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Vance_Wagener
06-03-2012, 11:55 PM
Selecting Images for CPP

Why is it so hard?

These are images my client loved! Why are you telling me they wouldn't do well for CPP certification?
This is a question that is often asked in the CPP upload area and other places where CPP image critique can be found. I can understand where some of the confusion comes from. Many images are solid salable work. The reality is that they are differently goal oriented. Although what is required for CPP image review can be very salable; not all images that are salable or merit worthy will meet the requirements.

Client images are usually goal driven to the clients wants and needs. Thus client images are graded with those issues in mind as opposed to compulsory images that must meet exact requirements to pass.

The goal of image submission for CPP is to demonstrate competencies/skills needed for the Commission to certify that you have the minimum skill set that any professional photographer should have. As such your selection needs to goal directed as well. The certification itself is meant to draw a base line and consistency in the industry.

When Client images are critiqued by experienced CPP's you'll often hear things like the shadows are blocked up, you don't have 3:1 lighting, the image would have difficulties because of this or that. Often they will have suggestions on how the image might have been improved upon when it was made.

Here is an example of just one critique:
"In this particular image it is the lack of separation of the foreground elements (the silhouetted couple) and background elements. The blacks blocking up to make the couple indistinguishable from the background behind the male is hurting the image. Had an accent/edge light been used; it would have provided the separation needed for this image to do well for CPP."

This sounds like arm chair quarterbacking. I can relate to how frustrating it is to hear especially if it was an image that sold well. I've been there and so has anyone else who becomes certified. Ideally, a CPP candidate would make their compulsory images first and then shoot client images with an eye for what is needed for CPP. This would make selecting CPP client images easier. The reality is that virtually all of us decide to go for CPP, make the compulsories and hunt for client images that we shot in the last 2 years that fit the criteria. We all go for our "A" game images first. But as I pointed out, these are sometimes differently goal oriented. This makes it seem sometimes like other CPP's are trying to keep the club exclusive by suggesting these great images would not pass. Really the opposite is true. We want as many as can to become certified. It is my hope that as the number of certified photographers goes up so does the public's expectation of what it means to be a professional photographer. Hopefully making them less willing to hire someone who becomes an instant professional by simply buying a camera.

It is also possible to merit a photograph without proving elements for needed for CPP Certification. This sounds like a strange statement but it's true because the goals are different. Due to the goal of CPP images some of the 12 elements of a competition print are excluded. Most notably style, print quality and to some extent creativity. Meaning the judges want to see basically classical portrait posing and lighting, there is no print quality as the submissions are electronic and treatments are not allowed because it interferes with appraisal of skills. Merit images are driven by artistic goals that may or may not conform to general rules of photography.

If you are a CPP candidate I can tell you the CPP written exam was actually harder for me. The image selection process, although frustrating at times, is doable. After all we make images for living. You just have remember the goal of image as you are slecting them If you are thinking of becoming a candidate I would encourage you to check out: What is certification (http://certifiedphotographer.com/what-is-certification/) and hope you join us. I think you'll find the journey is worth it. I did.

Vance Wagener, CPP

Please note: The above is my opinion and observation of the CPP image selection process. CPP liaisons are CPP volunteers who serve at the pleasure of the PPCC and do not write or enforce policy. It is my hope in writing this that CPP candidates may be able to better understand the CPP process.

Amy_Hall
06-04-2012, 02:58 AM
Good article, Vance! I'm very grateful to have you and others to guide me through this process.

Angela_Lawson
06-04-2012, 03:50 PM
Well said, Vance!

Mark_Levesque
06-04-2012, 03:55 PM
Nice job, Vance.

As a PPCC Judge, I am often the one who gets to explain to a photographer who has failed the image submission why their submission was not deemed acceptable. Most often, the issue is that the photographer selected favorite images rather than the most technically sound images. Like you say, the goal of selecting images for CPP submission is simply different than the goal for image sales.

Now someone might question that assertion, or even question the utility of certification entirely. The logic goes like this: I want to sell images, so I should concentrate on making images that sell, not images that demonstrate competent photography. It seems silly written out that way, but that is what it amounts to. If being a photographer is about selling images, why SHOULD we care more about making competent photographs than making photographs that people pay money for? I think it really boils down to this: the more competent you are, the more discriminating the client that you can satisfy, and the broader the range of discriminating clients that you can satisfy.

Some of the best advice I can give to CPP candidates who are selecting the images for their portfolio submission is this: go through each session with an eye for the best technical capture you made, and then finish the image as if you were preparing it for a demanding client. This process will help train you to shoot better if you keep in mind the things that you had to look for to come up with images for your portfolio. You'll stop making the sorts of mistakes that held your images back. All of a sudden, you'll start ensuring that you have separation and a pleasing lighting pattern and good composition, etc. In short, you become a better photographer.

pphtg123
06-05-2012, 01:36 PM
Thanks to both Vance and Mark for your clear and consice explaination of the CPP image critique and submission process. I declaired my CPP candidacy about two week ago and find the image critique to be very tough. I do think it will help me in the long run as you both have stated, to become a much better photographer.

aliis1214
06-10-2012, 05:43 AM
Great write up Vance! I personally am scared as hell about going for CPP but knowing what I need to improve on will help me on where I need to be before declairing my CPP candidacy.