23rd Jan2015

Moments in Mentoring: D. Craig Flory, Cr., CPP

by Christine

I’ve come to realize that mentoring has a variety of faces. What may have been a few moments of discussion can prove to have an incredible impact on someone’s future.

This is one of those stories…

Once upon a time… well, actually, because of the marvel of modern-day technology, I can pin down the date to 2009…

This happened:


I had discovered Mr. Flory’s post on the Our PPA Forum.

He didn’t know it, but I was fairly desperate at the time. The CPP portion of things was not near as organized as it is today. Online test registration did not exist and candidates were at the mercy of the whims of liaisons who didn’t return phone calls or emails. My state offered one test per year at the annual convention. Which looked like I was going to miss, given the state of non-communication I was dealing with. (This newbie-at-the-time had not yet learned the power of knowing the PPA customer service number).

With a sigh of relief, I made plans to travel to Pennsylvania to take the exam. D. Craig was the liaison for Pennsylvania and proctored the exam at a convention that April 17.

We didn’t have much conversation at first, D. Craig and I. He gave the test-takers some pencils and some Hershey kisses and explained the protocol.

When the test was over, we chatted for a bit. He showed me his Craftsman’s medallion, talked about his journey to achieving it, and challenged me to earn it, as well.

It was my first in-person chat with someone from a professional photography organization, now that I think about it.

My first PPA member contact. Hmmmm…  (You paying attention here, PPA?)

Honestly, I thought he was a bit off his rocker with the Craftsman thing. I figured he must say that to everyone, it’s probably part of what he “did” with being a liaison and all. But it stayed in the back of my mind.

And then later, I looked into it. And was intrigued.

Without getting all fancy-schmancy with the lingo – it’s a degree awarded for speaking and teaching. And mentoring and writing. And other stuff.

Just like a college degree has a bunch of requirements for classes in your major, this degree requires a certain number of experiences (the PPA calls them merits) in speaking. Then, like college degrees require a bunch of other classes that have nothing to do with your major, you’ve gotta suck it up and get some merits in other stuff, as well, for the Craftsman degree. (They’re earned by volunteering or attending classes and are referred to as Service Merits).

So anyway, the Craftsman Degree required 13 speaking merits and I set out to earn them. And I did. It wasn’t spectacularly easy, but it wasn’t terribly hard. Each time I did it, though, it became easier and there came a time when I began to enjoy it and look forward to it. I was still nervous as heck, but it wasn’t something I dreaded like the first time.

Every once in awhile I’d think of D. Craig and wonder … how did he know? Perhaps it was just a suggestion inspired by his own accomplishment; earning a degree takes a fair amount of work and time. It’s not an instant reward by any means and you must work towards it purposefully. By the time you have completed the requirements, you have truly earned it.

And earn it, I did. In January 2012, I was notified it was mine. Unfortunately, I had not yet discovered the joy of attending the PPA National Convention and I elected to have my medallion mailed to me. (Sidebar: Worst. Decision. Ever.)

And here’s where it gets kind of interesting. whatever prompted D. Craig to challenge me was effective. I didn’t stop. The 13 merits required for the Craftsman Degree were only the FIRST thirteen. I discovered a passion for teaching that I didn’t know I had. And then I began to channel my writing into teaching efforts and discovered an additional facet to my career that had not existed a few short years earlier.

Obtaining the Craftsman Degree allowed me to become a member of the American Society of Photographers. I feel like I’m in the hallowed halls of modern PPA photographic history when I’m at an ASP function. I’ve discovered that they have their own designation, the ASP Educational Associate. Right now I describe it as “the Craftsman Degree on steroids” so I don’t have to go into all the fancy-schmancy talk. It requires a bunch of extra speaking merits. Thirty, to be exact. I’m just about there, so…

Yay me!

But actually, it’s more like…


Stolen from D. Craig's FB page because I tried making up a reason to ask him for an image and failed.

Stolen from D. Craig’s FB page because I tried making up a reason to ask him for an image and failed.

Because you reached out to everyone, you reached out to me. And you made a huge huge difference in this photographer’s journey. You helped me in my path to being a Certified Professional Photographer and then you kick-started me towards becoming a Photographic Craftsman. Now, I’m journeying again, thanks to you.

What began as a small gesture of help has dominoed into more.

So very much more.

I am grateful.

Thank you, D. Craig.




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