What drives me perhaps more than anything else is a thirst for knowledge. I love weddings because I get to observe people, how they act, what they think, and what makes for a great couple, a great family, and a great party. My quest for knowledge has taken me to three university degrees, a decade teaching, and to travels that shed light on both my life and the cultures of millions of people. 

And that desire to learn more is fundamental to my passion for photography. I believe that even the most amazing piece of art is still a beautiful failure, and my work certainly qualifies. As artists, we have a vision and that vision never exactly matches the result. That's okay, and part of the creative process. It's also what drives me to be better every day. 

So a couple of years ago I decided to try to fill in some of the gaps in my photographic knowledge and began the process of becoming a Certified Professional Photographer from the Professional Photographers of America. The PPA is America's oldest and largest professional photography organization, with local chapters across the country and a national organization dedicated to helping this industry succeed. 

The CPP is a two part process. First there's a test to measure your technical knowledge of making photographs. You study technical aspects of film and digital sensors and lenses. You explore composition, color theory, and using all kinds of light. After several months of brushing up on everything from color correction to the inverse square rule to the circle of confusion, I passed my exam two years ago. 

Then, candidates must submit a portfolio of images demonstrating your knowledge. Even if I rarely make photographs using a 3:1 lighting ratio, I need to demonstrate that I can if I want to. It's part of being a professional--making choices for your images rather than simply doing the only thing that you know how to do. It took me some time to make the photographs that demonstrate technical competency on a wide variety of areas, from color harmony to composition to lighting. I submitted my portfolio of 15 final images last summer. It passed and I received my degree. 

Only four other photographers in the Madison area have completed this process. Does that make me one of the five best Madison wedding photographers? Not necessarily. But it demonstrates my commitment to improvement, my ability to adapt to the myriad conditions on any given wedding day, and it should provide you with comfort that, among the hundreds of photographers you might hire, I can deliver. Every time.