Certification Related FAQs

CPP FAQsIn this FAQ section you'll find information on the professional photographer's certification process itself, the exam and the correlated image submission. Jump to:

Certification Process FAQs


CPP Image Submission FAQs

How much does the CPP cost?

  • Declaring your Candidacy is the first step on your CPP journey. The candidacy application fee is $200.
  • There is no fee to take the exam!.
  • 3 rounds of image submissions are included with the above mentioned application fee. But should you require more than 3 rounds, there is a $100 fee to get up to three more rounds of submission chances.
  • To renew your certification (every three years) there is a $100 fee, UNLESS you attend Imaging USA three years in a row, then recertifying is free.

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Do I need to be a PPA member?

All CPPs and CPP Candidates are required to be PPA members*. Remember there is no annual charge for Certification for PPA members. For more information about PPA Membership click here!

*Those candidates currently in the process of pursuing their Certification who are not PPA members will be required to join PPA before their CPP designation is officially granted. For questions regarding this policy please contact cppmailbox@ppa.com

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Steps to become certified the first time:

  1. Declare your candidacy. To do this, simply fill out the candidacy form. In this step, you will also need to pay the application $200 fee. Please note that your candidacy won't be officially declared until your payment is processed. Once confirmed, your candidacy will be valid for two years. Sign up using this form!   
  2. Prepare for the exam. There are many resources provided to help you prepare for your CPP exam. Take advantage of all these by visiting the CPP Exam Resources section of our website. We suggest first downloading the CPP Test Specifications so you know what the exam covers. Then you can test your knowledge with the CPP Keywords, browse the suggested reading material, review the CPP Flashcards and take a Sample CPP Exam. You can also sign up for a CPP Prep Class which will definitely boost your confidence on the big day!
  3. Take the exam. Once you feel confident you are ready to take the exam simply go online and register for an exam in your area. Remember you must register for the exam at least five business days prior to the exam date. Picture Identification will be required upon arrival at the testing site.
  4. The Image Submission follows the exam. You will receive a set of instructions to follow in order to submit your images. You can submit your images for review up to three times without incurring any extra charges. Should you not pass the image submission within the first three tryout rounds, you'll simply have to reapply for candidacy, with a reduced cost of $100 to reapply, earning you three more rounds of image submissions and an additional year to do so.   
  5. Celebrate. Once you get your certification, give yourself a break and celebrate! You'll deserve it.

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Every three years: Recertify

Once you've achieved the CPP designation, you will need to recertify every three years. CPPs eligible for recertification will receive three notices on the year they are due to recertify, two via email and one via regular mail.

The CEU system involved in the CPP recertification process encourages you to continue your photography education, community service and consistently raise the bar in the photographic industry.

To recertify, 15 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are required, along with a payment of $100.But the good news is that the recertification $100 fee is waived if you attend Imaging USA three years in a row. The CEU credits represent education opportunities that you will have attended as a student. Please note that teaching or speaking at seminars does not count toward recertification.

To learn how to how to earn credits or if you're not sure how many CEUs you have under your belt, please use the table below.

Here's the point structure:

CPP Recertification CEU Table

Once prompted for recertification, you will need to submit your CEUs online by filling out the Recertification Education Unit Tracking Form below.

After your form has been processed, you will receive an email about the status of your recertification. When your recertification is accepted, you will receive your recertification packet and certificate in the mail within 3-4 weeks.


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What if I can't meet the education requirements?

If you can't meet these education requirements, you can also re-take the CPP Exam.

Unfortunately, if you are unable to reach the required 15 credits or re-take the exam within your recertification period, your certification will be cancelled. You will need to reapply as a candidate and complete the candidacy requirements to re-obtain your credential.

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CPP's Standard

The Certification Committee follows the standards for certification established by the Institute of Credentialing Excellence. ICE sets the guidelines for creating the written test for certification, ensuring the questions are relevant to professional photography today. The Institute of Credentialing Excellence also provides support and information for maintaining the certification process to the certification Committee.

The Certification Committee meets on a regular basis to make sure the certification process always reflects the new advances in the photography industry.

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International Candidates/CPPs

The CPP designation is international, there are CPPs all over the world!

To find a Certification Liaison in your country or to make arrangements to proctor the exam, simply contact the staff Certification Liaison at cppmailbox@ppa.com. In countries where no Liaisons are available, PPA will reach out to the country's official photographic organization to assist in proctoring.

Please note that the CPP certification exam is written in English. You must be able to read English and understand the technical terms of photography in English. Unfortunately, no translation services are offered.

We are working on additional resources for international candidates, so please stay tuned for future updates on this front.

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I passed the Image Submission and am now a Certified Professional Photographer. When will I receive my certificate?

You will receive your CPP certificate in the mail approximately three weeks after the date that you received your passing email notification.

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What if my candidacy has expired but I want to continue the process?

If your candidacy has expired and you have not successfully completed the exam requirement, you will be required to restart the process by re-declaring your candidacy. Please contact cppmailbox@ppa.com for assistance.

If you have successfully completed the exam requirement, but not the image submission requirement, please contact cppmailbox@ppa.com for next steps.

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Is there anyone I can reach out to for help with the certification process?

Certification Liaisons know the program inside and out. The liaison acts as a spokesperson for certification, assisting candidates and existing Certified Professional Photographers as an expert and source of information. Liaisons must maintain their certification and PPA Membership, and are entrusted with responsibilities from the committee to maintain the integrity of the program.

If you are a Certified Professional Photographer or a CPP candidate, you can contact a Certification Liaison in your area for assistance or answers. 

List of Certification Liaisons.

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How can I register for an exam?

View the exam schedule below to find an exam near you.

Don't just show up! You have to register at least five business days in advance to take the CPP Certification Exam. If you haven't registered, your name won't be on the roster and an exam won't be there for you. There are no extras! Picture Identification will be required upon arrival at the testing site.

Remember, before even registering, you must first declare your CPP candidacy.


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What is the format of the exam?

Each exam is comprised of 100 multiple choice questions each worth one point. The material is pulled from the CPP test specifications and all exam questions are referenced in a readily available photography book. You will have two hours to complete the exam and must answer at least 70% correctly to pass.

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Are there specialty-specific CPP exams?

CPP Exams are not associated by specialty (Portrait, Sports, or Commercial).

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How do I find out about upcoming exam dates and locations?

Dates and locations are being added almost daily. Please check the exam schedule frequently. All exams are listed 60 days in advance, giving enough time for CPP candidates to register and prepare.

If there is no exam listed in your area, please email cppmailbox@ppa.com. We will assist in scheduling a public proctoring of the exam in your area within an appropriate timeframe.

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When and how will the exam results be published?

You will receive your results three to four weeks after your exam date. The results will be communicated individually via email in that time frame. Additionally, several times a year, PPA will issue press releases with the latest CPP holders.

If you pass the exam (70% score or higher) you will not receive a detailed score sheet, but rather a notification confirming that you passed the overall exam!

If you do not pass the exam (under 69%), you will receive your exact score along with a breakdown showing you how many questions you missed in each exam section. This is very helpful to go back and study those weaker areas.

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How many times can I take the exam?

You may take the exam once every 30 days as many times as you need during your two-year candidacy period. After that initial two year period, you will need to start the process again, but there are no limits as to how many times you might be allowed to do this again.

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If I have failed, is there an additional fee to re-take the exam?

Within your two-year candidacy period, no! You may take the exam as many times as you wish (once every 30 days) at no extra cost.

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I registered for an exam but cannot attend. How can I change my registration?

To cancel your registration for any exam, simply email cppmailbox@ppa.com with your name, ID # and scheduled test date at least five days prior to the exam. We will remove you from the exam roster and you will be able to reschedule your exam online at any time!

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Can I request special exam accommodations?

CPP exam accommodations

The CPP examination program provides reasonable and appropriate accommodations for individuals with documented disabilities within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended (ADA). Under ADA, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits an individual's ability to perform one or more major life activities, as compared with most people in the general population.

Types of accommodations provided

Available accommodations include but are not limited to the following:

  • Extra exam time
  • Private Exam/Exam Room
  • A reader or recorder for individuals with mobility or vision impairments and who cannot read or write on their own

PPA will make reasonable efforts to accommodate eligible candidates, who provide documented evidence of their disability or need for special arrangements that do not present an undue burden to the proctor and do not fundamentally alter the measurement of the knowledge the assessment is intended to test. If you require special testing arrangements, you must inform PPA of your needs via email at least four weeks prior to the scheduled test date. Please email cppmailbox@ppa.com for special accommodation requests.

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CPP Image Submission FAQs

When can I submit my portfolio?

After you pass the CPP exam.

There are five Image Submission periods per year. Once you've passed the exam, you will receive an email (typically the Friday before the next submission opens) with log-in and submission instructions. You will have two weeks to complete this step, giving you ample time to enter your images.

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How do I submit my portfolio?

Once you have passed the exam, you will receive an email with log-in and submission instructions. It is a secure online platform that allows us to safely collect your entries and assign them to the reviewers.

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How many images do I submit?

Each candidate is required to submit a portfolio of 15 images. The first six must fit within the compulsory guidelines showing a standardized technical proficiency that all professional photographers, regardless of specialty, should know. These images may come directly from some of your existing work or you can create new images specifically for the submission.

 The remaining nine images must each come from different photographic assignments in the last 24 months.

Feel free to download compulsory guidelines and view sample images to help prepare!

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How are the portfolios judged?

Images and portfolios are reviewed by a panel of CPP judges. All CPP Judges are required to attend an annual judges training course before judging commences for the year. Judges are rotated per Image Submission with a panel of 5 CPP Judges per round. CPP Judges consist of CPP Liaisons, Certification Committee members and active Certifieds in the industry.

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When and how will I receive my results?

The judging process takes two weeks. Image submission results will be sent by email approximately three weeks after the image submission deadline.

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I failed the image submission. Now what?

If your submission didn't pass, it means that either one or more of your compulsory images did not pass, or there were at least four images within the entire submission that didn't meet the standards for certification. Don't worry, you will be able to log in and review your portfolio along with the judges' comments. You may resubmit your portfolio during any future image submission.

You can resubmit images two more times at no extra cost.

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Is there a limit on the number of times I can submit my images?

You can submit images three times within your two-year candidacy. Submission cycles occur every two months. If you do not pass within these three rounds, you will be asked to reapply for candidacy for $100 (that's half the price of the initial candidacy fee) and will be able to attempt image submission an additional three times.

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Can I use "Painter" images in my submission?

"Painter" images are a creative process using programs like Photoshop or Corel Painter to digitally "paint" over a photograph. The certification program is geared specifically toward showing solid, professional, fundamental photographic skills, not digital manipulation skills. Painter images can come across as an attempt to hide flaws in the underlying photography, therefore the submission of "Painter" images in a CPP Image Submission portfolio is discouraged. 

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Can I submit images shot in natural lighting?

If that's what you do best—go for it! You need to show what you do on a daily basis, and show that you know how to skillfully use natural light, how to manipulate it, and how to get proper ratios. There is no requirement to use studio lighting.

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Can I use a mannequin?

Mannequins are not to be used for any image submission work, including compulsory images.

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What's the statement of purpose I need to submit with each image?

A simple description of the photograph is all that is required. For example, "senior portrait session on location" or "baby's first birthday session." The name of the image is part of the evaluation of the image itself, as it is part of the photographic representation.

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I passed the Image Submission and am now a Certified Professional Photographer. When will I receive my certificate?

You will receive your CPP certificate in the mail approximately three weeks after the date that you received your passing email notification.

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Can I submit images that were taken in a workshop environment or under direction of an instructor?

Images taken in a workshop environment or under direct supervision of an instructor are not allowed for image submission. All images submitted must be self-directed and individually set up. For additional questions about this topic please email cppmailbox@ppa.com.

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