dickson voice) it is FREE!!!

How about your TPPA Fellowship? …those gray and maroon ribbons. It might surprise you that you have already earned one. If you need inspiration, check out the Texas Trophy Showcase. You might see images you yourself have created but never thought they were worthy only to see similar work winning awards and recognitions. Finally, there is the events tab that has past events like Meet the Board and Texas School of Photography to upcoming events like Guy T. Phillip’s presentations on “What’s New in Lightroom” or the Road Trip to Red River N. Mexico (August 1-3) or the iHeart Photo Conference (October 14-16) and much more.

You know how I said earlier I often wonder how I ended up here as TPPA President? Well, the answer is simple. I participated in these types of events and met some of the most wonderful, talented, and giving people you could ever hope to meet. I’m not knocking online learning but there is something to be said about in-person interaction. With that said, I hope this article motivates you in spending some time online at TPPA.org and ThePhotographerOnline.com and, more importantly, being with us in-person so maybe you can find some inspiration. If nothing else, we should have some serious fun swapping stories while creating new ones. Who knows? The experience might inspire you to becoming more active and one day you might find yourself as TPPA President.

Best regards,

Robin Janson, TPPA President

Presidents Message: In the Words of Forrest Gump2022-07-06T16:24:42-05:00

Presidents Message: TPPA Has Been Busy!

Robin Janson, TPPA President

The Texas Professional Photographers Association is coming off another successful year at Texas School. Hundreds of photographers are already creating better images, applying new skills, and making more money – all because they invested in themselves by attending Texas School.

When you stop and think about it, you realize it takes thousands of hours of planning and preparation to put on an event of this magnitude. There are so many moving parts, it almost seems impossible that it could ever happen in the first place. Yet, Don Dickson and his team of Trustees, TPPA Officers, Instructors, Wranglers, Vendors, models, and hotel staff are always ready to go when the doors open. Make your plans now to attend Texas School in 2023. It takes place April 23-28 and as always, registration opens at 11pm on January 3rd.

In the meantime, join TPPA in Red River, New Mexico on August 1-3 for three days of photography, fellowship, and some fresh mountain air. This event is suitable for your entire family, and all are welcome to attend. Learn more at TPPA.com/events.

Make plans to attend the iHeart Photography Conference and Expo at the Grapevine Convention Center on October 14-16, 2022. This event provides three days of education, photo-walks, excursions, and a trade show. Details are still under wraps but look for announcements and registration to open in July.

Finally, I want to congratulate everyone who entered the TPPA Annual Photographic Competition. The awards were announced at the awards presentation before the start of Texas School. The committee that puts on this celebration went above and beyond to make everyone feel special and it was wonderful to be able to acknowledge all of the PPA Degree recipients, CPP and TPPA Fellowship recipients in addition to the photographic awards. Kudos to everyone who helped make this night so special.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the PPA National Award to Trey Homan. It is certainly fitting that Trey was selected to be recognized for his service to TPPA on so many levels. From serving as a TPPA President to his time working on committees, teaching alongside his wife, Elizabeth, and his service to Texas School Charities, Trey unselfishly gives of his time and talent to make TPPA and the industry a whole lot better. Well done, Trey Homan!

Best regards,

Robin Janson, TPPA President

Presidents Message: TPPA Has Been Busy!2022-05-07T15:57:10-05:00

President’s Message: How Will You Make 2022 Great?

Robin Janson, TPPA President

Welcome to 2022! I am honored to be able to serve as your TPPA President. As I look back at the names of those who have served this association in the past, I realize that each of them were members who at some point made a conscious decision to give of their own time to serve our association so that TPPA remains relevant and strong. You can be very proud to call yourself a member of TPPA

If you are a member of TPPA, congratulations. You have invested wisely. The Board of Directors and the staff work hard to bring you the best in photographic education, inspiration, and networking opportunities. And all of this at a truly exceptional value. If you are not a current member of TPPA, let me encourage you to visit TPPA.org and become part of this outstanding association for photographers. The answers you are looking for and the connections that you wish you had can be found right here at TPPA.

Isn’t it interesting how every new year brings a sense of hope and optimism for the coming year? Even so, some years seem to be better than others. Why is that? I suspect there are those who start the new year wondering what the year has in store for them and they simply go about each day and take whatever it brings. If this is the approach one takes, I suspect the law of averages evens out the “good” years with the “bad” years.

But I believe we accomplish more and experience more when we pro-actively take action to move the needle towards higher expectations. In my opinion, much of what defines any given year starts with commitments made at the beginning of the year. For example, let’s say that you would like to improve your finances in the coming year. You could just sit around and hope that it happens, or you could invest in yourself and register for the Texas School of Professional Photography. We constantly hear from students about the “one idea” or the “one change” they made to their business after attending Texas School that transformed their earnings. What could your family do with more income?

Some of our members join TPPA because they want to become better photographers. Again, Texas School and our TPPA Events provide opportunities for all photographers to gain a wealth of knowledge of the craft. But if becoming a better photographer is in your DNA and you are not participating in photographic competition, you are missing out on one of the most important tools available to help you grow as an artist. Leverage what you learn through image competition to stand out from the crowd. How great would it be if more people knew you for your work?

TPPA provides a pathway towards your success. Come join us in 2022.

Best regards,

Robin Janson, TPPA President

President’s Message: How Will You Make 2022 Great?2022-04-07T22:12:45-05:00

Presidents Message: It Is In The Journey

Cris Duncan, 2021 TPPA President

Every human being has a desire, a picture of the place they wish to be and the dreams they want consummated. However, when encountered by challenges and struggles, the common tendency is to give up and assume that it wasn’t meant to be. All the while, it is in the journey of trials and obstacles that our true wealth and greatness is discovered.

Refer back to some visionaries of the past. Columbus encountered tempest of the seas, death and came ashore hundreds of miles from his planned destination. Edison failed over 1000 times while trying to create the light bulb. The Wright bothers were told constantly they could not achieve flight and after hundreds of failed attempts finally proved it possible for a mere 97 seconds. The first manned Apollo mission ended in tragedy as 3 men lost their lives before ever leaving Earth.

I believe it safe to assume you are reading this using electric light in the New World. I assume you have flown for more than a few minutes and you can probably recite Neil Armstrong’s words as he set foot on the moon. All dreams, all challenged and ultimately, all successes.

This page isn’t large enough to list the countless other examples of men and women who have faced burdens they eventually conquered. My fear is that there are just as many who gave up not realizing their goal was just around the corner, just within the grasp of triumph.

The final message I wish to leave with you is— “Don’t Despise the Pursuit.”

The past few years have showed us that we are not immune from trials, that we are not free from failure and disappointments. The key is to remember that these failures and disappointments are not what define us but rather what refines us. It is within the journey that the skills and knowledge are developed and we can come through on the other side.

In the historical examples above it is too easy to remember the final outcomes and not the processes along the way. After all, that is what we tend to celebrate, the successful outcomes. I believe we should also celebrate the pursuit and the journey. The trials that we face are nothing more that gifts— gifts sent to increase your skill, knowledge and leadership. They are the catalyst that allow you to develop and release your unique gift in the world. My friends, embrace these moments. You are too valuable to give up. The world needs what you have to offer and the journey has just begun.

I close with a quote from Winston Churchill that I believe sums it up better than I ever could.
“Every day you make progress. Every step may be fruitful, yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know that you will never get to the end of the journey, but this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

Happy Creating,

Cris Duncan
TPPA President

Presidents Message: It Is In The Journey2021-11-23T12:20:13-06:00

President’s Message: It’s All in Your Head

Cris Duncan, 2021 TPPA President

Your mind -It can be a powerful ally or a fierce enemy. All too often we forget the power of our mind and the effect it has upon us, our behavior and our beliefs.

While your heart is the key, the heart is influenced by your words, your thoughts and actions. For example, a beautiful senior comes to your studio. You photograph her perfectly! You can already see wall samples, marketing pieces and competition images. Of course, she can’t wait to see the images you created and you are excited to reveal your masterpiece.

The time comes and, with much anticipation, the images are unveiled… “I don’t like myself” are her words that shatter the excitement. While this may be extreme, we all have experienced a situation similar to this. The fact of the matter is that she truly believes she is not beautiful. Did you tell her that? Of course not. Her friends? I doubt it. A parent? Who then? Whoever or whenever may not be known, but to her, the past wound is deep and real. Her mindset shaped her reality.

The question is, what do you think of yourself? The underlying issue is whatever we hear or think about ourselves, whether from our own mind or the carless words or others, will find its way into our heart. It is from our heart that we operate and this deep place that we act and think. Therefore, please do not discount the words you speak as meaningless! Just as you would never tell that senior girl she is not beautiful, you should never tell yourself that are not good enough, capable, talented, smart, loved beautiful or successful.

Before you today are two choices. You have two ways to think- Scarcity or Abundance. How will you choose to live? To create? To react, to give or to take? The scarcity (There is not enough, I can’t, I’ll fail) minded person is typically thinking in terms of negativity. They will face each decision with the cons rather before the pros. Scarcity has a way of showing us doubt before belief. This mindset convinces one of failure before success, defeat before triumph and will ultimately lead to a place with no reward.

Contrast this to the person with an abundance (There is enough, I am able, I will) mindset- The positive thinking individual. This person will see things around them as an opportunity to grow, achieve and bless. The abundance mindset person does not fear failure because they do not doubt their ability. To them, the reward is worth the risk. Each challenge is an opportunity to grow and learn. The abundance mindset realizes that what they think and say has tremendous effects on how they act and succeed. This principle is the backbone of your mindset. You can operate from a place of scarcity or thrive in a world of abundance.

I wish I could say that you can flip a switch and the mindset will change. That is rarely the case. It will and does make a conscious choice to choose abundance. Choose wisely. You have a special gift, a purpose only you can fulfill. Start speaking words of life and not death, of blessings and not curses, of success and not failure. Start today and begin your journey into the place you are meant to be. A place filled with abundance. A placed filled with positivity and life. Start today. Believe in yourself and your heart will soon follow.

Happy Creating,

President’s Message: It’s All in Your Head2021-11-23T12:20:57-06:00

President’s Message: One In A Row

Cris Duncan, 2021 TPPA President

Half of the year is behind us as is Texas School, Districts, The Mark Bryant event and many other educational opportunities. While many set New Year’s Resolutions and use January 1 as a precipice, some use July 1 to mark the progress of the year and course correct for the year ahead. Others may do this monthly, weekly or daily. The great thing is that there is really no “right” way. There is, however, “your way.”

It occured to me that it is all too easy to compare ourselves to others, what they do and the way they do it, and how we convince ourselves that they must be right. Yes, we can learn from others. We get inspired. We can emulate and implement. But we cannot be someone else. Be careful of celebrating sameness. I believe the world is better when we all can accept our differences and salute our distinctions.

You can only be you and the only person to compare yourself to is the person you were yesterday.  I often say and will say again, “It does not matter where you start, but where you go.” With that sentiment, it is time to take a step… a step into success… a step in a new direction… a step forward. All it takes is one step. That is your “One In A Row.”

Any success only takes “One In A Row.” Do one thing and do it well… “One In A Row.” Do another, then another. Do one thing, do it well, do it over and over again until you get it. Then, start over with a new “One In A Row.”

We tend to think long term. Setting goals is important. Striving for a destination is good practice. The trap is not knowing the destination, but rather how to get there. The process is the education. The journey is where wisdom is discovered and we soon find that the destination is just another stop on the trail and we begin again… “One In A Row.”

I do not know where you are today… your talent, circumstance, success or failure. However, what I do know is that you do not have to stay there. It is okay to be okay, but it is not okay to stay that way. Start today. Take a step that only you can take. You don’t have to know the destination at this moment, but you can’t get there by staying where you are.

Today is your day… a day to move forward. All you need for momentum is “One In A Row.”

Happy Creating,

Cris Duncan
TPPA President

President’s Message: One In A Row2021-11-23T12:21:05-06:00

President’s Message: Course Corrections

Cris Duncan, 2021 TPPA President

When we first started our business, we photographed weddings…  a LOT of weddings. From March until September, we had one or two weddings every single weekend. I’m not going to lie. We thought we were pretty good. Then we went to Imaging USA and were exposed to what was possible.

I went home and took an honest look at our work. We needed a course correction and, if you are in the same spot, here is a plan:

Step 1 – Gain Knowledge. As my dad always says, “You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it.” We didn’t know on-location lighting. Sometimes we would get it right, but we couldn’t get it right all the time. I didn’t understand some of the laws of light enough to be able to manipulate them to create the same image more than once. So, I started looking at images, breaking down the light patterns, and figuring out how they were created. Basically, I started to learn lighting. Things like Texas School and in-person workshops were game changers.

Step 2 – Get over your Fear. This is a hard one. It’s comfortable to stay where you are. You know what results you can produce and it has worked in the past. However, if you are going to change the trajectory of your work and business, you have to do new, often scary things. Here is a little comfort for you… Your windshield is bigger than your rear view mirror.

Let that sink in. It’s deliberate. We can’t navigate our business by focusing on the past, where we came from, and what boundaries we set for ourselves. Instead, we look through the giant windshield that stretches from both sides of our vehicle and gives us a panoramic view of the possibilities. Excitement trumps fear every day of the week, so embrace it.

Step 3 – Apply the Knowledge. Practice. Do it during sessions. Change your course. Deanna will tell you that the first year when we tried to utilize off-camera flash for our outdoor work, it was rough. Instead of joking with the clients and putting them at ease, I was doing calculations in my head and working with the triggers. However, at the end of that year, our work was at a new level, my confidence returned, and our business was on a new trajectory.

I want that for you. I want you to be looking out of your front windshield so you don’t miss any exits – or opportunities to grow your craft. Speaking of that, I have the perfect exit for you to take… I-27.

Come and join myself and my lovely bride, Deanna, for the “Light from the Shadows” event with Mark Bryant on June 11-12 in Lubbock, Texas. We have a fun weekend planned for you, filled with opportunities to gain and apply knowledge. Plus, it’s going to be in our backyard. Literally. The evening social events will include a backyard BBQ and a taste of what we share with our friends (that’s you), family and clients – movies under the starlight. It will be a “can’t miss” weekend and we hope that you embrace the wisdom shared by Mac Davis – “Happiness is  Lubbock, Texas, growing nearer and dearer.”  Can’t wait to see you, my friend.

Until then, Happy Creating,

Cris Duncan
TPPA President

President’s Message: Course Corrections2021-11-23T12:21:22-06:00

President’s Message: Just Be Yourself

Cris Duncan, 2021 TPPA President

Just Be Yourself

I felt like a fraud. As I walked into Imaging USA, I was surrounded by REAL professional photographers, not wannabes like myself who still had another full-time job so they could pay the mortgage. The first program I went to just confirmed my belief that I wasn’t “real.” I was tempted to just leave. However, during the second program, something changed. It was a couple on stage—a big stage. Their work looked a little bit like what Dee and I had been doing and he talked about how he still had another job. I felt my wife’s hand grasp mine and give a little squeeze. Their story was just like ours.

So it began. Dee and I tried to be just like this couple. We didn’t know what we didn’t know, but we knew we liked what they were doing, so we copied them. We bought all their educational materials; we duplicated their actions. All of our marketing used their templates. A few months later, we went to a wedding program and did the same thing. We memorized the pose book and the wedding we photographed the following weekend was shot-for-shot just like the speaker’s last wedding.

Sometimes I look back on those early senior sessions and weddings and feel a bit sorry for our clients. You see, the problem wasn’t with the stage couple or the wedding guru. While they each had great styles, great photographic skills and gave great advice on how to run a business, those things were great for THEIR clients.  In our attempt to become their clones, it fell a little flat because it wasn’t truly us. For something to be truly amazing, it has to come from your heart and yours alone.

You have a unique gift to share with others. There is only one of you. Your talents, passions, heart and character are not duplicated anywhere else in the world. When you hide behind other’s creativity or try to emulate someone else’s style, you are robbing humanity of the gift that only you can offer.

Maya Angelou said it perfectly, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When we simply act as clones of another photographer and use their words and techniques, our true selves can never shine through. In return, we rob those around us.

You are creative. You can come up with YOUR way of doing things—from lighting to sales to affirming others.  With your ability to see others, you can tease out their very best selves. Please understand, I’m not saying you should be satisfied at your current level.  We all should be constantly growing in our craft.  That is the key. You should be growing… growing in a way that is unique to you.

Last month I challenged you to be great. Now, I’m challenging you to be yourself. What unique gift do you offer the world? How do you make people feel? Are you ready to stop being a clone and be the best photographer for your clients? Remember, it doesn’t matter.

Happy Creating,

Cris Duncan
TPPA President

President’s Message: Just Be Yourself2021-11-23T12:21:28-06:00
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