The National Award is presented each year to an individual who has proven their dedication to the profession by years of service and commitment. The inscription on the award simply states “For Meritorious Contributions to Professional Photography.” This year’s award was presented at Summerfest ‘18 and the recipient of the National Award from Texas was Steve Kozak of Grand Prairie, Texas.
Most of us know Steve as the guy behind the scenes who never sleeps. It seems that every minute of his day is devoted to Texas PPA. He is the driving force for all that takes place for our members and is always there to give a helping hand or a word of encouragement.
He has been a professional photographer for over 38 years, first setting up shop in Nacogdoches, Texas, after graduating from Stephen F. Austin University. In 1995, Steve moved his business to Grapevine, Texas, and eventually ended up in Grand Prairie, Texas, the present headquarters of Texas PPA.
In 1998, Steve caught the attention of Don Dickson, Director of the Texas School of Professional Photography, and has been a regular instructor there ever since. However, he has taught at other affiliate schools throughout the United States and Canada. Education is his calling and Steve takes that responsibility quite seriously.
His articles have been published in several regional and international magazines including this one and his inspiring and informative instructional videos and CD tutorials have been widely distributed throughout the country. At one time, he even hosted his very own photography based television show.
After going through the ranks of Texas PPA officers and serving as the association’s President in 2016, Steve was hired as the Texas PPA Executive Director in 2017 and hit the ground running. Under his leadership, the association has reaffirmed its place as the number one state affiliate of PPA in the nation and continues to grow.
Presenting the National Award to Steve Kozak was last year’s recipient, Mark McCall, of Lubbock, Texas. As is the tradition with Texas PPA and others, the audience is given a series of hints as to who is the recipient. But it didn’t take everyone long to realize exactly who it would be. Before Mark was well into the list of accolades, all eyes were turned to the table where Steve was seated. It was an extremely emotional moment for him and everyone else in the room as Mark read several testimonials from members whose lives were touched by this friend and educator.
But perhaps one of the more moving testimonials came from McCall himself who told how, at a time of personal crisis, it was Steve Kozak who recognized something was wrong and called Mark to tell him that “everything was going to be OK.” The conversation lasted for some six hours.
These are the things that make lasting impressions on others and I can tell you that Steve Kozak has touched my life as well, offering words of encouragement when things looked hopeless. It is the true meaning of friendship.
So, it is with great pride that the Texas Professional Photographers Association honors Steve Kozak with this coveted award to express our love and gratitude for someone who loves this profession and has dedicated his life to it. For what he has done and for the things he has planned for the future of this association, we are grateful and blessed to have him in a position of leadership.
Congratulations, Steve Kozak, for all that you do!