Three Little Letters…..Big Meaning.
Three weeks ago, I became a CPP. a Certified Professional Photographer.
As a professional photographer, I belong to PPA (Professional Photographers of America) and continue to improve my craft through various workshops, lectures, and seminars. PPA’s “Be More” slogan and campaign resonated with me and in April of 2014 I declared my candidacy to begin my CPP certification pathway. Certification is a three step process: you declare your candidacy, pass an extensive written exam, and submit a portfolio for review. This is not an easy task. The study course takes you down many paths, and in the process, you can’t help but become a better photographer in so many arenas of the profession. This intensive program measures artistic and technical competence. Only after you have passed the written exam, may you submit your portfolio for review. While exams are held numerous times and places throughout the year, the portfolio review submission periods only happen five times annually. The portfolio review includes three specific mandatory images, three compulsory images taken from a provided list, and nine client images from your last two years of work. Portfolios are reviewed by a panel of five judges. Your submitted body of work is first viewed all together to insure the color balance is right throughout. If it is not, the judges do not proceed judging your portfolio. If all looks right in the overview, the second step is for the judges to closely inspect your mandatory images. If just one of these judges does not approve this step, your portfolio will not pass the review. After the mandatory images, the compulsory images are next up, followed by the client images. Minimally, three of the five judges must approve your body of work in order for your portfolio to be approved and for you to receive your degree. Many folks struggle through one or both of these steps. If you are a professional photographer, one who knows their craft, passing this exam and portfolio review should come fairly easily to you. You will probably learn a few additional things that help you become an even better photographer along the journey. If, on the other hand, you are a self proclaimed photographer who hasn’t invested in any educational programs, you will more than likely have a difficult time earning your CPP. Those who continue the journey (retaking the written exam and resubmitting their portfolios) learn and develop their craft with the outcome of truly being a professional photographer.
As I already stated, my CPP journey began last April. I purchased my books and study guides in hopes that I would have the chance to study in the following months. At the beginning of November, I attended a 3-day certification course held at PPA headquarters in Atlanta, GA instructed by Eric Richards. At the end of third day, we took the written exam. I am pleased to say that all but one of us in the class passed. I began preparing my portfolio right away even though the next submission period wasn’t until the end of February. On March 19, 2015, emails were sent out all at once to everyone who had submitted portfolios. As I read my email, my heart was in my throat. It starts out…”First of all, thanks for taking part….” and then, there were the words I had been hoping to see for the last three weeks, “CONGRATULATIONS! Your images passed…” I was relieved and thrilled. On March 31st, a gold colored tube arrived in the mail from PPA headquarters. In it was my official certification certificate, my CPP Certified pin and other relevant materials.
There were many reasons I decided to pursue this certification. First and foremost, I did it for myself…to prove to myself that I could indeed earn this degree. That even though I am basically a self taught photographer who has been in the business for over 14 years, that I do have the knowledge required to truly call myself a professional. I did it for my profession as well…to show my commitment to the pursuit of excellence in the field of photography. I wanted to show the public my qualifications to be the best photographer possible for them. Education is the key, the more you learn, the better you become. You wouldn’t hire an unlicensed plumber or electrician, so why hire a photographer who isn’t certified when you have the choice? There are currently less than 2,500 CPPs. Should the government ever require licensing for photographers, it is my hope that those of us with CPPs will be grandfathered in. And just so you know, CPP designation is only good for three years before you must re-certify. Re certification is done through educational merits. This means that a CPP is always learning by attending current workshops and programs. We don’t just stop learning once the certificate arrives in the mail.
I am so grateful and humbled to join the ranks of CPP photographers throughout the world who want the very best for our profession and our clients. Currently there are only 31 CPP’s in the state of Connecticut. I am proud to be counted amongst them.
CPP…three little letters with very big meaning.
Be More. Start your CPP journey today.