Micha Wixom, owner of Shutter Girl Photography, and Harmony Jones, owner of the Photography Boutique, are up-and-coming masters of their craft. Wixom and Jones recently returned from a four-day convention hosted by Professional Photographers of Idaho (PPof I). It is a non-profit organization geared to expanding and perfecting the talents of professional photographers in Idaho.
With photography becoming the latest trend there has been a downward spiral in the standards of the business. The industry is seemingly filled with those who purchase a camera and start taking photos, some for leisure and others as a side business. The PPof I maintains certain standards and ethics for professional photographers. Lighting, staging, use of space, aesthetics, colors, etc. are all heavily critiqued by those within PPof I. Being a member of PPof I is comparable to the difference between an associate's degree and a master's, Wixom and Jones pointed out.
Jones and Wixom participated in the statewide contest. Jones entered several exhibits, one taken at the Eastern Idaho State Fair. That was a bull rider caught in action. The photo seems to capture the sights, sounds and even the smells of the event. The subtle lighting and prominent figure, the stark contrast of the natural tones of dirt, bull and cowboy pops against the brightly colored gates. It feels electric and captivating, wrote the judges.
This photo, having taken first in one of the PP of I competition categories will now be going on a traveling exhibition across the world. Jones also placed second and third and took the Court of Honor with four of the very best in Idaho.
Jones started attending the competitions in 1999 and more consistently in 2008. "Lots of people go to the competition but not everyone enters. It's intimidating. The judges critique the photos in front of everyone. It's not just your peers; it's your competition too." Jones said. "This year one of the judges was from Quebec and had traveled all over the world judging photos; he was amazed and astounded at the talent he found at the competition in Idaho."
Wixom expressed similar sentiments regarding the competition. "There are no standards in the industry. PP of I has a code of ethics. There are workshops every quarter. You are constantly learning what to do and not to do."
This was Wixom's first year entering the competition. "I went into it blind but wanted to do it and see what happens."
The results were pleasing as Wixom took home the title of Rookie of the Year and third place in Idaho Women Category. Wixom says that the PPof I looks for things that are timeless, classic and simple.
Jones emphasized there are so many amazing photographers in Eastern Idaho that it is easy for people to just look for deals and not recognize that many of the photographers have phenomenal talents. "We are kind of spoiled in that respect."
Jones said that she is a member of the PPof I "to gain an education that will transcribe into a better product for my client."
She encouraged photographers to join the organization "It can help make photos better and give you goals to continue progressing."
Jones was recently put on the Board of Directors for PPof I.
Wixom said she feels she has a lot to learn. Her goal this year is "to send everyone that walks into her studio home with a piece of art."