You have tangible benefits in continuing your professional development. Keeping informed on the latest trends, technologies and photography techniques not only makes you a better photographer, but helps prove to your clients that you’re worth their time – and their money.
The three most common questions photographers have on this topic are:
As you continue to explore PPA's photographic degree program, below you will find more information to help you understand this amazing benefit:
When you make the decision to pursue a degree from PPA, you’re making the decision to better yourself and your business. You do this by:
- Pushing yourself
You work in an industry that is always changing. Pursuing a degree allows you to stay on top of those changes. A degree is a way for you to keep from falling behind on the latest techniques, trends and technologies.
- Better marketing your business
Degrees allow you to rise above the competition. Anyone can pick up a camera and call themselves a photographer, but not everyone can show that they’ve put in the work to be the best.
- Justifying your prices
PPA degrees are an excellent way to validate your prices to clients. They want the best and your degree proves to them that they are getting exactly that.
As a PPA member, you can pursue three degrees to further develop yourself, your craft and your business. These are:
- Master of Photography (M.Photog.)
Awarded for superior photographic skills demonstrated through the Photographic Open category of PPA’s International Photographic Competition, advanced education, and service to the industry.
- Photographic Craftsman (Cr.Photog.)
Awarded for service as a speaker, author or mentor, this degree shows that you have gone beyond the creation of images and dedicated your time to move the industry forward and encourage education.
- Master Artist (M.Artist) (formerly known as the Master of Electronic Imaging Degree)
A degree awarded to photographers for superior photographic skills demonstrated through the Artist Exhibition category of PPA’s International Photographic Competition (with images evaluated for computer-applied techniques and proficiency), advanced education and service to the industry.
- Master of Wedding Photography (M.Wed.Photog.)
A degree awarded to photographers for superior photographic skills demonstrated through excellence in the Wedding competition of PPA’s International Photographic Competition, advanced education and service to the industry.
What does a degree look like?
Each degree has its own medallion, which is hung on a corresponding ribbon. Master of Photography recipients are presented with a yellow ribbon, Photographic Craftsmen receive blue ribbons, and Master Artist recipients receive red ribbons. Those recipients with multiple degrees receive multi-colored ribbons signifying their respective degrees. You can see images of all the degree medallions, ribbons and other recognitions in the Ribbons & Bars Gallery
So you’ve made the decision to pursue a PPA degree? Fantastic news! Now that you’ve decided which degree you want to earn, you’ll need to earn 25 merits in the category that leads up to the degree of your choice.
Here are the 4 basic steps of the degree program:
Each degree will require a different combination of merits, but 25 is the magic number of Merits required to earn any PPA Degree. So... How do you earn merits?
Merits can be accumulated in 4 ways:
Exhibition Merits are earned by competing in the Photographic Open category of PPA's International Photographic Competition. (At least 13 required for the Master of Photography degree.) Learn how to track your Exhibition Merits.
Speaking Merits are earned by instructing or contributing to the PPA and PPA Affiliate photographic community. Sharing your knowledge and experience is important in moving this industry forward, and PPA wants to reward you for contributing to that effort. (At least 13 required for the Photographic Craftsman degree.) Learn how to track your Speaking Merits.
Artist Exhibition Merits are earned by competing in the more technical Master Artist category of PPA's International Photographic Competition. These images are evaluated for computer-applied techniques and proficiency. (At least 13 required for the Master Artist degree.) Learn how to track your Artist Exhibition Merits.
Wedding Exhibition Merits are earned by competing in the Wedding category of PPA's International Photographic Competition.(At least 13 required for the Master Wedding Photographer degree.) Learn how to track your Wedding Exhibition Merits.
Service Merits are earned through PPA and PPA Affiliate volunteer service and learning opportunities. (These can be part of the 12 extra merits needed for every degree's 25-merit total.) Learn how to track your Service Merits.
Can I use one merit toward more than one degree?
Merits can't overlap when applied toward a degree. Once a merit is attributed to a specific degree, it is considered applied and cannot be used toward any other degree or merit bar. In order to receive two degrees, you must earn a total of 50 or more appropriate merits. In order to receive three degrees, you must have earned a total of 75 or more appropriate merits.
Is there a deadline by which I have to earn enough merits for a PPA degree?
While your merits do not expire, all merits must be received and on record with PPA by October 31 in order to receive a degree at the next Award & Degree Ceremony at Imaging USA. This means that all merits being used toward a degree, including merits that need to be submitted by PPA Affiliates, must be received by PPA no later than October 31.
Congratulations! You’ve put in the work and earned your Merits. Now you’re ready to receive your PPA Degree!
You will be notified by email when you are eligible to receive your PPA degree. The degrees are presented at the annual Award & Degree Ceremony that takes place at Imaging USA
If you are unable to attend the Award & Degree Ceremony during Imaging USA, your degree and medallion will be shipped to you after Imaging USA.
What other pins and bars can I wear on my degree ribbon?
A bar to be worn on the ribbons shall be awarded for each additional twenty-five (25) Merits earned beyond a degree. A silver star shall be placed midway on the right-hand ribbon as the insignia of a Past President. A small “25” may be worn midway on the left-hand ribbon as the insignia of members of the Twenty-Five year Club. A national Award pin or other PPA earned award may also be worn on the ribbon. No other insignia shall be worn on or attached to the ribbons.
Once you’ve earned your PPA Degree, it’s time to get the word out about it! Here are some ways we recommend:
- Explain to clients what your degree means: Your degree is a big deal, and your clients need to know how it sets you apart from the competition. Focus on each degree:
- Master of Photography: Show your clients how this degree recognizes your superior photographic quality. Explain to them your success in photographic competition. Clients often appreciate the fact that their photographer's art has been so highly recognized by a group like PPA.
- Photographic Craftsman: Explain that this degree is one of the highest recognitions for speaking, writing and/or mentoring in photography. After all, you must be pretty darn good if other photographers want to learn from you!
- Master Artist: Show your clients how this degree recognizes your superior skills with artistic image manipulations like enhancements, composites and computer graphics. Many photographers don't possess this kind of skill set. Brag on yourself! Explain your success with photographic competition. This can help you promote certain products and services too.
- Master of Wedding Photography: Show your clients how this degree recognizes your superior photographic quality in the field of wedding photography. Explain to them your success in photographic competition. Clients often appreciate the fact that their photographer's art has been so highly recognized by a group like PPA.
- Promote your degree in your own marketing materials: Whether it’s on your website, on brochures or in local ads, make sure you’re creating awareness about your degree. Awareness about your degree is awareness about your business.
- Link to the PPA page that describing our degrees: Your customers need to understand exactly what your degree means. Let us help them do just that!
- Issue a press release: Let us help you write a press release to let the world know about your amazing accomplishment!
- Share your experience: Talk yourself up every chance you get! Whether you’re at a speaking engagement, networking with your peers or speaking with aspiring photographers, let everyone know just how important earning your degree was to you and your craft!
After earning all my degrees, then what? Are there any other recognitions for continuing to learn, compete and serve?
Don't stop being active in Merit & Degree program...even if you've earned all your PPA degrees! You never want to stop improving your art or your industry. And PPA recognizes your efforts to go above and beyond via the following bars and awards:
- 25+ Gold Merit Bar – Members can earn one 25+ gold merit bar for every additional 25 merits earned beyond those required for any one degree.
- IPC 50 Bar – The IPC 50 bar is awarded to members who earn a total of 50 exhibition/artist exhibition merits. Exhibition or Artist Exhibition merits used toward your Master of Photography or Master Artist degree are included in the total count for the IPC 50 bar.
- Imaging Excellence Award – Awarded to members who hold a Master of Photography or Master Artist degree and who have a minimum of 13 images accepted into the PPA Loan Collection.
- Imaging Excellence Bar – Awarded to members who already received the Imaging Excellence Award and go on to earn an additional 13 Loan Collection images for a total of 26 Loan Collection images. Members will continue to earn Imaging Excellence Bars for every additional 13 Loan Collection images awarded.
You can see images of all the degree medallions, ribbons and other recognitions in the Ribbons & Bars Gallery