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David_Dierlam
07-26-2008, 12:28 AM
Do customers care whether people are certified? I doubt any of my customers here have ever heard of PPA, so letting them know you're certified gets you a "yea, whatever" response. The general public knows so little about these things certification is meaningless.

David_Dierlam
07-26-2008, 12:34 AM
I've been a pro for 13 yrs now and when I worked for a school picture company, I had considered joining PPA in hoping this might mean more money in my check. Unfortunately they could care less. As long as customers bought pictures, they were happy. OK-i'm done.

Liz_Vance
07-26-2008, 12:37 AM
Not that I want to take the bait, but I don't find it surprising that the school picture company didn't care if you were certified.

Does it matter directly? Is a client going to choose you specifically because you're certified? Who knows. But it matters to me.

Liz

KirkDarling
07-26-2008, 12:48 AM
It depends on the customers. In my area, a good portion of my target market is very much "certification" aware.

Joe_Galioto
07-26-2008, 01:54 AM
i don't think clients care about cpp or degrees. they come to you because of reputation, recomendation, visability, nice looking studio, preceived quality of your work etc.
we're the only ones who give a rats a-s about stuff like that.
with accountants or medical people care.
i have the degrees, and was certified for years starting in the mid-80's, never has it gotten me any clients. maybe with a press release?
dropped the cpp years ago, got tired of the annual fee.
joe

Keith_A_Howe
07-26-2008, 02:12 AM
David,
First off welcome to this forum. I know you have been corresponding with my wife via email and she directed you to join here. I am sure you will come to find this forum a valuable resource.

Nobody ever came to me because I was certified ( I am no longer CPP, I let it lapse at the renewal date). It is a big mistake to think that those letters after your name bring in any money. If you look at my signature you will see I lucky to have a lot of letters, so I should know. So if your motivation is as your post makes it seem to use the designation as a money maker, you are looking at it all wrong.

Have you ever done anything just for a sense of personal satisfaction? To prove to yourself you can achieve a difficult and worthwhile goal? If so how did you feel when you reached that goal? Did that confident feeling effect the way you related to everyone around you?

Have you ever had a goal that you had to learn alot to reach. Did you have to improve to reach that goal? Did the journey itself teach you a lot and make you better at whatever talent or skill it took to get there?

CPP after your name doesn't get you more money. It's the process to get there that improves your work. It's the sense of personal growth and achievement that effects your confidence when your work with your clients. That's what brings in the money - the stuff you gain along the way.

Who would you rather do business with? Someone who does the same old thing year after year? Or someone who is constantly looking to improve themselves and their business.

I am glad you are here. I think this forum will be a real eye opener for you.

Keith

David_Dierlam
07-26-2008, 02:18 AM
That makes a lot of sense. I don't know if I have what it takes to be "certified". -But I love what I do. Who in his right mind would shoot all night and deliver 100 5x7's for $400?(it's my price).

Rodney_Ninow
07-26-2008, 02:20 AM
I shoot weddings, so joining PPA was a no brainer for me.

Joe_Galioto
07-26-2008, 02:25 AM
rodney,
ppa members photograph weddings!
joe
and shoot the bull...

Keith_A_Howe
07-26-2008, 02:33 AM
.I don't know if I have what it takes to be "certified".

Did you know the first time you picked up a camera if you had what it takes to be a photographer? How will you ever know if you can do anything if you don't try?


. Who in his right mind would shoot all night and deliver 100 5x7's for $400?(it's my price).

I know this is what you were visiting with Holly about. I think she is planning to get back to you with an in depth response over the weekend. But as you brought this up here I am hoping some others will give you thier thoughts on the profitability of this type of business plan.

Keith

David_Dierlam
07-26-2008, 02:43 AM
It's kind of charge what the market charges or sit at home every weekend. All you $$$$ photographers would spend your weekends at home here. It's just the way it is.....:(

Dave_Cisco
07-26-2008, 02:55 AM
But as you brought this up here I am hoping some others will give you thier thoughts on the profitability of this type of business plan.

Keith

In short, it sucks. There is no profitability to that "plan". :)

Dave_Cisco
07-26-2008, 02:58 AM
Have you ever done anything just for a sense of personal satisfaction? To prove to yourself you can achieve a difficult and worthwhile goal? If so how did you feel when you reached that goal? Did that confident feeling effect the way you related to everyone around you?

Have you ever had a goal that you had to learn alot to reach. Did you have to improve to reach that goal? Did the journey itself teach you a lot and make you better at whatever talent or skill it took to get there?

CPP after your name doesn't get you more money. It's the process to get there that improves your work. It's the sense of personal growth and achievement that effects your confidence when your work with your clients. That's what brings in the money - the stuff you gain along the way.

Who would you rather do business with? Someone who does the same old thing year after year? Or someone who is constantly looking to improve themselves and their business.

Keith


I hope others will read this several times. ...very true.

Michael_Gan
07-26-2008, 05:43 AM
It's kind of charge what the market charges or sit at home every weekend. All you $$$$ photographers would spend your weekends at home here. It's just the way it is.....:( Forget about Certification for now. What you need is education. I don't care what market you're in, whether in the backwoods of (name your state) or in California, even the mamarazzi doesn't charge that low of an amount for 5x7.

You need PPA for you to understand that your perception of what people are charging is completely wrong. Once you start making a living with your first "sonofagun, I could have charged a lot more a long time ago", then we'll talk about certification. Learning to crawl before you walk is the best policy.

When I first opened my studio, I thought just like you (and many others in this forum). I thought I was going to be dead in the water charging $29 for an 8x10. That was 30 years ago! I'm still here. You can do it, we can help, but you have to trust us.

Paul_Witkowski
07-26-2008, 07:12 AM
"Somebody" has to create the awareness and define the benefit of using a Certified Professional Photographer. When an indivudual tries to do that pretty much alone, it doesn't work and might even backfire.

That "somebody" needs to be an entity with enough money to create the clout. PPA would be ideal if the membership felt it was worth the budget to do it.

If a couple times a year attractive ads ran in national magazines like "Parents", "Good Housekeeping", "Ladies Home Journal", etc. to create the difference between a CPP and Wal-Mart, Pennys, or Olan Mills, I think it could move a good share of the market. But other than that, I think too many people tend to feel the only difference between the professional photographer in the solo studio on Main Street and the 20 year-old girl behind the camera at Wal-Mart is...the price of the print. At Wal-Mart that 8x10 is $2.99. At that fancy boutique studio it's 60 bucks! "For the exact same thing!" (You get my drift...)

D._Craig_Flory
07-26-2008, 01:16 PM
Hi David;

I agree with others about getting education. I also agree that I'm not surprised that company didn't care if you got certified or not. They "nail" the lights down and you have to do everything their way.

An analogy for you. Do you perceive a certified public accountant to be a step above ? (or a certified electrician, certified plumber and more) Besides learning a ton in going for it, you will stand out as being a step above. As a C.P.P. Liaison, I urge you to join PPA, learn all you can, and then look at getting certified.

Art_Wright
07-26-2008, 04:30 PM
I agree that CPP is a goal, not a destination... I earned CPP on my first
go-around about a year ago, after six months as a PPA mamber. After putting the CPP logo on ALL of my marketing materials, I cannot say it has made one iota of difference in my results with prospective clients. However, I didn't stop at CPP. Currently, despite moving 1,400 miles, I, like many of us, am hitting F5 on the International Print Competition page, hoping to see a merit next to my name. I would advise all off you to take the step and achieve CPP...

David_Dierlam
07-26-2008, 09:49 PM
WOW Keith-You're a great motivational writer/speaker.

Anne_Raker
07-27-2008, 01:27 AM
David, a did a quick google search of your location (I am not familiar with Texas at all) and one of the first links was this photographer, in your town, who charges 3x what you do for a 5x7, plus a substantial session fee. Just FYI.
http://www.margaretperezphotos.com/index2.php

I agree with those who have said that your pricing simply does not make sense.

Anne_Raker
07-27-2008, 01:44 AM
"Somebody" has to create the awareness and define the benefit of using a Certified Professional Photographer. When an indivudual tries to do that pretty much alone, it doesn't work and might even backfire.

That "somebody" needs to be an entity with enough money to create the clout. PPA would be ideal if the membership felt it was worth the budget to do it.

If a couple times a year attractive ads ran in national magazines like "Parents", "Good Housekeeping", "Ladies Home Journal", etc. to create the difference between a CPP and Wal-Mart, Pennys, or Olan Mills, I think it could move a good share of the market.

I totally agree.

andiegoodman
07-27-2008, 02:02 AM
That makes a lot of sense. I don't know if I have what it takes to be "certified". -But I love what I do. Who in his right mind would shoot all night and deliver 100 5x7's for $400?(it's my price).

David, if you delivered 100 5 x 7's for $400, it means you are charging $4.00 per print. Where is your profit in that when you figure in your time (and time IS money), your expenses, both fixed and variable, you are losing money, as far as I can see.

Don't think that cheaper is better - do you buy by price or quality. If you can deliver the quality, your prices need to be raised. You won't be able to pay your rent if you keep going in that direction.

GeorgeannChambers
07-28-2008, 05:21 AM
In my mind it all comes down to respect. How much do you respect yourself and your craft. If you respect what you are doing and what you know, you will charge accordingly and people will respect that pricing structure because they will "see" the difference in the quality of the product.

If you don't respect what you are doing and just go through the motions to get the images out the door....then your pricing structure is appropriate.

Just my $.02 worth. ;)

D._Craig_Flory
07-28-2008, 01:35 PM
Hi David;

I am low priced. With that said ... my price for a wedding 5X7 extra is $18.50 and my portrait 5X7 price is $29.75. I am in a conservative area as far as spending goes. But, if I offered 5X7's @$4.00 each no one would come to me because they would know something has to be wrong with them.

Jim_Bolen
07-28-2008, 02:03 PM
David-
The best thing I did for my career was to join PPA, then get active on these forums. I can't tell you how much the quality of my work improved just by reading what other people had to say, and what they said about my work.

There is a perception by the public if you charge too little, you must not be very good (at least by the clients who understand (and appreciate) what art is).
If I sold 100 5x7's, that would come to $1500, and that doesn't include my time to photograph the event.

With your prices, you are working for free (or awfully close to it), and who wants to do that? Trust me, it's very hard to raise your prices. The first time I did, my reprint quantities didn't change (and I thought to myself, 'dang, why didn't I do this sooner?').

Has earning my CPP helped? Maybe a little (actually I did book two weddings this summer based on that), but I use it to my advantage as much as I can.

Glean as much as you can from this forum and the people involved. I guarantee if you put forth the effort, your work will really start to improve, and you won't be hesitant at all to raise prices and start making what you deserve.

KirkDarling
07-28-2008, 02:53 PM
My barber does a lot of competitions, goes to a lot of training and mentoring sessions--basically does the same things PPA members do. Certainly he's licensed as required by the state, but he also very proudly displays the fact that he's one competitions or has worked with various celebrity hairdressers and barbers (lately he's been working with Sean "Puffy" Combs' barber as a backup).

Does it directly pay him in more customers? He can't actually point to an increase in money. But he does believe that it has increased his ability and potential. It's certainly increased his confidence--he knows he can hold his own with the "big boys," and could make it in Chicago or the other major markets...but it's his choice to live in a smaller area to raise his kids.

It's a personal achievement thing.

Keith_A_Howe
07-28-2008, 03:05 PM
and Kirk, don't you feel more confident in your choice of barber? You may not know exactly what those competitions or awards are all about. But you know that he is doing well in the eyes of the people who should know- his peers. Plus I am sure you like knowing you have a barber that is actively trying to improve.

That's how competitions and certification bring you more money. Clients don't really know exactly what it all means but they know you must be good or you wouldn't be winning. People like to brag to thier friends "well my photographer won this big award". They think it increases thier own status that they do business with someone who is award winning, like it means they have better taste or are more discerning.

Keith

George_Hawkins
07-28-2008, 11:36 PM
All kinds of great replies positive about Certification, which I have been since before digital! There are pages where prospects can find a CPP, and those who are not.

Almost like joining a chamber of commerce; it is difficult to see a direct benefit, but there will be benefits.

MarilynDillon
07-29-2008, 03:05 AM
I joined PPA about a year ago -- and became Certified in April of this year. Through the process of studying, image review, forums, workshops and entering my first state competition I feel that I have grown exponentially as a photographer this year. Nowadays, everyone is a photographer -- when I shoot a wedding I have noticed SO many guests busy with cameras. Have you seen the photos from these cameras? They aren't too bad.....as professionals we must distinguish ourselves, not just by shooting but by controlling the light and bringing art and creativity into our work. That is what will differentiate the "point and shooters" from the professionals.
IMHO, if you dive in and keep an open mind you will find your photography improving. I have a long way to go and I will always be learning. I am very grateful to all the generosity of everyone on the forums.

Michael_Black
07-29-2008, 09:45 AM
It's kind of charge what the market charges or sit at home every weekend. All you $$$$ photographers would spend your weekends at home here. It's just the way it is.....:(

My market is not your market. Price is more a factor of self-confidence and ego than actual ability.

The CPP is a journey to get better. The final destination is cool but the education along the way on much more valuable.

Erin_L._Clark
07-29-2008, 12:29 PM
Just last week I wrote the following on my blog:

I am now a member of Professional Photographers of America-and am currently going through the process of being a Certified Professional Photographer. Adding CPP after my name says that I will continue to strive and provide excellent portraiture, continuing to take classes and learn the latest technology.

Plus I can justify my prices to clients that question it. You get what you pay for. :cool:

David_Dierlam
07-29-2008, 02:59 PM
I appreciate all your inputs. Some of you talk TO me, some of you talk DOWN to me. Believe it or not, I've done this since 1995. I learn more from those who offer suggestions and constructive critisism. I will never pretend to know it all. Even guests at weddings suggest a new pose that I had never seen. I may or may not use it but I never look down on them because I'm the professional there.

As far a workshops, seminars-forget it. Everybody has them in places too far for me. Some charge outrageous amounts. For the record, I bought many of Charles(cheap Chuck) and Bruce Hudson's videos and studied them. I would be very open to anybody that offered their seminars on DVD or VHS. I'm not creative-but rather I watch and learn(copy). I am jealous of some of your creativity. I take new ideas with me wherever I go. (I hope you don't mind).
Finally, I'm going to try this PPA thing-but like I said I'm not nearly as good as some of you. I would be happy to let you see my portfolio IF you're interested. I send out invitations thru email. Just let me know.
Thanks>>David Dierlam ddaviddierlam@yahoo.com 956-371-0822
http://www.ddaviddierlamphotography.com

Michael_Gan
07-29-2008, 03:38 PM
I don't quite see where anyone has talked down to you. I would guess that almost everyone was in the same situation as you at one time early in their careers. Thirteen years for you seems like a mighty long time to go without PPA.

I've known all these people who have responded to you and believe me, they have their hearts in helping you out. Many of us make a pure living out of this, so I don't know if you have a day job, but all of us have the common interest of keeping our independent lives. To the point, we want all of us to make a great living out of this, and we want you to as well.

Sometimes, these at home remedies can only take you so far. I would recommend that you attend many of the PPA sponsored education courses like Keith's. There's just something about the live experience that will turn things around for you. Attend your state convention and get to know your fellow photographers up and down the state. You have one of the strongest state associations in the country with amazing photographers and business people (and I'm not joking). Get involved.

Looking at your web site, your work is very good! You should be making a lot more than your stated prices on your website. If you are listening to Charles Lewis, then one of his famous sayings is this:

"You are not in business to give portraits to your clients. You are in business to make a great living for yourself and your family"

So, think of what all these wonderful people are trying to tell you. Consider it a gift to you.

Keely_Deuschle
07-29-2008, 04:19 PM
For me, the CPP designation was one of my first goals in bettering myself as a photographer. I am self taught, through hands on, many books, mentoring with others, etc. I have learned so much through our local professional guild, the state guild and PPA. Without these, I would not be where I am today and I have a loooooooooong way to go. The certification process was one of those important stepping stones for me -- not necessarily to just have the initials after my name, but it would make me push myself to learn things more than I already knew.

A year ago, after a major health setback and a turning point in my life, with the support from my husband, we decided to give me the opportunity to follow my passion and start a photography business. Kind of one of those "life is too short..." type decisions. The next several months were particularly challenging for me as I was still struggling with the unknowns from the health issue, but I knew that I wanted to follow my passion for photography. Knowing how difficult it would be, I gave myself a personal goals to grow as a photographer. My first goal was to get certified. It forced me to learn things I didn't already know and from challenging myself, I have greatly improved since I first began preparing for the certification process. The CPP was a reward for myself. Not really for anyone else, for myself. My other goals? To receive my M. Photog in my first 5 years. I'm starting competition this fall, and as I am learning more about competition, it is helping me grow as a photographer, too. I also have volunteered a lot and earned service merits and that has helped me grow, too, as I have met and talked with and learned from some other amazing photographers that I may have never had the chance to meet had I not volunteered. I have always considered myself an eternal student and the completion of these designations and degrees are to me, something to show that I accomplished my goals.

In the end will the CPP or M. Photog initials bring in more business? Not because of the initials themselves, but because I have learned so much and bettered myself as a photographer along the way.

Ben_Leavitt
08-02-2008, 10:02 PM
It's kind of charge what the market charges or sit at home every weekend. All you $$$$ photographers would spend your weekends at home here. It's just the way it is.....:(

Actually David, I believe it is your choice to an extent. If you feel you're not worth more than that, you're not going to charge more. Consequently, people will see you as a photographer that's worth that amount.
Also, more expensive photographers may not be working every minute of every day, but what's so bad about sitting at home with your family on the weekends and earning the same amount as someone killing themselves to make ends meet?

Isn't that our goal? It sure is mine :)

The hardest job I ever had was also my lowest paying job. Once I had a skill that people valued I was suddenly worth twice as much doing less work.

If people believe you're worth a certain amount, that's what they're going to pay you.
The way people perceive your value is (mostly) in your hands, not theirs.

Ben_Leavitt
08-02-2008, 10:13 PM
By the way David,

Your work IS awesome! I think you could definitely be making more money if you wanted to, regardless of where you're living.