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Howard_Kier
12-06-2009, 04:01 AM
In the course of doing some market research, I noticed a large studio that is stating under Photography Coverage "1 Certified Photographer" or "2 Certified Photographers" Now I know this studio is really saying the photographer has been certified by the studio to represent them rather than being a Certified Professional Photographer. However, is this crossing the line into misrepresenting their photographers as CPP when in fact they are not? Is saying the photographer is "certified photographer" infringing upon the CPP title?

Kevin_Hudson
12-06-2009, 05:14 PM
I would think it more a cheap marketing ploy than anything else.
If the studio requires it's photographers to undergo some sort of training to become "certified" to their standards then the client feels some comfort and confidence when hiring them.
If, on the other hand, the studio boldly promotes their affiliation with PPA and leads the clients to believe that they are certified by a professional organization, that is not only "infringing" it is unethical.

Ron_Jackson
12-06-2009, 05:39 PM
Then on the other hand, (no offense PPA) most clients have no clue about PPA certification. It might bother you they promote this but the client most likely has no clue the PPA certifies photographers and awards the distinction.

Louise_St_Romain
12-06-2009, 06:37 PM
Then on the other hand, (no offense PPA) most clients have no clue about PPA certification. It might bother you they promote this but the client most likely has no clue the PPA certifies photographers and awards the distinction.

sad to say, when I mention that I'm a member of PPA, the most common reaction is "What's that?" It seems to me that a good bit of the general public has no idea ....

Kevin_Hudson
12-07-2009, 01:00 AM
Ron, I was thinking the same thing but didn't want to take anything away from the photographers who work hard to get their professional certification.

Kevin_Hudson
12-07-2009, 01:03 AM
I was once a regional manager for an excellent children's photography chain. They prominently displayed certificates of each of their photographers who have met the criteria for the company.
Unfortunately, in some cases, certification is a joke. How many times have you seen the "photographers" at the chain stores. They are little more than "certified" button pushers who know literally nothing about photography. Yet, they are advertised as certified photographers.
Sadly, many of them actually think that they are really photographers.

Ron_Jackson
12-07-2009, 01:18 AM
I don't want to take anything away from those who have worked hard through PPA to acheive their certification status. It's just a sad reality that most people including my many commercial clients don't have a clue about the PPA certification or Masters or any other tag you can think of. Certification through PPA along with it's other degrees is certainly a good thing for knowledge and growth.

David_Capano
12-07-2009, 06:09 AM
I wouldn't worry about it. People market how they market... it's up to us to educate clients that don't know about things. Clients that ask 'What's that' are AWESOME! What an opportunity you have to educate them at that point!!!

As a note, the PPA is not the certifying body for the CPP credential. For more information on that subject, visit http://www.certifiedphotographer.com/

Michael_Gan
12-07-2009, 03:29 PM
Then on the other hand, (no offense PPA) most clients have no clue about PPA certification. It might bother you they promote this but the client most likely has no clue the PPA certifies photographers and awards the distinction.
There is no PPA certification anymore. Certification is its own organization. this is why we are telling all certified photographers to remove the "PPA certified" designation.

Ron_Jackson
12-07-2009, 04:34 PM
I didn't mean it litteraly. Just taling about "PPA" certification vs. some studio "certifying" their photographers to their standards.

Howard_Kier
12-07-2009, 09:30 PM
To me it is one thing to certify somebody to meet the corporate standards and another thing to be certified by an independent organization. Especially when the independent organization has tougher standards than the company. For the company to conveniently forget to qualify their employees as "company" certified in their marketing material has the potential to not only mislead the public but devalue the certification of those who did earn it from the independent organization.

You've all heard the commercials for a ABC Certified pre-owned vehicle. Meaning the manufacturer has set some standards for the used car to meet before it can be resold under that nameplate. Yet, I'm sure that if you look around you will find "certified pre-owned cars" being sold. Who is doing that certification? Does it really mean anything? The commercials tell us the ABC Certification actually means something. They are educating the public.

Just because we have yet to fully educate the public as to what CPP means, does not mean we should stand idly by when somebody is attempting to confuse the public. It is this confusion that will not only make our job of educating the public much harder but ultimately devalue the designation. Today we grab a tissue or Kleenex or we Xerox a copy on a Canon copier. I don't want to see an unethical company muddying the waters by using the certification designation improperly.

Ron_Jackson
12-07-2009, 09:42 PM
Howard you are assuming this studio in the poster's comments knows what CPP is and is purposely attempting to use that terminology to play on the word "certification". Does that studio even know about CPP? Also, this goes back to what I said, earlier. Your clients, my clients and his clients for the most part do not know we have a CPP program. Even if they knew it, would they know the difference between his and ours? Not likely.

Marc_Benjamin
12-07-2009, 09:46 PM
Just because we have yet to fully educate the public as to what CPP means, does not mean we should stand idly by when somebody is attempting to confuse the public.

It's really hard to confuse the public if they don't really know what's out there to begin with. I suppose we could say that "in the future" people might know what a true certified professional photographer means but currently, we don't see much going on on the consumer awareness front.

Also, I'm not sure but what you can do? It's not like the certification board had trademarked "Certified Professional Photographer" or "certified photographer" or "certified" or "CPP."

There's a word mark for "Certified Professional Photographer, Professional Photographers of America" (http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4009:4ml4tf.2.1) but not sure how that plays out since we have removed certification from under PPA. Not even sure if this is relevant to begin with since, I understand that the whole term and not part/s of it is registered.

My suggestion is to attack this from the public awareness front, tell your ppa councilor to speak about the importance of "public awareness" of our campaigns (this case the cpp) and that there should be more that's done to promote it to the public. I don't know, perhaps PPA should sponsor the hand out materials that we give out 100% or buy a list from the photo list people and do mailings, whatever...

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Since were talking about "Certified Photographer" I've always wondered what's stopping the tech schools from putting out "certified Photographer" programs. I know in Asia, they do have tech colleges that offer a short photography program and the graduates get to tall themselves "certified."

Besides, if certified is truely indeed a marketing device, then I think it's pretty crafty of them to come up with the program that they actually promote to their clients unlike most CPP's that hardly show any emphasis on them being certified.

Howard_Kier
12-07-2009, 10:52 PM
I do know that CPP is a protected term. Just how far that protection extends, I'm not sure. However, regardless of whether or not the public knows about certification, I certainly don't want them visiting my site to see that I am Certified, going to this large studio's website, seeing certified photographer there and then thinking those are the same certifications. Even if I do educate the potential client, with the other studio being obtuse, there is no way I can make sure the potential client is not confused.

Now as for the studio in question doing this on purpose. First this studio has a history within the wedding photographer community of unethical behavior. Next, they used to state "Studio Certified Photographer" Why did they drop the qualifier? The only reason I am not naming the studio is that I don't want this discussion to descend into a witch hunt. Even if the studio is not aware of the CPP title and made the change for the most innocent of reasons, it is still confusing to the consumer and can degrade the value of that which I and others worked hard to earn.

Marc_Benjamin
12-07-2009, 11:11 PM
I do know that CPP is a protected term. Just how far that protection extends, I'm not sure. However, regardless of whether or not the public knows about certification, I certainly don't want them visiting my site to see that I am Certified, going to this large studio's website, seeing certified photographer there and then thinking those are the same certifications. Even if I do educate the potential client, with the other studio being obtuse, there is no way I can make sure the potential client is not confused.

How can CPP be a protected term specifically to us. The Certified Paralegal Association probably has ten to twenty fold of their member using CPP than our members? If CPP is protected how come it's not marked or said so protected in any of our past literature? Also, I have combed through the USPTO offices listings for CPP and I couldn't find one that has to do with photography live or dead listing. How do you know?

Though you bring up a good point that your customers might get confused since they learned about "Certified Photographer" from your site and then visited a "fake (subjective really, who are we to judge what training they require for all we know they might require college degrees as a qualifier) certified."

So in theory, you're educating your client about certification actually puts them (so called certified's) up as your equal? So if you can't make them stop advertising that they're certified, would you stop advertising that your certified? Would you go as far as stating our certification is mucho better or perhaps that ours is the one true (can we even claim that our's is the one true uncontested professional photography certification) certification? How about coming up with a "higher" skill marketing campaign? Say "Master Photographer"?

btw, you never posted what you would like to get done about this? Well, what do you want done?

Ron_Jackson
12-08-2009, 12:38 AM
Marc you bring up another interesting point without realizing it. Why not confuse the term Master as well. There are schools such as Brooks Institute where you can get an actual Masters just like you would get a Masters of Philosphy at Berkely or any other accredited college. So, through the PPA you can earn a masters and put that after your name and promote it. How does that stack up to a Masters from say Brooks where you got a full college education in photography? Would your masters not lead the public to believe that you got a college degree masters? Unless explained, I would think yes. So that is also confusing. I could hire people and train them to shoot my way and give them a piece of paper saying they are now certified and I could advertise as such. Who is going to stop me? What power do they have to do so? Am I misleading the public in doing so and more so because I know about certification through PPA? Not likely because the public doesn't know about certification. They just know the term sounds good. "Get a certified public accountant. Buy a certified used car. I need a certified check please." The term belongs to whoever. I am so sure this is a tough cookie for PPA trying to find ways to educate the world not only about PPA but also about degrees and certifications and how they should mean something to our clients. In a world today where anyone with a DSLR can claim to be a professional, these terms can possibly set some apart from the others but mostly, the public isn't aware and doesn't know they should care. By the way, I'm not certified so does that mean a competitor of mine should be hired over me just because they hold that designation?

Marc_Benjamin
12-08-2009, 12:52 AM
Great point Ron,

I'll chime in later, got a meeting but wanted to say that it's likely that the winner is the one/s who promote their certification better and more aggressively. The again the journey itself (so cliche) is a win.


Btw, a Masters in Photography does not make one a "Master Photographer" or is just potatoes potatoes? I don't know people who have a masters in fine arts call themselves Master Artists or do they?

gtg, keep it coming guys...

David_Capano
12-08-2009, 04:28 AM
This is an awesome thread. Thanks to all participating!

In the end, degrees, certifications and grades are all things that really only mean anything to the person holding them. Likewise, they mean different things to different people. Having one doesn't in and of itself mean anything until you believe it does and breathe life into that.

I'm with Marc, it's what you make of it. Choose to use it or not, totally up to you. Likewise, if it means anything to your clients, it'll be due to your efforts in educating them, not in the term itself.