View Full Version : Newbie question about becoming certified?

03-10-2006, 02:25 AM
How do you become a PPA certified photographer? I just joined PPA a few months ago and remember reading in the information packet somewhere that I'd have to wait 2 years and then take a test, which also includes a sample of 20 images I've created in the recent 24 months. I've lost my packet and was wondering if you guys could answer a few questions for me.
1. Do I really have to wait 2 years? I'm ok with that, just wondering if I have the correct info.
2. How do I go about taking the test? It seems there are many, is this something you study for or is it just stuff that a professional photographer should know? I'm curious because there's so much to learn and so many different types of photography, just wondering how broad it is.

Thank you for your help and feel free to share any more relevant information regarding becoming certified.

03-10-2006, 05:19 PM
In answer to your first question, you do not have to wait two years to become certified. You can start working on your certification at any time.

Your second question was about the exam. The written exam is 100 questions and is very broad based. We do recommend that photographers study using at least the reference guide Photography 8th edition by London and Upton. You should also refer to the test specifications (the study guide) and the sample questions found at www.certifiedphotographer.com. This website also has the application for the program and image submission forms.

I hope this information is helpful.

David Mithofer

03-11-2006, 06:46 PM
David has already answered your questions and is an employee hired by PPA as the CPP Liason.
I, actually, now have a question for David.
I attended the ImagingUSA 2006 leadership meeting in Austin. We were informed that PPA has now turned the CPP examination over to a private certification organization. Does that mean that the CPP Exam will no longer be available at our state conventions as it has been in the past?

03-11-2006, 10:04 PM
We were informed that PPA has now turned the CPP examination over to a private certification organization. Does that mean that the CPP Exam will no longer be available at our state conventions as it has been in the past?


The private certification organization, now the Certification Commission, is under the PPA umbrella structure. It was taken out of PPA's direct association as a result of the specifications and recommendations of NOCA (The National Organization for Competency Assurance).
These are the same people that oversee Accountants and other professions getting certified. Our certification now "demonstrates compliance with each accreditation standard" set forth by this accrediting organization.
It adds a lot of weight to certification, rather than have it a PPA in-house thing. PPA owns the commission, but it's now at "arm's length".

That's the long answer.

The short answer is "Yes".

You can give the exams at your state convention. For all practical purpose, you shouldn't see any change as someone taking the exam. Other than following the rules for administrating the exam will be a little more strict, but nothing outrageous or that different. It just wouldn't be allowed to be "loosey goosey".

Hope that helps.

03-12-2006, 01:31 AM
We do recommend that photographers study using at least the reference guide Photography 8th edition by London and Upton. You should also refer to the test specifications (the study guide) and the sample questions found at www.certifiedphotographer.com.
As someone who would love to study for and take this test, but had a bit of sticker shock at the cost of this book, I'd like to know if there is any repository of these books used. Or if anyone out there would like to sell me theirs. I imagine it's a book that people hold onto, but just in case....

03-12-2006, 01:55 AM
At the state level when we administered an exam, we never scored it; the exams had to be sent back to PPA office for scoring. I was the liaison in NHPPA in late 80's, and maybe I can ask around for used books. However, newer books must be far more useful with I assume today's technology included. Check with one's library in home town. The program is worth the time & effort; I have maintained my CPP status, and use it on business cards, etc.

03-12-2006, 02:00 AM
I just got a letter from the Certified PPA folks that stated I passed the test !!! :-) I took it in Dayton on March 3rd during the Mid East Regional. Ok, I barely squeeked by, but I passed :-)

03-12-2006, 03:20 AM
Congratulations, John!!! :) :) :)

Now take that sucker and relearn what you missed.

oh, ya, that's good of me to say, I haven't even taken the test yet. :o

03-12-2006, 03:31 AM
Heh, yeah ... if I knew what I missed ... you don't get the test back. I know I missed stuff on large format cameras, which I hate to say, but have little to no interest in brushing up on. Except for the fact that if I were to ever shoot architecture with a PC camera/lens, it might come in handy.

03-13-2006, 12:16 AM
Congrats John! I was at the MidEast States Convention last week as well. I received my Ohio CPP on Friday of the convention. The first of many accomplishments ( I hope), now that I have dove into the degree arena. ;) I would also be interested in purchasing the book used if anyone has one. The PPA CPP is now my next goal, since my Masters is a few years away.


03-13-2006, 01:26 AM
As someone who would love to study for and take this test, but had a bit of sticker shock at the cost of this book, I'd like to know if there is any repository of these books used. Or if anyone out there would like to sell me theirs. I imagine it's a book that people hold onto, but just in case....

You could try half.com at the link below if you're looking for a used copy, though I would verify with the seller that it's the latest edition before you buy it...

Try Here (http://product.half.ebay.com/Photography_W0QQtgZinfoQQprZ30753544)

03-13-2006, 03:56 AM
Hi Michelle, congrats on the Ohio CPP ... I suppose I need to do that next as well, but I'm not sure I will. Seems like one certification is plenty ... not sure what an additional one will really buy me except an opportunity to learn more. However, I think the money might be better spent on other educational opportunities.

I still have to pass the portfolio part of my PPA Cert and then pay more money to upgrade my PPA membership to "active".

Did you enter any prints at Mid East? I did for my first time ever. Scored an 82, 78, 77, and a 74. I attended judging all day Thurs/Fri and learned a ton. Just when I thought I could see a print and come to a score that was consistent with what the judges were scoring, one would turn and I'd be nowhere in the ball park .. *sigh* I guess that comes with the territory though as I saw the judges span anywhere from 78 to 92 on the same print. Lots of room for subjectivity :-) ;-P

03-13-2006, 11:16 AM
Hi John;

Have you sent your images yet ? I'm sure we are all anxious to see your 20 images pass too.

Go for it Michelle! Go on the PPA site and download the list of C.P.P. proctors ... so you know who gives the exam in your state. I give it four times a year, here in Pennsylvania.(including April 23rd) Each state varies so find out now. Then you can study and contact PPA to have a test prepared for you.

Good luck to anyone in the process now or anyone planning to take it.

D. Craig Flory PPA Certified, Cr.Photog., ASP

03-13-2006, 03:18 PM
Thanks for the clarification on the new CPP commission.

I will echo what George has said "check with your local library. Most local libraries provide photography books. Sometimes a librarian will even special order from another branch a more current edition of a book if that branch does not have it available, especially since it is an educational book and not just a novel. I would loan you my book, but I passed the exam in 2000 and at that time we studied the 5th edition so it is now out of date.

Congratulations on earning your PPA Certification. You either pass or you don't. Scores are irrelevant. It would be great to get our exam back to see where we lacked knowledge but we don't. Be sure to add this as a tagline under your name title as "PPA Certified". Thanks to George Hawkins for clarifying this to me.

03-13-2006, 03:24 PM
It would be great to get our exam back to see where we lacked knowledge but we don't

:eek: Oh, well that's just going to drive me NUTS... ;)

03-13-2006, 03:33 PM
Yes I did enter the print competition this year. It was just my second time, and I had my mentor print the images. Unfortunatly he did a very poor job printing them, so I didn't do well. However, last year when the lab printed them, I got a 77,78,79 and 80. Not bad for my first year.

The judging was all over the place this year. I have never in my 8 years at the Mid East States seen a 68 and this year there were several ! They were much more harsh than in the past. In some ways I suppose that is good...

I was there Weds-Sunday night. I work in the print room every year and learn a lot. Apparently not enough though. LOL From now on I am going to rely on more than JUST my mentor to help with my prints. He is awesome but has a totally different style than I do. I hope to get my prints reworked and send them to nationals.

Thanks D Craig... I want to go for it. I have severe test anxiety and I am not the most technical of a photographer, so the test has me scared. I need to get the book and look it over, and get studying. :o


03-13-2006, 04:47 PM
Thanks Constance/Craig ... actually, I still need to pass the portfolio part of the PPA certification. I've been working on selecting prints for that. I have a portfolio created on my www.PhotoSig.com account which currently has the images I am considering for my certification portfolio. I have newer stuff that I plan to swap with some of my weaker images in the portfolio that is there now, but if anyone familiar with what they look for can give me some advise, that would be tremendous.


I am assuming the images do not have to be "merit" quality. I understand they judge them similarly to how they judge competition, but the images do not have to be Merit level to pass ... at least I hope that is the case :-)

03-13-2006, 07:21 PM
Hi John;

If all 20 are of "red ribbon" quality you should be fine. We still give ribbons here in Pa. and a red ribbon is an image with a score between 76 & 79.

For Michelle ... I'm not sure how far away you are but ... I'm giving the C.P.P. exam on Sunday April 23rd and will give it again on Sunday June 11th. All of our meetings are at the Radisson Penn-Harris Hotel in Camp Hill, Pa. which is just across the river from the state capitol of Harrisburg. So if you don't have a closer location, soon enough ... let me know. I gave it to 3 people in February and expect more in April.

For everyone ... If you are close enough ... let me know if you ever want to take the exam here in Pa.

D. Craig Flory PPA Certified, PPA C.P.P. Liaison, Cr.Photog., ASP

03-14-2006, 04:16 AM
Buying the book tonight. ;) ...well, that is if I can ever find that dang Amazon gift certificate I got for Christmas! ...I knew it would come in handy for something. heh

03-14-2006, 11:37 AM
Question for anyone who has been part of the process of creating the CPP test (and I'm drawing from my own experience having been part of the creation process for US Air Force skill knowledge tests for promotion): Is every answer for every question actually referenced in "Photography version 8?"

03-14-2006, 03:08 PM
I only had a few minutes to look over your portfolio. Your prints submitted for the CPP need to score at least 76 and represent the type of photography you do for your client base. In a quick glance, I would say that these should pass; however, I will try to look at your portfolio again when I have more free time. Good lighting and print quality have more consideration than presentation when images are being judged for CPP. In print competition all aspects of judging are considered.

The CPP Exam has undergone many changes since 2000. Even in 2000 there were questions on the exam that I couldn't recall being addressed in the 5th edition (which was the current version). Be sure after you read and reread the current edition that you take the sample exam available. And don't knock yourself down if you do not pass it the first time around. Many PPA Certified Professional Photographers had to take the test more than one time to pass.

03-14-2006, 04:46 PM

I bought the Photography 8th edition and used it to study. I would say very close to all, if not all, questions are answered in that book. If not directly, definitely indirectly by giving you enough of the base information to arrive at the correct answers.

Also, the sample test on the CPP website gives you a breakdown of the material covered by the test. So use that in conjuction with the Photography 8th edition book and you should have no problem passing, imo.

03-14-2006, 05:00 PM
So what happens if you submit 20 prints, and 4 of them score 75 or less? Do you have to submit the whole lot again, substituting the 4 that didn't make it, or do you just submit the remaining 4?

03-14-2006, 07:28 PM
Hi Kirk;

I got the answer ... David Mithofer at PPA told me that about 90% of the questions are answered in that book. He said you should look over the list of study guides and such for more options. The analogy I'll use is the game shows like Jeopardy. Know something about everything ... or have practical working knowedge. I didn't study when I took it. But, I had been an air force photographer for 4 years. I used view cameras & speed graphics so I knew sheet films. I loaded the film holders & developed the film so I knew knotching codes. I developed black & white films, color films, and transparency films. I knew swings and tilts along with rising and falling front and other aspects of view cameras. I used wratten filters and lots more. Along with two air force photography schools, and 4 years experience, I served a 3 year apprenticeship with a Master of Photography and worked for him a total of 5 years. And I attended two week long triangle Institute of Photography School classes ... all before I took the exam. There is no substitute for practical working knowledge ... other than a lot of studying. Do the sample test and study some more.

Narrowed down ... besides using Photography version 8, read a lot more wherever you can glean more information. Good luck ... and use your 1st instinct for most questions.

D. Craig Flory PPA Certified, PPA C.P.P. Liaison, Cr.Photog., ASP

03-16-2006, 02:00 PM
Thanks for the great information about the test!!!! I appreciate the information on when PA is having the testing. I would like to do it in the next 9 months, but the next 2 months I am moving into a new retail space and really needing to concentrate on that. So studying is not going to be an option for a little while anyway. The test makes me anxious just thinking about it. I have no large format experience at all and I have had no "formal" schooling other than Ohio State's dark room class....which I have not done for over 9 years now. I am going to GLIP in June if my class is not sold out, but I doubt that is really going to prepare me. ;)

The information you are giving is great! Keep it coming, it reallly helps me.

I took a look at your CPP prints and I remember the girl with the red tongue form Mid East states competition! I actually looked at that one when checking them in and loved the colors and the crispness of it! Awesome image! Didn't it merit???? I thought I remember seeing it merit.


03-16-2006, 03:18 PM
Hi Michelle, thanks for your kind words. I was nervous as all get out entering print comp this year. I attended judging over the last couple years and finally got up the guts to enter this year. The "red tongue" image did merit with a score of 82! I called it "Snowflake Catching Warmups". Before entering, I got comments from here and other places that said it was cute but the hat and sweater were misplaced for a studio shot, so I tried to tie that into the theme by the title ... I guess it worked well enough :-)

Good luck to you when you decide to go for it and take the test. The Photography 8th addition is really all you need even if it doesn't have the direct answers to all the test questions, it will easily have enough to pass. Pair up the "Test Specification" (from the PPA site) with the chapters to read in the Photography book because it is not necessary to read EVERY chapter in the Photography 8th addition. The "Test Specification" breaks down the "areas" covered by the test really well.

Good luck!

03-16-2006, 11:58 PM
LOL...I knew it John! I could not remember the title but knew it was clever for the image. It also looked different than other images entered. My images are a bit different and I struggled this year to conform. I need to get away from that thought. I have a very minimalistic approach these days with my portraits. Similar to your 82 print...simple, sharp and beautiful... well I hope my images are that anyway. :confused:

Amazing out of the hundreds of images I handled, that I remember yours so well. I wish the same could be said for mine. LOL Ahh well.

Thanks for the encouragement about the test. I look forward to studying some day... for now it's worrying about making the move and getting that work done and behind me.


03-17-2006, 12:27 AM
Michelle, you are too kind. I maintain it was pretty much solely the subject material that got the 82. All I did was keep the image from scoring higher ;-) lol, by making her skin too yellow, etc.

Seriously, I shoot kids every day, even many very cute kids, but that particular image was all about how cute the little girl was. There was nothing special about my photography skills, lighting set up, or such. Sure, I post processed it, cropped it in tight, etc, but pick another kid and it would have been in the mid 70's.

It's that part about print competition that seems out of place a little to me. There's a large degree of luck in the whole process. But I guess that's true with just about everything in life. I will not consider myself a good photographer until I can consistently and continually produce merit quality images ... and I am currently a ways off from that :-/ Not that that is a bad thing cause I plan to get there, but just that I have some work ahead of me :-)

My memory of titles is rather poor, but I know if I saw your images, I would remember them. Would you be willing to email me them or a link to them somewhere?

03-17-2006, 09:33 PM
I can not agree more with you. I don't feel I am a good photographer. I work very hard to learn, but I am not a technical person and that bothers me. So until I am getting a lot or merit images from client sessions, I just am not going to feel worthy. I am proud of my Ohio CPP but at the same time I am not sure I deserve it, because I saw the other new CPP's images and to me they seem sooo much better. (just my own insecurity)

I am fine with emailing my images to you. I'm sure if you saw me and I saw you, we probably have seen each other many times. Like I said I am down there volunteering with the comp every year.

I'll get those sent to you. Don't laugh. LOL