Moments in Mentoring: D. Craig Flory, Cr., CPP

by Christine

I’ve come to realize that mentoring has a variety of faces. What may have been a few moments of discussion can prove to have an incredible impact on someone’s future.

This is one of those stories…

Once upon a time… well, actually, because of the marvel of modern-day technology, I can pin down the date to 2009…

This happened:

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I had discovered Mr. Flory’s post on the Our PPA Forum.

He didn’t know it, but I was fairly desperate at the time. The CPP portion of things was not near as organized as it is today. Online test registration did not exist and candidates were at the mercy of the whims of liaisons who didn’t return phone calls or emails. My state offered one test per year at the annual convention. Which looked like I was going to miss, given the state of non-communication I was dealing with. (This newbie-at-the-time had not yet learned the power of knowing the PPA customer service number).

With a sigh of relief, I made plans to travel to Pennsylvania to take the exam. D. Craig was the liaison for Pennsylvania and proctored the exam at a convention that April 17.

We didn’t have much conversation at first, D. Craig and I. He gave the test-takers some pencils and some Hershey kisses and explained the protocol.

When the test was over, we chatted for a bit. He showed me his Craftsman’s medallion, talked about his journey to achieving it, and challenged me to earn it, as well.

It was my first in-person chat with someone from a professional photography organization, now that I think about it.

My first PPA member contact. Hmmmm…  (You paying attention here, PPA?)

Honestly, I thought he was a bit off his rocker with the Craftsman thing. I figured he must say that to everyone, it’s probably part of what he “did” with being a liaison and all. But it stayed in the back of my mind.

And then later, I looked into it. And was intrigued.

Without getting all fancy-schmancy with the lingo – it’s a degree awarded for speaking and teaching. And mentoring and writing. And other stuff.

Just like a college degree has a bunch of requirements for classes in your major, this degree requires a certain number of experiences (the PPA calls them merits) in speaking. Then, like college degrees require a bunch of other classes that have nothing to do with your major, you’ve gotta suck it up and get some merits in other stuff, as well, for the Craftsman degree. (They’re earned by volunteering or attending classes and are referred to as Service Merits).

So anyway, the Craftsman Degree required 13 speaking merits and I set out to earn them. And I did. It wasn’t spectacularly easy, but it wasn’t terribly hard. Each time I did it, though, it became easier and there came a time when I began to enjoy it and look forward to it. I was still nervous as heck, but it wasn’t something I dreaded like the first time.

Every once in awhile I’d think of D. Craig and wonder … how did he know? Perhaps it was just a suggestion inspired by his own accomplishment; earning a degree takes a fair amount of work and time. It’s not an instant reward by any means and you must work towards it purposefully. By the time you have completed the requirements, you have truly earned it.

And earn it, I did. In January 2012, I was notified it was mine. Unfortunately, I had not yet discovered the joy of attending the PPA National Convention and I elected to have my medallion mailed to me. (Sidebar: Worst. Decision. Ever.)

And here’s where it gets kind of interesting. whatever prompted D. Craig to challenge me was effective. I didn’t stop. The 13 merits required for the Craftsman Degree were only the FIRST thirteen. I discovered a passion for teaching that I didn’t know I had. And then I began to channel my writing into teaching efforts and discovered an additional facet to my career that had not existed a few short years earlier.

Obtaining the Craftsman Degree allowed me to become a member of the American Society of Photographers. I feel like I’m in the hallowed halls of modern PPA photographic history when I’m at an ASP function. I’ve discovered that they have their own designation, the ASP Educational Associate. Right now I describe it as “the Craftsman Degree on steroids” so I don’t have to go into all the fancy-schmancy talk. It requires a bunch of extra speaking merits. Thirty, to be exact. I’m just about there, so…

Yay me!

But actually, it’s more like…

YAY D. CRAIG FLORY!!!!!

Stolen from D. Craig's FB page because I tried making up a reason to ask him for an image and failed.

Stolen from D. Craig’s FB page because I tried making up a reason to ask him for an image and failed.

Because you reached out to everyone, you reached out to me. And you made a huge huge difference in this photographer’s journey. You helped me in my path to being a Certified Professional Photographer and then you kick-started me towards becoming a Photographic Craftsman. Now, I’m journeying again, thanks to you.

What began as a small gesture of help has dominoed into more.

So very much more.

I am grateful.

Thank you, D. Craig.

 

 

 

3 Print Competition Tips from Jurors-In-Training (& CPPs!)

by Christine

Jurors-in-training are PPA members and print competitors and who have completed the PPA Judge’s workshop as part of the process in becoming a PPA Affiliated Juror. After the workshop, students who have their Master’s Degree are eligible to begin judging print competitions at a state level.

Like anyone else – we have opinions and advice and here is a roundup of comments from some fellow JITs to help new competitors. This will be a multi-post topic, so stay tuned for more.

Please note that today’s advice-givers are all Certified Professional Photographers. Just sayin’. 😉

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#1

Remember: You are not competing against other photographers,
you are competing against yourself.
The goal is to make your work better.

~Margaret Bryant, M.Photog., CPP

Absolutely! Margaret nailed it. If you don’t take any other lesson away from print competition, this is the one you need the most. Print competition is not about beating out other photographers/competitors. It’s not about doing as well as someone else. We’ve all gotten caught up in the emotions of winning/losing, but eventually we all recognize that without a doubt, the competition is within and we all have won.

My own thoughts, excerpted from Why Print Competition? :

“…Competition has made me a MUCH better photographer. Every year that I compete, my work reaches new levels of technical excellence because I constantly push myself to refine my skills, both in the studio and on the computer, and in doing that I’ve looked at my images way more objectively than I ever have in order to eliminate anything that might make it less than a stellar image. It’s an improvement process and a learning experience. It’s not about the merits, scores and degrees (although they’re great reinforcement) – it’s about improving what I’m doing.”

#2

Ask someone who has been successful for a critique of your images.

~Ella Carlson, M. Photog. Cr., CPP

Ahhhh, yes! Ella brings up a very important point. When you begin your print competition journey, you are going to need help. And you are going to ask for it. You need to use discernment in who you ask for help. Your best bet is to ask those that have gone before you. And who have done it well. VERY well.

Shawn & Willard Jones of Jones Photography, Mayfield, KY at their Mentor Booth Appointment with PPA Affiliated Judge, Gregg Wurtzler from OH. IUSA Mentor appointments are a wonderful way to get experienced input on your competition images.

Shawn & Willard Jones of Jones Photography, Mayfield, KY at their Mentor Booth Appointment with PPA Affiliated Judge, Gregg Wurtzler from OH. IUSA Mentor appointments are a wonderful way to get experienced input on your competition images.

As a matter of fact, let’s dust off an article for you to read, if you haven’t already, that expands more on this topic: Photography Critiques – Part 1

#3

Handle objections before the judges can object to them.

Adrian Henson, M. Photog. M.E.I. Cr., CPP

This is a rock solid piece of advice. If you see anything wrong, and I mean ANYTHING, fix it. If you ask me “do you think the judges will see/notice this?” I’m gonna look at you sideways and comment on the Browns.

And I don’t even watch baseball.

If you can see it, the judges will see it. If I can see it, the judges will see it. Let’s not enter anything at all that will not pass muster. This isn’t the time for sloppiness.

Stay tuned for more JIT tips and a High Wootness Five! to Margaret, Ella and Adrian for sharing their wisdom. 🙂

Why I Require My Print Competition Mentorees to Pursue Certification (CPP)

by Christine

In the past, one was required to have a CPP before they could receive their Master’s degree from the PPA. This didn’t seem to be a popular prerequisite and I remember seeing that the list of Master’s degree recipients was quite a bit longer than normal the first year this requirement was banished. Some folks couldn’t pass the certification requirements and some folks refused to, so when the opportunity presented itself, those folks that had been sitting out because of the certification requirement were fairly numerous.

No matter what the reasoning for it’s implementation and subsequent de-implementation, I think the overall concept had a lot of merit. A major key to doing well in image competition is understanding basic photographic theory and skills – understanding and skills that are confirmed via certification.

One of the things I’ve found in my teaching of print competition workshops is that there is a certain contingent of potential competitors with stars in their eyes. They see their peers and colleagues bringing home the bling and they want to be in on the coolness, too. That’s groovy, that’s fine.

But.

While the competition process is just full of wonderfulness and joy, the message that is missed time after time is that one must be very technically competent in order to do well. And when that message is missed or ignored, we wind up with a number of folks that aren’t very pleased by their results to the point of throwing in the towel and never entering again. To them, competition was a negative experience, and that’s not good at all.

Generally I find that the most enthusiastic new competitor is often the most photographically unskilled, and time after time, my public classes come to a screeching halt while I explain a basic technical concept to a confused competitor. Explaining basic concepts is fine, you’ve got to learn somewhere and some time – (hopefully, the sooner, the better) – but I find that most folks are diving headfirst into competition before they’re truly ready. I would never discourage an enthusiastic student, ever, but in order to maximize the quality of time we spend together in a mentoring situation, our time can’t be spent on learning the basic photographic skill set that is important to have in place before competing.

Since I teach print competition classes on a regular basis, I’m usually asked if I mentor privately. The answer is “yes” but I also require that my mentorees have obtained their CPP, or at least passed the exam portion of the requirements before we start working on competition images.

Why?

The CPP designations assures me that my input and critiques will be understood and respected. Private mentoring takes a chunk of our time and sometimes a chunk of money and I want to make sure that both are spent as wisely as possible. Spending both on remedial lessons results in a less than satisfactory competition mentoring experience.

Imagine a new competitor, all bright and enthusiastic, bringing their portfolio of work to me to begin a process of culling and refining it for competition. Now imagine that during our critique portion it becomes apparent that the mentoree has minimal understanding of directional light, has never heard of ratios and does not know that the distortion from their 50mm lens is causing issues in almost every single portrait they are showing me.

That’s unfortunate, really unfortunate. Because their expectation was that they would wrap up our session with some definite competition possibilities that they just need to refine a bit, but instead, they end up with no competition possibilities at all, and a day that ended with them feeling they do not have a handle on what they are doing. It doesn’t matter how carefully and kindly I approach it – their expectations for the mentoring session were not met.

Occasionally, I’ll have a student who is in the middle of their learning process. If I see that they are pursuing and embracing what they are working on, I will certainly work with them, but at this point – we are both aware that the results may not come as quickly as for others and can adapt our expectations accordingly.

By requiring a CPP or at least a few feet deep into the process, I’m assuring us both that our time together will be productive and the student will go home happy. If certification isn’t in the works, then I can get them started in that direction with resources, study groups and recommendations for classes and instructors that will help them bring their skill set up to snuff. I’m a CPP Liaison for Ohio, so I’ve got a whole different way of helping those pursuing certification.

And as a caveat for those who are just chomping at the bit to find fault with this process – I do waive the requirement if it is apparent the mentoree is chock full of technical talent and passing the CPP exam would be a mere formality. Yes, I still encourage pursuing the CPP – but I’m not going to take such a hard-nosed stance on it – this student will “get” the critique portion of our day, which is the whole point of the requirement to begin with.

By requiring my mentorees to have a certain level of technical competence before we attempt competition activities together, I’m helping them to obtain the highest level of success possible. We can spend our time as productively as possible and maximize the results of our efforts.

My public classes will always be open to students of any skill level and I will do my best to keep everyone on the same page as much as possible, but when it comes to one-on-one education, I’m going to require a certain level of technical competence before we begin.

It’s a good thing – for both of us.

About that Certification thing…

by Christine

Yesterday I got a lovely email from PPA employee & Certification Coordinator, Cassidy Hoffman. Cassidy reminded me that the deadline to apply for a 2015 CPP Liaison position was looming and that they had not received my request to be considered.

Of course, it was something I’d put on the back burner to get to later, but I hadn’t yet, so I checked out the application link and remembered why I’d put it off.

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Yeah, essay questions. Great.

For someone that writes, you’d think that essay questions would be a piece of cake. The truth is, most of the time I run my mouth, it’s because something has inspired me. Or ticked me off. Writing with passion is a piece of cake. Writing to answer questions – meh, not so much.

So, I figure if I gotta do essay questions, they’re gonna pull double duty. So, here we go.

Five years ago, on a warm day in May 2009, I received a blue envelope from the PPA. That was before the CPP exam/image submission results were emailed. You folks working on your CPP today have it pretty good. I waited 38 days for that blue envelope to show up. 38 wretched days. Yet, I digress.

And when I opened the envelope and read that I’d passed both parts of the requirements and was formally ordained a Certified Professional Photographer, I cried.

It meant that much.

Just last month I sat down and filled out the paperwork to renew my certification. I got a little bit grandfathered into a rule change and needed to re-certify after five years, but from here on out, I’m on a three year schedule. I didn’t have to think about whether or not I was going to re-certify. For me, it was a no-brainer.

Without a doubt, the CPP process was THE biggest step in the right direction I ever could have taken with my career. Everything that has come after that process  has only served to improve and add to what I do, but without that first step, none of the rest would have been possible.

I happily received a gold tube just a few weeks ago that contained my Certificate of Recertification. That strikes me a little bit funny, anyone else? I wonder if next time it will be a Recertificate of Recertification. Or a Certificate or Re-recertification. 😉 We shall see, because in another three years, I’ll be definitely going through the process, again. Another no-brainer.

PPA Tube of Gold. Just as cool as Think Geek's Bag of Holding.

PPA’s Tube of Gold. Cooler than Think Geek’s Bag of Holding – just saying.

So, about those questions.

My business, photographic style and why I chose to pursue certification:

My business is as a studio portrait photographer. Mostly. There are times when I teach, write, mentor, design, edit, sing and dance, but mostly I photograph. I specialize in head shots and character portraits. At one point in time I shot everything from school plays to weddings, but over these first five years I’ve settled into a line of work that brings me the most satisfaction and fits well into my skill set. I generally shoot simply and with refinement, and tend to veer towards low key work. I generally use a five light set up and shoot most of my clients with short light.

Five years ago I didn’t know what short light was. Or low key. I didn’t know that the lens that came with my camera from Best Buy was not good for portraits because an 18-55mm lens used for head shots causes distortion. I thought my “style” was whatever Photoshop action was popular and it varied as often the action-sellers kept selling.

Five years ago I described my style as someone’s name, whoever the someone was that I was copying at the time.  It was kind of like saying I cooked in the style of Martha Stewart. Without the jail time, of course.

I was young, a rookie, and I didn’t know any better.

BUT, I came from a lengthy career in manufacturing quality and I understood the value of certification. I held two different certifications through the American Society for Quality and those pieces of paper were the key to unlocking the doors to advancement within my field.

And so I assumed (and rightly so) that the CPP certification would hold similar keys. It was only natural that I would pursue the certification offered by the largest and oldest professional photography non-profit organization in the world. There’s that no-brainer thing, again.

Why are you interested in becoming a CPP Liaison?

Well, as Alice might ask, “How can one become what one already is?” I am a built in spokesperson for the PPA on the value of certification. I’ve been a Liaison for five years, served on PPA’s Certification Committee for a year, and whether or not I continue to be a Liaison, I will always support and respect the program and encourage new photographers to pursue the CPP process as if it were a college educational program. I believe in the CPP program, wholeheartedly. It has helped to make me the photographer that I am today. Because five years ago – I pretty much sucked. Don’t make me prove it – take my word for it – I sucked.

I believe every photographer should possess the skill set that is required to successfully pass the CPP requirements. I believe that setting a standard for quality work in the photographic community can only serve to raise the bar in professional photography, for both my colleagues and our clients.

I believe in doing a job well and with finesse. I believe in knowing what you are doing, showing and teaching. I believe that those three little letters at the end of my name make a difference. They made a difference for me and I’m betting they’ll make a difference for everyone else.

And I’d love to hold the hands of those who’d like to have that difference made in their own careers.

I’d like to make the process easier and more understandable and then clap someone on the back after they pass. Or maybe buy them a drink, goodness knows they’ve earned it.

In the last five years I’ve proctored the exam over twenty times. Both at my studio and twice a year at events held by the Professional Photographers of Ohio. I’ve even proctored at Imaging USA. I have maintained contact and developed friendships with nearly all of those who have gone through the CPP process with me. It’s a hard process and by the end of it – we’ve bonded. Except for the inverse square law stuff – we just try to get through that part without hurting each other. 😉

It doesn’t stop there, though.

The CPP process is only a first step, but it’s a wonderful, large step that hikes us up to a better place. A place that helps ready us to be Craftsmen and print competitors and Master Photographers and ASP Educational Associates and Fellows. It’s the beginning of a pathway to success that I encourage all my CPP candidates to continue on.

It’s a doorway to greatness and I’d like to continue to be a doorman.

Please.

Sincerely,
Christine Walsh-Newton, M. Photog., Cr., CPP

Why I became a Certified Professional Photographer

by Christine

certified-logos copy

In 2008, I was entering my 12th year as a quality professional in the chemical industry. Unfortunately, it was also the year I became a statistic. Suddenly, I found myself among one of the 2.6 million workers in the USA that lost a job that year.

The unemployment rate in my county jumped from mid 5% to above 11% within 6 months of my job loss, and less than a year later it was over 13%. Times were tough, jobs were scarce and I was afraid. Jobs within my industry were rare and would require relocation, which was not an option for me.

I evaluated my skill set and education to determine what my best course of action should be. Fortunately, I had a strong background in photography, including college courses and previous experience. At the time, I was a freelance photographer for a local newspaper and also photographed the occasional event or wedding. Event requests were steadily increasing and I had already begun the transition from part-time to full time photographer. I had joined the PPA in preparation for this transition, I just never realized how quickly I would need them.

After crunching numbers and doing some research, I decided that my best course of action would be to expand my services to include studio photography. I did some market research in my area, learned that there were only a handful of photographers nearby and felt that the area could reasonably support an additional photographer.

Within 3 months I was to learn how very wrong I could be.

In the fall of 2008, there was a sudden influx of new photographers in my small community. As I was buckling down to learn additional skills and establish my studio, there were many other folks with the same exact idea.

I was horrified and sick to my stomach. I was in the middle of sinking my entire severance check into studio construction and the associated equipment, while the piece of the photographic pie I expected to own grew smaller and smaller.

I needed to revamp what I was doing in a major way and gain an edge in what was becoming a very competitive industry.

I believe that the secret to success is education. I have several degrees, but not in fields related to photography. There was no resume I could point to that indicated any kind of expertise or education in a rapidly growing field of contenders for the same clients.

I thought back to my career as a quality professional. The letters CQA and CQIA were after my name on my business cards, indicating that I held several certifications with the American Society for Quality. These certifications opened doors for me, qualified  me for specialized jobs and indicated that I had competence and mastery in my field.

I did more research, looking for some way, other than a four-year photography degree, that would indicate that I had a similar level of mastery and competence in the photographic field.

Through my PPA membership, I learned of the Certified Professional Photographer designation. In the midst of a very unstable situation, I finally had hope. My previous experience with professional certification was a positive one and I had confidence that it would serve as a valuable credential as I made the transition to my new career as a full-time professional photographer.

I expected that my clients would choose me based on this credential and it would put me head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. I also expected that it would give me credibility in the eyes of the photographers around me already in business. I had begun to see the effect of the massive growth in the number of photographers flooding the marketplace and understood this wasn’t setting too well with established photographers. I expected that certification would help me establish credibility with both my clients and my peers.

What I didn’t expect was that I would become ten times the photographer I already was by the time I achieved certification. Looking back, I now realize I knew very little in the beginning, and it was the most fortunate stroke of luck that I began working on my certification so close to the beginning of my career. I had much to learn and little to unlearn.

I simultaneously prepped for both the exam and the image submission from December of 2008 through April of 2009. With the CPP body of knowledge as my guide, I planned out an 18 week course of study. Any time I came upon a concept that was new, I looked up additional information online as well as in other books and periodicals. I approached it as if I was studying for college finals or writing a thesis. My previous certifications were also exam-based, so I was familiar with how in-depth I should understand the material.

As I learned and refined my skills while preparing for the exam, concepts began to “click” and new studio techniques became more understandable. My photography began to improve markedly as I began to incorporate everything I was learning into my work.

After four and a half months of study, I drove 14 hours round trip to take the exam in a neighboring state. While I waited for the test results, I began working on my image submissions. As I refined my submissions I evaluated the nuances in lighting, posing and composition that set apart some images from others. Many images under consideration were discarded and new client sessions were treated with more technical refinement than ever before in order to create images worthy of being included in my submission. I was truly my own worst critic and probably went overboard in my self-critiques, but this had been a hard process and I was determined to do it right the first time.

I chuckle when I look back and remember the process back then. CPP liaisons and exam dates were few and far between and there were no online study groups and mentors available like there are today. I had never met another CPP prior to taking the exam and every step I took through the process was accompanied by much research, trial and error. I’m pleased with the growth of the program and thrilled that our numbers have increased and that resources and help are much easier to access these days.

But back to 2009; for 38 angst-ridden days I waited for my test results. Meanwhile, I submitted my images and was also waiting on those results. As the days of waiting passed, I became convinced that my image submission would fail and I began prepping a second set of images.

By the time I received my letter from the PPA, congratulating me for achieving my certification, I was stressed out and did what any other woman in similar circumstances would do; I cried. With great joy and relief I embraced the designation, the certification and the process. Although it was difficult, I don’t regret it and would do it again.

I originally desired certification for what I believed it would do in regards to establishing me as a professional in the industry. What I ended up with, was a certification whose process made me the photographer I am today. Because of certification, I still approach every session as if a certification judge was going to review the resulting images, and will discard any image that I believe would not pass.

I continue to photograph and study as if I am preparing for certification, because I don’t believe that achieving the CPP is the final step in the certification process; I believe it’s the first step in the process of  becoming the absolute best photographer I can be.

Oh, the people you meet…

by Christine

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Thank you Dr. Suess for that phrase. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s from one of the books that is popular to give kids when they’ve graduated from high school. It talks about the things you will do and the people you will meet as you start your new phase of life.

Being a photographer, or probably any occupation for that matter, photographers seem to think they have the edge on unique-ness, but I doubt that’s really the case – ANY WAY – we meet a lot of people. Some of them are strange rangers, most of them are fairly run-of-the-mill and sometimes, well sometimes you’re just blown out of the water.

Meet Brian and Lisa of Leavell Photography & Cinema, LLC. Most of my friends and colleagues will know who these two are if I say “These are those CPPs that passed the image submission with off-camera flash!” Yes, I’m impressed and I’ve talked about them THAT much.

I’m a CPP liaison (which means I help folks that are trying to achieve the Certified Professional Photographer designation and offer the certification exams in my state for the candidates) and I’m always interested in meeting photographers who have achieved this designation.

Brian and Lisa came to a class I was teaching and in the midst of introductions, they mentioned they were CPP’s. Upon further questioning, it became apparent that they did not own a studio. Or studio lights. I’m aware that the image submission and exam are hard to pass without studio experience and was impressed. I was even further impressed when they told me their image submissions were done using off-camera flash. Yes, kids, these two figured out how to do 3:1 ratios with off-camera flash.

That takes spunk. And a LOT of work. And drive and perseverance. All I can give them is a “High Wootness Five!” for their efforts and my enduring respect for their hard work. I’ve worked with a lot of CPP candidates, but these guys take the cake on drive and motivation.

So, if you’re from PA or the Pittsburgh area, look these two up. They’ve recently taken leadership roles in the Pittsburgh PUG and I know they will be happy to network with you.

But, Seriously: Just buy a light meter, will ya?

by Christine

lightmeterWhen I teach classes to new photographers, I have a “learn with what you already own” philosophy. I know how it is. You excitedly take your camera, bag and manual to the first class that will get you on the road to becoming a pro photographer and you’re suddenly faced with an excruciatingly long list of equipment you need with a grand total similar to the national debt. So, I try not to do that to beginners. But I do teach and mentor on an advanced level to photographers that desire to do studio lighting and involve themselves with advanced concepts – and when you get to that point, you just have to suck it up and start investing in some basic equipment. Enter the light meter.

Those who know me, know that I have a “thing” for light meters. Those who mentor with me know that they must own and learn to use a light meter or I cannot mentor them. *sigh* yes, I am THAT person. The person that tells you that you can’t eyeball light. I don’t have tolerance for deviation from the ownership of a light meter. If you want to set up studio lights and keep fiddling with them until it looks right on the back of your camera, you go right ahead. Just don’t ask me for help. And please don’t teach a class in studio lighting, you’re only promoting bad habits.

I will admit that natural light specialists can probably get away with not owning one as long as they have learned how to use their in-camera light meter fully (as in, bust out that manual, baby, because you’re gonna be memorizing the section on the in-camera light meter) . But as far as studio lighting goes, a light meter is a must.

If you intend on learning ratios, and most of the mentorees I work with intend on learning this for the CPP exam – the exam and image submission REQUIRE 3:1 ratio images as part of the certification process – you cannot learn lighting ratios without a light meter. Yes, you can learn to calculate what the settings SHOULD be without one, but you can’t accurately adjust your studio lights to the proper ratios without a light meter.

There’s a huge difference between saying “A 3:1 ratio in studio photography can be accomplished by setting the main and fill with a 1 1/2  stop difference between them” and actually being able to set the lights correctly. Seriously, you can’t fake it, stop trying.

If nothing in this article made any sense at all – I recommend you pony up the money for a light meter (the one pictured is ~$309) and make that your next educational goal. No, the light meter is not the sexiest piece of equipment you will ever buy, but it will be one of the MAIN influences in the technical excellence of your images.

QFR: How did you know when you were ready?

by Christine

Melissa asks:

This may be a silly question, but how did you know you were ready? Were there specific skills you worked on before applying? Are there specific training materials? Thank you

NOTE: This question was in response to the article  “Set a Goal: Become Certified.”

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Set a Goal: Become Certified

by Christine

Continuing with today’s theme of professional organizations, I would like to encourage you to set the goal of becoming a Certified Professional Photographer.

Yes, I know this is beginning to sound like I’m a PPA pusher and it’s true. I believe in the PPA system 100%! I would not be where I am right now if it were not for this organization and its affiliates.

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