Professional credentials are not just handed out willy-nilly. They are earned through hard work and study, and that's what makes them so valuable to photographers and their clients. Even if a client doesn't know all the ins and outs of photographic certification, they understand that someone who has been certified in his or her craft has industry-leading technical skills. It's not easy, but it's worth it; and any Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) can tell you that. That's why PPA offers certification preparation classes to help members prepare for certification exams and image submissions.
"We all have our own weaknesses," says Gary Meek, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, API, EA-ASP, one of the instructors of the upcoming Certification Preparation Class, along with his wife, Kathy, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, API. "That's the beauty of this class. We can find out what the weaknesses are and concentrate on strengthening a participant's knowledge on those points."
The Meeks are able to do that because every person who signs up for their class is sent about a hundred pages of handouts and study guides...prior to the class. You'll get sample tests, Gary's own white papers, a handout on histograms and even a page of photographic formulas.
"Math, formulas and color theory are often some of the harder things for some to grasp. There's actually a lot of physics and math in photography," notes Meek. "But we explain it in a way anyone can understand."
The Meeks' ability to explain these technical concepts also comes from their extensive experience. They've taught preparation classes like this (for the CPP exam) since about 1991. They know their stuff. Sure, Gary would be the first to tell you when he doesn't know something...but he'll follow that statement up with, "But we'll find out." And you will.
Still, all the study guides in the world won't help if you don't study them. Gary's advice? "Print out all the handouts we send you, read them and bring all the materials to class. Own, study and read the book 'Photography,' by London and Upton. It boils down to this: Read the materials, and we'll explain it in class. Come prepared, and come with an open mind. None of us knows everything."
Imaging USA is one chance to take the Certification Preparation Class...but that class sells out about every year. Luckily, the class is also being offered August 22-24 in Atlanta, Ga., this year. Gary says he'll even be available for one-on-one tutoring after hours! In addition, the CPP exam will be held at the end of the August class (August 24, 2:00-5:00 p.m.). And as Gary notes, "There's no better time to take the exam than right after we finish the class. It's all fresh."
So are you ready to "eat, sleep and breathe photography for three days"? Certification is a big step...why gamble on the exam when you can prepare via an in-depth class with one-on-one attention?