The Meyer’s Briggs Personality test categorizes me as an ENTJ. If you haven’t ever had the chance to discover which of the 16 personality types you are, I highly recommend it. It’s a remarkable insight as to how each of us perceive the world around us. There is much written on each of the different personalities and you can easily find more information about yours with a quick Google search. Although, the cliff notes version of ENTJ is driven and type A, someone who sets their mind to something and perseveres until the goal is met.
Naturally, when I first heard of the Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) through the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) I was intrigued. I must be truthful though, I did question the value of such an accreditation. I wasn’t sure that it would make a difference to the bottom line of my business. If it wasn’t going to make a difference to my clients was it worth the time and expense that I needed to donate to it?
Now that I have been through the process I can unequivocally say YES. It was worth every minute and every penny.
The CPP certification begins by declaring your candidacy. Once you declare you have two years to pass a comprehensive written exam and an image submission of your work. One of the reasons that I wanted to do this was to force myself to learn the nitty gritty technicalities of photography. I’m not a techie and my eyes would glaze over at the first mention of light ratios and the inverse square law. Who needed to know the difference between additive and subtractive colors and how they interacted with each other? There is no chance that I would have sat down and learned these things without knowing that there was a test to pass.
There is also no chance that your skill in the craft of photography won’t improve when you learn these basic fundamentals. Even if you never plan on shooting with off camera lighting or in a studio environment, the physics of light and how the light interacts with your subject remains the same. One of the hardest things about learning photography is that often we aren’t aware of what we don’t know. Just look back on your images from 12 months ago and you will see that the image that you thought was amazing was actually blue because the white balance was so off the mark. We have ALL been there. The most beneficial person to compare your work to is yourself. So long as it continues to improve then you are making great progress!
After passing a 100 question multiple choice exam it is time to move onto the image submission. Honestly, I thought that the exam was easy compared to the image submission. The process is eye opening and causes your photography to grow by leaps and bounds. It’s essential that you approach the image submission prepared for critique. The group of volunteer CPP’s that volunteer their time to help candidates prepare their portfolio are incredibly kind and fair, but it still is an eye opening experience for just about everyone. It forces you to evaluate the details in your images like you never have before…..and by consequence you grow in your craft tremendously.
The image submission requires 3 compulsory images to showcase, broad lighting, short lighting, and selective focus. There are then a variety of other compulsory tasks that you can choose from for your remaining 3 compulsory images. Finally, the panel would like to see 9 client images, from separate paid assignments, for the remainder of your portfolio. I never dreamed that it would be so difficult to choose 9 images.
Now that I have earned the CPP I can honestly say that to date it has been one of the most beneficial undertakings of my career thus far. I understand so much more about the technical details of photography and I have a new critical eye when looking at my final images.
Will this new designation bring in new clients? I will have to let you know. I can certainly tell you that it can’t hurt. Consumers are used to seeking out certified professionals in different fields. While they may not Google “Certified Professional Photographer Pittsburgh”, it may be the push that is needed when deciding between multiple photographers. We must create value with our business so that we are not treated as a commodity. I believe that being a CPP immediately creates more value in the eyes of the client as they can be certain they are hiring a professional.
If you would like to learn more about the certification process check out the CPP information on the PPA website. If any of you have questions about the process let me know. Lastly, if you have made the leap and declared your candidacy let me know so that I can add you to the exam prep and image submission prep Facebook groups.
If you are curious as to the portfolio that I submitted for the Image Review it is below. I created my entire portfolio with natural light only, with the exception of 3 of my compulsory images.