Interview with incoming PPSNYS President, Pat Luke

If you have been to a GRPP meeting at any point in the last 20 years, you have probably met Pat Luke. He is the guy with the warm, genuine smile, always looking for ways to help others. He is a past president of GRPP (2012-2013), and next month moves up to an even larger role, President of our state organization, PPSNYS (Professional Photographers Society of New York State).

I asked Pat a few questions about this new position, and I think members and non-members alike can learn a little something from his answers. I especially liked his response for why its important to belong to these organizations.

Lori Coleman, GRPP President 2015-2016


LC: How long have you been part of GRPP and in what capacities?

PL: I have been a PPSNYS/GRPP member for 19 years.  I joined way back in 1997, and joined the GRPP Board as Treasurer in 2004.

I was the Treasurer for 7 years, the VP (Program Chair) for 1 year, the President for 2 years, and currently the Treasurer for the last 3 years.

LC: How long have you been involved with PPSNYS and in what capacities?

PL: I was asked by the PPSNYS Board of Governors (which consists of all the past PPSNYS Presidents) to join the Executive Board as the Secretary in 2012.

I moved up to Treasurer in 2013, 2nd VP in 2014, 1st VP in 2015, and I’ll be installed as the 104th President at the Focus NY Convention in April 2-4, 2016.

I officially take over the presidency on May 1, 2016.

LC: Can you explain the relationship between GRPP and PPSNYS?

PL: The Professional Photographers Society of NY State (PPSNYS)  is a 111-year old organization that has ten local chapters across the state, one of which is GRPP.  GRPP doesn’t exist without PPSNYS.  When you join PPSNYS, you become a member of the chapter that is closest to where you live, to make is easy for you to attend meetings.  However, as a PPSNYS member, you can attend any meeting at any chapter across the state for free.  As a speaker, I have made presentations to every chapter in the state, but I have also driven on a weeknight to attend to attend monthly meetings at the Buffalo, Finger Lakes, and Central NY (Syracuse) chapters when their speaker interests me.

PPSNYS also offers free seminars occasionally around the state that any member can take advantage of.  PPSNYS also runs the week-long Summer Workshop at Hobart College each year.  If you are a PPSNYS member you get discounted tuition to the workshop, but anyone can take advantage of the free program held on the Sundayevening of workshop week.  As a PPSNYS member you also get discounts to the annual convention.  Because we are an educational organization, PPSNYS also provides money for each of the local chapters to offset some of the expenses when we hold all–day seminars.

PPSNYS is an affiliate of the Professional Photographers of America (PPA). GRPP is also a PPA Affiliate, and because we have so many PPA members, we can provide speaking merits to our speakers that are PPA members.  However, for the local chapters that do not have a certain percentage of members that are PPA members, PPSNYS can give PPA merits to the local chapters to help entice PPA speakers to speak there.

LC: Why is it important to you to be a part of these organizations?

PL: I photographed weddings for the first 20 years of my career.  I worked for myself and by myself.  When a prospective bride asked me “what happens if you break your leg and can’t photograph my wedding”, I was able to tell her that I was a member of PPSNYS, and I had made so many contacts from Buffalo to Syracuse that I could have a replacement within hours, if needed.  If you choose to live your professional life through on-line forums, you are not able to build a rapport and trust with anyone that will allow you to pass along something as important as a wedding if you truly don’t know that person.

The knowledge that has been passed along to me from being at conventions, workshops, and seminars has been invaluable. And I don’t mean sitting in a class and taking notes.  I’m referring to actually talking face-to-face with notable photographers from across the country.  If you sit down and buy your photographic idols a beer, you’ll be amazed at how much you can actually connect with them and that value goes way beyond the price of a beer.  The information you get from a forum post doesn’t even come close to that.

I didn’t start seeing a lot of benefits from the organization until I started taking part.  I’ve been going to the PPSNYS Workshop for 11 years, and the quality of my work sky rocketed after I started going.  When I was a part-time photographer and also worked a full-time job, I’d take a week’s vacation to go to workshop…it became that important.  And I continue to go, even though it occurs during the peak of my senior portrait season.

If you join a gym, then sit on the couch for 6 months and gain weight, can you legitimately say “what did that gym membership do for me?”  Photographers that ask “what has PPSNYS/GRPP done for me” will get little benefit out of it until they get off the couch and get involved.  As a result of my involvement the last 12 or 13 years, my knowledge of the photography industry has grown immensely, and when I travel across the state, I have a couch to sleep on wherever I go.  My good friends actually let me sleep in a bed, which is even better.  You are not going to get that from on-line forums.

LC: What are your goals as President of PPSNYS?

PL: I have had several people seek me out the last couple of months and they’ve made requests about what they’d like to see different.  I’ve asked them what is important to them, and how we can make the organization more vibrant and worthwhile.  As I said, this is an educational organization, so we are always trying to push educational benefits to our members.  But there are other benefits that might be worthwhile, and I and the officers on the Executive Board will try to do what we can to see them come to fruition.  But please don’t sit on couch and ask what we are doing for you.  It certainly does take a village….and those villagers that get involved get more benefits of anyone.

Here is the PPSNYS Executive Board for the upcoming year:

Patrick Luke – President (GRPP chapter)

Alan Vollweiller – 1st Vice President (Westchester chapter)

Monroe Payne – 2nd Vice President (Finger Lakes chapter)

Stephanie Cunningham – Treasurer (Southwest NY chapter)

Ellen Dunbar – Secretary (Central NY chapter)

LC: Thank you for your time Pat. Looking forward to seeing where you take these great organizations!

If you have any further questions, you can reach Pat at (585) 943-5814, and on the web at

A r c h i v e s