Selecting Images for CPP
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 here 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 there is the lack of separation of the foreground elements (the silhouetted couple) and background elements. The blacks are blocking up to make the couple indistinguishable from the background behind the male and 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 selecting them If you are thinking of becoming a candidate I would encourage you to check out: 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.