Here at PPA, one of the biggest challenges we hear photographers talk about is making their business stand out from all the other photography studios out there. Many of these competitors actually fall under the hobbyists' category and lack the skills and dedication of trained professional photographers.
Showing potential clients that you have the experience, skills, and recognized status of a pro can be a huge help in setting your business apart from the competition. How can you do this? Well, becoming a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) is one sure way to show potential clients that you are a professional photographer, guaranteeing that they'll receive high quality images, unlike with a hobbyist. It also helps justify why your prices may be higher than other folks out there.
Earning your Certification is a process that definitely will require some effort on your part. After all, you're trying to show that you are a professional photographer at the top of your game and an expert in your field!
In order to become certified, you must pass both a written exam that covers various technical topics of photography (technical things that every serious photographer should be fluent with) and an Image Submission Review, where you'll submit your own work and show that you understand the concepts covered by the exam.
Anyone can declare their candidacy for the CPP exam and there are no requirements to prepare for the exam. However, the technicality and depth of information covered in the exam is not for the faint of heart or beginners in photography. This is why, for those seeking to earn the CPP credential, PPA highly recommends attending the Certification Preparation Class to review these topics. That way, the topics will be fresh in your mind when you take the CPP exam! Plus, there's an optional fourth day of the class that will cover the Image Submission Review. Remember, the CPP Image Submission Review is judged differently than the International Photographic Competition. It's helpful to hear how you'll be critiqued and to learn best strategies of what work to select.
We hosted a Certification Preparation Class at our headquarters in Atlanta from July 15 - 18 and talked to several attendees about their motivation for starting the process and how the class helped them prepare for the exam and image review.
Why Attendees Want to Be a CPP:
"Certification gives me something I've never had, and that's showing I've gone through the gauntlet learning the high standards that are required of a professional photographer. I believe that there are so many people out there today with digital cameras who call themselves photographers and I really find that it's sad because so many people are just not producing the quality of work that I feel the profession deserves." - Jim McDonald, James McDonald Photography
"When I pass the certification process, it will be a stamp of approval for my clients showing that I know what I'm doing and that's why I charge what I do. It can also help me raise the bar for photography in our area, encouraging more people to pick a real pro!" - Bonnie Jean Berg, BJB Photography
"Certification will help my marketing efforts by saying to my clients 'I can give you a great product because I spent the time and money to be certified by a panel of highly experienced and educated photographers.'" - Lisa Shorts, ImagoModo Photography
"Everyone says they are a photographer but they really aren't. Not until they know the art, they know what they are doing and they know everything about exposures and the whole gamut. That's what's going to help set my business apart and explaining that to my clients will put me over the [competitive] edge." - Daniel Douglas, Daniel Douglas Photography
What Attendees Took Away From the Class
"I can apply everything I know about shooting a picture, but trying to regurgitate it for the exam is really more complicated than people think. I know instinctively what to do, but the prep class helped me to be able to know the technical steps behind making an image, so I can take the exam and make sure that I pass." - Lisa Shorts, ImagoModo Photography
"The instructor was very thorough and covered everything in the class to help us pass the exam, and I also learned a lot of information that will help my business to be better in general." - Denise Savage, Savage Photography
"You can never know too much about photography. Even though I'm a photography instructor, the class helped keep my skills sharp and keep me aware of the 'cutting-edge' of what's going on in photography." - Jim McDonald, James McDonald Photography
"The class gave me basic information about some of the aspects of photography I've never worked with before. I was surprised to find that some of the things I didn't think I knew, I actually did. It was a neat confidence boost." - Bonnie Jean Berg, BJB Photography
So, are you ready to become certified? You can do it! Learn more about the program in the brand-new Certified section of PPA.com. You can also sign up for the next Certification Preparation Class, taking place at PPA headquarters October 21-23 (with the optional Image Submission class on October 24).
Stay tuned to the PPA blog for videos featuring the thoughts of Certification Preparation Class attendees!