As a photographer, I want to work on my craft. I want people to feel something when they see my images, but I also want to be technically good at what I’m doing. I am completely self-taught. I have scoured books, and websites and taken webinars and workshops, attended conferences and I have put my camera up to my eye a million times.
I learned how to shoot in manual on my Canon Rebel XS through a course I took by Cori Derksen (@derksenphoto). I wanted to be able to control my depth of focus, how much light I was letting in to the camera, how quickly my shutter was going, I wanted to be able to create the vision I had in my head and I wanted to understand how to do it. And I practiced. Over and over and over again. For years.
I have a master’s degree in Student Affairs and Higher Education, but have no formal degree in anything photographer related. About 3 years ago, I stumbled upon the Clickin Moms website. The work I saw there was incredible. Polished. Professional. Award winning.
Around the same time I had started participating in a P52 project through Sarah Cornish (@myfourhensphotography) and was trying to absorb everything I could through the talent in that group. While I was in that group, I kept seeing images that just jumped out at me. I took note of the photographer’s name: Elise Meader (@elisemeaderphotographer).
(Sidenote: Elise has taken our family photos the last two years – she’s AMAZING. But, if she doesn’t already think I’m a stalker, she probably will now. Sorry, Elise!)
Elise’s work moved me and I loved the captures she had of her children. I started following her on Facebook and I saw her post about having earned the status of Click Pro. It was the first time I had heard about it and I wanted to know more.
Click Pro is an application process. You submit an online portfolio of 150 images and they are critiqued and evaluated by professional photographers in 6 different areas:
Each area is rated on a scale of 1-6. You have to score at least a 4 in the exposure triangle category. And you have to earn a minimum of 32 points to earn your Click Pro status.
It was the closest thing I could find to a certification or degree that would be able to give me an indication of how good a grasp I had on the technical side of photography. How much I understood about how to create images that evoked emotion and what made an image technically sound. There’s a lot of sub-categories and specific criteria that you have to meet within each of these areas. It was overwhelming, and three years ago, I was nowhere near ready to apply. But I put it on my list of goals and I started working toward it.
In the fall of 2016, I had the amazing opportunity to find a photographer power partner in Megan Boggs (@hello_meganboggs). I am so incredibly glad our paths crossed. She has been an amazing partner, supporter, motivator and friend. We both shared that we had a goal to apply to and make click pro.
In April of last year, I applied. I put together a portfolio of 150 of my favorite images and I hit send. And I was hopeful, yet tried to remain realistic about my prospects of getting in. I didn’t make it. But it gave me a framework of where I was and what I needed to work on and improve. You can only apply every 3 months, so I set my sights on the fall.
And for the last 8 months I have been working my tail off to create images that are set worthy, meet the criteria, and that were shot with intention and skill and focus but that also moved me. I planned to submit at the end of September, but life and my fall season got crazy and the time got away from me. Megan applied again and she made it and I was so incredibly happy for her and it pushed me to bring that goal back to the forefront.
I asked other photographers whose work I admired for their feedback on my set. Carrine Powers (@jupiterhuephotography) and Erin Mufford (@erin.mufford) are wonderful artists in their own right and had already achieved click pro status. And man, let me tell you, it is HARD to have someone go into your hearts work and tell you that there are images that don’t work. Don’t make the cut. Aren’t technically sound. And I had to let that sit, eat my piece of humble pie and allow myself to grow through their valuable (and correct) feedback rather than be defeated by it.
I made a goal that I would submit by the end of the year. And in typical Melissa fashion, I hit the submit button on December 31, 2017. It takes at least 14 days for your set to be reviewed.
Yesterday, I received the email that I had been accepted as a Click Pro. I am so incredibly excited to have earned this distinction through my hard work. To know that I have a strong grasp on the technical aspects of photography. That my work has reached a level where it is valued and appreciated by those that I look up to in this business.
To those of you who have supported me in this journey; my family, friends, clients – thank you for giving me the space and the grace and the time to dive into this passion of mine and for encouraging me along the way. I have been able to turn this love I have for storytelling through photography into a thriving, growing business and I couldn’t have done it without you.
Below, are the 150 images from my set. They tell a story of my journey, a snap shot of my last year of work. Of my grit and determination to be the best photographer that I can be. I am so proud of these images. I wanted to share them with you.
Melissa, I am so incredibly proud of you and moved to tears by your story and photographs. I know how hard you have worked to perfect your craft and tell your stories. Congratulations on achieving Click Pro.
All my love, Mom
On Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 8:18 AM, Melissa Ortendahl Photography wrote:
> melissaortendahlphotography posted: “As a photographer, I want to work on > my craft. I want people to feel something when they see my images, but I > also want to be technically good at what I’m doing. I am completely > self-taught. I have scoured books, and websites and taken webinars and > worksh” >
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