What is a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP)?

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Q: Why is Certification important?

A: Certification is a way to demonstrate to customers and others that a photographer has a strong foundation in the photographic arts and sciences. Just like an accountant has a CPA, a CPP is a standard that assures that the photographer develops and maintains a high level of skills, techniques and knowledge.

Q: Does a professional photographer need to be certified?

A: It is not necessary to practice photography, but it is a differentiator. It separates the casual photographer from those who are willing to study, learn and subject themselves to scrutiny and evaluation to raise their standard of performance.

Q: What does it take to become certified?

A: You have to declare your candidacy to become certified, and you have a limited time to complete the certification. You must study for and successfully pass an examination of 100 questions designed to assess your knowledge of photography. And you must submit a folio of images that you made while in the course of your professional work, which demonstrate your mastery of various techniques including high key, low key, depth of focus and other composition and image capture elements.

Q: Once you are certified, is it permanent?

A: No, you have to re-certify every three years, either through showing continuing education credits, or retaking the certification exam.

I will admit that my journey to certification was both exciting and humbling. Open criticism and rejection of images that I believed were technically excellent will do wonders to reshape your perspective of your capabilities compared to your peers. The feedback I received on my image critique was very helpful in teaching me to “see” differently. And the academic element of the exam forced me to learn about light, color, history and exposure.

Here’s an example question. See if you can get it right the first time around:

Select the exposure below that is equivalent to f/16, ISO 100, 1/125 sec:

A. f/22, ISO 200, 1/60 sec

B. f/32, ISO 100, 1/500 sec

C. f/11, ISO 400, 1/1000 sec

D. f/16, ISO 800, 1/15 sec