View Full Version : What have your credentials done for you?

06-11-2006, 06:34 PM
Hi all,

I am in the process of studying the Photography book with the wonderful study group started by Jackie and Betsy. As I reflect on my own reasons for wanting this certification, I find myself wondering what the benefits are aside from my own satisfaction in accomplishing this goal. With that, I pose the question to those who already have various levels of certifications through the PPA. Have you found that it made a difference in your business? Were (are) the benefits tangible and measurable or more on a personal, internal level? To be honest, in 20 years of being a photographer I have never once had anyone ask about my certifications or credentials of any kind. I don't say that to minimize the certification in any way. In fact, I desire to work my way through all of the certification levels. Basically, I am just reflecting and asking honest questions to myself and to others. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Good day!

Mike Larsen Studios

06-11-2006, 09:11 PM
In fact, I desire to work my way through all of the certification levels.

Hey Mike,

I'm guessing you're confusing degrees at PPA with Certification. Two different things.

Certification has been broken out as an independent body from PPA. This is on the recommendation of NOCA (National Association of Certifying Associations). The same people who oversee certifying accountants and doctors.

In any case, certification is a marketing tool, something you can tell your clients about. I heard from one photographer, who had a potential wedding client contact him. He asked, politely if they were contacting any other certified photographers in the area. That led to the question of what does certification mean? After that talk he booked the job.

The degree program at PPA is more of a peer-to-peer program. Something for self-growth and personal satisfaction. Most degree holders say that the competition has raised the level of their photography.
It can also be used for marketing yourself, but I think certification, because it's no longer an association designation, carries a lot more weight.

Anyway, that's my understanding. Hope that helps clarify.

06-11-2006, 09:23 PM
I'm wondering why the cpp is required for a masters if they are separate programs?

06-11-2006, 09:45 PM

I can personally attest to the value of a CPP. I recently met with a potential client to book a wedding. During our conversation, I mentioned my CPP status and was surprised to discover that not only was the bride aware of the CPP, she had also visited the Certification website to verify my status!

At the end of the meeting, she booked one of my largest packages on the spot. This bride works in the medical industry and respects certifications. I'm sure this is part of what made her decide to meet and ultimately book me.

Now, had we not had this conversation, I don't think I would ever have been aware of how much my certification helped me book this event. Basically, I'm saying there is no way I can know for sure how many other clients have booked me because I'm certified. All I can do is talk about it, and continue to use the certification logo in my marketing materials. It can't hurt.

06-11-2006, 11:05 PM
I took the test in 1999 when I was still working 'from home' meaning all location, not zoned for business, and before I had an actual studio. Some people took me more seriously than they might have, especially since I was more expensive than some of the home-based local photographers.

The other way it has helped me is with occasional commercial jobs from far away. When the person in charge of hiring uses the PPA Find a Photograper list and specifies certified only, I come up. I think there are only two others in my county and one of those is my husband.

Not everyone thinks about or cares about certification for photographers. It doesn't say anything about what other photographers do not know, but what I know, certified by an independent organization.

My mother-in-law was a very gifted organist who played from a very young age. If they had auditions, then she usually was hired. However, there were many jobs she couldn't even get interviewed for without the credential others had (music major degree).

06-12-2006, 12:46 AM
I'm wondering why the cpp is required for a masters if they are separate programs?

I would expect that like any master's program at a university or any master's level of a building trade, they would have expected a candidate to have earned recognized credentials as a "journeyman."

It might be better questioned why it must specifically be the PPA CPP, or if a bachelor's degree in photography from a university or a previous (but expired) CPP shouldn't be just as acceptable.

06-12-2006, 01:20 AM
Hi Stan;

I just got back from the 1st of our two day June meeting and saw your question ... about why you must first be certified before getting Master. I'll answer that with an example I saw 1st hand. I apprenticed with a Master of Photography from 1970 to 1973. After getting Master, he stopped competing and his work stagnated. With the the requirement of re-certification every five years it forces those, with the Masters Degree, to keep their skills up to date.

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


06-12-2006, 01:56 AM
I guess that would make sense, except once you get your masters you don't need to keep the cpp thing up. So I'm not sure that would really work.

06-12-2006, 04:24 AM
I've heard word on the {PPA} street that there is a consideration of having the Masters candidates taking the CPP exam without going through the image phase. I believe they will not be able to carry the CPP designation. I'll keep you all up to date with this if I hear more from reliable sources.


06-12-2006, 02:13 PM
I'm wondering why the cpp is required for a masters if they are separate programs?

Basically because Council wouldn't vote to seperate it. It's been proposed, and at this point, Certification is a seperate entity from PPA and is a different process, so requiring it doesn't make sense.
Council, made up of representatives from across the US, is the final say in PPA.
I would venture, it's more an emotional issue for members at this point than anything else.

06-12-2006, 02:21 PM
EGAD two married people as CPP? Don't you have camera brand arguments all the time? Is one of you RAW and the other JPEG? Have you had counseling? Do arguments over posing break out in restaurants or when out with friends?

I think there are only two others in my county and one of those is my husband.

06-12-2006, 03:54 PM
I have two CPP stories off the top of my head. About five years ago a bride insisted on me inserting a line in my wedding contract about retaining my certification. I was surprised to learn that she knew what it meant and knew that it was subject to review. She wanted to be sure that she had a CPP not only when she booked but also when her wedding date arrived. I don't know what she would have done if I had failed my re-certification, I guess I would have been in breach and owed her a re-fund? Secound, there is only one other CPP in my County and he has been referring his over flow wedding clients to me almost entirely because I am certified and he knows what that means. I in turn refer my over flow to him.

06-12-2006, 11:36 PM
I've been certified for about a year now (took the exam im New Orleans). I have one customer that found us on the PPA certified photographer finder. Another client moved to our area from another state and asked their regular photographer if they had a recommendation for a photographer here. Again, I was contacted because of PPA & certification.

My reason for seeking certification was mainly for the personal accomplishment aspect, but I really don't think that it hurts that I can incoroporate it into all our marketing materials. It may be a bit of a bonus to have a certified photographer, but I think that our sales package as a whole (prices, quality of images & products, personality) is more influential than the credentials.


John K.

06-13-2006, 12:47 AM
EGAD two married people as CPP?
LOL! No, we get along pretty well, working on similar principles and mutual respect. He was actually my first teacher, since he taught me to develop film and print also before I took any professional classes. He has been doing photography since high school (shooting high school football with a Speed Graphic 4x5... his timing is good!)

06-13-2006, 12:52 PM
Monica and Diehl are not the only married CPPs. Lola became a CPP as a requirement to the Master of Photography degree and held it until she retired. We don't argue over that stuff either. If it had not been a requirement she would not have become one. We view the Master's as a visual degree and with today's equipment one can make very good images without knowing all the technical stuff. Many in the profession are making a decent living simply by having a good sense of composition and the other visual senses.
Keep Grinnin',
Buddy Stewart, PEC vice-chairman

06-13-2006, 01:42 PM
Keith and I were both certified at one time, in order to become Masters. We let it drop and did not re-certify. Keith pursued his Master's degree as a personal goal, using only images from client files. After he achieved that degree he set new goals, like a merit on a commercial print (we are not commercial) and a merit on a plain H&S studio portrait and then creating images with competition in mind. I started entering prints simply as a creative outlet. Being a working Mom did not allow me the time to explore other artistic venues. Because I had a great mentor, I was able to earn merits from the start and the Master's degree was the result, if not the original motivation. Now my children are almost raised and I can devote more time to my other artwork, so I have not entered prints in about 3 years. Anyway, I think the whole point, regardless if it is CPP or the degree program is to find a way to challenge yourself and not stagnate. Surely these organized programs are not the only way to do so. Also the degree programs have absolutely added to our bottom line in the studio. Mainly because our work keeps evolving and improving, but also from the publicity we receive for competeing, recieving print awards and earning national degrees.
As far as a husband and wife both CPP, Master's or whatever. . . I realize Wilson was making a joke but that is absolutely not a problem. I have the best husband in the whole world. He gets more excited over my achievements than his own. I don't always agree with his choices artistically or technically but I respect his expertise. Imagine having a professional collaboration with someone who knows you better than anyone else in the world. The marriage benefits from the shared work. The work benefits from the marriage.

06-13-2006, 10:45 PM
to all who have replied. Many good points were given as well as examples of how it can help. I am also grateful to see so many wonderful photographers in this forum. Mr. Jack Reznicki, you have been my idol for many years. My first exposure to you was when I bought a book entitled "Studio & Commercial Photography" back in, oh, I want to guess around 1999 or 2000. The book was replete with wonderful information and humor and I also love reading your contributions to other publications. Although I still long for the day when I have my own "real" studio, I always keep your book on my "active" shelf over my computer and refer to it often. My favorite photo to this day remains to be the one you use as the introduction to chapter 6; the little baby sitting at the desk with his hand and expression set not unlike what a real CEO or President would emote. It is a classic in my opinion and the story you told about it gets me chuckling too.

In any event, thanks again to all of you who replied. I hope this thread will serve to help others who are questioning their own desire to do this as well. I wish everyone the very best in their continuing pursuit of photographic excellence.

Warm regards,


06-19-2006, 07:48 PM
One of my first trips as a PPA representative was to the Rocky Mountain convention (9 years ago). While I was working the PPA booth in the trade show a member came up and starting asking me about certification. He said that he was due to re-certify and just wasn't sure that he saw the value in it. He said 'I did a survey of my last twenty clients and only two of those said that my CPP was important in hiring me. I'm not sure it's worth the hassle for two clients.'

I was a new employee and a little panicky about this situation. The member HAD DONE A SURVEY, what was I going to say to him. The usual stuff just didn't seem appropriate. Finally I said 'What is your average sale if you don't mind me asking'. He said 'about $4,000'. I thought about it for a second and than I said 'so you pay $50 a year and your return on investment is $8,000. Plus, you only have to do any work for this marketing program every five years. Do you have any other marketing program that requires less and has the same return on investment?'

He laughed and said 'ok I'll keep my CPP'.

That's a true story.

06-19-2006, 10:43 PM
...and the ladies just flock. Other than that, it doesn't mean much. Other photographers know what that is but I get blank stares from lay folk when I mention it. In a world of initial contact specialists (secretaries), loss prevention departments (lost & found), meal attendants (waiters) and so forth, certification sounds like just another fancy name for something less, I'm afraid. I cannot atribute any additional sales to being certified or not. I did it for personal achievement but cannot truly say it has added to sales.

09-19-2014, 02:48 PM
What do your ABI, API designations stand for = the meaning of it? I'm not trying to degrade your level of education, sometimes I ask a question thinking what I have said is quanitive but the person is confused with the way I presented the material.What photography organization utilizes this designation as a credential? I am new to photography and trying to learn more about the craft. I am a member of PPA and I am enjoying the reference tools they have in place. Please send my reply answer back to my email address. Thanks

Kenneth E. Wright
B-Wright Photography
Owner/Freelance Photographer

09-28-2014, 12:19 AM
I'm sorry, Kenneth, what are those designations? I'm not familiar with them.

09-28-2014, 12:58 AM
API means Approved Photographic Instructor
ABI means Approved Business Instructor
Both are (or were) PPA designations.
I'm not sure if they are currently available designations or if the issuance of those designations has been discontinued like PPA did with the "Q" designation that previously existed which stood for "Qualified" - that was a designation that was previously available through the Commercial Division of PPA which no longer exists. In the far distant past - like around 1980 - there were three divisions of PPA - The Portrait Division, The Wedding Division and the Commercial Division. Those "Divisions" no longer exist. I searched on the PPA web site but could find no info on applying for API or ABI, so they may no longer be available designations.

09-28-2014, 09:17 PM
Mr. Rick, thanks for your reply on the designations of ABI, & API. I would often see them utilized after the photographer's name, and qualifications, just didn't understand. I could grasp that they were important to the marketing of the photographer's skill level in the advertisement community but that was as far as I could go. Would it be okay for me to add you to my contact list?

09-28-2014, 09:42 PM
Ms. Linda, Within the last couple of weeks when I began to really utilize the loop I noticed that photographer's had the API, ABI designations. I had looked all over the PPA degree page and other photography resources, to include the good olde google pages and was at a loss. That is when I sent the message, in regards to the post What have your credentials done for you? Now understand I started my journey within the PPA family in August 2012 as an aspiring photographer level. For a long time I never really did anything with the resources that were available to me, I would look through the PPA magazine, read the articles and then log them on my shelf for future reference. I was always busy doing something in the community which I reside. So one day currently I went out on the limb and looked at the loop, and finished my profile page. When I saw all of the resources available to new photographer's, regardless of their skill level I gasped when I took that next breath a bulb went off in my head. In order to complete your profile page you have to obtain 20 new contacts, I asked myself how do I get 20 contacts? I looked to my right and saw a PPA magazine, looked through it and began to request them to be on my contact list. It took me a few days to get my 20 but the resources these contacts have are invaluable to the new, or other photographers. They make themselves so available in all areas so that the brand of skilled photographers remain & continue on for future generations. I thank you so much and regardless of what skill level you are at, if you send me a contact request I will reply favorably. The other day I read a thread post from Mrs. Mary Fisk-Taylor - PPA Members what questions do you have for me today or something of that sort. That post and the replys made me so happy because so many questions that were posed were those that were similar to what I had questions about. Thank you for your support all PPA Members and staff... If you get a chance please look on my photo galleries and review the photos for me and if you can add a comment that I can use to make a shot better please let me know...