Professional Photographers of America and....standards

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rexbobcat

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I'm not really "in the know" when it comes to photography organizations but I do know about PPA.

I have a question...This is a legitimately serious organization, correct? I mean, when you sign up they give you "free" equipment insurance and whatnot so that's just what I assume.

However, it seems kind of like an "everybody gets a gold star" organization at the same time, which confuses me. I see so many photographers in this area (and the state in general) who are either certified/master something or other/or they are on some kind of committee. And some of these photographers aren't even that incredible compared to other less qualified (obscure and unknown) photographers whose work seems to leaps ahead.

Is PPA just very traditional? I see that a lot of the awards and such are given to photographers who are either very traditional - think Olan Mills - or kind of kitsch. I rarely ever see someone who is very innovative or just...incredible...with these high honors. Is it kind of like a "pay $200 for a college degree" kind of thing?

I'm not trying to put anyone down. It's just confusing how so many brilliant photographers slip through the cracks while so many others get so much apparent praise.
 

Scatterbrained

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Who says those brilliant photographers are slipping through the cracks? Maybe they just haven't seen a need for the PPA. It's sorta like the AMA, not all doctors are members, as many don't see the benefit of membership. Therefor you'll never see anything on their walls from the AMA. Technicians aren't required to get ASE certified, and many don't. Yet the certification is easy enough to get that if you want to impress someone you just pay your money and take the tests. Passing the tests doesn't mean you're an exceptional tech, it just means you've shown the minimum level of proficiency required to work in the field. The same with certifications from groups like the PPA. It's a way of establishing that someone has at least a thorough understanding of the techniques required to work in the field, it's doesn't mean they are an exceptional artist.
 
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rexbobcat

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Yeah I guess. It just seems like such empowered words such as "master" would be reserved for people beyond that level of skill.

I mean, I imagine somebody has to be reviewing the portfolios of these photographers to make that decision. I just can't help but imagine 70 year old photographers who just converted to digital 2 years ago up there calling the shots, haha.

It just seems like it's so easy to get "x" title that when people try and assert their ego with such titles, it's hard to take them seriously.
 

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I can't speak for the PPA, but I imagine it is similar to the PPOC - for $200ish you can become a member of the PPOC. All that gets you is the right to the PPOC discount at events and some of the insurance discounts. If you want to become an accredited member, first you must cross their palms with another couple of hundred dollars AND submit a portfolio of ten images in a given category for review and accreditatioon buy the jury (usually long term members and professional photographers of some repute), but they are very traditional.
 

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I suppose joining a professional organization and getting some type of certification could provide some credibility for some working photographers, especially in this day of 'anybody' with a camera promoting themselves on social media sites as portrait or wedding photographers when they don't even seem to know how to set their cameras.

I've always had certification/licensure for my job, that's been enough for me of that kind of thing! so I've not been interested in it myself but I can see how it could be beneficial; I don't know anything specific about their requirements or standards.
 

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"Member, Professional Photographers of America" after one's name on a web page sounds a lot better than, "Mom with a camera," or "Guy who shoots pics on weekends and after work."

Right?

One thing "traditional" professional photographers understand is how to pose and light people. A lot of what passes for 'innovatgion' today is utter crap, done by people with zero training in anything, except maybe a bunch of web-based tuts' on how to process images in Photoshop.
 

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Technicians aren't required to get ASE certified, and many don't. Yet the certification is easy enough to get that if you want to impress someone you just pay your money and take the tests. Passing the tests doesn't mean you're an exceptional tech, it just means you've shown the minimum level of proficiency required to work in the field.

When I had my transmission replaced, in order for the warranty to be valid, the transmission had to be checked by an ASE certified technician. Period. I didn't feel like gambling, so I had it checked at Meineke instead of another, non-certified shop. They may have been very proficient, but their lack of certification cost them that job. Again, this was the transmission company that required the certification, not me...
 

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Way back when I hired a wedding photographer, the guy we chose was a member of WPJA and it totally gave me a warm fuzzy feeling. It may not mean much to those in the know, it can help a potential customer looking for some minimal level of assurance (e.g. at least this guy was committed enough to jump through whatever hoops).
 

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I just can't help but imagine 70 year old photographers who just converted to digital 2 years ago up there calling the shots, haha.
Who says they ever converted to digital (or even color)? :er:
 
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rexbobcat

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"Member, Professional Photographers of America" after one's name on a web page sounds a lot better than, "Mom with a camera," or "Guy who shoots pics on weekends and after work."

Right?

One thing "traditional" professional photographers understand is how to pose and light people. A lot of what passes for 'innovatgion' today is utter crap, done by people with zero training in anything, except maybe a bunch of web-based tuts' on how to process images in Photoshop.

Agreed, but when somebody says that they're all about giving you creative and unique images, I expect more than generic three point lighting in front of a fake backdrop.

And pose people in what context? I know a lot of traditional photographers who pose their subjects in poses that would have been industry standard 30 years ago, but are now seemingly...unnatural.

Why would a woman be framing her face with both of her arms? Does her neck not work? Etc...

When I see some of these photos, it's almost like looking at 80's glamour shots sans feathered hair and rhinestones.
 
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rexbobcat

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I just can't help but imagine 70 year old photographers who just converted to digital 2 years ago up there calling the shots, haha.
Who says they ever converted to digital (or even color)? :er:

Well considering that they would be representing an industry that is predominately digital, I would hope they would have some sort of understanding of it. :p
 

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I think the issue is that we look at images all day, every day. Most people don't. Turning out solid images consistently is the hallmark of a true professional. The ability to light and pose properly is essential. There is a reasoning behind posing techniques. Most people don't bother to learn it, and instead choose to wing it. That may work, but it's not consistent. Knowing how to light and pose a subject to best compliment their face, size, and shape is the mark of a good portrait photographer. A well done, traditional studio portrait looks just as good now is it did in 1970. A shot that relies on trendy processing and dutch angles to make it work is simply surviving on novelty. Once that novelty wears off, so does the images significance.
 

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I just can't help but imagine 70 year old photographers who just converted to digital 2 years ago up there calling the shots, haha.
Who says they ever converted to digital (or even color)? :er:

Well considering that they would be representing an industry that is predominately digital, I would hope they would have some sort of understanding of it. :p
There is nothing different about lighting and posing people with a digital camera than with film. Light is light. It doesn't matter if it's being absorbed by film or collected by a silicon chip. A good image is a good image, whether it was made with an 8x10 view camera or an iPhone. Besides, didn't you know that LF film and tin-types are the new "it" portrait formats?
 
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rexbobcat

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Who says they ever converted to digital (or even color)? :er:

Well considering that they would be representing an industry that is predominately digital, I would hope they would have some sort of understanding of it. :p
There is nothing different about lighting and posing people with a digital camera than with film. Light is light. It doesn't matter if it's being absorbed by film or collected by a silicon chip. A good image is a good image, whether it was made with an 8x10 view camera or an iPhone. Besides, didn't you know that LF film and tin-types are the new "it" portrait formats?

That wasn't my point. My point was - if the top dogs don't want to adapt at least somewhat, then it makes sense that they would favor more traditional photographers.

It was mostly a joke, but it seems I hit a nerve with some people.

And don't disregard taste. Some classy photos from the 70's don't hold up to public scrutiny today, because the taste has changed. The photos that stand the test of time are photos that seem to use very understandable posing. (Please refer back to my glamour shot example. The whole "holding the popped collar" pose does not look good today, but it seemed to be very popular back then)

People have been candidly attractive for centuries. I find that unposed posed portraits (does that make sense) appeal to me more than poses taken from the theory of posing.
 
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