As more and more of students have joined my CPP Study Group and are passing the CPP exam, I have had many others ask, “How do you even begin to get your CPP?” So to answer this question I have put together seven steps to starting your CPP journey.
First, I want to congratulate you for wanting to take this next step in your photographic journey. When starting down this path, it is essential to keep in mind that this is all about giving yourself the confidence in your abilities and taking your skills to the next level while demonstrating it your industry peers.
Step 1 – You must be a member of PPA. PPA is the governing body of the certification and to earn and maintain your CPP; you have to be an active member in good standing with PPA. Go to ppa.com to learn more about all the excellent member benefits including $15,000 in equipment insurance.
Step 2 – Decide out WHY you want to earn your CPP. Your "Why" is very important! Unless you have a “Why” to focus on as you start down this road, it will be very daunting—especially on those days that you feel like you want to give up and not finish. It is in those times that you can look at your “Why” and refocus on it to continue through. You will have those moments— keep focusing on your “Why.”
For me, my “Why” was that I wanted to know I had the foundational knowledge that all photographers should possess. And I wanted my portfolio to demonstrate that application of that knowledge. I wanted my abilities to be reviewed by those in my industry so could tell me that I was working at a professional level. I wanted that green light.
Step 3 - Join a Study Group Being part of a study group has been very successful for my students as they are preparing for the exam. I would recommend the buying a study guide—there are two excellent ones I recommend. One is by my late friend Al Audleman, and the other is by Steve Kozak. These are great resources. You can find these two guides on linked my website located at http://www.aprilkroenke.com/cpp-mentorship.
Step 4 - Declare your candidacy with PPA. Here is where you can find the application form to declare your candidacy with PPA and pay the $200 application fee. When you apply for your candidacy, your 2-year time clock begins. I would recommend that you do this in the weeks just before you plan to take the exam as it will give you the most amount of time to pass the exam and submit your portfolio for review. The link to declare your candidacy is here: https://www.ppa.com/benefits/education/certification/how-to-earn-your-certification
Step 5 - Find the nearest Exam. You will find a listing of the exams in your area and the upcoming dates here CPP Exam Dates. If you do not see a time, reach out to your State CPP Liaison. If you are in a remote area and will not have the ability to get to a location to take the exam, PPA has just launched this year for 2018 the ability to take the test online for an added $25. Also new in 2018 is the ability to take the test in Spanish if that is your preferred language.
The exam will cover the following topics (in the following percentages):
Camera, Lenses, and Attachments - 12% Exposure and Meters - 15% Lighting - 25% Composition and Design - 25% Digital Post Production - 13% Image Capture and Output - 10%
There are 100 questions on the exam, and you have 2 hours to take the exam. You must earn at least a 70 out of 100 to pass and move onto the portfolio portion. If you score less than 70 on the exam, you will find out the areas that you need to work more on. You will have to wait 30 days before you can retake the exam. You can take the exam as many times as you need to pass in your two year period. Once submitted, results will take 2-3 weeks after the exam date and arrive via email.
Step 6 - Join the CPP Image Review Facebook Group You can join this closed group once you have passed the exam. Please note that this is not a PPA-endorsed page, but it has many CPP Liaisons that run the page. This group has been an excellent resource for those who want to have feedback on their images as they prepare them for submission.
Step 7 - Image Submission The second part of certification is the portfolio review. Your image portfolio will need to include 15 images; 6 Compulsory and 9 Client. The six compulsory images will demonstrate a standard of technical proficiency that all professional photographers regardless of their niche should know. Mandatory images must contain the following: Short lighting 3:1 ratio, Broad Lighting 3:1 ratio, Selective focus with minimal depth of field. 3 Elective images from the following: High Key, Low Key, Rule of Thirds, Use of Shape, Form, and Texture, Balance (symmetrical or asymmetrical), Color Harmony, "S" Curve Line, Assertive, Angular, or Masculine Line, Architectural. The other nine images will come from your client work over the last 24 months. For specific requirements and resources, refer to https://www.ppa.com/benefits/education/certification/image-submission-overview.
Time to Party You have passed the exam and the portfolio review!!! Congratulations!!!! Now it is time to party and reward yourself for all the blood, sweat and tears you have put into earning your CPP.
Good luck and I look forward to seeing your growth as you start your CPP journey.