It all starts with a desire for art. The creation of something unique. It started when I was 7. I got a Polaroid Swinger camera. It wasn't like my Dad's cameras...it was instant! It also used B/W film, flash-bulbs, smelly fixer solution, and only gave you 8 shots. Still, it gave me the desire to search for more.
Jump to high school and B/W darkrooms; college, shooting for pleasure, Nikon, and finally running a Color Lab in Culpeper. Then one day, I was asked to use my camera's art for someone else's pleasure. I got a "photo job" to help out someone in a pinch. I didn't have any formal training, websites weren't invented yet, my portfolio was thin, but I wanted to help, I did, and I was hooked!
I knew I needed more training; so, I started reading, shooting, classes, shooting, practice assignments, shooting, reading, more classes, mistakes, fixes, and so on and on. As I traveled to trade shows, I became aware of the photographic colleges, governing bodies, local organizations, and PPA--Professional Photographers of America. I learned about the art of photography, the craft of photography, and also the business of photography. As my wife said, 'it's a lot more than just clicking the shutter.'
Which brings us to today. A customer came into the studio with another sad story of a business deal with what he thought was a "professional" photographer. He wanted to save some money and he found a deal too good to pass up. The person hired had taken nice photos in the past, wanted to earn some extra money, and they had a nice camera they just purchased. However, the day of the event brought surprises the new photographer didn't anticipate and they did not have the correct equipment for the job. They were apologetic but my new customer didn't get the photos/memories they wanted so the event was very costly.
This is not a new story and the question always arises, "how do you know if someone is qualified?" The PPA website has a photographer search function that can help consumers find photographers based on geographic location and/or specialty. They also list if the photographer has any awards, training, or certification. I searched Culpeper Virginia for Certified Professional Photographers and did not find any within a 25 mile radius. I was surprised, being a PPA member and photographer for years; but, I hadn't been thoroughly tested. Starting last year, I began the journey--studying all types of the business and art of photography. The testing phase was intense-- including written exams and image portfolio review from my work from the past two years. I am pleased to announce that last month I received my certification from the PPA.
Culpeper, VA, July 16, 2015 – Timothy R Carlson, CPP of Studio C Photography in Culpeper, VA has earned the Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) designation from Professional Photographers of America (PPA). Tim Carlson earned this designation after completing an intensive program that measures his artistic and technical competence. Professional Photographers of America currently recognizes fewer than 2,500 CPPs. "When I first entered the field of photography, the number of professional photographers were few and yet easy to find. As our technology has progressed, the number of photographers offering services has increased; but, I feel business practices have suffered. PPA offers a way to test our knowledge, business ethics, and the quality of our work--specifically our client work--in CPP training and testing. This certificate is a standard that all professional photographers should strive to achieve and one that will give piece of mind to anyone needing a special moment captured. " Professional Photographers of America (PPA.com/CPP) is the leading body for certifying imaging professionals. CPPs must complete a written examination, finish an image evaluation and adhere to a strict code of conduct. Certification must be renewed on a periodic basis, ensuring continued confidence in the professionalism of Certified Professional Photographers.
What does this mean for you? Can you get reliable work from an amateur? Possibly, if you've asked the right questions. We all assume the people fixing our meal, working on our car, filling our prescriptions are trained and certified. That is why the diploma is on the wall-- to reassure us things will go well. My certification requires on-going training and recertification every 3 years. Please look for the certification as you hire your photographer. Your peace of mind and the quality of your memories in the photographic art is our goal.
Timothy Carlson, CPP