Degrees are a vital way for photographers to keep up (and prove that you do!) with the latest the photographic industry has to offer. Official degrees like PPA's also give you an edge in business. If you've made the decision to pursue a degree through PPA, it's time to pick the one you want to work towards.
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:
Awarded for superior photographic skills, advanced education, and service to the industry.
Awarded for superior traditional and digital art and retouching skills with images evaluated for computer-applied techniques and proficiency, advanced education, and service to the industry.
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?
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.)
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.
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.
At the Award & Degree Ceremony, PPA degree recipients are presented with a colored ribbon and medallion when they receive their degree. There is a different ribbon color for each degree, and multiple degree holders will have multi-colored ribbons in accordance with the degrees they have earned.
We all know how important it is to keep up with existing clients. Earning a degree is a perfect opportunity for a non-salesy-yet-high-value-adding touchpoint with existing clients! Send them an email or postcard letting them know about your new degree. The same goes for landing a new customer you’ve been looking to convert, but don’t miss out on this incredible communication and differentiation opportunity! Plus, you’ll receive some heartfelt congratulations and who doesn’t like a little ego boost
To sweeten the pot, consider holding an open house, offering a one-time promotion, or running a celebratory special. You don’t have to break the bank or cut your prices. The point is to use this perfect opportunity to reach out to customers and prospects and let them know that you’re getting even better and more passionate about your craft and that they can be proud to be working with you.
Whether you’ve been invited to speak at an event, write a blog, or are just chatting up a fellow professional photographer, talk about your experience in earning your photography degree. Tell what the process involved, explain how it has made you better at your craft, speak to the value of what you’ve learned along the way, and share what it means to you and why. Sharing your experience is the best way to get people to buy into your passion, so do it!
Because, believe it or not, as simple as it might seem, in doing so you’ll establish yourself as a photography expert and a leader in your community! The more you put your name and expertise out there, the more potential clients will learn about you– and understand why hiring you is a good decision.
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:
You can see images of all the degree medallions, ribbons and other recognitions in the Ribbons & Bars Gallery
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 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.