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


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!

John Huegel, CPP

I have just received notice that I passed the certification image review and I am now a Certified Professional Photographer! It was a long journey, including a difficult exam and multiple image submissions, but I am proud to have passed and to be considered a Professional Photographer by my peers.

There is only one other CPP in Erie County, and within 50 miles of Erie, there are only 5 CPP photographers…and I know two of the others personally, great people!

Many thanks to Dana Nordlund for providing the inspiration and support for me to pursue this journey. I think I’ll continue to try and advance in the art of Photography.