Types of Degrees
PPA offers three different degrees (see images of the ribbons and medallions here), representing different areas of expertise:
Photographic Craftsman (Cr.Photog.)
Awarded for service as an orator, author or mentor. This degree shows that you have gone beyond the creation of images and dedicated your time to move the industry forward and encourage education.
Master of Photography (M.Photog.)
Awarded for superior photographic skills—demonstrated through the PPA International Photographic Competition, advanced education and service to the industry.
Master Artist (M.Artist) (formerly known as the Master Electronic Imaging Degree.)
Awarded for superior photographic skills—demonstrated through the Artist Exhibition category of the PPA International Photographic Competition (with images evaluated for computer-applied techniques and proficiency), advanced education and service to the industry.
Please note: Don’t stop learning and growing after you earn these degrees! Learn how to go above and beyond…and get recognized for it.
In order to earn a degree, you must be a PPA member and earn 25 merits.
Yes, you need a total of 25 merits to earn a degree…but what degree is your goal? Each one requires a different combination of merit types:
- Master of Photography (M.Photog.)
Required merits: 13 Exhibition merits + 12 Exhibition, Electronic Imaging, Speaking or Service merits
- Master Artist (M.Artist)
Required merits: Any combination of 13 Artist Exhibition, Electronic Imaging or specialist merits + 12 Exhibition, Electronic Imaging, Speaking or Service merits
- Photographic Craftsman (Cr.Photog.)
Required merits: 13 Speaking merits + 12 Exhibition, Electronic Imaging, Speaking or Service merits
Please note: Once merits are applied to a degree, they are considered void for future application and may not be used again. If you want to be awarded two degrees in one calendar year, you must accumulate a total of 50 or more appropriate merits for those two degrees (and so on).
PPA Membership Requirement
The Merit & Degree program is an exclusive PPA member benefit. That’s why you must hold one of the following PPA memberships (for twenty-four (24) or more months) before you can earn your degree:
- Professional Active Member
- Additional Association Member
- Life Member
- Retired Member
- Sustaining Member
Not a PPA member? Learn about joining PPA to start earning your degree.
After you have acquired the necessary merits, PPA will notify you that you are eligible to receive a degree. PPA Council will officially confer your degree at their annual Council Meeting (held during Imaging USA, the annual convention and expo for professional photographers).
Once the Council confers your degree, you can receive it at the Award & Degree Ceremony during Imaging USA! This is a special evening event that honors all degree recipients and recognizes them with the presentation of their degree and medallion. (If you are unable to attend, your degree and medallion are shipped to you after Imaging USA.
Please note: Until the PPA Council officially confers your degree at the annual Council meeting at Imaging USA, you may not announce that you have received the degree.
Promoting Your Degrees
A PPA degree can be one more tool for telling the world—and all those potential clients—why they should call you, rather than the competitor down the street. So how do you do that?
How to Explain Your Degree
If you want a client to truly understand the significance of your degree, you have to explain it. Explain how it helps them, just as you do with every service and qualification you offer.
Focus on how you earned each degree—what actions you took and why they make you a better photographer:
- Master of Photography – Tell clients this degree is in recognition of superior photographic quality. Explain about your success in photographic competition. (Clients may appreciate the fact that "their" photographer’s art has been so highly recognized by a group like PPA.)
- Master Artist (formerly known as the Master Electronic Imaging Degree.) – Tell clients how this degree recognizes your superior skills with artistic image manipulations like enhancements, composites and computer graphics. Explain about your success with competition. (This can help you promote certain products/services, too.)
- Photographic Craftsman – Explain that you received one of the highest recognitions for speaking, writing and/or mentoring in photography. (It stands to reason that your photography skills must be something special since so many want to learn from you!)
How to Promote Your Degree
- Add the degree after your name (on your website, marketing materials, studio door, etc.) Adding your degree to your name (like a doctor does) can help increase awareness of it. Doing so may even prompt questions that allow you to explain what it means.
- Link to the page that describe degrees to consumers: This will help you educate customers as to why your degree is important.
- Send a press release. After you receive your degree, announce it to your community by sending a press release. (PPA will supply you with a simple press release about your degree.) Be sure to point to how the actions you took increased your skills. It should not be about only you, but also how you are bettering the quality of service customers can expect. Such a focus can increase the chances of the news being published.
- Explain the degree. When meeting with new or potential clients, briefly explain the degree and what it entails. You could add it in when explaining prices, providing your background, or discussing special products and services.
- Send an email or postcard. Let existing customers know about your achievement—it provides a nice way to stay in touch. You could even commemorate the occasion by offering a special group session or open house. If you earned a Master of Photography or Master Artist degree, maybe you could share watermarked images of the photographs that helped earn you the recognition.
- Share your experience. Whether you are speaking at an event or chatting with fellow photographers, take the time to share your experience (in regards to earning the degree). You never know who will pass the information on to potential clients…and it certainly doesn't hurt the process of establishing yourself as an expert in your field. The more your name is out there (in a good way), the more likely it is that clients will learn about you.