Photographic Craftsman ... too easy to get?
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  1. #1

    Thumbs up Photographic Craftsman ... too easy to get?

    Hi Everyone, I wanted to throw this out there since it's something that comes up from time to time when I talk with old school Craftsmen.

    Seems that (mostly em who got theirs in the 80's and 90's) some think that nowadays the degree doesn't really carry as much weight anymore since people are getting the speaker merits faster and easier than ever.

    Easy they say? I don't really think so but let's take Super Monday for instance. The program allows speakers (or tandem) a maximum of 4 merits a year. Another is the new rule allowing one to receive a speaking merit from their own local. How about the continuing education program where merits are awarded to people who do their own workshops? Some speculate that speaking merits will soon be given for the webinars as well when those start to pick up. Heck I personally think that qualified forum mentors also deserve speaking merits. BTW, I got mines in 18 months though I did the locals tour.

    Anyways, it's not hard for somebody get to be a craftsman without ever leaving their city/metropolitan and get it within 2 years. Many have now become craftsmen w/o ever sharing at other local affiliates, speaking in front of a crowd at a convention or teaching a class at an affiliate school.

    Since it's not as difficult anymore, I wonder if the appeal of the speaking merit is fading. If so, it's unfortunate since it will get harder for locals now to invite out of towner's since they (speakers) can really get the same merits without leaving home. Also, there might be a trend of having all local speakers since well qualified people don't have much incentive to come anymore. Gosh that's a scary scenario.

    So I don't know, I'm starting to see what em oldies have been saying. How about you ... what's your take? How does your local group membership feel about this? Do people even care about the merits? Have they ever? Also when you answer, tell us a little about your background so readers could get an idea of your experience with the program.
    Last edited by Marc_Benjamin; 02-09-2008 at 11:23 AM.
    -Marc Benjamin, M. Photog. Cr. F-PPC
    marcbenjamin.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Palmyra, Pennsylvania
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    Default My experience ....

    Hi Marc;

    I took a while getting the "other" merits over the years. I got my first teaching merit from, of all things, doing a class on using MS Publisher for doing studio forms, price lists, handouts and such. I did it for an early bird program for our state association. I then did up my program on Adobe Photoshop. I taught it as an early bird plus another time at our state convention. I also drove 6½ hours to give it to the SNAPP group(Southwest New York). I taught it to the Northeast Pa. group and also the Central New Jersey group. And, I gave it to the Maryland Association. My last two teaching merits were for serving as a print judge twice for the Northeast Pa. group. I got Craftsman in January of 2006 after setting a goal to get it in 3 years. So, I did do a bit of driving to get mine. The (much) bigger challenge is now attacking Master. I have 10 "other" merits built up and need to start getting the print merits.

  3. #3

    Default

    I think it's tougher to get speakers period. I rarely go to our local guild meetings any more. Membership and participation are down.

    Why don't I go?

    To give up a late afternoon senior session costs me money. I've gone to many programs where the speaker is supposed to be an Adobe Photoshop guru yet I know far more than they do. When I get the email containing the info about any speaker, I go to their website and check them out. If they are good, I will consider going. If their work is subpar or just average snapshot variety then I stay home.

    I wouldn't speak at our local guild because there needs to be some physical distance from my audience.

    I've done a Super Monday and have gone to various guilds to speak. I have 10 speaking merits so far. I may never get my Craftsman Degree.

    Each year we do host a class for our lab. We invite the long time pros that need help with computers and workflow. And we do it all for free. It a way for me to give back to the ones who have helped me.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Palmyra, Pennsylvania
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    9,214

    Default Only 3 to go ...

    Hi Michael;

    With only 3 more teaching merits to go to have 13 ... why wouldn't you go for it ? It's a great news blurb to announce in a news release and the certificate looks terrific matted and framed on the studio wall. How far from having the requisite 12 "other" merits are you ?

  5. #5

    Default

    Don't let it get to you Marc. The truth is it was always pretty easy if you really wanted it. There was always a "circut" of small affiliates that had trouble paying for speakers in every part of the country. Super Monday is/was a terrific idea IMO. I went to one the first time they were introduced and we didn't get merits in those days. It was just a great way to get a look inside someones studio. PPA needed something besides it's annual convention. Super Monday has filled that need very well. It's affordable and targeted. I really like Super Mondays better than any other events. I have instructed two of them. One in 1997 and one in 2007. I might do another one in 2017. (HA) I have given affiliate programs in Dayton, Indianapolis and the Chicago region of Northern Indiana. I had a lab that sponsored me and Kodak even pitched in for my Indy program so the affiliates didn't have to pay for the programs. It's harder for avearge Joe's like me to find these sponsors these days and some of the small affiliates have folded. So it's harder for new speakers to get experience. I think if they cracked down on the requirements they'd wind up where they were when the Masters program was tied to the Cert program. Just less, not better. Change is inevitable, the fact is the programs are still producing great photographers and teachers. Like you for example.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Tarpon Springs, Florida
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    Default

    Marc,
    I'm a newbie to the PPA and I think its great that the trade is encouraging others to teach and give merits as incentive. I for one like the fact that I probably won't have to drive across country to work on a degree and spend time away from my family. However my position on this will change when there comes a time when I look forward to trips to new areas as the children get older.

    I don't think that one has to have a room full of 600 people to be deserving of teaching merits.

    From a few friends that I know of that are currently pursuing degrees, they are actively traveling the country and merits are certainly one of the bennies of their efforts.

    I'm set to join our local guild just because of the facts you listed, as they have a speaker every month.

    Darren

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by D. Craig Flory View Post
    Hi Michael;

    With only 3 more teaching merits to go to have 13 ... why wouldn't you go for it ? It's a great news blurb to announce in a news release and the certificate looks terrific matted and framed on the studio wall. How far from having the requisite 12 "other" merits are you ?
    I do have one print merit and that is it. When it is time to go to school in June, I have sports leagues to photograph. I've put out some feelers to speak at a few more area guilds.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    NH
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    Default

    I think the Craftsman degree is important to the industry. It rewards people for sharing their knowledge with others. Some choose to get it in a hurry and some take their time - as with anything else!

    I began speaking with no specific time frame in mind to get the degree, I just love to teach. One time I was driving to VT to speak at their monthly. An hour into the commute I thought.. "I am going to drive 8 hours today for 1 speaking merit!".. Then I though... "If all the others that I've listened to and learned from thought the same way I wouldn't be where I am today".. and I never gave the 8 hours of driving another thought.

    As it turned out, I got the degree in 06 along with the Masters degree. Didn't know D. Craig then, but we were in the same awards ceremony!

    Marc, you can only get 2 merits per year from your local Association.
    Don
    M.Photog., Cr., CPP, D.C.Ph.

    www.donchick.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Okeechobee, FL
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    Default

    Does a degree mean you really know what you are doing? I have been a photographer for 13 years. I have been competing in competition for 2 years and a member of FPP for 10 years. I never really thought about a degree. My first impression at the first convention I went to was why are these people wearing these things around their neck. I had no idea what they were or the weight that went with those bars. I know some people that have worked very hard to receive a degree but their business is not a success. Does it make you a better photographer or are you concentrating on having a degree to have those letters after your name, so all the other photographers will know that you are qualified? My husband (a non-photographer) saw a photographer's name with tons of degree abbreviations attached and asked what they all meant. I really couldn't tell him. He said we were the only profession he new that had that many credentials. My clients could care less. They don't understand that an 80 score is great. They wonder why you haven't scored higher, say 95, that they understand. They don't understand what goes into a degree, nor do they care.

    I feel that being a photographer is an honor. We fill dreams with our work. The first thing people take in a disaster is their memories. We have made those memories. We record history for all those not born to know what the world was like. A photograph validates that we were here. Have merits and degrees become a driving force in the photography business?

    Marc, I am sure this is not what you were asking, but it was what I was feeling. Take it for what it is worth. This all came from someone that usually writes a couple of lines. Love your new avatar. It makes me smile - that is what an image should do - bring out your emotions.

    Sandra

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Fort Worth, Texas
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    Default

    Marc,
    You know you want it so just go get it. Then, you can run this survey with both Gold and Blue around your neck. It's much more credible to argue about these things, even the down side, when you have them.
    ____________________
    Dave Cisco M.Photog, Cr., CPP, F-TPPA

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