If you are reading this, you’re probably thinking, what the heck is a certified professional photographer? Especially in an age where everyone around us presents themselves as some type of professional, it’s hard to source out the differences.
My certification is super important to me and I’m going to share a few reasons why:
I have deep desires to achieve. I really want to prove, not just to others, but to myself that I am capable of great things. This certificate was a goal but it was not the end goal by any means!
I want to show my current clients that I am dedicated to continuing growth and development that will expand their experience when hiring me. They have already placed their trust in my skills but many of my clients return, and I don’t want their second, or third experience to be part of one monotonous journey. I want it to be like climbing stairs…. Each session is just a step above the previous, and better is building ahead!
For prospective clients, I wanted them to see that I was dedicated. A prospective client has to trust without having seen or received a product. That’s a big ask! So by showing them I’m dedicated to bettering myself and my business, I may be able to put more worries to rest. I want to build a good relationship and that requires a solid foundation.
Standing out in the crowd was not my top concern, however, in the age of the “side hustle”, it’s become a necessity. Photography and the business that follows, for me, is far from a side hustle. Accounting, scheduling, meetings, seminars, continuing education, set design, inventory, ordering, restocking, equipment repair, maintenance… even the janitorial. I’m doing it all, often at crazy hours of the day, to keep the balance. Having my certification was one step towards increasing awareness that my business is an entrepreneurial endeavor.
I received it on my first child’s birthday. It even says it on the certificate! That wasn’t a reason I did it, but I did do it for my family as a whole. If I don’t continue to grow and improve, how can I justify stepping out the door?
Okay, so I’ve explained a small bit of the why. How about the what?
What is a certified professional photographer or CPP?
The largest organization in the United States for photographers to be members of is called the Professional Photographers of America or PPA. The PPA is for all sizes of photography from large commercial enterprises to residential studios, like myself. It is also for all types of photography from your stock images all the way to fortune 500 company head shots, and everything in between. It encompasses every aspect of the image making process from the very basics in the planning stages through business practices, to marketing strategies and all the way up to the United States Congress where we are represented during copyright law and legislation. Throughout the year, the PPA offers the opportunity for members to receive their CPP. You must be an active member with PPA and you must be in good standing. You must complete a proctored exam as well as submit images that meet specific criteria and go through image critique and evaluation before being approved. Your certification is only good for two years, but after that time you can renew your certification through continuing education credits or by retaking the exam and maintaining your good standing and professionalism in your field.
I began my journey to my CPP in January 2022 and I received my certification on July 6 of 2022. It was not easy, I had to study for hours for the exam, as well as resubmit images for evaluation. I am not ashamed to admit that one of my images did not pass evaluation the first time. These images are not allowed to be edited. They are judged on the criteria that you were given and must be taken “straight out of camera”, SOOC. They do not allow any adjustments to be made so the image coming out of the camera must be perfect and in a format that most people are not familiar with which is called RAW. You do not submit a JPEG , GIF or TIFF image for these evaluations. After passing the exam, submitting my images, and then ending up resubmitting one of my images… I passed! I received my certificate and joined a group of less than 1000 nation wide professionals! Given the opportunities ahead of me I will strive to do as much continuing education as I can in the next two years so that I don’t have to take the exam a second time, so be on the lookout for more stories about how I’m learning and growing as I continue my endeavor to be a successful entrepreneur.
Current and potential clients, you have my sincerest thanks and I do hope you are interested in booking your next session or event with me. I look forward to working together on your next project!