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Why I Decided to Earn my CPP Designation

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Angie Studying With Clipboard

People often ask me why I decided to earn my CPP designation and what is CPP exactly?

CPP means “Certified Professional Photographer” and I worked super hard for it! Let me tell you a little about it and how it’s helped me become a better photographer!

When photography became an obsession to me, it wasn’t long before I decided I wanted to start a business as a side-hustle. I had a job I loved at Comerica! Photography brought out a different side to me, though, a more creative side that I welcomed!

I took years of weekly in-person classes (and countless online courses, which I still do to this day). But when I decided to go into business I was totally shocked that there wasn’t an actual pre-requisite to becoming a professional! After all, I was used to earning designations with my career in wealth management at the bank.

Over 20 years ago I went through the rigorous process of earning my CFP, or Certified Financial Planner designation. I didn’t need to. It wasn’t a pre-requisite to being a wealth advisor. I knew, however, that working toward it for two long years (and passing the 2 day exam that less than 50% of people passed!) would make me BETTER and more confident at my job. And it was true! It gave me such a sense of accomplishment to have gone through the process.

So after being a professional photographer for a few years and being a member of PPA – Professional Photographers of America – I looked into becoming certified as a professional photographer.

I studied all the books and materials that I could and even attended a three day class to really cram for the written exam. I passed the exam and then had to go onto the next certification phase, which was the image submission!

Photography is really the study of light, and PPA holds high standards for CPPs with their ability to properly light a subject and maintain proper color balance. I thought the 15 image submission process was BRUTAL and I came close to ditching this CPP idea.

For the image submission, we had three compulsory images to perfect – broad light, short light and selective focus (I won’t bore you with the details of what they mean!). We also had three additional images to submit in certain categories. I picked “color harmony” “masculine pose” and “high key.” Finally, we had to submit nine client images that show a high standard of light usage. All in all, I had to submit 15 images and it was either PASS or FAIL! So either all 15 images were accepted or the entire portfolio was rejected! Yikes!

The process is much easier to pass now, but I cherish the stress I felt in becoming certified when I did because it definitely made me a better photographer! Being a CPP also gives me confidence to light most situations on the spot, which is great for my personal brand work.

Anyone can print business cards and set up a Facebook page and call themselves “professional.” But I know earning my CPP designation sets me apart from other photographers in my community and shows my clients that I am a committed professional.

Oh, in case you were wondering, below is my case that was accepted for my CPP designation.

Angela Brown CPP Submission