Is The CPP Photography Exam Hard To Pass?

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I see this question show up frequently in forums and searches. Is The CPP Photography Exam Hard To Pass?certifiedPhotographerthinking Is The CPP Photography Exam Hard To Pass?

I have an answer.

It Depends.

Okay, I can hear your moans and groans from here. I won’t leave you with just “it depends”. Let’s take a look at specific things that can help you pass the Certified Professional Photographer Exam (CPP Exam).

7 Questions To Ask Yourself To Determine If The CPP Photography Exam Is Hard To Pass

#1 – Are you a current photographer with at least one year of experience?

There are millions of new photographers on the scene (Hey – I was one of them 3 years ago!)  At least one year of experience is going to give you hands-on experience with depth of field, aperture, shutter speed knowledge, lighting and Photoshop experience. Needless to say, if you picked up your Nikon at Best Buy and never worked with a single client or had very little experience with a camera then this exam is not for you (yet).

#2 – Did you shoot with film and develop film in a darkroom?

Hiding out in a dark room with weird smelling chemicals may make you feel like Dr. Frankenstein but it will help you on the CPP Exam. The creators of the CPP Exam believe that you should know some of the basics of film. There are around 5 questions relating to film, emulsion and some basic dark room terms.

#3 – Are you familiar with Photoshop?

Knowing Photoshop (or a similar software like Aperture) is a huge bonus for the exam. 13% of the exam covers digital post production. I would hit hard on the principles of Levels, Curves, color management and selection tools (i.e lasso). If it sounds like I just talked about a women’s only workout facility to you then you need to hold off on the exam.

#4 – Have you photographed in a studio with lighting equipment?

Lighting is a big part of the CPP Exam (20% of the CPP Exam!) I really struggled in this area because I photograph mostly outside with reflectors or available light. I read Chapter 13 of the Photography book probably 10 times before the exam. I have worked in a studio environment but I would not call myself a “light wizard” like Scott Kelby. I studied the lighting ratios and worked with the photographers in my study group. There are a lot of terms in the lighting chapter (Chapter 13) that are vital to picking up points on the exam.

#5 – Have you read the Photography book?

I don’t care if you have been photographing for 20+ years. The exam questions are based off the Photography book so if you did not read the book then this ship will not sail. Just like in college, you need to please the teacher who is teaching your class. You need to buy the book your fabulous business law teacher wrote (regardless how awful it might be!) and understand his point of view in order to ace his exam. You don’t have to like it. Just beat the system and celebrate with confetti! Woo hoo!

#6 – Are you familiar with photography terminology?

The CPP Exam is sprinkled with A LOT of photography terminology from the word barn door (no this is not part of your pants), gobo, flag, and snoot. You may understand the concept but the exam will test not only your knowledge of the concept but also the terminology.

Last but certainly not least,

#7 -  Are you motivated to pass the CPP Photography Exam?

I’m not asking you to be Gary Vaynerchuk, the author of “Crush It!” but you do need that internal fire in your belly to pass this exam. This is a serious exam and a true test of your photography knowledge. It is a two-hour 100 multiple choice exam. I set aside 8 weeks to prepare for the CPP exam and most of my studying was done in the evenings after the kids were asleep. If you are “on the fence” about wanting to pass this exam, then you will conveniently not find the time to study for it. Take the time to ensure that this exam is for you and that you have a strong desire to pass it. If you use a CPP Exam study guide like the CPP Exam “Piece Of Cake” Study Guide, then your life will be easier too.

If you answered “no” to any of these questions then I suggest that you do some research in those areas.

What are your thoughts about these questions? What else would you suggest as a qualifier for the CPP Exam?

Comments are always welcome!

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