Last Christmas, my husband gave me a bracelet. It was a beautiful bracelet, and I thought it was a sign that it had a small 2017 on the back. I felt like 2017 would be a big year for me, because at the time of the gift I had recently signed up to take the CPP exam in January of 2017. I took the test to become a Certified Professional Photographer in mid-January, and soon found out that I had passed. I will be honest and tell you that I am blessed with the gift of being a good test taker, so this to me was definitely the easy part. The difficult part of the journey soon began. Before I could officially consider myself a Certified Professional and get that golden tube with the certificate and those letters behind my name, I would have to submit a portfolio of images that would meet certain criteria for lighting, posing, and demonstrate that I can consistently achieve technical competence. Because I didn’t go to school for photography, I felt that getting this certification was very important for me to differentiate myself from others with cameras who can take good photos. This was no easy process, and I may have given up (at least for a bit) if not for my fellow photographer friend and new CPP Sarah! We each encouraged each other to keep going at different points through the image submission process. In the end, we got some great feedback from another fellow photographer and CPP, and we felt much more confident with our submissions. So on October 20th in the middle of the craziest time of the year for a photographer, I submitted my portfolio. And I began to wait. For three weeks. Let me tell you, those weeks seemed like an eternity. I fully realize that three weeks is not a long time by any stretch of the imagination, but they felt like forever when I was waiting for that decision to come back! On November 4th, I received another bracelet, this time from my mother-in-law. This thin gold bangle has “Following My Dreams” inscribed on it and I have worn it almost every day since I got it. Then on November 10th, just in time for my birthday, I checked my phone (for the hundredth time that morning) and saw the email. The sender was Certified Photographers and the subject was CPP Results. I almost couldn’t open the email. I stopped and said a quick prayer for strength, then clicked on it. I didn’t read the whole thing at first, I just scanned to the part where it said CONGRATULATIONS in big bold lettering. And I squealed…and I jumped up and down…at work…at my job as an OT, not as a photographer. I couldn’t believe that I had actually done it, I was officially a Certified Professional Photographer!!! I am a Licensed Occupational Therapist and had to pass Board Certification for that distinction and for that I am very proud, but there was something extra special about achieving this certification that involved not just an exam, but also the approval of my peers. And the fact that I can count myself a CPP alongside some of the amazing photographers I am beyond blessed to know, continues to blow me away every day. I asked Sarah when she thought we might stop squealing when we see our name followed by CPP. Neither of us know the answer to that, but I can tell you that it won’t be before the end of this awesome year!! I completely believe that 2018 will hold more great things for my photography and my business, and I look forward to sharing them with you when I can!!!