Richmond photographer earns highest degree recognition in Canada

Becoming an award-winning master photographer is more than learning about lighting and lenses, rather it is about understanding compassion.

Don MacGregor, a long-time Richmond resident and professional photographer, received his 16th bar in his MPA and is the first Canadian photographer to do so.

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The award is presented by the Professional Photographers of Canada (PPOC) to members who have had their images accepted into the annual PPOC Image Salon over a number of years – 17 years in McGregor’s case.

“It was exciting when I found out I got the award, and I knew about it in advance through the organization I was in communication with,” said MacGregor, adding that it was unfortunate the awards night, which doubled as the PPOC’s 50th anniversary celebration, had to be cancelled.

“I was skeptical if (the virtual celebration) would work and was surprised when it did because there were more than 200 people across Canada who were expecting to join. There was no physical presentation, just congratulations through photos.”

MacGregor told the Richmond News that photographers with their MPA and “bars” have earned their degree through two-levels of participation – print competition and service in the industry.

“The most important is the print competition, which is done every year for our association, where photographers have their images evaluated. If the photographs are deemed what we call an ‘accepted exhibition,’ the photographers earn points towards their degree,” explained MacGregor, adding that points are also earned through services done in the industry, such as working on a committee or teaching.

Most people, said MacGregor, stop after earning their MPA, but there are still many active photographers in the PPOC that have continued earning their Master’s again, and each time they do, it’s called a “bar.”

Looking back, he never imagined taking wedding photos for a Vancouver studio during high school would’ve brought him this far in his career.

“My motivating force is to be able to provide joy to people’s lives,” said MacGregor, adding that it took him many years specializing in portraits to realize that photography can have an impact on  people’s lives.

“I want to do more than just create a ‘road map’ of a person’s face; to be a good portrait (photographer), you need to have a deep compassion for people.”

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