As of this writing, I have been a Professional Photographer for a little over five and a half years. Previously, in central florida, I had a magical job but that was far more corporate. I’ll talk more of that in a future post but then hint I’ll give away was that there was a lot of pixie dust floating around in the air there. I loved my old job but for the 8+ years I had been there I always had a camera near me. When I decided that it was time to move on it was an all to obvious choice to look into becoming a photographer full time!
Looking back I think I might have been a little crazy for the “head first into the deep end” approach I took to starting my business. My formal training was minimal at the time. I had a good eye and a love for figuring out how people “got the shot” but ultimately I went all in to a career I really didn’t know a whole lot about at the time.
Through persistence and networking though I was able to meet some great people in the industry as well as consistent job providers that kept me a float, all the while sponging as much information as I could to get better and better at understand the business.
About four years in I learned about the Certified Professional Photographer program through Professional Photographers of America. It was a two tier program that would test both your knowledge of photography (everything from Fstops, ratios and exposure triangle formulas) to your ability to produce finished work (both examples of specific lighting and finished client work in a 15 image portfolio review).
It took six months months for me to complete. The test was 100 multiple choice in which you needed a 70 or better to proceed to the next level. I’ve never been a strong test taker but after some long study nights that harckened back to my college days, I was able to squeak by with a 79! Not a bragging score but it was a sigh of relief as many people have trouble with the unknown always changing questions when they first attempt the exam.
For the portfolio review it took me two rounds to successfully pass. Little details held me back on the first try such as distracting objects (sunglasses on a persons head or a slightly odd crop job) but in January of 2017 I was happy to say that my 15 image portfolio review passed and officially certified me as a Nationally recognized Professional Photographer.
I have to say that this is a completely volunteer achievement. It’s not required by state or government but its one more notch in the belt that I can take to my clients that says they are working with a top industry producer. Its piece of mind that I understand my gear, lighting, posing, complicated scenarios and ability to produce a finished image.
If you are ever looking for digital imagery for your business or family I highly encourage you to do your homework when it comes to photographers. There’s a huge difference between someone fresh out of college with a new point and shoot camera and an experienced professional with the national accommodations to prove it.
Thanks for reading! The gallery with this post is my passing portfolio. If you are an aspiring photographer or even a pro that wants to learn more about getting certified through PPA please feel free to reach out to me. I am the Tallahassee Liaison for PPA for the CPP program and would be happy to help you on your path to certification!