That's where PPA's Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) designation can help you out! While a consumer may not know much about professional photography, having the CPP designation for your business tells them that they can expect professional quality services and goods from you.
It may seem easier to ignore the certification process, but it can greatly help you and your business' image. Several PPA members weighed-in with their thoughts on the worth of the program.
In a former life, Mary Buck, CPP, was in real estate. As such, licensing and keeping up with the credential requirements was a must in her line of business.
"Even before I started turning photography into my full-time business, I could see how some people could resist the certification process, because there is such a low barrier to entry into the field," she said. "I believe there should be a certain bar, in any industry, and certification does that for us photographers.
"The clients who care, and the ones I want, are the ones that respect me for making a commitment to my profession."
Studies have shown that having professional certification is the most widely recognized consumer credential, so certification can turn into a big advantage over your competition.
However, the CPP designation has more advantages than just giving you a leg up on your competitors. It will also make you a more confident photographer.
"What happened to me on the business side wasn't nearly as profound as what I found on the inside," said Stuart Husson, CPP. "The process to become certified was personal. I thought it would enhance my business, but that turned out to be secondary.
"I simply wanted to see if I was good enough, but the boost in self-confidence was such that it gave me the assurance that it was okay to turn down potential clients who did not meet my preferred client profile."
As you might expect, earning a CPP designation does take some effort and work on your part. In order to become a CPP, you must pass both a written exam on photography techniques and skills as well as the image submission review, where you'll submit your own photographs to be accepted by the Certification panel.
The process can also help fill in any gaps in your photographic knowledge, as 2013 first time CPP, Andrea Taylor, CPP, shared.
"I decided to become certified because I didn't go to photography school," she said. "I'm an emotional photographer, so it forced me to study and do things I wouldn't have done otherwise. I really tapped into a lot of technical parts of photography and I expect this process to impact my business because of my personal feelings about the whole process. The more confident I am, the better I can serve my clients."
To help you along the way towards becoming a CPP and to prepare you for the challenges of the exam, PPA hosts Certification Preparation classes. There's one coming up July 15-17, at PPA's headquarters in Atlanta, GA.
If you've ever considered taking the CPP exam, this class is for you. In fact, during these three days we will review all the technical topics covered by the exam. It's an in-depth study of the technical side of photography, almost equivalent to a semester of college!
Topics covered during the class include:
- The Inverse Square Law, Filter Factors, Bellows Factor
- Lenses and Filters
- Color Theory and H&D Curves
- Lighting Ratios, Corrective Lighting and Posing, Depth of Field, Angle of View
- The Zone System (and how it helps you understand the digital histogram)
- Difference between a Bit, a Byte and Bit Depth
Are you 100% familiar with these six topics? Taking the Certification Preparation class is sure to make you more relaxed and confident when it comes time to take the exam. Better yet, you'll be able to choose to take the exam at the end of the class when all this information is fresh in your head.
If you're nervous about the image submission portion of the certification process, there is an optional fourth day of class on July 18 that will explain the submission criteria and show you some examples of certifiable images.
If you're ready to become a Certified Professional Photographer, sign up for the Certification Preparation class in Atlanta July 15-17! And don't forget about the optional Image Submission Preparation class on July 18.
Need more? Check out how becoming a CPP can help your business.