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Jason_Smith
08-16-2006, 04:06 AM
I'm one of the Certification Committee Members and I'm sort of conducting a simple survey here. Being curious to know, those of you who are already PPA Certified, how being Certified has benefited you and your business. Even those who are working on becoming Certified by PPA. What are you or will you do to promote Certification to your clients? Are there any suggestions that you can make to further promote Certification to for your benefit?

Thanks in advance for your reply's.

Betsy_Finn
08-16-2006, 01:24 PM
When certified, I plan to use certification as a differentiating factor for my business. There are no other certified photographers in my town (and only 4 in my "metro area"). Since I am still establishing my business name in the community, being certified will help me to better sell myself to my clients. I will be able to explain what certification is and show my clients that even though my studio isn't one of the "long-standing" names around town, I still have the necessary level of experience and will be able to create excellent photographs for them. Most of the clients who I book believe this anyways, but I think it may help to turn more inquiries into clients -- being certified is just one more "reassurance" for a potential client that is considering my business.

Other reasons include being able to put the certified logo etc on my marketing materials and website -- one more reason to choose me over their soon to be second choice ;)

Neil_Cowley
08-16-2006, 08:31 PM
To be honest, in my short career I stayed as far away from certification and PPA as possible. From my perspective as a young punk starting up, those guys were cookie cutter and made lame, out of date images. FWIW

Holly_Howe
08-16-2006, 08:48 PM
To be honest, in my short career I stayed as far away from certification and PPA as possible. From my perspective as a young punk starting up, those guys were cookie cutter and made lame out of date images. FWIW

Neil, I am not certified for reasons that have nothing to do with you expressed. I hope as you participate in this forum you will discover how misguided your initial impression was. Yes we have traditionalists in PPA, just as we have experimental image makers. Hopefully PPA has a place for every perspective and aesthetic and I hope we can change your mind.

Holly

D._Craig_Flory
08-16-2006, 09:47 PM
Hi Neil;

My style is constantly changing and evolving. The style I have today is a culmination of all speakers I've heard, all courses I've taken, and all images I've ever seen. The process of becoming certified and eventually becoming a Master of Photography is the best way to become proficient in our craft. I have seen many Masters, over the years, with so many bars on the Masters Degree medalion ... it would look like it was about to choke them. That meant they didn't sit still and stagnate but kept on competing for merits and did well at it. Since what the judges are rewarding with a merit changes as new techniques and ideas come along ... that also meant they were changing with the times.

I visited your web site and know all of us can learn from what you do .. just as you can learn from other photographers. If all studios were "cookie cutter", as you aluded to, there would not be the variety of work we all see in competition. I hope you will re-evaluate your opinion as you continue to visit this outstanding site. Just as a lot of us can learn from your images, I think you can glean knowledge and ideas from others. I do believe in the certification program to the extent I'd like to not only see that someone must be certified before getting the Masters Degree, I'd like to see Masters all keep their certification up to date. I've been certified for 20 years.

D. Craig Flory PPA Certified, Cr.Photog., PPA C.P.P. Liaison, ASP
floryphotog@mindspring.com

Mark_Turner
08-16-2006, 09:56 PM
Hey Neil, your name is misspelled all over your packages page.

As far as stale goes, you are doing exactly the same thing as has always been done. You are capturing an image by using light patterns on the subject. The same light patterns that create traditional portraiture also create the candid images. I wouldn't call it Photojournalism though, as that implies that you did not set up any images, and we all know that is not the case with any of us.

I like your style, just not your bias.

monicamartin
08-17-2006, 03:01 AM
I became PPA Certivied in 1999. As a photographer working out of my home (not zoned for *any* business except the telephone/paperwork at home), it provided me credibility that I was a knowledgeable photographer and not a fly-by-night business. After we moved to Guntersville, since I was new in the area, it helped again with credibility. After three and a half years here, I still use it on my letterhead and on the front door.

Wilson_Hitchings
08-17-2006, 03:57 AM
...gets me dates in photographer-only bars. ;)

Marc_Benjamin
08-17-2006, 07:26 AM
...gets me dates in photographer-only bars. ;)

Hey the CPP did get me some dates and gosh now I wonder what a Master Photographer could get me. J/K now when my review comes, this was just a joke ok :)

Seriously, I think certification does not really certify ones "creativity" or “artistry” which I think is where Niel and many others are confused with.

To a minimum, certification test ones competency on the technical and procedural aspects of the profession. It also shows that one can and has the experience (images have to be 2 years work of work) to consistently deliver acceptable images to the consumer. Two important points that I think everyone that's selling their images can do.

Again, it's not an "artist" certification but rather a "professional" competency status.

Either way, I was 27 years old when I got CPP’ed and I'm probably one of the youngest CPP's in California or maybe not because of them kids at Brooks lol.

Anyway's, it gives me an edge because:

1. I’m not the only one who say’s that I’m a professional and my work is of professional level. Most photographers just claim that they are professionals but how can they really tell. One is not a doctor or lawyer just because they got their diploma.

2. My clients often share their experience about what they went through to get their certification for their own respective fields. I had this conversation recently with a bride that’s studying for her CPA and we just hit if off right due to the similarities of preparing for our careers.

3. It forces me to keep up with my studies in order to keep my certified status

Howard_Barlow
08-17-2006, 08:55 AM
I got my certification in its early stages. I agree that any program gives you back what you put in it, or maybe not. For several years, I put time and money in it. There was no identifiable return, as far as I could tell.

It made no impression on customers. The only thing I ever hung on a wall that impressed them was my work. Anyone who believes degrees, etc. are making them money, well, let them believe it. I do not. Your work, alone, will make or break you.

I used to travel around the country quite a lot. I stopped at pretty much every studio I passed, just to visit. I can't tell you how many Masters I visited with, whose work on the wall was surprisingly disappointing. Certainly, it was not the kind that got them their degree. But, that's their business, not mine.

That's why I don't have much of who I am on my website. On my next site, that I hope to have up in a month or two, will have virtually nothing about me. We can all tell the world how wonderful and talented we are. Fact is, our work is where the rubber meets the road.

I look at a lot of photographers' web sites. To read their bio, one would think it folly to select any other. Then, I look at their galleries. Hmmm...

We can hang all the certificates and diplomas on the wall we want to, that doesn't impress people like our work does. If the work sucks, diplomas will not make one sale for you.

If our work touches the emotions of the viewer, the lack of papers will never be a concern.

In nearly 30 years, I've never had a customer ask me anything about associations, degrees, certifications, etc. I'm sorry, I just do not believe it impresses anyone but photographers.

Do I think certification and degrees are a waste of time? No, absolutely not. Gaining such will cause one to improve, hopefully, as they work toward that goal.

If you enjoy the process, then by all means, pursue it. We should all be moving forward, all the time. This helps to do so. I see such programs as personal development goals, a worthy endeavor, if one is interested.

On the other hand, I do not believe one must pursue such to advance.

In the end, no, I do not believe it tranlates into cash, simply because the certifcate is on the wall. I have seen too many photographers, with certification, degrees, and/or merit prints on the wall who struggle in business. No doubt for various reasons.

Just my not so humble opinion.

Stan_Lawrence
08-17-2006, 02:51 PM
"I have seen too many photographers, with certification, degrees, and/or merit prints on the wall who struggle in business. No doubt for various reasons."

More likely one reason, lack of business skills, specifically sales and marketing, not to mention run on sentences. I'm seeing a lot of insults thrown at the more traditional photogs here, and it seems to be a pattern. Reminds me again of the music world. I've heard punk bands that understand music, they've studied theory, they learned the rules, they can read music, and they understand harmony. They also respect the musicians that came before them and learned from them. Although not something I listen to often, I respect what they are doing and when you turn the volume down it's actually really good. Then there are the uneducated, can't tune their instrument, can't read, and they just make noise. Of course they think they're the second coming....kind of a legend in their own minds. Same thing here, I don't need to look at someone's work, just read what they have to written. The more they rip, they less they can do. Same thing in music. The more they talk, they less they can play. Attitude is a very powerful thing..... :cool:

Betsy_Finn
08-17-2006, 03:21 PM
The more they talk, they less they can play. Attitude is a very powerful thing..... :cool:Nicely said Stan :) I just want to add that yes, there are mediocre photographers out there who are making money -- why? Because they know how to market and sell their services. Being a great photographer won't guarantee your studio to be a success, as Stan mentioned, you need business skills.

Howard_Barlow
08-17-2006, 05:06 PM
Ouch! Put the ruler away, Stan, my knuckles are bleeding! I guess I don't understand your reply. I did not insult anyone, much less traditional photographers. That is precisely what I have been for the last 29 years.

I'm not sure if I am supposed to be a punk or uneducated, maybe both, but I am pretty sure I am neither. "I don't need to look at someone's work, just read what they have to written." You can have an opinion of what you expect their work to look like, but you will be rendering a verdict without seeing the evidence. However, I can walk the walk.

As I understand it, the intended purpose of CPP is to set oneself apart from the crowd. The purpose is to establish a distinction between myself and the less qualified. Perhaps I misunderstand the premise.

There were four or five photographers in my greater market area who received their certification the same time, or the following year, as I did. A couple were very talented photographers. Two were on par with the local department store studios. How they got enough prints through to pass is anybody's guess. Their day to day work was less than professional.

How, then, can I say CPP sets me apart from the crowd? The crowd, talented and untalented, had it as well.

Betsy made my point in far fewer words than I. There are many Masters and other well qualified photographers out there, struggling every day to keep the lights on. Yes, marketing is the key to any business success.

My point was that having a shingle to hang does not necessarily guarantee financial success. It is not my opinion, it is established fact. If anyone wants to pursue it, go for it. I support you. Just realize what it is, and what it is not.

I must add, of all the photographers in my area who received their certification, I am the only one still in business. One died, the others have closed their doors at various times due to lack of business.

Stan_Lawrence
08-17-2006, 06:11 PM
"Put the ruler away, Stan, my knuckles are bleeding! I guess I don't understand your reply"

Most likely because I wasn't referring to you.

"but you will be rendering a verdict without seeing the evidence."

I am, it's just different evidence.

"My point was that having a shingle to hang does not necessarily guarantee financial success. It is not my opinion, it is established fact. If anyone wants to pursue it, go for it. I support you. Just realize what it is, and what it is not."

Could not agree more. :cool:

Howard_Barlow
08-17-2006, 06:26 PM
Aha. As Emily Latilla would say, "Well, then, nevermind." :)

Jennifer_Brum
08-22-2006, 08:11 PM
I recently was awarded the CPP designation and I think it has benefited me immensely already in a few ways.

First, it forced me to learn techniques or principles that gave me a better foundation for my photography. My images have been improved from going through the process.

Second, it gave me a confidence boost that shows itself when I talk about my work to clients. I feel proud of my accomplishment. There are only two other photographers in my city that are CPP's. (Both master photographers.) I'm honored to be in their company.

Third, it's one more marketing tool I can use. I used the PPA provided press release to promote my CPP designation to area wedding professionals as well as the business newspapers, other photographers and brides.

For anyone considering the process- do it! You'll be happy you did.

D._Craig_Flory
08-23-2006, 10:01 PM
Hi Jennifer;

Congratulations on the certification status. Use it for inspiration as well as for promotions and marketing. Set your sights on further awards and degrees. Make a list of goals ... Master of Photography, Photographic Craftsman and more. Make a time frame for achieving your goals. Get a group of photographer friends who can help. When I told myself I was going to get the Craftsman Degree, I set a 3 year time frame. I got it in 3 years thanks to friends getting me teaching seminars to do in my state and 3 surrounding states. I'm now going to go after Master and will again seek out friends to help. Make up a big sign for your studio work room "Go For It" . Good luck.

D. Craig Flory PPA Certified, Cr.Photog., ASP
floryphotog@mindspring.com

Jennifer_Brum
08-29-2006, 01:17 AM
Thanks Craig! I definately will do this.

David_A._Lottes
08-29-2006, 11:07 PM
I've been looking at lots and lots of web sites lately through this forum, MySpace and another forum that I learned about here. Some sites are about who and what the photographer's relationship to their market is. Others are about what the photographer's aren't. At first I thought it was just a few people feeling down about themselves because they couldn't or didn't get any credentials but the more I look, the more I see a set of "talking points". For example, many of the sites I've seen clearly state that the owner does not have any background in photography. :confused: How long can one work as a photographer and still claim to have no background. Several of them also point out very clearly that they don't "need" to learn anything from anyone because they're style is original. Oddly enough most of these same sites look identical to each other. What they are claiming to be unique is becoming cookie-cutter and they apparently aren't aware that everyone is doing the same thing. I guess if you don't need to learn anything you'll never know when your style gets worn out. Bottom line, pretty pictures will only get you so far. Marketing and self promotion pay the bills. Certification could be a powerful marketing tool in the right hands.

Richlain_Robinson
09-03-2006, 08:10 PM
The thing that certifies one to the client is the work they do on a consistent basis. Being certified does not necessarily make one a better photographer and it means little to the public that one is or is not certified by PPA.

That said, certification is a good program when it causes photographers to learn a bit more about the technical aspects of creating images. There are far too many folks in the business today that have no idea of how to paint with light and what makes a image great technically. Without technical ability the asthetic will not come through as well.

Unfortunately the certification program at PPA has often allowed folks to pass certification by memorizing answers rather than actually understand concepts. Still it is always a very good thing in any profession to encourage education and certification does that quite well.

Just my opinion from where I see the business and art of photography and nothing more. As for cookie cutter images folks we are all walking in the footsteps of giants. The basis of photographic lighting is after all called
Rembrant.

Debra_Warner
09-03-2006, 09:47 PM
Anyone who believes degrees, etc. are making them money, well, let them believe it. I do not.

In nearly 30 years, I've never had a customer ask me anything about associations, degrees, certifications, etc.

Do I think certification and degrees are a waste of time? No, absolutely not. Gaining such will cause one to improve, hopefully, as they work toward that goal.




Not trying to start anything here by saying this. However, you waver back and forth between your statements. In the beginning you say a degree doesn't make people money, no one ever asks you about your credibility.... Then you say it's not a waste of time and can "cause one to improve".

Well, doesn't improving make your work better, therefore make you more money? So isn't a degree actually a good thing? I'm confused as to your actual position based on what you said.

Again, please don't offence, just trying to understand. :)

Thanks,
Debi

Holly_Howe
09-03-2006, 10:55 PM
I agree with Howard that clients never ask about degrees etc BUT I disagre about it actually making money. Every time we enter prints and do at least marginally well, we send out a press release. The cummlative effect of all those press releases over the years has helped develop our reputation as award winning photographers. Now we can put a press release in the paper about speaking or judging and the next week 3 or 4 people will stop us in the store and say they saw we won another award. It adds to our crediability and reinforces clients decscions that they are making the right choice of studio. And it justifies our higher prices. I'm not saying that it's the only reason clients choose our studio - it's just one more piece of the pie. So Howard you may believe it doesn't make you any money but I know absolutely that it has for us.

Holly

TerryMichael
09-04-2006, 06:51 PM
To be honest, in my short career I stayed as far away from certification and PPA as possible. From my perspective as a young punk starting up, those guys were cookie cutter and made lame, out of date images. FWIW

Oh, I'm sure you just mis-quoted yourself here. I had this experience with the local organization - I went to one meeting and the level of contempt and arrogance directed toward me was beyond uncalled for - I'll never go back, ever. I also came from a string of mentors who have always been rather against any structured artistic processes... but they're all just a bunch of radicals anyway ;)

But thank god the national PPA is wholly different, professional and inspiring. I can't praise them enough.

I'm studying for certification now, I see it as a personal challenge. You can't become a worse photographer for it, everything you learn can be used or reacted to. Everything you're exposed to can only make you better. Certification in my eyes is a well constructed effort to explore a variety of technical aspects of the field I may or may not have been exposed to. Personally, I do not think it will change much in terms of my marketing or clients as I think my images speak for themselves (or I hope they do), but it's a personal commitment to be the best photographer I can possibly be. And it's a structure that can be followed over time to complement that goal.

DanEpstein
09-05-2006, 03:57 AM
Certification process might be good for folks who came to professional photography from some other profession or career path.

But I went to art school and then college, in both majoring in photography. And truthfully, the images I display speak more to my clients than award certificates or plaques would. And the credentials I have in the way of national publication speak more than ribbons would to my clients.

This thread is sort of interesting. And I diplomatically suggest that while my clients couldn't (or wouldn't) give a rat's patootie whether I was certified, I am sure that in many markets, that qualifier might be what closes a sale. Likewise, as I said, there are clients who just won't care.

I've built a business with the just couldn't care clients.

So to cut to the chase...my opinion: probably a real good idea for some folks based on their previous experience (or lack of it), and relative to their local marketplaces.

And like many things...not the right answer for everyone. ;)

Mark_Levesque
09-05-2006, 04:44 AM
I find it funny that people who aren't certified but who have "credentials in national publications" don't see a lot of value in certification, but is it really that different? You don't get "credentials in national publications" with out of focus, poorly exposed images. Neither do you get certification. I don't see these paths as all that different. One goes through the gauntlet of other critical professionals, the other goes through what? A gauntlet of other critical professionals. Either way, you end up in the same sort of place.

JillHeller
09-05-2006, 08:16 AM
I've been studying for my certification along with a large group of others. So far, whether or not I become certified, the study process has made me a better photographer and editor. Things that I've known about but haven't regularly applied and things I was not aware of previously are becoming jumping off points for new experimentation. The group study dynamic has also brought me closer to other professional photographers. A feeling of camaraderie that I had hoped for but didn't expect. So, if nothing else, I've gained friendship, respect and a better understanding of my craft.

D._Craig_Flory
09-05-2006, 03:38 PM
Hi group;

If a client walks into a studio and sees dozens of merits being displayed on the wall along with the PPA Membership certificate, the C.P.P. certificate ( and re-certified certificates) as well as Craftsman or Master certificates ... it generally will get that person asking what those are. At that point, the photographer can establish their credentials by explaining what it took to get each one. Hopefully, when photography is shown, it helps to back up all that.

I've been certified for 20+ years and firmly believe in the program. That is why I give of my time to not only give the exam but to also push the program. I hear photographers say they won't join a state photography group, or PPA, because they are "not a joiner". There are excuses about not doing a lot of things. I have never heard a good one for not going for certification or keeping it. A certified electrician is always held higher in a person's regard than one who is not. I don't care if a photographer graduated from a photography school, they should still get certified to prove that they learned what they needed to learn.

GET CERTIFIED ! If you want to take the exam, here in Pennsylvania, contact me and let me know. (I'm giving it on October 1st)

D. Craig Flory PPA Certified,PPA C.P.P. Liaison, Cr.Photog., ASP
floryphotog@mindspring.com

Wilson_Hitchings
09-05-2006, 04:04 PM
I like your comment, D. Craig! Awards sell. I personally hold creative awards in less-than-high esteem but certification is a winner. And if you have a lot of creative awards, show 'em. It can only help, not hurt, your appearance to the client.

Creative awards, to me, are totally subjective and less advantageous to professionals (but very adventageous to selling your work). The identical photo can be a national winner or go in the "bad" bin depending on which judging panel you draw at the time. One PPA judge here in my area tells the story of another PPA judge that downgraded all portraits with dogs in them - he/she just didn't like dogs and so even merit prints when in the potty because of their inclusion of a dog. With judging standards as easily flexible as that, I don't hold creative awards too highly but I enter. If I win, great. If I don't, great.

An interesting topic is awards for award's sake. Many WPPI award winners won't even qualify to be judged in the PPA due to lack of technical ability. One pro in my group says to add 7 points to any WPPI winner to get the PPA equivalent...that's a lot! However, if awards sell, wouldn't that push you to enter at WPPI and get the bling for the wall?


Hi group;

If a client walks into a studio and sees dozens of merits being displayed on the wall along with the PPA Membership certificate, the C.P.P. certificate ( and re-certified certificates) as well as Craftsman or Master certificates ... it generally will get that person asking what those are. At that point, the photographer can establish their credentials by explaining what it took to get each one. Hopefully, when photography is shown, it helps to back up all that.

I've been certified for 20+ years and firmly believe in the program. That is why I give of my time to not only give the exam but to also push the program. I hear photographers say they won't join a state photography group, or PPA, because they are "not a joiner". There are excuses about not doing a lot of things. I have never heard a good one for not going for certification or keeping it. A certified electrician is always held higher in a person's regard than one who is not. I don't care if a photographer graduated from a photography school, they should still get certified to prove that they learned what they needed to learn.

GET CERTIFIED ! If you want to take the exam, here in Pennsylvania, contact me and let me know. (I'm giving it on October 1st)

D. Craig Flory PPA Certified,PPA C.P.P. Liaison, Cr.Photog., ASP
floryphotog@mindspring.com

D._Craig_Flory
09-05-2006, 04:24 PM
Hi Wilson;

I have wanted to do this ever since you joined here. "Hey Mr. Wilson" !!! (shouted with Dennis the Menace's voice *S*) Picture me in bib overalls with a slingshot in a pocket and chewing bubble gum. LOL

I am pretty sure that was an old judge, long since weeded out. I used to see that type of opinionated judge ... some would score an image low because they didn't like kids. But, many years ago, standards were implemented to get rid of that type person. Now, if you want to judge at regional, or PPA, you have to have gone through the process of becoming an affiliated judge. That means judging school as well as submitting images of your work.

Yes, even awards from WPPI on the wall is a help. I can't comment on the points difference between them and PPA. The only time I see any from their competitions is in Rangefinder magazine.

So we think alike on a brag wall as being a good sales tool.

D. Craig Flory PPA Certified, Cr.Photog., ASP
floryphotog@mindspring.com

Trish_Tunney
09-06-2006, 12:46 AM
I've been studying for my certification along with a large group of others. So far, whether or not I become certified, the study process has made me a better photographer and editor. Things that I've known about but haven't regularly applied and things I was not aware of previously are becoming jumping off points for new experimentation. The group study dynamic has also brought me closer to other professional photographers. A feeling of camaraderie that I had hoped for but didn't expect. So, if nothing else, I've gained friendship, respect and a better understanding of my craft.

Jill,

Hey, I like that idea of a study group. How did you get hooked up with one?

thanks!
Trish

JillHeller
09-06-2006, 05:37 AM
Jill,

Hey, I like that idea of a study group. How did you get hooked up with one?

thanks!
Trish

Hey Trish,

I just asked members of my local professional society if anyone wanted to study together. At one point we had about 16 people. A few have dropped out but 8 to 10 of us met regularly on Monday nights from 7-10PM. We posted a message out through PPA and had another person outside our group come join in for the fun! Wish us luck, we're taking the test on the 14th :eek: .

Do you have a local group?

Cheers!

Betsy_Finn
09-06-2006, 12:14 PM
Hey, I like that idea of a study group. How did you get hooked up with one?

There are also online opportunities, Trish -- our online study group (started here on OurPPA) recently completed going through the Photography 8th Edition text. I can tell you that having a group of people to keep you on track is a good thing :). If you can do it locally, great! But if not, there are a lot of people on here who are wanting to learn and share via the internet. See this thread (http://ourppa.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1701&highlight=study+group) for more info -- there has been a second group recently started I believe -- and I'm sure there's enough interest for a third if that second group is far enough along....

Trish_Tunney
09-08-2006, 11:57 PM
There are also online opportunities, Trish -- our online study group (started here on OurPPA) recently completed going through the Photography 8th Edition text. I can tell you that having a group of people to keep you on track is a good thing :). If you can do it locally, great! But if not, there are a lot of people on here who are wanting to learn and share via the internet. See this thread (http://ourppa.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1701&highlight=study+group) for more info -- there has been a second group recently started I believe -- and I'm sure there's enough interest for a third if that second group is far enough along....

Thanks for the link Betsy!

Trish

Betsy_Finn
09-09-2006, 05:30 AM
Thanks for the link Betsy!

Trish
no problem! :D

Neil_Cowley
09-20-2006, 07:00 PM
it generally will get that person asking what those are. At that point, the photographer can establish their credentials by explaining what it took to get each one.

Which in my case (even more true 5 years ago when I started) means that you ascribed to a closely guarded and ritualistic image making and judging system through wich you made a set of images that fit that mold. The PPA system has been setup to promote BASIC standards, BASIC images, and repeatablity.

I'm not flaming, I'm just stating my perspective as I started - FWIW - don't morph it into a critique on PPA at all. Standards are good for the industry. I focused on image, and it brought me to a different place. I'm involved with PPA now to learn business from studio management services.


In nearly 30 years, I've never had a customer ask me anything about associations, degrees, certifications, etc. I'm sorry, I just do not believe it impresses anyone but photographers.

David_A._Lottes
09-20-2006, 08:00 PM
One of the members who is studying for the test wanted a better explanation of the answer to a sample question about ratios. It opened a pandora's box of replies and eventually came down to a very through analysis of the technique. So I was hoping some of the folks working on certification would post some more of the sample questions. I thought the last one was a terrific exercise for everyone to participate in. How about it?

Don_Chick
09-20-2006, 10:18 PM
Which in my case (even more true 5 years ago when I started) means that you ascribed to a closely guarded and ritualistic image making and judging system through wich you made a set of images that fit that mold. The PPA system has been setup to promote BASIC standards, BASIC images, and repeatablity.

I'm not flaming, I'm just stating my perspective as I started - FWIW - don't morph it into a critique on PPA at all. Standards are good for the industry. I focused on image, and it brought me to a different place. I'm involved with PPA now to learn business from studio management services.

WOW!!!! Neil, have you looked at a loan collection book lately? These images are anything but "basic"! Where have you been........

Jack_Reznicki
09-21-2006, 02:38 PM
WOW!!!! Neil, have you looked at a loan collection book lately? These images are anything but "basic"! Where have you been........

I'd agree.
I think many people don't understand that the PPA of today is not the PPA of yesterday. This ain't your daddy's PPA.
The loan collection has some very wonderful imagery. Not what I would call "basic" photography.

And Neil, I see your teaching a class in my good friend Paul Markow's studio in Phoenix. Say "Hey" for me. I'll be shooting with Paul in October. We try and do one or two shoots together a year. You can read about one of them in this month's Professional Photographer magazine. :)

Betsy_Finn
09-21-2006, 04:33 PM
One of the members who is studying for the test wanted a better explanation of the answer to a sample question about ratios. It opened a pandora's box of replies and eventually came down to a very through analysis of the technique. So I was hoping some of the folks working on certification would post some more of the sample questions. I thought the last one was a terrific exercise for everyone to participate in. How about it?
Sounds like a great idea! :) I'll start a new thread for CPP question discussion :cool:

David_Bell
09-22-2006, 03:26 AM
Anyone (including your "uncle Bob") can join the PPA, study required materials, get outside help from others, take a test and receive their Certified Professional Photog. In many ways it can be totally misleading for potential clients who face an increasingly overrun list of self claimed professional photographers. Armed with their brand new digital SLRs they are literally crawling out of from everywhere. Now hand them a CPP tag and they simply add more mud to already murky waters.

I had been involved with the PPA a number of years ago, received a half dozen merits within a couple years (which the PPA now tells me are no longer valid because I have not be active for over 10 years. I bailed on the PPA because I mostly saw more of a battle of egos rather than a useful resource for my day to day business. Seemed like "the contest" only create more creative copy cats than creative individuals.

From just reading through a handful of threads on this forum it seems that much hasn't change through the years. There was a time when being a professional photographer was unique and special, requiring many learned skills, as well as a God given talent for seeing the usual in an unusual way. Seems like today everyone's a pro-photog, or wants to become one. They'll pick up digital SLR, take a few courses at a community college, join the PPA, get all geared up, copy everyone else's work, and then tag their name with Certified Professional Photographer. Go Figure?

Yup... as much as things change, they stay the same.

Jack_Reznicki
09-22-2006, 04:36 AM
Anyone (including your "uncle Bob") can join the PPA, study required materials, get outside help from others, take a test and receive their Certified Professional Photog.

You know I've heard this the last few years from photographers and if were only that easy to get certified.

You can repeat it over and over, but it doesn't make it any more true. If taking quality photos were as easy as you say, then there would be many more certified photographers than there are.
Read the CPP Exam Question Discussion thread in the Certified Photographer Forum, and tell me that Uncle Bob can absorb that information being a "newbie" shooter with a new digital camera.

If your work cannot compete with "Uncle Bob" and his new digital camera, then I have to scratch my head.

I don't know how else to say this, but I've been hearing the same thing in the commercial world. Photographers of a certain generation wonder why such lousy work is being printed today, while they are "real" photographers who can't get work. What they don't see is that the visual language of today is not the same as that in the '60's and '70s.
Showing work where the hairdo of the women are from the ‘80’s doesn’t read well for today’s buyers. Yet I've seen it in photographer's portfolios.

And I think a lot of photographers are lashing out at the sorry state of photography today.
You know, I’ve heard that line for the last 30 years.
“The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in the stars……..” to quote Shakespeare, if you know how that quote ends.

There is generational change in photography and I think the work today is outstanding.

Getting certification is not a walk in the park as you implied.

I’m truly sorry that you didn’t get what you needed from PPA ten years ago. But this isn’t the same association that was around 10 years ago. This isn’t the same industry it was 10 years ago.

I'll say it again- this is no longer your father's PPA.

We have a lot of new, young, vibrant, and talented members. And a lot of us old dogs learning new tricks.
And getting certified is not a “gimme”.

Holly_Howe
09-22-2006, 05:36 AM
From just reading through a handful of threads on this forum it seems that much hasn't change through the years. .

David, I'm sure if I had a preconcieved notion about the way things are, I could read through a hand full of threads and find proof I was right. You usually find just what you go looking for.

As far as PPA goes - there are many aspects that just are not for me. There are many things PPA does that I don't agree with. I take what works for me and leave the rest to the other members whom it does work for and who do agree with it. To say that all PPA members are copy cats with battling egos is just as narrow minded as saying all Jewish people are cheap or all red heads have a temper. In an organization this large there is no way everything PPA does will benefit or appeal to every member. And it's just plan silly to believe that all - what is it 10,000 (Jack, please step in here) members are doing the same work and all think they are better than each other. There are copycats and there are arrogant people, but by no means is that the majority or even the norm. Ignore the stuck ups. Realize that everybody else is also aware just who is copying whom. Then move on to those people who you can learn from and those people you can teach something to. I hope you stick around this forum long enough to see just how many truly modest individuals with immense talents and skills are represented here.

Holly

KirkDarling
09-22-2006, 05:43 AM
Seems there was a time when being a professional photographer was unique and special, requiring many learned skills, as well as a God given talent for seeing the usual in an unusual way.

That's never been true. There have always been talentless hacks who yet earned a living in photography.

They'll pick up digital SLR, take a few courses at a community college, join the PPA, get all geared up, copy everyone else's work, and then tag their name with Certified Professional Photographer.

How can this be true when the percentage of CPP holders is so vanishingly small?

Certainly, the CPP does not guarantee anyone is an artist (nor does a BFA). It only indicates that a person has achieved a certain degree of technical proficiency.

Jack_Reznicki
09-22-2006, 05:44 AM
what is it 10,000 (Jack, please step in here)

Holly,

Over 16,000 PPA members, getting closer to 17,000.
And then there are many more members in affiliate associations, like State and regional associations, that aren't PPA members, but part of the "family"
You can be a local affiliate member and not be a PPA member.

David_A._Lottes
09-22-2006, 01:06 PM
The title of this thread is "How has being certified benefited you". Mr. Bell is not certified. His comments would be better moved to a new thread titled "Why I think certification is a joke". After all would you be interested in my reply to a thread titled "How I feel about my menstral cycle"? His opinions are valid and he has a right to be heard but he cannot answer the question posed in the title. I have allready mentioned a couple of ways certification has helped me as a marketing tool and as a personal enrichment proccess. Truth be told if PPA hadn't dangled the carrot of certification in front of this horse I probably wouldn't have done the work it took to pass the exam and the image submission. As far as what it says to my clients,....NOTHING, unless I tell them about it. What it should tell them is that I care enough about what I do to put forth the effort to learn.


But this isn’t the same association that was around 10 years ago.

Jack, hold out your hand. I have a ruler I want to smack it with! This is not the first time I have seen you imply that the "PPA of OLD" wasn't as good as it is today. Personally I have only been involved with the PPA since 94. That makes me a newbie to guys like you. So how do you think it makes people who have put in 20, 30 or even 40 plus years with this organization feel when they read comments like this? I personally know men and women who have paid thousands of dollars in dues and put in countless volunteer hours building this organiztion into what it is today. Many of them aren't here to defend themselves. Don Blair (God rest his soul). Those folks did the really hard work! They built markets like senior portraits from scratch. Now we have the luxury of worrying about what photoshop actions to use to make ours look different. They had to get people buying them in the first place. SHOW A LITTLE RESPECT. "Membership is up"...stop patting yourself on the back, the population has nearly doubled in the last 20 years. If we have an outbreak of Asian bird flu that kills half the membership, should we hold you accountable? There, now put some ice on those knuckles before they turn blue.

Kirk, as a person with a BFA who is certified I can't help but take your comment personally. I do not tell people that I am an artist! Some of my clients may use that term but I studied Fine Art for five years and I know what I do to pay my bills will never be in the same leauge as Fine Art. Which brings up another comment about hair styles....FOR PETE SAKE!!!!! OH that Vermeer his subjects have old hairdoos.....nothing to see there.

The truth is (as Goodwill Hunting would say) if you are self motivated you could learn anything on the CPP exam with a library card and a dollar for the photocopy machine. The best thing about the process is the fellowship.

I will be the first to admit that I have made some pretty offensive posts on this forum and I'm ashamed of some of the things I've said here but it has given me a place to go when I need advice or just some amusement. Random uniformed replies have no place here. I will do my best to be more thoughtful or at least start my own topics if my comments aren't relavent from now on.

KirkDarling
09-22-2006, 01:40 PM
Kirk, as a person with a BFA who is certified I can't help but take your comment personally.

(Scratching head) I said, in response to David Bell's comments, "Certainly, the CPP does not guarantee anyone is an artist (nor does a BFA)." I even quoted David Bell's comments to make sure it was clear exactly who and what I was specifically responding to.

Why would youtake it personally?


I do not tell people that I am an artist! Some of my clients may use that term but I studied Fine Art for five years and I know what I do to pay my bills will never be in the same leauge as Fine Art. Which brings up another comment about hair styles....FOR PETE SAKE!!!!! OH that Vermeer his subjects have old hairdoos.....nothing to see there.

None of that seems to me to have any connection to what I said about David Bell's comments. I'm still scratching my head at your taking of offense. You seem to be offended by things other people said, not me.

BTW, I intend to be adding "CPP" to my own signature soon. And I'm thinking about going after an MFA. But I would still say that neither can guarantee that I will then be an "artist," at least not in the esoteric sense that David Bell was using.

It appeared to me that Bell objected to the CPP program because it did not eliminate people who failed to have, as he put it, "a God given talent for seeing the usual in an unusual way." That is true--it does not. Neither does a BFA or MFA. People who lack "a God given talent for seeing the usual in an unusual way" can still get through all those programs.

Why are do you take that narrow statement of fact personally? What should be taken more personally would be a conclusion that a program that fails to eliminate people who lack "a God given talent for seeing the usual in an unusual way," is therefore a useless program. I think that's what you're really objecting to, but that was David Bell's conclusion--which I also objected to.

David_A._Lottes
09-22-2006, 02:00 PM
Why are do you take that narrow statement of fact personally? What should be taken more personally would be a conclusion that a program that fails to eliminate people who lack "is therefore a useless program. I think that's what you're really objecting to, but that was David Bell's conclusion--which I also objected to.

Years of people teling me I was or wasn't an artists based on what their interpretation is. Sorry if my comments were mis-directed at you. If I learned anything in school it was that as soon as you try to define an artist someone will prove you wrong. "a God given talent for seeing the usual in an unusual way," Is one such subjective interpretation that may or may not define the caracteristics of an artist, depending on who you ask. As I said, it is not a title I would bestoe on myself. Once again that has nothing to do with the topic of this thread so I'm over it. Thanks for the thoughtful reply Kirk.

Holly_Howe
09-22-2006, 02:49 PM
Jack, hold out your hand. I have a ruler I want to smack it with! This is not the first time I have seen you imply that the "PPA of OLD" wasn't as good as it is today.

David - I see where you are coming from on this. I don't interpet Jack's comments the same way, but I guess I can understand how some might. I didn't take it as the PPA of old wasn't good - but rather PPA now is different and improved. Hopefully we are all growing and changing. And what seemed perfectly acceptable and even good to us 10 years ago, with hindsight we see needed help. Need proof of that statement - okay how about leisure suits from the 70's, spandex biker shorts on men in the 80's and mullet haircuts in the 90's. All seemed good ideas at the time and now we look at them with disdain. I look back at the work we did 10 years ago and I'm embarassed, yet at the time we were proud of it and even won awards. So just because PPA is better now, doesn't mean we belittle or degrade the efforts of the people who came before. That's how I understand Jack's statement and I just wanted to share a different way of looking at it with you.

Holly

Jack_Reznicki
09-22-2006, 02:53 PM
Jack, hold out your hand. I have a ruler I want to smack it with!


Ouch!! :eek: That hurts!
But you're absolutely right.

But there have been many changes to make a great association even better in the last few years. I react when I hear that same old story, and I've heard it a lot, from non-PPA folks.

Holly_Howe
09-22-2006, 03:03 PM
Which brings up another comment about hair styles....FOR PETE SAKE!!!!! OH that Vermeer his subjects have old hairdoos.....nothing to see there.



Something else I wanted to respond to. I certainly understand the comment about hairstyles. Imagine this scenario. A bride comes in to my studio to talk about her wedding. I show her several albums with brides in elaborate updos with dangling spiral curls and gowns that are basically white parade floats (uh the 90's!). What will she infer from that? Either that I haven't photographed any new weddings in the last 10 years or that I can't afford to make new samples. Either way it doesn't make my studio very desirable to her. While she may still appreciate the artistic genius of her Mother's bridal portrait, (regardless of her Mom's dated hairdo and dress from the 70's) as Jack said in another post, visual style has changed and this bride wants her portraits to look like it was created in 2006. So to suggest dated clothing and hairstyles in sample portraits is okay because the Old Master's have dated hairstyles in their paintings . . . well to me that doesn't even make sense. Maybe I am misunderstanding what you were getting at.

Holly

David_A._Lottes
09-22-2006, 03:24 PM
she may still appreciate the artistic genius of her Mother's bridal portraitHolly

Holly, I mean to say that in the context of studying for the CPP exam students should pay less attention to attire and more attention to technique. Now I'm done with this thread! How has being certified benefited you is a great question and I've given my answer so I won't keep dragging it off track. Sorry for not making my point more clearly.

P.S. Good to talk with you again post-meltdown.

Jack_Reznicki
09-22-2006, 03:39 PM
So just because PPA is better now, doesn't mean we belittle or degrade the efforts of the people who came before. That's how I understand Jack's statement and I just wanted to share a different way of looking at it with you.
Holly

Thanks Holly. I've always felt we've all been standing on the shoulders of giants.

Jack_Reznicki
09-22-2006, 03:52 PM
While she may still appreciate the artistic genius of her Mother's bridal portrait, (regardless of her Mom's dated hairdo and dress from the 70's) as Jack said in another post, visual style has changed and this bride wants her portraits to look like it was created in 2006. So to suggest dated clothing and hairstyles in sample portraits is okay because the Old Master's have dated hairstyles in their paintings . . . Holly

Holly,

Might be worth starting another thread.
I'm rushed and just wanted to add (and add to this thread drift) that I had a consultant look over my portfolio to have a fresh pair of eyes look at my images.
She pointed out in one of my favorite photos that the eyeglasses on the woman were over 3 years old and art buyers (mostly women) would pick up on that very quickly. It dated my photo.
Out the photo went.

Women are much more sensitive and pick up such cues much better and faster than men.

My friend Hanson Fong has a great line about shooting couples. He says he's only concerned about making the woman look good, not the man. Because that's who buys the photos and that's all that matters ;)

The same thought process goes into selling. That's why women are doing so well in this industry. They know how to communicate and relate to their buyers.
Of course, this is a generalization. Many exceptions.

But photographers are bad sometimes at seeing how dated their own sample might be.

David_Bell
09-22-2006, 04:01 PM
I was just venting last night and didn't mean to scrape my fingernails on the chalkboard. I think the point I was attempting to make was missed. Point being that now days it's pretty easy for "uncle Bob" or "cousin Jane" to enter this crazy world of professional photography. Just look in your local yellow pages. Indeed, this was probably the wrong thread for me to post, but I figured I might get someone's attention, because many newbees are searching for that instant gratification via some type of certification. Seems like some responses were defending ego, rather than addressing the issue.

So, here's the deal. With things like Canon's latest 10 megapixel entry, and resources such as Pictage, photography is fast becoming the career choice for so many (it is darn easy to get a Mac, DSLR, website and a phone number). It is a totally different ball game. Whether they are talented, with great skills ("Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills", Napolean Dynamite) or maybe they are pretty much clueless, whatever? They are out there, working, taking calls and promoting CHEAP prices. If nothing else, we will all lose jobs just due to the numbers. It is basically reducing the value of what we do as professionals. What does adding CPP to our business business actually mean? (don't answer yet, read on).

With a little technical help to create a reasonably acceptable portfolio and some cramming for a test, a novice could gain their CPP if they are motivated to do so. What other business can be entered into so easily, with this type of acknowledgement from a highly regarded professional association, and with such a small financial investment? I kinda relate it to the person that takes a test to become building contractor, but has never swung a hammer. The biggest difference is that becoming a building contractor is also regulated by local and state government rules, codes and finacial requirements. And agreed, there are good and bad contractors with the same on-paper qualifications.

For our industry, there are little, if any regulations specific to our craft. The PPA is one of our only reputable resources for gaining credibility outside of the images our customers view, and praise they provide to others (any claim can be made on a website, blog or paid advertisement). But does that PPA and CPP logo invite business, does it indicate to our customers that they should expect higher prices, or is it just something to boost our egos when associating with other photographers? All I can say, is that it seems so many of us that have been in the industry for more than five or six years are now spending much more time on how and where to advertise, what to offer, what to charge, how to represent our business and most important, how to respond to the increasing numbers of "camera man for hire". And all of this takes time, effort and thought away from the most important issue of improving our craft, while still figuring out exactly what our market is becoming.

We can probably all agree that it is a changing market, and does having your CPP, and does the PPA address the overwhelming increase of new photographers entering the marketplace?

Holly_Howe
09-22-2006, 04:29 PM
Holly, I mean to say that in the context of studying for the CPP exam students should pay less attention to attire and more attention to technique. .

Thanks for clarifying David! Makes perfect sense to me in that context.

Holly

Michael_Gan
09-22-2006, 05:13 PM
David,


I have no problems with newbies going after their CPP because they have to have the appropriate business licenses in order to attain the designation. In fact, I wish all the newbies would do so.

The biggest problem is the huge underground that has no desire what-so-ever to become legitimate. PPA has so much of their resources tied into copyright protection that the illegals have been overlooked. These are the people who are really cutting into your businesses.

In California, if you have a resale license, you're treated as a common criminal if you are late in paying your sales tax. Yet, California refuses to investigate the illegal businesses which are numbering in the estimated thousands! This compounds the problems for the municipalities, local agencies State, and Federal incomes. Thus, compounding the problem!

We've always had the uncle bob's before, but this is a problem that has reached the then-impervious portrait industry. This has become an epidemic and I believe PPA is waiting too long to act.

Regarding the yellow pages - Here in California, the people you see in the yellow pages have to have a copy of their business license in order to be listed in the yellow pages. In doing a quick research in our city, I've found nearly twice as many websites for photography with no sistings in the yellow pages! Shame on Marathon for designing the sites for at least 2 I know of!

Michael

David_Bell
09-22-2006, 05:39 PM
Michael, thanks for your response. In NC a local and state business license is cheap, real cheap and not much of a factor. Now sales tax is an entirely different issue. In fact, two year ago I won the lotto....the NC State Sales Tax audit lotto!! Random? No! Two other photog within 10 miles also received a state sales tax audit. We're all legit, but it was a pain in the butt, a long story and this is not the place to discuss it. I've often wondered why and continue to believe a competitor was the source for these audits.

Anyway, now might be a real good time for myself and my wife my to reconsider joining the PPA, proceed with testing for CPP status and carry on bigger and better than ever.

Regarding some comments about 'hair styles'.... I assume somebody hit my site and saw some older stuff I stuck on there. I did my website in 5 days and included some older (dated, for sure) photos simply to represent I was NOT just some dude with a camera that took a course last week at some local tech school. I'm 48 years old, but I've been doing this under professional guidance since I was in my teens. Old school? Not really. Do I know the rules? For sure. My dad taught me long ago that in order to break rules, you first have to know and understand the rules. Agreed?

To all of you that are going for your CPP: Go for it! Learn, study, get better and help our industry to represent!!

Jack_Reznicki
09-22-2006, 06:48 PM
I was just venting last night and didn't mean to scrape my fingernails on the chalkboard.

David,

Nothing wrong with that. Differing points of view are great because it gets good conversations going.
Your "fingernails" started some great comments.

But respectfully, I don't agree with you. That doesn't make either point of view more or less valid, just differing.


With a little technical help to create a reasonably acceptable portfolio and some cramming for a test, a novice could gain their CPP if they are motivated to do so.

I still contend that it's not as simple as you make it out to be. In the process of doing what you say, real learning happens. Real achievements. And people become "real" photographers.
That is not a bad thing. Raising the level of ability leads to a saying that I use a lot- A rising tide raises all boats.


The biggest difference is that becoming a building contractor is also regulated by local and state government rules, codes and finacial requirements.

You may not be aware of it, but certification at PPA has gone through the requirements and processes required by NOCA, the national group that oversees Certification in many fields like Accountants. Certification is now outside PPA, as that was one of the requirements, it had to be separated from a trade association.


But does that PPA and CPP logo invite business, does it indicate to our customers that they should expect higher prices, or is it just something to boost our egos when associating with other photographers?

David, there are some threads that people have posted where they have certification posted or they ask when they know someone is shopping around and they ask if the other photographers they are looking at are certified. That opens a dialog where the photographer can explain their qualifications. They say that does give them an edge.



We can probably all agree that it is a changing market, and does having your CPP, and does the PPA address the overwhelming increase of new photographers entering the marketplace?

PPA addresses new photographers by saying, "Welcome" and with open arms. The ones that are serious, the ones that want this to be a profession are the ones that want to be educated and improve.
All the new photographers just means that we have to raise our game.
Look at all the "new" golfers. Does that diminish the "pros"? No, it creates more of a demand for the good ones. The duffers become more aware of what "good" is.

And from what I've seen, it's not the "newbies" picking up a camera that should worry you. If you can't compete with their imagery, then there's another issue to discuss. BTW, the way to combat them is through marketing and distinguishing yourself and your product in the marketplace. Hence the increase in emphasis these last few years on such issues at PPA. And membership has responded by flooding the business classes.

But the real worry these days should be from schools pumping out photographers at an amazing rate. Not just RIT and Brooks, but a lot of Community Colleges, with serious curriculums, faculties, and facilities.
I'm amazed at how many schools have very good classes and instruction these days.

I did a "Digital Boot Camp" for instructors with Julianne Kost from Adobe the last three years. Instructors from schools like SVA and FIT in NY. Community College of Southern Nevada, Art Institutes in San Francisco, Atlanta, Ft.Laudersdale (and they have many more locations), Art Center in Pasadena, CA, Harrington College of Design in Chicago, Milwaukee Area Technical College, tons of schools in Texas, and so on and so on and so on and so on.

When these photographers go out into the world, where do you think they go?

Are there "newbies" who just picked up a camera competing with you? Maybe some, no doubt for some of you. But I really believe they are not your biggest worry. They're just an easy scapegoat to point at in a changing landscape. Educated, informed, and talented photographers should be a bigger worry.

Standing still is now moving backwards in this industry.
That's why many of the PPA affiliate schools are doing so well. The Texas School had over 950 pros learning for a week in dozens of classes. Not to mention the gallons of beer that were consumed, but that's a different story. (What happens at the Texas School, stays at the Texas School). :D

Getting retrained and improving skill sets is what is going on in this country in many, many industries. Why should we be different?
When does longevity give you a "guarantee" in an industry where talent wins out?

And what should PPA do about it? We are a trade association representing all photographers. How would we stop this "flood" of photographers?
And why would we want to?

Interesting questions. Good discussion. Thanks for the fingernails ;)

David_Bell
09-22-2006, 07:02 PM
Jack, thanks and very well said.

My final comment: Mediocrity won't cut it today.

Holly_Howe
09-22-2006, 07:21 PM
Shame on Marathon for designing the sites for at least 2 I know of!

Michael

Micheal, in Marathon's defense, in Nebraska you don't have to have a liscense to open a studio just a sales tax number. I've never had any supplier ask me if I had a sales tax number before they would accept my business - EXCEPT if they where supplying me with resale goods which were tax exempt. As a website would not be for resale - and as such is not tax exempt, why should Marathon even ask? Anyway, why should it be their job to detirmine if a studio is legitimate before they accept a job. I don't ask high school seniors for proof they are going to actually graduate before I do their senior portraits. I can understand your anger and frustration that all businesses in your area are not being treated equally, but that's not Marathon Press's responsibility.

Holly

mlphoto
09-22-2006, 07:30 PM
Mediocrity won't cut it today.

That is not necessarily true. There are a lot of truly average products out there today. Selling average products for an average price to an average consumer can be extremely profitable.

KirkDarling
09-22-2006, 08:43 PM
spandex biker shorts on men in the 80's

Now, wait a minute. I resemble that remark. I was heavy into road cycling during the 80s and 90s riding about 250 miles a week, so I wore Spandex a lot.

I recall during an extended business trip to Montgomery, AL, on my bike at a stoplight next to a couple of guys in the proverbial pickup truck. The guy on the passenger side leans out of the window and asks, "Look, just why do you have to wear them tight clothes?"

I gave him all the logical reasons--lack of wind resistance, protection from blisters, protection from road rash if I fall, pockets in the back that are easy to reach while riding, et cetera. He nodded thoughtfully and said, "Well, okay then."

Holly_Howe
09-23-2006, 12:00 AM
Now, wait a minute. I resemble that remark. I was heavy into road cycling during the 80s and 90s riding about 250 miles a week, so I wore Spandex a lot.

"

Yeah - like I said - it was a great idea at the time . . . but do you wear them to the supermarket now? I don't wear hot pants any longer either. Let me tell you people everywhere are grateful for that! LOL!

Holly

Mark_Turner
09-23-2006, 01:16 AM
Uh, Keith, here's your chance to earn some points.

KirkDarling
09-23-2006, 04:25 AM
That is not necessarily true. There are a lot of truly average products out there today. Selling average products for an average price to an average consumer can be extremely profitable.

Average products plus average price equals "extremely profitable" only if you can sell above-average volume. That's the Law of Conservation of Profit, also known as "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch."

KirkDarling
09-23-2006, 04:26 AM
Yeah - like I said - it was a great idea at the time . . . but do you wear them to the supermarket now?

Only when I'm wearing my bike over my shoulder (chain it outside? Perish the thought!).

I gave up the hot pants back in 1972.

KirkDarling
09-23-2006, 04:39 AM
Regarding the yellow pages - Here in California, the people you see in the yellow pages have to have a copy of their business license in order to be listed in the yellow pages. In doing a quick research in our city, I've found nearly twice as many websites for photography with no sistings in the yellow pages! Shame on Marathon for designing the sites for at least 2 I know of!Michael, I'm not sure I see a necessary connection between having a Yellow Pages ad and legitimacy. From all the marketing information I've seen, if someone has a choice between spending money on any other form of marketing and spending money on a Yellow Pages ad, the usual advice is to spend money on anything else.

KirkDarling
09-23-2006, 04:42 AM
With a little technical help to create a reasonably acceptable portfolio and some cramming for a test, a novice could gain their CPP if they are motivated to do so. What other business can be entered into so easily, with this type of acknowledgement from a highly regarded professional association, and with such a small financial investment? Networking. Been there, did that, got the embroidered polo shirt.

Mark_Levesque
09-23-2006, 12:48 PM
I was gonna say real estate. You have to study for a test. Big deal. When my wife decided she wanted to go into real estate, I became her study partner. She went to the class; I helped her by reading the book so I could help her with her study materials. We both passed the test. I never bothered to hang my license because my heart wasn't in it (and I became employed again.) The sum total investment for a real estate business is even less than that of photography.

Michael_Gan
09-23-2006, 07:57 PM
Michael, I'm not sure I see a necessary connection between having a Yellow Pages ad and legitimacy. From all the marketing information I've seen, if someone has a choice between spending money on any other form of marketing and spending money on a Yellow Pages ad, the usual advice is to spend money on anything else. I guess my point is that illitgitimate businesses should not be allowed to advertise publically, let alone be running a business at all. And if companies want my business, they shouldn't be pandering to illegal business'.

Now, mind you, I don't think that these people are affecting my business all that much as I am on the extreme high end of the scale. My concern is for the ligitimate start ups who are trying to charge a decent price (we always tell them to raise their prices on this forum), yet they are constantly undercut by a mess load of people charging $35 for an 11x14. This is just "side money" for them and they don't give a hoot how this destroys our industry and our ability to survive.

Michael

KirkDarling
09-23-2006, 09:23 PM
I was gonna say real estate. You have to study for a test. Big deal. When my wife decided she wanted to go into real estate, I became her study partner. She went to the class; I helped her by reading the book so I could help her with her study materials. We both passed the test. I never bothered to hang my license because my heart wasn't in it (and I became employed again.) The sum total investment for a real estate business is even less than that of photography.

That's an even better example than mine. There must be a million part-time people in real estate.

When I was living in DC, I took and passed the Maryland certification test for life insurance solicitation. But like you with real estate, my heart wasn't in it. I did learn one thing that I keep in mind with photography: It's almost always the wife who makes the decision to purchase. Even if she has to get agreement from her husband, it's the wife who first decides, "We're going to buy it." So always talk to the wife and forumulate the sales pitch for the wife. Look at the husband now and then, but choose the words for the wife.

KirkDarling
09-23-2006, 09:33 PM
I guess my point is that illitgitimate businesses should not be allowed to advertise publically, let alone be running a business at all. And if companies want my business, they shouldn't be pandering to illegal business'.

Now, mind you, I don't think that these people are affecting my business all that much as I am on the extreme high end of the scale. My concern is for the ligitimate start ups who are trying to charge a decent price (we always tell them to raise their prices on this forum), yet they are constantly undercut by a mess load of people charging $35 for an 11x14. This is just "side money" for them and they don't give a hoot how this destroys our industry and our ability to survive.

Michael

I would agree with Holly that it's not the telephone company's calling to police the legitimacy of businesses that want to advertise with them. Nor the newspaper's calling, nor the electrical company, nor anyone else except the state.

It wouldn't be hard for the state to write a little program that would compare yellow page listings to the registered business list, though. Both are available in softcopy.

I'm bugged more by even the legitimate businesses that charge what I know are unprofitable prices. The only way they can possibly stay in business is by baiting with lowball session fees and lowball ala carte prices, then pressuring the customers to buy more (or tack on lots of ala carte optioins) after the session.

Holly_Howe
09-24-2006, 02:35 AM
I guess my point is that illitgitimate businesses should not be allowed to advertise publically, let alone be running a business at all. And if companies want my business, they shouldn't be pandering to illegal business'.

Michael

Micheal, I can truly see your point - BUT! Do you have any insight on how and who gets to detirmine what is a legitamite business? And who would police it? I for one certainly do not feel I should have to open my business to "inspection" by some government agency to see if I am legitamite. I would see that as an invasion of privacy. I don't think even on this forum we could come to an agreement on what the criteria should be. And if we can't say for sure who is legitamite how can we expect suppliers to follow some check list that only exists in our heads - and probably varies from one of us to another. If it's based on price we charge - what about Walmart portrait studios or Olan Mills? Are they illegitamite. Should suppliers refuse to sell to them. I know if a supplier refused to sell to me unless I raised my prices, I would be really mad, refuse to ever use them again and tell everyone I know. Who are they to tell me how I have to run my business? I'm not disagreeing with you on the challenge of very low priced competitors, but I don't understand how you think they could be "legislated" (for lack of a better word) out of business. If you have any ideas on developing criteria and how to get the federal, state or local government to adopt it and enforce it, I would be very interested to hear your thoughts. I can't see a way out but maybe you can show me something I am not aware of.

I suspect if about any other type of business was to read our concerns with price cutters, they would laugh at us and say "welcome to the real world guys". Just about every kind of business has someone who will do it cheaper. We aren't alone in that challenge and those businesses get just as frustrated as we do. I always try to remember I cannot control what other studios do. I can only control my own business.

Holly

Michael_Gan
09-24-2006, 05:57 PM
My criteria of a legitimate business is based on the Rotary 4 way test:

Is it Fair? Do I pay my fair share of taxes to the governments as required by law?

Is it the Truth? Are we being truthful to our customers that we are a legitimate business and that we comply with all moral ethics of running a business?

Does it bring good will to all concern? With schools hurting for money, shouldn't we pay our fait share of taxes to pay for our children?

Does it benefit all concerned? Why should I pay my taxes and business licenses and uphold my ethical standards if our government AND our trade association doesn't care?

Michael

Holly_Howe
09-24-2006, 07:36 PM
I agree with everything you said - I still don't understand how that criteria can be used to stop a studio from doing business. Or how can a supplier make that detirmination before they will agree to sell to a business. Some people are ethical and some aren't.

Example - How many of you out there were effected by the recent shut down of Off The Wall in Canada? We were lucky, we recieved our last piece of the set just two days or so before the Canadan government shut them down. According to a newspaper article circulating on the web, the company had been having problems with bounced paychecks etc for at least three years. Yet this company had a trade show booth at National in Austin. If it's up to the supplier to detirmine legitamacy before selling a product ( in this case selling them a show booth) shouldn't PPA be responsible for all of the people who bought at that show and didn't get their merchandise? We only did because I finally told them the next phone call would be from my lawyer. If I had waited two more days to say that, I would have been out of luck I think we can all agree that PPA had no responsibility to check out this companies P&L before selling them show space. Just as any supplier is not responsible for the ethcs of the clients who buy from them.

We did a family portrait for a well known local man. A year later he was arrested for having relations with a minor girl - his 14 year old daughter's softball teammate. Did I have a responsibility to check this guy out before I agreed to sell him my product? To me that's what you are asking our suppliers to do.

Micheal, I do not disagree with any of your thoughts and opinions about what makes a business ethical and legitamite. They are the same principals I try to apply to my own business and personal life and I can tell those ideals are how you run your life. What I don't agree with is your comments about shame on Marathon and that you won't use a supplier that panders to price cutters. I don't understand how you expect them to make that judgement call.

You made a comment "Why should I pay my taxes and business licenses and uphold my ethical standards if our government AND our trade association doesn't care?" I agree with that 100%, but I think what you are addressing is morality. How do you legislate morality - and who gets to decide what's moral and what's not. At the far ends of the spectrum it's pretty easy to detirmine. It's the middle ground that gets fuzzy. Just like awhile back, here on this forum, there was a ban on the word crap. ( Now I'm gonna be in trouble) Okay, most of us aren't too offended by that word but some are. So a line has to be drawn somewhere. If that word is acceptable then something just a tad stronger is probably also okay. Then if that stronger word is allowed people go a little farther and so on. Just like if your child talks back a little and gets away with it, the next time they will be even a little more beligerent. At some point a line in the sand has to get drawn. I think it's pretty hard to get an agreement on where that line should fall when it's about ethics and morality. If you have any thoughts on how to detirmine that line and how to enforce it I would be very interested. Thank you very much for what - at least to me - has been a thought provoking discussion.

Holly

Michael_Gan
09-24-2006, 09:07 PM
I agree, it is more of a moral issue, which coincidentally, leads to this thread! (funny how it takes time for things to go full circle).

Your mention of Off the Wall is precisely my point. If they were not a license business, the government would not have been able to step in and say "you're playing unfair".

Whereas, the "undocumented" businesses can go along, leaving a path of customer destruction in it's wake. For a legal business, there is a legal paper trail in which an investigation is more( but not always) possible. More possible than an illegal business.

So how does certification benefit me? It actually benefits the consumer! Ther is now an additional "paper trail" which puts more resposibility on the business owner to do the right things, morally, ethically, technically and responsibly. It places the heart of our industry with at least some form of consumer protectionism.

Michael

Howard_Barlow
09-24-2006, 09:40 PM
Frequently, though, all one has to do is reopen in someone else's name as owner, maybe change the company name, but then it's back to business as usual.

Not to hijack the thread, but is OTW gone?

David_Mithofer
09-28-2006, 08:39 PM
Holly, Michael, and everyone else,

Thank you for taking a touchy potentially exposive topic and discussing it professionally and with civility. I do agree that certification is good for the consumer. Just the fact that someone bothers to complete the program shows a level of committment to the industry and makes it much less likely the business is a fly by night operation.

David Mithofer

Paul_Witkowski
10-24-2006, 12:31 AM
Hi everyone!

I'm new here.

I just joined PPA. It's an association that I've known about since I did my first photos for money way back in 1977. Photography is not my primary profession, but I take this very seriously and also call myself a professional photographer. I always looked upon, and admired PPA-Photographers, as true professionals.

On joining and looking through both local and reginal member lists, I'm shocked to see so FEW members who hold any certification!

So that's my point in writing. On other boards over the years I've heard a lot of crying about how the weekend warriers and the Uncle Bill's are just ruining it for the "real" professionals.

In my own town, I'm shocked to see that almost none of the full-timers are PPA members, and ABSOLUTELY NONE holds any PPA certification.

So, is there any value to all of this??

http://www.paulwphotography.com

Richlain_Robinson
10-24-2006, 03:50 PM
Shocked by what would be my question Paul. While we are members of PPA and have passed certification I truly think you are missing something here with your statements. Why are you shocked that few of the full time photographers are certified. The most talented competition I have in my area does not even belong to PPA. PPA certification does not indicate a higher level or lower level of skill necesarily. In fact PPA is now populated by as many part time as full time photographers. In other words folks who are not able to make a living just in photography. It is not all that easy and I have great respect for those who are able.

NOthing wrong with that except when a part timer starts to judge those who have been successful in making their living and way in the art and business of photographer. Certification is a great program but it is not a measure nationally of the best of the best. Just my opinion after more than 30 years working in the art and doing it full time. As for part time photographers like yourself, I have no problem with your weekend job if you hold yourself to high standards in the art and the business and of course charge fees that relate to others in the area or higher.

Paul_Witkowski
10-25-2006, 04:46 AM
I'm one of the Certification Committee Members and I'm sort of conducting a simple survey here. Being curious to know, those of you who are already PPA Certified, how being Certified has benefited you and your business.

Thanks for your response, Richlain. The quote, above, goes back to the very first post that opened this thread. You noted that many of the most acomplished and successful full-time photographers not only are not PPA certified but not even PPA memebers.

Hence, back to the original question: Is certification of any real benefit? There have been some good stories posted, but is there enough of a 'critical mass' to make the process whorthwhile? Seems like even the Certification Committee might have some lingering doubts.

(Reminds me of an old story about a worker in a large company who felt unappreciated..."Doing a good job around here is like peeing your pants in a dark suit. You get a nice warm feeling but nobody notices.")

Paul_Witkowski
10-25-2006, 05:17 AM
As a "newbie" here, I don't want anyone to misunderstand me. Richlain, I love the phrase you use with your signature line:

40 years capturing images to media and still loving it every day.

My re-entry into serious photography a few years ago was in large part out of frustration with what I was seeing and hearing. My primary work in photography is weddings. I also love action sports photography, but I don't make any money with it. To me, there is so much similarity in the two. To get the best shot requires a keen sense of anticipation to be in the right spot at the right moment with the right settings...I can't stage these moments in a hockey game, and I won't stage them in a wedding either. And once they're gone they're gone forever.

What I'd see as a wedding guest, and what brides have told me are too many stories about very well established local studios who it seems have lost a lot of touch with their customers. Photographers who work like the day is about them, who step out in the aisle and STOP each and every bridesmaid so that they can get a good picture. I've signed brides who have told me how put off they were by some of the well-known studios who didn't seem to want to listen to what THEY wanted. Seems like somewhere along the way it stopped being a passion that they loved and started just being a job.

And absolutely, I keep my fees well in line with the full time studios. The last thing I want to do is make it look like those studios are overcharging.

The business is technical skills plus artistic skills plus business skills plus PEOPLE SKILLS. Missing any one is like a 4-legged chair missing one leg. Sit on it and it falls over.

I greatly respect and admire good photographers. And I've been privileged to know many of them.

David_A._Lottes
10-25-2006, 12:00 PM
Seems like somewhere along the way it stopped being a passion that they loved and started just being a job.


Hi Paul
Welcome to the forum. We would all like to know who we are talking to so please send a private message or email to Gregory Aide and ask him to change your user name to your full name. It is one of the rules of this forum. It may not make sense to you but for all we know you are a consumer here on a fishing expedition, trying to build a case for not hiring someone based on the replies you get from "professional photographers". I don't believe that but you would get better replies if everyone knew who you are. Anyway in response to the statement I have quoted above I'd like to say that it can be just the opposite for some. I think this thread covers all the good, bad and ugly of the certification program and I don't think anyone who has been through the process regrets it. Now some of those photographers who your clients don't like don't mind that those clients don't like them. They have become the way they are not because they don't enjoy their craft anymore but because they have too much respect for what they do to compromise their work. In other words they would rather do things the way they want than produce a product their uncomfortable with. It won't work for everyone and that's OK. No photographer has the time to do every wedding their contacted to consider anyway. That's a good thing for people who do things another way. The brides who want direction can go somewhere and the ones who like freestyle can go somewhere else, win - win! I know many photographers who won't work with couples who wont see each other before the ceremony. This eliminates allot of prospects for them and that keeps their schedules manageable. They do this not because they don't care about their work but because they care sooo much about their work. So keep in mind that one size doesn't fit all. If every basketball player in the NBA decided to quit because his hang time was shorter than Jordan's the court would be pretty empty.

Mark_Levesque
10-25-2006, 12:12 PM
You noted that many of the most acomplished and successful full-time photographers not only are not PPA certified but not even PPA memebers.
The question of whether PPA membership in general and certification in particular are beneficial stand apart from photographic achievement in the abstract. While it may be tempting to conclude that there is no benefit to certification due to the observation that some high practitioners of photography are not certified, I think that misses the point. Sure, not every NBA star played college ball, including some hall of famers, but that doesn't mean there's no benefit to playing college ball if you want to be in the NBA.

There exists no "one, true path" to photographic excellence. Some great photographers are lousy technicians, and some technically proficient photographers lack artistic ability. Certification is one of many possible paths. And it isn't an end; it's a means. Acquiring the knowledge required to pass the examination should increase your technical knowledge and ability. That would seem beneficial. Attaining the level of craftsmanship to pass the image submission likewise seems to be helpful. So it's hard to make an argument that the certification process is not beneficial. But that doesn't seem to be the question that many are asking. Perhaps this is me reading between the lines too much, but the question I'm really hearing is whether certification is necessary. No, of course not. Neither will certification guarantee greatness. It takes more than a couple of months of studying and the generation of 20 images with a base level of professional competence. But if you want a structured way of moving yourself towards the level of technical competence that allows you to express your artistic aesthetic, it seems like a means towards that end.

Dave_Cisco
10-25-2006, 04:52 PM
Certification is just one of the many pieces that make me who I am in the photographic community...I wanted to achieve, and it was there :) . In one of the years where I crashed on all four print competition images, I decided to salvage the year and study for my CPP. How has it helped? Don't know, but I don't believe it has hurt. :D

Paul_Witkowski
10-26-2006, 12:25 AM
Thanks, David.
Signing up without my full name was because, at the time, I did not realize that's what was expected. It was totally unintentional. As you see, my sign-on is now changed.

I fully plan on putting together my CPP application this winter, after the wedding season calms down and the holidays are over. Even before my very first post, there was never a doubt in my mind that I'd pursue certification.