I got my gold tube from the PPA in the mail this weekend!
…and look, I have letters after my name!
What does it mean to be a Certified Professional Photographer?
Most career fields have different certifications, accreditations, and/or licenses. A Certified Photographer has met the standards established by the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) organization. The certification identifies photographers that have exhibited a certain level technical skill set and competence.
What is the process to become a Certified Professional Photographer?
First, I had to declare my candidacy. Then, I took the official exam. (Actually, I took a prep class before the exam and THEN I took the exam). I had to know specifics of digital sensor types, lens qualities, color temperature and I had to be solid on the relationship between fstops, aperatures and film speeds. Crazy enough… the exam had a lot of math (but that’s okay. I love math). Photography is ALL about LIGHT and figuring out light requires math.
After taking the test, I had to submit a portfolio of images, so that the governing body could judge my work. I had to show that I had mastered certain concepts like broad light, short light, low-key, and high-key. They are super picky about things that clients would never notice. But I did all of that and just got noticed that I passed all of it.
Does being a Certified Professional Photographer mean that I am better than all non-certified photographers?
Getting certified shows my dedication to my craft. Not only does it show a competency to produce quality images in a variety of situations, it also shows a commitment to learning. To maintain my certification, I will have to retest every 3 years. Additionally, the next step would be to obtain my Master of Photography Certification by the PPA, which is achieved through earning a combination of educational, service and exhibition merits.
There are a lot of professional photographers that aren’t involved at all with the Professional Photographer Association, much less pursuing certification. Those photographers have their own reasons for making those choices. Some of those photographers have killer work and some of those people are completely unaware how bad their work is.
There are times when you can take the risk of hiring a photographer that MIGHT know what they are doing, but then there are other times you want to be sure you are going to get quality results. When it is a once in a lifetime moment, you don’t want to take chances.