Professional Photographer’s of America (PPA) has been the foremost association campaigning for photographers for over 150 years, but is still growing with its membership even today. With over half of photographers in the non-profit association capturing weddings as part or the majority of their income, PPA has moved forward with creating a new degree that specifically evaluates and promotes wedding photographers. With the Master of Photography degree and Master Artist degree already part and parcel to the education options in the association, does qualifying photographers with a new set of rules make better artists or lessen the value of the other degrees?
PPA has two main degrees based around creating photography and artwork that members can earn through teaching, service, education, and photographic competition: the Master of Photography degree (M.Photog) and the Master Artist degree (M.Artist). Each degree is based upon how the image was created whether the intent and creation is done primarily in camera, as with the Master of Photography degree, or if the intent and creation was primarily in postproduction, as with the Master Artist degree, with the creator's control of every aspect of the image being judged as much as the image itself. The new Master of Wedding Photography degree takes into account that the intention of the creator may have been impeded with the constraints of creating such an image during a wedding. This is the conundrum that many photographers find themselves in when shooting such a singular event while attempting to create work that exceeds an exemplary standard to eventually attain one of the previous degree options.
The creation of the new degree has seen a number of voices rise from within the ranks of PPA that believe with over 16,000 of the near 32,000 members of the organization capturing weddings as part of their businesses that this new degree will be a positive development for the membership to attain. Rising in opposition to this new option is a segment from the same group of photographers which have voiced a negative opinion on this new degree as it may de-value the other creative degrees already promoted by PPA. Many would agree that creating an image primarily in camera versus creating an image in postproduction are validly different disciplines, but does this new degree based on wedding photography lower the significance of either degree because the value is creating within a specific circumstance?
With Imaging USA 2019 bringing together over 10,000 photographers this past week, and allowing for discussion between the board members and councilors, this new degree was voted on and passed and is now a part of the legacy of Professional Photographers of America. I believe there is value in such a designation for wedding photographers and wedding photography, but I have reservations for such a degree as it doesn't align well with the current degrees available. Is this an opening for a Master of Landscape Photography or a Master of Architectural Photography degree? Would a Master of Photography degree be overshadowed by the fracturing of disciplines if this new degree proves valuable? How do Master Photographers who’ve earned their degrees liken this new reality after spending at the very least two years to obtain a degree with most taking three to four years on average.
Is the bar lowered or raised with adding this new degree to the options of PPA members?
What do you think about having a degree in photography whether from an accredited university or from a group like Professional Photographers of America? What value do they serve the artist and the clients? If you’re a Master Photographer with PPA, how do you feel about this new degree and does it affect your view on the work you did attaining your degree or the future value your degree may or may not have?