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Thread: Photo Credentials -- Are they necessary or helpful?

  1. #1
    BJ Denning's Avatar
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    Photo Credentials -- Are they necessary or helpful?

    Being new to photography, I'm always trying to read more about photographs and the business. This is how I found CiC.

    My local camera club appears to be associated with Photographic Society of America (PSA). Before joining, I thought I should research some more and see what my money gets me.

    This lead to a greater question about credentials. Are they beneficial? What about the Professional Photographers of America ? Is being a Certified Professional Photographer (CCP) like having a Professional Engineer (PE) license? Does anyone or has anyone been associated with a photographic society that licenses or provides credentials?

    Of course I do understand that working your way through all the hurdles, written tests and evaluation of images, is beneficial. But I could get through college courses.

    I apologize for all the "Americas". I'm especially interested to hear from those from a variety of countries, to see if this is just American marketing. Or are their professional groups in each country.

    Thanks for the advice and insight.

  2. #2
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Credentials -- Are they necessary or helpful?

    Brian - I think my answer is 'It depends'

    It depends on what the awarding/granting body is. There are some out there who will give you some sort of certification in return for a handsome fee, irrespective of the quality of your work. And there are others who would ban you for life if you even suggested that you might buy your way into their favours. It's all about researching the body that you might aspire to being part of. Is it reputable? Does it have high standing and respect amongst the professional community.

    For example, in the UK, Associateship or Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society is most definitely something you'd want to tag onto your name in your advertising or business card. But there is no way you'd ever buy your way into that.

    I could of course annoint myself as a member of Glenfarg Master Photographers Society and no-one could stop me. But I don't think it would really carry too much weight if I applied to be come a member of Magnum.

    So, if someone wants a big fee and is not too worried about subjecting your work to the most rigorous peer-reviewed scrutiny, then I'd stay away from it.

    The other thing, of course, is - Does having afew letters after your name make you a better photographer? No. But depending on the letters, it might signify that a suitably professional and regarded body has deemed your work of a quality high enough to grant you status.
    Last edited by Donald; 25th November 2011 at 03:19 PM.

  3. #3
    tbob's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Credentials -- Are they necessary or helpful?

    Having heard of none of the three bodies (and being a member of the Canadian Registered Awesome Photographers or CRAP) I suspect the addition of the letters after your name will impress the uninformed and irritate the rest. Depends if you feel the need for letters after your name to validate your ability or will simply rely on word of mouth and your proven ability to carry you through.

    Professional Engineers are are a peer reviewed group who have degrees from a University in Engineering and are held to rigorous standards of professional responsibility, ethics and performance. Failure as a P(eng) carries penalties both legal and professional. Failure as a photographer?

    As my dad said " you can't demand respect; you have to earn it"
    Last edited by tbob; 25th November 2011 at 05:17 PM. Reason: add on thought

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    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Credentials -- Are they necessary or helpful?

    Quote Originally Posted by tbob View Post
    Having heard of none of the three bodies (and being a member of the Canadian Registered Awesome Photographers or CRAP)

    As my dad said " you can't demand respect; you have to earn it"
    Haha! Well put Trevor!

  5. #5
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Credentials -- Are they necessary or helpful?

    IMO, the benefit of legitimate organizations like Professional Photographers of America is not that the letters after your name will get you clients or get you a job. The benefit is the various seminars and conventions with training opportunities and the networking that a person can do through those organizations.

    The benefit of the phoney organizations is nil...

  6. #6
    shreds's Avatar
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    Re: Photo Credentials -- Are they necessary or helpful?

    And of course the lesser organisations just want to get hold of your email address to sell on and bombard you with a billion special offers ranging from consumables to training courses and annoyingly those who claim to get you to the top of the page with Google (Why would I want that I have that already usually sends them away with a flea in the ear).

    There was a case a couple of years ago that one such organisation would not let a photographer leave without giving something like three months notice by registered post and confirmation by email, plus acknowledgement from the organisation in writing (dont quote me, but you get the gist, they just wanted the annual fee, and if you dont pay it, we will sue you.) Photographer won on that occasion and droves of photographers followed him when they found out how he was treated.

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