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PPA Today: Merits and Degrees Archives

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Improvements are good...wouldn't you agree? (The word "improve" is in it after all!) That's why PPA created PPA's Merit & Degree Program in 1937 to recognize photographers for their achievements in the industry, define industry standards and promote excellence. It's just one way we incentivize you to continue growing and developing your skills and know-how.

Have you heard about this program yet? I'm not talking about the kind of degrees you get after completing a university curriculum. A PPA professional degree is different. It's a way to track and promote your ongoing progress in the industry and commitment to your craft! It's a goal to help you grow, and if you're a PPA member, it's worth a second (and third) glance.

Let me explain in a bit more detail:

  • PPA's Merit & Degree Program is based on a "point" system of merits, which are earned by being active and excelling in the PPA photographic community. Depending on how you choose to participate, there are different types of merits (and degrees) that you can earn. For example, let's say you teach or attend an approved class, compete in the International Photographic Competition, or volunteer in your PPA Affiliate association. Such activities translate into the 4 different types of merits: Exhibition, Artist Exhibition (formerly called Electronic Imaging), Speaking and Service.

  • Once you have accumulated enough merits, you are eligible for certain PPA degrees, representations of our standards of excellence. Degrees show your dedication to growing in the photographic industry and can only be earned after you have accumulated 25 of those merits I mentioned earlier. And just like there are different types of merits, there are also different degrees that you can earn: Master of Photography, Photographic Craftsman and Master Artist (formerly called Master of Electronic Imaging). The 3 degrees represent different areas of expertise within the industry, much like their merit counterparts.
Kind of confusing, huh? It may be a tad complicated at first, but many PPA members say earning a degree is worth it. After all, your PPA degree can do more than just hang on your wall. It has the potential to improve your business and help make a name for yourself. How? The steps you take to earn PPA merits and degrees--from competition to continual education--strengthen your skills. (Plus, degrees are symbols of quality and improvement that your clients can recognize.)

Earning a PPA degree can be one more tool for telling the world (and all those potential clients) why they should call YOU, not the competitor down the street. Want to learn more? Walk through the details here: 

ipc2011.jpgYou can start uploading and registering your images for the 2011 International Photographic Competition right now! Remember, whether you choose to enter with prints or digital files (the newest time- and money-saving option!), all entries must be registered online by April 27.

NOTE TO ALL DISTRICT COMPETITORS: If you are participating in any of the 2011 district competitions, please wait one week after your district competition has completed before registering for the international competition. This is to ensure that any seals you may earn on a entry in district competition is successfully transfered to your international entry.

PPA salutes the photographers that met the requirements to earn their degrees in 2010! The degrees were conferred by PPA Council on January 17, 2011 and the degree recipients were honored at the PPA Award & Degree ceremony in San Antonio, TX on January 18, 2011.
Taking the plunge into the International Photographic Competition this year--or thinking about it? Join us in classes around the country for a step-by-step guide to the big day! The Photographic Competition Education Day will demystify the competition process from beginning to end, thanks to instruction directly from PPA-approved jurors. Come learn how to make the most of your competition experience--register for a class and prepare for competition excellence!

Photographic Competition Education Day

Date: March 28 or 29 (see individual location for date)
Time: All classes will run 9:00am - 5:00pm.
Price: $29
Dear PPA Member,

How did you learn to tie your shoes?

If you're like most of us, someone "shared their knowledge," explaining the need to create a tight knot to keep your sneakers from flying off when you run down the street. And if you were like me, then that person conducted more than one intensive "hands-on" training session. You'll be happy to know that I can tie my shoes now and have passed this knowledge on to the next generation...but I couldn't have done it without learning from someone else.

That example--simple though it may be--is the essence of what speakers do. Speakers have knowledge about a particular topic that they believe is important enough to share with those who are willing to learn. Do you have something to share? Speaking can open up new doors for you, from increasing your reputation with clients to potential honorariums for presentations.

I don't know a single photographer who began his or her speaking career in front of a thousand people at an international venue...but I know a lot of them who are well on their way, and they're sharing how they did it with you this week.


Christel Aprigliano
Director of Member Value & Experience

Don't forget that you can go behind the scenes during print judging-Now is the perfect time to learn!

Join PPA-approved jury chairmen Dennis Craft and Dave Huntsman, June 14-17, 2009 in Atlanta, as they demystify the world of image judging. (Each attendee is asked to bring a minimum of four competition-quality prints.) Held in conjunction with the International Print Competition in Atlanta, Georgia, the Judges Workshop allows you to:

  • Explore the ins and outs of what makes a print "merit worthy"
  • Observe the competition process and protocol.

You'll leave this course feeling confident in your ability to identify merit images.

When: Sunday, June 14 1pm - Wednesday, June 17 3pm
Where: Gwinett Technical College, Lawrenceville, GA
Tuition: $595 (does not include hotel or meals)
Registration Cutoff Date: Friday, June 5, 2009
Register Now: Securely online or by calling 800-786-6277

PPA members earn two merits for attending, and members with ten print exhibition merits will receive PEC credit for attending the workshop. This workshop fulfills one of the requirements for becoming a PPA Approved Affiliate Juror.
Learn more, click here.

Are you ready to enter the International Print Competition, where your images are judged against the highest standards of excellence? This is YOUR competition, where your images could emerge as shining diamonds...and you can get great, professional advice for improvement.

Enter and you can...

  • Increase your skill and confidence in your craft. Preparing entries for the International Print Competition forces you to look deeper at your own photography.
  • Earn merits towards a PPA Masters Degree. Accepted prints earn merits you need to obtain a PPA degree--a recognition of your level of commitment to and skill in photography.
  • Go "Loan." The best images become part of PPA's Loan Collection, which is exhibited around the world and published in PPA's annual Loan Collection book.

What's New in 2009?

  1. The registration deadline is May 1 (5 pm CST). As the judging will take place June 14-17, the entry deadline is earlier this year. Late cases will be accepted (at a higher entry fee) until 5pm CST on May 22.
  2. After you submit your payment, you won't be able to make changes to your entry. Please review your information carefully before submitting that payment!
  3. You must upload your images when you enter if you want them to be considered for publication.
  4. You must upload your images when you enter if you are ordering a critique.

Ready to get started? Here are some links for you:

We've added nine new Webinars to our schedule of events. In April, Ron Nichols, M.Photog.Cr., API, will present two programs on sales presentations and projection room sales. Doug Box, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, API, will present a 3-part series on creating strong financial foundations for your business, and Julia Woods, M.Photog.Cr., will share her simplified strategy for great sales. Rounding out the month we also have a free Webinar on PPA's Merits & Degrees program. 

For complete information, visit:

Hiring & Managing Studio Employees
March 30, 2009 | 12pm EST
with Tamara Lackey & Lisa Walter

Tamara LackeyLisa Walters

If you're at the hiring point, seeking new ideas for interviewing and retaining current employees, or just looking to manage an associate-based business in an innovative, effective way, Tamara and Lisa can help you do it even better. Learn the methods they've used to build a highly successful associate-based studio model that continues to increase in profitability annually.
Member Price: $49

The Home Stretch: Judging the International Print Competition
April 1 | 7pm EST


Get a head start on PPA's 2009 International Print Competition with this 4-week Webinar series, designed to give you a complete understanding of the benefits and workings of this exciting program-a very different form of education!
Member Price: $95
(includes all 4 Webinars--previous Webinars available as recorded archives)

Image ©Kathryn Meek

Building Blocks of a Thriving Photography Business (Part 1 of 3)
April 13 | 7pm EST
with Doug Box, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, API

Doug Box

Creating a strong foundation for your business ensures its financial health and success. Whether you're part-time or full-time, there are proven steps, tools, and techniques that will help you achieve your goals as a professional photographer. Join us for this eye-opening Webinar series that will get you on the right track with your business.
Member Price for 3-part series:  $99
Member Price for Individual Webinar:  $49

Dear PPA Member,

Did you ever wonder what all those letters were, flowing out behind some PPA photographers' names? They are PPA degrees, part of a unique member benefit that can actually be used as another business tool.

Think of it like this: to make use of your finances, you have to understand what you're looking at and how those numbers translate into actions you can take to improve your bottom line. In the same vein, earning merits and degrees (in PPA's Merit & Degree program) can help in your business if you understand and make full use of them.

That's why we're offering a Vital Signs on this very topic. We want you to understand how to use this benefit to your own advantage. In fact, that's PPA's goal: to provide you with education and resources to help in your success as artists and businesspeople.

Christel Aprigliano
Director of Membership

P.S. Don't forget to check out your new member benefit: Precision Camera.

If you are close to earning your PPA Master or Craftsman degree, then watch your mailbox this Fall. PPA will begin mailing degree applications to potential degree recipients in mid-August. In order to receive your degree at Imaging USA in Nashville next January, you must have all required merits posted to your PPA record by October 30, 2009.

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