The beginnings of the Cape Cod Professional Photographers
Compiled by Amy Rader, Dianne Marshall, Mark O’Connell and Christine Hochkeppel
The Professional Photographer’s of Cape Cod association was founded by Ed Lilley, of E.R. Lilley Photography of Harwichport in 1979. When Lilley was living in Canada, he found that belonging to a photo association helped create bonds between seasoned photographers and newbies, which helped everyone succeed in the industry. When he relocated to Cape Cod, he immediately joined the Professional Photographers of Massachusetts (PPAM) to network with other photographers and find camaraderie. Through PPAM, he met Marly Lewis, the sales representative for Art Leather albums, and East Falmouth photographer Richard MacLone. Lilley, Lewis and MacLone believed that a Cape Cod-specific group of photographers was needed so the three joined forces to start the initiative.
To build their membership, they utilized the PPAM membership list and solicited every photographer in the Yellow Pages. The first meeting was held at a restaurant on Main St., Hyannis. Lilley recalled about 20 people were in attendance including Bob Tucker of Focalpoint Studio in Orleans, Bill Clarke of Hyannis and Brenda Saul Thomson of Chatham. That first year they organized a week-long group show at the Cape Cod Mall. The members took turns minding the exhibit and answering questions from visitors. A bad stretch of weather caused vacationers to flock to the mall, which ended up benefiting the PPOCC members on an otherwise stormy summer week. Shortly thereafter, the referral list was activated which allowed locals and vacationers alike to find a professional photographer through the association. The members shared any overflow of work to other participating members
By the summer of 1980, the group had their first formal gathering. Ed Lilley hired a local fish market to cook up a bunch of lobsters for the group and they feasted on the boiled crustaceans in his driveway. The lobster bake turned into an annual tradition that lasted over 20 years, always hosted lovingly by the Lilleys. One year, there were over 100 people and live music performed by a country western band. Describing the fond memories from these communal meals as "the glue for the group," Lilley also vaguely recalled the police stopping by to quiet down the group on one occasion or two.
Communicating with the Public
By 1995, PPOCC forged its way into the digital age by building its first website to share the quickly changing world of photography, and the new digital wave of products and techniques with fellow members. Soon after, the group launched the online version of their referral page as a way to make the public aware of the talented group of wedding and portrait photographers that were right here on Cape Cod.
PPOCC strives to achieve a balance of professional and personal growth. Our goal is to bring professional photographers together in a relaxed, informative, and fun atmosphere that promotes advancement and the sharing of ideas and resources. Members are located throughout the Cape Cod region and meet monthly to share new ideas, techniques, business tips and promote good will in the industry. The Monday meeting became ritual in the film era because photographers would be awaiting the return of their developed negatives from weekend sessions. At its height, PPOCC had a membership roster of over 50 photographers. Now, PPOCC is a smaller group but there is power in networking and working together as a team and representing the best photographers on Cape Cod.
Bob Knott Jr.