What is a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP)?

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Q: Why is Certification important?

A: Certification is a way to demonstrate to customers and others that a photographer has a strong foundation in the photographic arts and sciences. Just like an accountant has a CPA, a CPP is a standard that assures that the photographer develops and maintains a high level of skills, techniques and knowledge.

Q: Does a professional photographer need to be certified?

A: It is not necessary to practice photography, but it is a differentiator. It separates the casual photographer from those who are willing to study, learn and subject themselves to scrutiny and evaluation to raise their standard of performance.

Q: What does it take to become certified?

A: You have to declare your candidacy to become certified, and you have a limited time to complete the certification. You must study for and successfully pass an examination of 100 questions designed to assess your knowledge of photography. And you must submit a folio of images that you made while in the course of your professional work, which demonstrate your mastery of various techniques including high key, low key, depth of focus and other composition and image capture elements.

Q: Once you are certified, is it permanent?

A: No, you have to re-certify every three years, either through showing continuing education credits, or retaking the certification exam.

I will admit that my journey to certification was both exciting and humbling. Open criticism and rejection of images that I believed were technically excellent will do wonders to reshape your perspective of your capabilities compared to your peers. The feedback I received on my image critique was very helpful in teaching me to “see” differently. And the academic element of the exam forced me to learn about light, color, history and exposure.

Here’s an example question. See if you can get it right the first time around:

Select the exposure below that is equivalent to f/16, ISO 100, 1/125 sec:

A. f/22, ISO 200, 1/60 sec

B. f/32, ISO 100, 1/500 sec

C. f/11, ISO 400, 1/1000 sec

D. f/16, ISO 800, 1/15 sec


Photographic Craftsman Degree earned!

John Huegel CPP, Cr. Photog.

That’s my new title. It shows that not only am I a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP), but I am also now a Photographic Craftsman (Cr. Photog.)


I recently earned the degree of Photographic Craftsman by earning the required number of speaking and service merits. Service merits are earned when attending training or conventions, and by volunteering at conventions. I volunteered for two years at the PPA National convention as an “Orange Shirt”, and attended many educational sessions offered by other photographers, where I learned new skills.

To earn the speaking merits, I developed and presented educational programs to other professional photographers. My first program, which I presented throughout New York and at several Tennessee photographic groups, was focused on developing a strong web presence for photographers by creating strong web sites with content that the search engines will promote. My second program, which I presented across New York state and at several Louisiana photographic groups, was centered on creating a business model that is tailored to the photographer’s lifestyle and business goals.

Both of these programs can be viewed on my main website if you are curious. I am also available to present these programs at your professional photographer gathering, whether it is a PPA group or not.

I am very proud to have earned both of these degrees. I helps me to stand apart from other photographers. Helping each other learn and grow is a core element of truly professional photographers and I am very glad to be in the company of many great PPA members.

Senior Pictures in Erie, PA: Rosie

We had another fabulous weather day for Rosie’s senior pictures. Starting at Wintergreen Gorge, we captured some great outdoor images. Then we stopped by her school to get some neat photos with her favorite books:

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We hit a favorite location of mine for some downtown images including this one near the graffiti wall by the train tracks:

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We finished in a great location near the bayfront with amazing brickwork:

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Great images, Rosie! We captured some very different looks and poses in your session!

Erie Photographer John Huegel wins Cleveland’s “Hammer Ergatta” indoor rowing competition for age group

John Huegel at the 2013 Cleveland Hammer Ergatta. First place for 50-59 year old males.

John Huegel at the 2013 Cleveland Hammer Ergatta. First place for 50-59 year old males.

This one’s a bit off of the topic of photography, but what the heck.

Winter is usually the time when I hibernate. But this year, I stayed very active on an indoor rowing training plan. Indoor rowers, or ergometers (“ergs”), simulate the activity of rowing on the water through the use of a flywheel that creates drag with either air or water. The Concept 2 Ergometer is the world standard indoor rower.

This summer I bought a slightly used Concept 2 Model E, and have put nearly a million meters on it. That’s nearly 600 miles if it were an actual boat. The workout is a full body experience, using the legs, the core back/stomach muscles, and the arms and chest. The machine reacts to your force, meaning you can go easy or hard, and you can tailor the workout to very specific outcomes, such as intervals or long, slow rows.

I have rowed a variety of distances on the erg, from 500 meters, which takes about a minute and a half, to the half-marathon distance of 21,074 meters, finishing in just under 90 minutes. As a distance runner, I prefer the longer pieces, but the competition is all about the 2k, or 2000 meter distance.

The 2k has been described as 4 minutes of pain followed by 3 minutes of agony. For men of my age and build, a good 2k time is somewhere between 6:45 and 7:30. When I started training a few months ago, I pulled a 7:39. Then over the fall and the holidays, I followed a training program that gradually brought my time down to 7:10.

I’m no stranger to racing, but all of my experience was the running kind.The Hammer was my first rowing competition. After the heat began, I maintained a pretty consistent pace of about 1:47 per 500 meters. Competing with 7 others in my age group, I started off in 3rd or 4th place, and gradually came up to second. With about three minutes left, I kept my pace consistent while the first place rower started to fade a bit. I finished with a good lead, and trimmed a second off of my best, to finish at 7:08.9. It was a great feeling, and I especially appreciate the support of my wife, who sat in the coach’s chair while I wheezed and panted and pulled.

Am I done? No way! My goal is to break 7 minutes. It’s a magic number for indoor rowers, and I’m convinced I can do it. Plus I really enjoy rowing. I can put on a video and “coast”, or I can focus and pound out some really tough workouts.

So what does this have to do with photography? Well, my wife took a photo of me just after I got my gold medal, so that counts!

Anyway, I encourage everyone to stay active and set goals. Last year my goal was weight loss and I dropped nearly 50 pounds. And I achieved my CPP Professional Photographer Certification.

This year my goal is to reach a fitness level I have never achieved before, and break the magic 7:00 mark!

Professional Photographers Unite!

IMG_4364I recently returned from Imaging USA 2013 in Atlanta. This is the annual convention organized by The Professional Photographers of America (PPA). I have been a member of PPA for many years.

Conventions and other educational programs are important for photographers. They help to keep their skill and knowledge levels high, the expose the photographer to new products and services, and they give us a chance to socialize in a noncompetitive environment. This year I met some great people from all over the world, and talked at length about Senior portraiture and Wedding Photography.

This year, I both attended and volunteered. As a PPA volunteer, I helped with the many courses offered at the convention. There were several large courses offered at the same time, and I worked at seven of them. The bonus was that I got to see those seven classes, and many more when I was “off the clock”.

For my volunteer effort, I earned a Service Merit toward my next level of Certification,  Photographic Craftsman. It will take me a couple of years to earn all of the service and Speaking merits to achieve this level, but the journey will be worth it.

I am very proud of my friend Stephanie Cunningham, who has finished the requirements for her Craftsman degree. Next year in Arizona at the Imaging USA event, she’ll have a chance to cross the stage and receive her medallion!

Erie Senior Portraits: Class of 2013 Feature

Here are some of my favorite images from this summer’s Class of 2013 senior portrait sessions.We love to capture images of seniors doing the things they love.

We work both in the studio (in our groovy old school building at 26th and Peach in Erie), as well as on location at basically any location the senior would like. Many of these locations were specifically chosen by the senior. Of course we will take you to our favorite places if you don’t have any specific locations picked out. And we very often finish at the beach. We have a special formula for capturing amazing sunset portraits!

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For the technically curious, we use Canon cameras and Canon, Sigma and Tamron lenses. I even have a special “Beach Camera” that’s allowed to get sandy! We use Canon and Alien Bees flashes and RadioPoppers and Buff triggers. We rarely tripod, but when we do, we use Manfrotto ball heads and tripods.

I get down and dirty at the beach. I usually get more sand on me than the senior will during the session. My philosophy is: “If you don’t get the right angle, with the right light, at the right moment, with the right pose, it just doesn’t look right!  Right?!”

Check out our Class of 2013 Video as well: http://animoto.com/play/99IXk2rYSg50Fo3nMPdGTg

Thanks to all of my seniors and families that supported them!

Erie Wedding Photography: Renee and Randy

Many have waited for the right moment to be married. If waiting was the reward, Renee and Randy have reached the perfect moment for marriage.

Renee and her ladies prepared at Coventina Day Spa. It was a peaceful snowy day in late December.

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The wedding was held at Holy Rosary church on 28th and East Avenue. Lots of on-site preparation was completed before the ceremony.

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A lovely wedding ceremony, and formal photographs followed:

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And a very nice reception followed, at Union Station, with a chilly stop in Perry SquareIMG_0848 IMG_0942 IMG_0582 IMG_0590 IMG_0600 IMG_0602 IMG_0680 IMG_0684 IMG_0701 IMG_0771 for the bridal couple!

Congratulations Randy and Renee!