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Beware of fauxtographers

"So why the heck do I need a Certified Professional Photographer anyway??" you may be asking right about now.

I regularly post on my social media pages warnings and cautions about choosing a fauxtographer instead of a Certified Professional Photographer. This led a buddy of mine to ask me the question, "What makes a you, a CPP, better than a fauxtographer , especially when a fauxtographer comes in at a lower cost? What value-add do you provide that they don't?"

An excellent question! Thank you for asking it. Here is my answer. I hope you read it as it should really help clarify things.

First, let me say I am not being a photo-snob and picking on moms and dads taking snapshots of the their kids and such. I don't know any people who can hire their own personal paparazzi to document their lives 24/7. For a great definition of a fauxtographer, please see this-

Now, to your question, as a CPP I have proven not only my technical skill, knowledge and experience levels, but also my artistic vision and execution, by passing both a difficult written exam and portfolio review. Less than 8% of working professional photographers achieve this distinction. So it is a mark of commitment and excellence. With a CPP you won't have to be worrying if your images will be in focus or properly exposed. If your head is cut off, it is because I meant to do it as an artistic statement :)

It is sort of like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. The marketplace has never been as flooded as it is today with people of questionable ability competing for your business. The CPP mark is an excellent way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Doesn't everyone want their doctor, accountant, mechanic, even their stylist, to be properly licensed and certified? It is how you know they are obeying pertinent rules and regulations, as well as meeting certain levels of competency. It lets you know they can do what you need them to do for you without making a mess of things!

Why shouldn't you expect the same from your photographer? When it comes to special events like weddings, maternity and newborn portraits, big family portraits or other once in a lifetime events, there are no do-overs. Once you realize your cut-rate fauxtographer was not up the job, it is usually too late for anything but regrets. Unfortunately, I hear it from my clients all too frequently.

As a member of the Professional Photographers of America (PPA), I have malpractice insurance for weddings that will in the (unlikely) event I botch things, will pay to restage the wedding so the bride and groom have their memories to share in the years to come. You won't get that benefit from a fauxtographer.

As for price, when has cheaper ever meant better? Heck, yeah, I can get a 1985 Yugo CHEAP - and I do mean C-H-E-A-P! Do I see takers lining up for one? No, they were unreliable, performed poorly and were horribly ugly, even when new! Much like what many fauxtographers are delivering after taking hard-earned money (no matter how small the fee) from good people every day. Cars or portraits, most sane folks would rather spend a little more for something they can feel good about and that won't leave them stranded.

This leads to my next point, since I have a business license, sales tax ID and federal Employer Identification Number, and other stuff the government requires of legit businesses, I am completely legal and in compliance with local, state and federal agencies. I pay my taxes and support my local, state and federal government by properly reporting and paying my taxes and fees. Is your fauxtographer paying the taxes that support all the programs and services you utilize or support, such as Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes (SPLOST) that build projects like roads and schools? Or Department of Labor Unemployment benefits to the jobless? Or the salaries of workers at all levels of government? All the dollars it takes to run your city, state and nation gotta come from somewhere. Most fauxtogs are not paying their share because they operate less than legally. That's one reason they can be so cheap.

Also, you can typically expect a CPP to have access to a superior quality and selection of product offerings. You won't get cheap, off-color discount store prints from a CPP, who will be using a professional lab to insure your images look amazing. Yes, there is a difference in properly printed images - a big one! You may also have access to new and exciting, exclusive new products you can't find elsewhere because your CPP uses a true lab to produce his/her products.

Finally, I am here to stay. I will not take your money and then disappear into the vapor before delivering your products. As previously mentioned, I have memberships, IDs, licenses and such that reassure you I will be here when you need me. Where will your fauxtographer be when you need more prints or have a question or are just waiting for delivery of what you already bought?

To sum it all up, the CPP stands for quality, trust, reliability, ethics, performance and, most of all, peace of mind in knowing you made a good decision to work with someone on whom you can depend.