I am a Certified Professional Photographer
I guess you’ve never heard of such a standing and even more surprised to hear it’s been around since 1977.
CPP For Short
Established by the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), its goal is to identify professional photographers who can demonstrate their technical competence through a writer exam and image submission process. The National Institute of Credentialing Excellence (ICE) oversees and sets the guidelines for the review.
The ultimate goal is to affirm the knowledge of specialized skill-sets and professional/outstanding experience in a particular field. In other words, the goal is to show your Competence.
The dictionary defines Competence as
“the ability to do something successfully or efficiently.”
In short, I went through the process of Certification rather unwillingly.
As a professional photographer in Dallas, whenever brides are looking for a wedding photographer, they typically want to see a portfolio. Once they fall in love with our photography, their normal next step is to take a peek at our pricing.
I was approached multiple times to become a CPP, but each time, I didn’t see the value in that process for our clients. Growing up as a 3rd generation photographer, majoring in Filmmaking, how was becoming Certified going to help me do a better job for our couples?
Then again, print competition had been a vital part of my growth. One of the premises I have learned well is that even if you can outshoot a judge, you can still learn a lot from them. Learning and growing are thus solid tie-ins to our fundamental philosophy. We want to be better, so we can create extraordinary wedding photos for you!
So I submitted, which is a rather unpopular word if there is such a thing.
And this is what PPA wants you to know.
“When things matter, and you’ve only got one shot. There is no substitute for experience.”
Sounds like a wedding day to me.
Things are happening fast, and somehow you’ve got to deliver the goods. Who do you want behind the camera? Do you want someone practicing or someone who has mastered it? How do you prove you are a professional?
CPP assures you that you’ve put in the extra work to establish our knowledge and experience. It also means that we have achieved and are maintaining the highest standard.
The words PPA uses to describe CPP’s are Consistency, Technical Skills, Unique Artistry and Professionalism.
Here is what I want you to know.
While all that is true, it was not my true motivation. In 2014, as I began my tenure as President of the Dallas Professional Photographers Association, I realized that part of my desire was to help other DFW photographers raise their game as well.
My unique perspective of growing up in a family of photographers wasn’t normal. By placing myself under the authority of a higher power and allowing myself to go through the process, I discovered a lot about myself and those around me. That discovery process made me a better wedding photographer.
Not every Metroplex couple is looking to have a platinum wedding. As the 2nd largest wedding market in the U.S., there is a vast and different spectrum of brides and grooms. Some are looking for the best wedding photographers in Dallas while others seek affordable wedding photographers.
What if leadership isn’t about leading from the front, but instead focusing on serving others to meet their needs?
I’m most proud of the fact that as President of DPPA, we doubled our membership to become the largest local photography organization in America. Record numbers of our members went through the CPP program because we started to emphasize it and encourage it. Their success has raised the level of professional wedding photography here in Dallas - Ft. Worth and the surrounding areas.
If you are searching for a photographer and see the CPP letters after their name, you’ll know that they have been through this process. You can trust in their competence and their confidence in getting the job done and done well.
Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Certification
When WPPI started talking about establishing new standards for the wedding and portrait photography industry, I volunteered to help. My relationship with the leadership allowed me to play a part in the new direction the certification process wanted to take.
I’m honored to be considered one of the 3 co-founders along with my friends and colleagues, Roberto Valenzuela and Jason Groupp, the WPPI Director.Through a joint partnership with the New York Institute of Photography (NYIP), our press release stated that the purpose of this program was the following:
“WPPIC Aims to Set the Gold Standard with a Curriculum Designed by Visionaries”.
At first, I must admit I found it more than slightly humorous to be included in a statement that uses the word “Visionaries”. When I thought more about why invested ourselves into launching this project, it truly is because of what we hope the landscape for photography will become. Brides and grooms can easily spot those with a higher level of professionalism regardless of budgets.
What WPPIC Does
WPPIC was developed and curated by a handpicked team of renowned wedding photographers and educators. It is very targeted and also unique to wedding & portrait photography vs. having a general approach like CPP.
The process goes beyond the camera and its art to address the business side as well. There is extensive testing in both written and portfolio submissions as well as in business practices and marketing materials.
The goal is to bring a new level of professionalism to wedding photography worldwide. It also gives those who trust us one more assurance that our graduates have a unique and refined skill- set to record their once-in-a-lifetime memories.
In the press release that WPPI & NYIP put out, I said the following:
“WPPIC is the best way to start identifying yourself as a leader in your field. Certification shows your dedication to learning and expanding your craft while meeting the high standards of your profession. The confidence that certification instills in your clients, colleagues, and most importantly yourself, is invaluable. What you learn through the intensive process is priceless.”Luke Edmonson - NYIP Press Release
“I welcome this level of professionalism into our industry; all wedding & portrait photographers should become certified.”Roberto Valenzuela - NYIP Press Release
What Certification Means to Brides
I’m thankful for the tremendous opportunities my career in photography offers me. By pursuing excellence in my field, I’ve become a better photographer.
Some describe this certification process as the difference between taking a photo and making a great one. Submitting myself to the process, creating the curriculum, and undergoing the testing indeed opened my eyes to see the range of benefits not only for myself but also for the industry at large.
Because of exceptional individuals who care enough to do the work that makes a difference, the overall quality of wedding and portrait photography is rising. That excites me as an expert and as an ambassador of my craft.
While I don’t believe many brides will choose us based solely on our certification, I do think they will fancy us because they see us as someone who is always pursuing excellence. Even those on a budget, who may decide on someone else will benefit from seeking out CPP and WPPIC graduates.
One of the campaigns that PPA runs is called “See The Difference”. While uniqueness, quality experience, and expertise can create differences in pricing, trust is something on which you should never compromise. Don’t trust your memories to just anyone. There is too much at stake. Be on the lookout for certified professional wedding photographers. They will make you look your best and bring your vision to life.
We have all learned along the way that in life, you don’t want to pay too much, but you also don’t want to pay too little.
Certification makes it easy to spot those photographers who are serious about being professional and advancing their profession and their art.
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