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William_Thomas_Cain
08-19-2008, 06:16 AM
Certified Professional Photographer or
Bachelor of Fine Art degree?

Just curious.

Todd_Reichman
08-19-2008, 06:21 AM
Which can you market better?

:D

- trr

Rodney_Ninow
08-19-2008, 08:28 AM
Frankly, I think in our profession, our work speaks much better than any degree we might have. I have a BA in Communications emphasis photography, and I doubt it has helped any client choose me over someone else. The info is on my website, if they bother to read.

Leana_Moss
08-19-2008, 01:03 PM
I don't think your clients will care unless you market it to them. However, I think that the CPP will give you a better knowledge of photography/lighting/etc., so if you are choosing, I'd vote CPP

KirkDarling
08-19-2008, 01:28 PM
I live in an area where my target market

A. Has been to college
B. AND are mostly certified professionals of their own occupations

There you go.

D._Craig_Flory
08-19-2008, 02:30 PM
Hi William;

I've been certified since 1986 so I firmly believe in it. As for a bachelors degree ...
if from a regular college I'd definitely say C.P.P.
is more important. Hiowever, if your degree is from Antonelli School of
Photography and Art I'd say that + C.P.P. would be far ahead. (for
those not in Pa., Antonelli is one of the very best photography schools
in the country. My friend Bob Golding teaches there. I'll probably see
some of the students, from there, in October at our PPAofPa annual
convention since Bob often brings some of the students there)

I hope you are planning on attending the convention William.

Todd_Reichman
08-19-2008, 05:44 PM
I was thinking about this a little more and looking back probably 80% of my clients ask if we went to school for photography. Now, it might very well be an easy conversation point. But it would be nice to answer "yes" instead of "no." On the other hand noone has ever asked me if I'm certified. The general public understands a degree, they will have a vague understanding of what a certification entails. Having said that, if you don't already have a bachelor's in photography I can't imagine that running out and getting one would be worth the time and money - better to get the CPP if you are looking to market a designation.

- trr

Rodney_Ninow
08-19-2008, 05:51 PM
Todd, I wonder if they ask because they see such great work? Thinking to themselves: "his photos are so amazing, I wonder if he went to school for this..." More out of curiosity vs. a qualifying question.

KirkDarling
08-19-2008, 06:12 PM
The general public understands a degree, they will have a vague understanding of what a certification entails.

Yes, they understand a degree (to some degree), and those that do understand a degree also don't think much of a BFA...they'll consider it a "basketweaving" degree.

They may not know what a particular certification entails, but there are so many professions in which certifications are presented and/or required that the general public does know "certification" means the person has been judged by a board as qualified in what he's certified to do.

Now, there is such a thing as being "qualified, but not certified," but the public knows that the person who has been "certified" had to prove some level of qualification to someone.

And it can be said, "A lot of people have BFAs, but not many are certified in photography."

If a a member of the public actually stops to think about it at all, he's likely to conclude that certification means more than a BFA.


Todd, I wonder if they ask because they see such great work? Thinking to themselves: "his photos are so amazing, I wonder if he went to school for this..." More out of curiosity vs. a qualifying question.

I think if they ask about qualifications, it's because they don't see it clearly enough in the portfolio or don't see a clear distinction of talent between two photographers' portfolios.

If they had been overwhelmed by the portfolio, they wouldn't ask about qualifications.

Stan_Lawrence
08-19-2008, 07:20 PM
"If a a member of the public actually stops to think about it at all,"

Which rarely happens, since most decisions are emotional, then sometimes justified with logic.....

"If they had been overwhelmed by the portfolio, they wouldn't ask about qualifications."

"Thinking to themselves: "his photos are so amazing, I wonder if he went to school for this..." More out of curiosity vs. a qualifying question."

Two good examples of the great photofantasy....it's been proven time and time again, the quality of your work has little to do with your income. If your marketing, branding, customer service and sales technique are first rate, you'll likely not get that question.....:cool:

Todd_Reichman
08-19-2008, 09:23 PM
I think I got complimented and knocked in the span of 2 posts! I think that most clients ask how we got into the business in a very conversational way. I certainly haven't found my BFA to have been equated with a basketweaving degree at all. Having worked in the corporate world and having earned a number of business oriented certifications it seems like some people feel that certs are just pieces of paper and not representative of actual ability. Granted, there are probably just as many who are respectful of the achievement. I would imagine that there are far more people who aren't concerned at all with any sort of designation. I think, like Stan said, that many other things are likely to influence your clients long before any letters after you name. Those letters carry alot more weight in a forum of peers than in the open market.

- trr

KirkDarling
08-19-2008, 10:30 PM
I think, like Stan said, that many other things are likely to influence your clients long before any letters after you name. Those letters carry alot more weight in a forum of peers than in the open market.

As I said, "IF they stop to think about it at all..."

The orginal question began with the presumption that a question of qualitfication has already been asked.

Given: The question has already been asked (for whatever reason the photographer has failed to make it irrelevant to the potential client),

Therefore: Which is the more advantageous response?

Some people think a BFA is a basketweaving degree. This tends to be true of people with hard science degrees, who tend to make up the portion of my market that has degrees.

Some people consider certifications to be importaint--which is true of a number of the portion of my market that has degrees (doctors, lawyers, IT managers) as well as the portion of my market that doesn't have degrees (like successful general contractors--those guys know what certifications are).

If I had a BFA and a CPP, I'd certainly mention both.

If I had a BFA and no CPP, I would not rest on the BFA...I would get a CPP.

If I didn't have a BFA, I'd still get a CPP and not worry about the BFA.

For whatever little someone may think the CPP says about a professional photographer's mastery of the craft, I personally belive the CPP still says more about mastery of the craft of photography than a generic BFA, unless it's from a specialized school like Brooks.

Todd_Reichman
08-19-2008, 10:49 PM
The orginal question began with the presumption that a question of qualitfication has already been asked.

Given: The question has already been asked (for whatever reason the photographer has failed to make it irrelevant to the potential client),


I would contend that there exists more than one reason that this question might be asked.

- trr

David_A._Lottes
08-19-2008, 11:02 PM
Oooooo! I know this one.

A. Baskets carry more weight with clients.

I hope that ones on the test. :cool:

Stan_Lawrence
08-19-2008, 11:09 PM
"A. Baskets carry more weight with clients. "

Nice and easy, there Davey boy....sit back down, the nurse will be along soon....;)

"Given: The question has already been asked (for whatever reason the photographer has failed to make it irrelevant to the potential client),"

How to make it irrelevant might be a more productive discussion....:cool:

KirkDarling
08-20-2008, 12:04 AM
How to make it irrelevant might be a more productive discussion..

I'd agree with that.

Mike_Fulton
08-20-2008, 12:26 AM
I have degrees in Science fields including Master's in Chemistry and Biology which clearly does not help me in marketing to my clients in the photography field.

I have zero PPA degree (though I have more than enough to get a Craftsman and most likely will this Jan)

I found as stated our work, hanging on our studio walls and on our website work much better than anything else.

And if all else fails I just start talking about being a retired CSI nerd and they are hook - line - and sinker with us!

As Stan said I get the question alot if I have any formal training in photography and since I do not have any besides sharing knowledge with learning hanging out with others around bars and dinner tables, they really do not care and just love our images, customer service we provide and the friendships we create from the time I answer the phone call and start the client/photographer relationship.

Not saying the degrees are not important I feel that is for each person to choose for themselves, but I really do not feel it is very important to most of our clients, at least not in my neck of the woods.

Michael_Black
08-20-2008, 01:49 AM
I've had one photography school intern and I was not impressed at all. Any degree is an accomplishment, BUT it does not guarantee you success. Passing one test and submitting a few 8x10's also does not equal success.

I believe in the school of hard knocks, paying your dues, and the mentorship of veterans.

Michael_Gan
08-20-2008, 03:48 AM
On the other hand noone has ever asked me if I'm certified. This is the hope and dream of the few of us who are working so hard to make certification happen. Yes, Certification has been in our profession a long time (1983 for me), but in it's current state as an independent entity, it is still in its infancy. This is one of those things where it will require strength in numbers and we have a real long way to go.


I've had one photography school intern and I was not impressed at all. Any degree is an accomplishment, BUT it does not guarantee you success.

Nor does it in any other field of study. How often have you heard from degreed veterans in the real working world say,"I had to unlearn everything in college to do things the right way", or a boss saying "Throw everything you learned in engineering school out the window, you're going to learn the right way". There's a reason why teachers teach in the universities.


Passing one test and submitting a few 8x10's also does not equal success.Agreed, but look at the recent candidates who passed their images recently. They all agreed that it was a learning experience for them. Many of the candidates that have been rejected for the first time in the CPP submissions were rejected not for the current-ness of work they produced. Many did indeed produce images that are the current trends of today's pro photographers. The problem is, they could not demonstrate the basic principals of quality lighting, directional lighting, color and density correctness (oddly, all the things they could have learned in basic Community College Photography).

What makes certification a compelling component of this profession really has to do with this chant that is going all across the country, "We are being hurt by the Mamarazzi [sic]". This profession is in real need of differentiation. If your work looks like what the Mamarazzi are producing, chances are, you will not survive no matter how much you market because there will be some level of perceived quality that is not differentiated. Certification gives the common working pro a chance to be able to do what they do, and do what they can't.

Certification gives you growth. It gives you the ability to see that you can continue to grow and change with the industry. Because, once this current trend of edgy work goes out of style (and it will), those who do not grow, die. Many of the "old time" studios and photographers who have not continued their education are starting to drop like flies now. Bottom line: I can do what they do, but they can't do what I do. THAT is a good thing.


I believe in the school of hard knocks, paying your dues, and the mentorship of veterans.Ah, now your talking about the PPA Masters degree;)

Todd_Reichman
08-20-2008, 03:56 AM
There's a reason why teachers teach in the universities.


As a former college professor, should I be offended? :D

No matter what, certification means what you make it mean. By no means is certification a necessity. However, I'm sure that there are many people that are benefitting significantly from both the experience and the designation. Its not the only way to do it, but it is one method to build up your abilities in the eyes of your potential clients.

- trr

Rick_Massarini
08-20-2008, 04:18 AM
Hi William;

I've been certified since 1986 so I firmly believe in it. As for a bachelors degree ...
if from a regular college I'd definitely say C.P.P.
is more important. Hiowever, if your degree is from Antonelli School of
Photography and Art I'd say that + C.P.P. would be far ahead. (for
those not in Pa., Antonelli is one of the very best photography schools
in the country. My friend Bob Golding teaches there. I'll probably see
some of the students, from there, in October at our PPAofPa annual
convention since Bob often brings some of the students there)

I hope you are planning on attending the convention William.

Bob brought along two Antonelli students with him this year to help with the print handling at the National Judging. Amanda and Serena were a great aid !
I just hope that they'll come back to help again next year.

Dave_Cisco
08-20-2008, 04:47 AM
Certified Professional Photographer or
Bachelor of Fine Art degree?

Just curious.

Not at all sure it makes a flip to most of them.:)

Dave_Cisco
08-20-2008, 04:58 AM
I was thinking about this a little more and looking back probably 80% of my clients ask if we went to school for photography. Now, it might very well be an easy conversation point. But it would be nice to answer "yes" instead of "no." On the other hand noone has ever asked me if I'm certified. The general public understands a degree, they will have a vague understanding of what a certification entails. Having said that, if you don't already have a bachelor's in photography I can't imagine that running out and getting one would be worth the time and money - better to get the CPP if you are looking to market a designation.

- trr

I have been to school for photography...many times. I've been to the Texas School of Professional photography seven times and have studied with some of the most decorated icons in the industry...my wife has always accompanied me.
For that part of the public that understands a degree, I also have my Master Photographer's and Craftsman degrees. For those who understand Certification, I have my CPP.
I can't remember ever discussing this with anyone other than another photographer. However, all of those accomplishments have made me the photographer that my clients want to pay big bucks to, so I guess it has helped indirectly.:D:D

Joe_Galioto
08-20-2008, 05:02 AM
i'ld have to say, i'ld have much more respect for the bfa degree! with out question.
i know many, many cpp's who's work is average at best. abtaining a cpp is an easy task compared to a 4 year degree.
joe

Michael_Gan
08-20-2008, 06:03 AM
I would somewhat agree with the early assessments of the certifieds and we're still struggling with some standards issues in the judging because we're wondering how hard should we be on the candidates. Currently the standards are that the candidates must show that they have demonstrated technical control on all of the images - lighting quality, image density/exposure, color correctness, composition. The work must demonstrate above average abilities of their working client image. We do have a rather gray area problem with scenic images because for general certification, a scenic photographer is not necessarily proficient in portraits, or weddings. In fact, many of the scenics that were absolutely stunning, made the portraits and wedding look rather bad, and thus a high failure rate (big hint to all you future candidates out there).

We are currently working to have more accurate standards in place by the 2009 judgings, and I, for one am quite excited if this all becomes a reality.

Folks, remember these statistics that are supported by the PPA studio survey: More than 90% of the practicing professionals are in the poverty range. This is why many of you are relying on a spouse to cover for the household income shortfall. Many studios start off like gangbusters in their first 5 years then hang on for dear life for the next 20 (and one of those reasons is the customer preferences outpacing the advancing age of the studio owner...we all get old eventually and become outdated).

So with this sorrowful information, certification, the PPA degrees, WPPI degrees, whatever is all that we have to combat a growing economic problem in our industry. With those degrees/designation comes continuing education, and like I said, it's all that we have.

Derek_Alvarez
08-20-2008, 01:14 PM
Certified Professional Photographer or
Bachelor of Fine Art degree?




Exceptional Photography!

Howard_Kier
08-20-2008, 03:56 PM
Is there a BFA Photography website where clients can locate a photographer to meet there needs? If there is, I haven't heard of one. Is there an association to which the requirement to join is a BFA Photography? I don't think so either. Once you are awarded a BFA Photography can it be revoked because you forgot your lessons? I don't think so, your BFA is yours for life.

Meanwhile, there is a website where clients can located CPP's in their area. I've been contacted a couple of times via that site. We also have an association which fights for us, PPA. Finally, as a CPP, the credentials need to be maintained via continuing education or recertification. This assures the clients are getting a photographer who knows what they are doing.

Now if a client is trying to decide between two photographers one with a BFA and the other without, I suspect the degree will give them the edge. The same with CPP. However, when put head to head, the CPP may have a slight edge depending on when the BFA was awarded the degree and from what college.

Stephanie_Millner
08-20-2008, 04:14 PM
Agreed, but look at the recent candidates who passed their images recently. They all agreed that it was a learning experience for them. Many of the candidates that have been rejected for the first time in the CPP submissions were rejected not for the current-ness of work they produced. Many did indeed produce images that are the current trends of today's pro photographers. The problem is, they could not demonstrate the basic principals of quality lighting, directional lighting, color and density correctness (oddly, all the things they could have learned in basic Community College Photography).

I suppose I resemble that remark, but I'm also the textbook definition of anomaly, apparently. I ended up resubmitting with 80% of the exact same images that failed first go-round'. They passed this time. (And I entered almost the same stuff, because I strongly felt they should have passed last time) For whatever reason, those images didn't pass and I needed to send them in again.

Question here is "why did I bother"? I hold a B.A. in Art History - sometimes this is equivalent to a BFA, depending on which program/university you are attending. With that, I minored in Visual Communications, the made up name for "Graphic Design & Photography". And I went to a fairly good school (Boston University). Every so often, I get a client who asks if I went to school for photography. Well, the real answer would have to be "no". (They usually get a round-about answer instead of just "no".) No one's ever asked if I'm certified - good thing, cuz' I'm not. But I felt like it was something I should do, if only for myself, and because I sent in a $200 application fee and I hate wasting money.

That said, I honestly don't think any client has ever decided to use or not use my services based on the degree. My education is for me, not them. My personal goals (in this case, CPP) are, likewise, for me and not them. And the MBA I'm going to school for is for me and the success of my business, but not directly to benefit my clients. I just happen to value education on a personal level - and it's the only thing you can "buy" that can never be taken away from you.

So long story short, I agree with Mike Fulton. Education is for you. Quality of your work is for them.

Michael_Gan
08-20-2008, 05:00 PM
Steff, you can write to Marisa and request to have whichever judge(s) who you think were picking on you to do a detailed critique of why your images were rejected. We had, for example 1 candidate that wanted the reasons from Judges 2 and 4 to email an anonymous critique. One candidate could not understand why their images that did so well at their non-pro state camera club did not fair well in this judging.

To be fair to the applicants, we are rotated with two new judges each time, so it is possible that two of the judges who saw your work the last time may have made a comment that "this person didn't change anything in the last time they were submitted" which means that they saw the same mistakes in those images.

Mind you, this is not PPA print comp, so the judging criteria is different and we are allowed to use past memory of a submission to see if the candidate has made any improvements.

If you want, you can PM me what candidate number you were, and I can give you a complete assessment on my part. Mind you, if I do, I will have to DQ myself if I am asked to judge the October images.

Also, did you make use of the OurPPA Gallery upload? I do know this: those who submitted their images for critique all passed (I believe). This was a very powerful tool in this submission round. Just know this, we want you to pass! But we want it to be more meaningful to those who enter. There is a slight stigma because of the old attitude "geez, I gotta pass this dumb thing just to get my Masters degree from PPA". Now that that is over with, we have to set the standard for which all of you can acheive a goal that you have to work hard at, and learn from.

Stephanie_Millner
08-20-2008, 05:37 PM
Thanks Michael. I sent in last time and they didn't pass. This most recent time they did pass. Just saying, it was mostly the same images - or at least the same sessions. I emailed you a few months ago with that request (getting the anonymous critique) but I guess my email got lost on the way. I frequently go to spam on gmail. I'll email you the info though.

Anyway, I was more commenting on the importance of CPP to myself vs. my clients. It's something I think I value as it's a personal goal and the first step towards higher PPA degrees, but I'm not sure that it would be a determining factor in a client's buying decision. Likewise, a BFA ... or any degree at that matter... doesn't mean beans if the quality of the work isn't there to begin with. And (with weddings anyway) even quality is second to "clicking" with the photographer. All I was sayin'...

Also, I didn't use the OurPPA gallery this time. I used Keith though. Actually, I used Keith both times. *ahem*

Mark_Levesque
08-20-2008, 05:40 PM
Steff, you can write to Marisa and request to have whichever judge(s) who you think were picking on you to do a detailed critique of why your images were rejected. We had, for example 1 candidate that wanted the reasons from Judges 2 and 4 to email an anonymous critique. One candidate could not understand why their images that did so well at their non-pro state camera club did not fair well in this judging.
How would one know how each judge voted? Are they giving you a breakdown these days?


If you want, you can PM me what candidate number you were, and I can give you a complete assessment on my part. Mind you, if I do, I will have to DQ myself if I am asked to judge the October images.
I rather doubt that will be necessary, as she passed this round.

Stephanie_Millner
08-20-2008, 05:42 PM
Oh, I don't know about that Mark. Maybe I just like submitting random images. I think it would be rather hilarious to send in 20 images all taken on a camera phone. Or porn. Yes, I could send in 20 tearouts from porn!

Mark_Levesque
08-20-2008, 05:48 PM
You need to see somebody about this. LOL

Michael_Gan
08-20-2008, 06:48 PM
How would one know how each judge voted? Are they giving you a breakdown these days? I believe the candidates are allowed to see the results of the judging and comments after the evaluation. The one candidate wanted to know more of the reasons for judge 2 and 4, so they could understand a little more of what they need to change.


I rather doubt that will be necessary, as she passed this round. Oh, I must have misread the part that you passed the submissions (must have got lost in all the complaints :D). As Emily Latilla would say: "Oh, well, that's different... never mind". Congrats! ;)

Mark_Levesque
08-20-2008, 07:06 PM
I believe the candidates are allowed to see the results of the judging and comments after the evaluation.
I think that's great. It would be good even for the people who passed to see this sort of thing, especially if there is reference to any weaknesses seen.

Cassandra_Sullivan
08-20-2008, 08:29 PM
I think that's great. It would be good even for the people who passed to see this sort of thing, especially if there is reference to any weaknesses seen.

I agree! Is this available for past reviews (May's)? How?

Michael_Gan
08-20-2008, 08:32 PM
Not for May's anymore. We're doing this because Marisa gets clubbed to death for our decisions:D