Master Photographer Certification Guidelines – Lifestyle Category

NAPCP strives to help our members achieve their goals. We are so excited to see you taking the next step on your photography journey by becoming certified in your craft! Lifestyle photography certification will give you the credibility you need to sell your services to clients, and will open up many doors for you, professionally. Whether that means having a reason for raising your pricing or going out and getting more commercial work  – consider this a stepping stone to making that happen!

Unlike our photography competitions, Master Photographer Certification is not about having images that are “Best in Show”. Lifestyle photography certification verifies that you are a master of your craft, that you have consistent work, and that parents and businesses that hire you know what to expect. Master Photographers get the job done and get it done right. We know that’s worth a round of applause!

Do you have what it takes for lifestyle photography certification? Please review the terms and conditions below. Then submit your portfolio anytime between July 11 – July 25, 2022. We can’t wait to see what you do next!


Submit a portfolio of 25 lifestyle images. Lifestyle photography is defined by Wikipedia as a genre of photography that mainly aims to capture portraits of people in situations, real-life events or milestones in an artistic manner. While each artist’s style should be apparent, the portfolio for this category should be diverse in nature with different scenes, subjects, and expressions. Images should not be posed or taken in a studio. The objective is to demonstrate the artist’s skill and mastery of shooting in a variety of different settings and situations, exhibiting mastery of the specific niche of lifestyle photography.

Images for this category can be from different types of shoots as long as they show the artist’s skill as a lifestyle photographer and are child and family related. (ie Maternity, Family, Newborn, Senior, Birth, Toddler, Child, or Baby) Images should not be taken of a subject or situation outside of the child and family realm. (ie weddings or engagement photos would not be acceptable)

Images for this category should not be recreated life events or staged and should instead document life as it happens.

Each image must have completely different subjects, scene, and overall feel. For example, should you submit an image of a family of four captured in the park, it would not be acceptable to submit another image with two or three members of the same family, even if the setting is in their home instead.

At least 10 of all images should contain 3 or more subjects.

At least 10 images should include children. (For the purpose of this category, the term “children” refers to any child 0 – 18 years in age)

Image Submission Guidelines
Submissions should be saved in JPEG format. The longest side of your image may not exceed 2000 pixels and the shortest side must be a minimum of 1000 pixels. Maximum size is 4 MB and resolution should be set to 72 DPI. Please be sure that your images are labeled 1 – 25 for portfolio review purposes. This is the LIFESTYLE category. Images must be named as follows:  IMAGENUMBER_CATEGORY_INITIALS.jpg (3-digit image number format 001, 002, 003, etc) – For example: 001_LIFESTYLE_KM.jpg

You will be given scores on each individual image in your portfolio. You will also receive one score on the consistency of your entire portfolio. Scores will not be published. You will receive feedback on images that did not receive a 4 or above. The scoring scale is as follows:


5 – Outstanding

Beautiful image that would exceed client’s expectations. No noticeable technical errors or distractions. Emotion and client impact criteria exceeded.

4 – Excellent

Beautiful image that would meet client’s expectations. Any flaws in composition or technical skill are not noticeable, or do not distract from focus of the image. Special editing or processing does not distract from the subject(s) or story in the image. Emotion and client impact criteria met.

3 – Fair

Proficient image, with one very noticeable and/or distracting problem. For example, a good image, but an overexposed good image. Or, a good image, but image focus is noticeably off, or the image contains a distracting background. A good image, but over-edited to a point of distraction. Some aspect of emotion or client impact criteria not met.

2 – Unsatisfactory

More than one problem with image that distracts from the image quality. This would include technical and composition errors, background distractions, white balance, color, light, and focus problems. This would also include over-editing that is noticeably distracting to the focus of the image. Client impact and emotion criteria not met.

1 – Fail

Does not meet Portfolio Mastery requirements.


Portfolio scores will be based on consistency of style and your perspective as a photographer.

5 – Outstanding

Portfolio is consistent in style and perspective. Regardless of different settings / styles, your perspective as an artist is exceptionally clear.

4 – Excellent

Portfolio is mostly consistent. Your overall perspective as an artist can be seen.

3 – Fair

Portfolio has several different styles and perspectives apparent. While the images may be satisfactory, it would be difficult for a client to get a feel of your style as an artist from the portfolio images submitted.

2 – Unsatisfactory

Portfolio is not cohesive in style and perspective.

1 – Fail

Does not meet Portfolio Mastery requirements.

Once your portfolio has been reviewed, you will receive an email from our team regarding pass or fail status. There are two different factors that determine whether or not you obtain lifestyle photography certification:


Image Scores

Images in your portfolio must score a 4 or above for Mastery Certification. In the event that you do not pass, you will be given feedback on any images that did not receive a 4 or above.

Overall Portfolio Score of 4 or 5

Your portfolio consistency score also plays a factor in if you pass for Master Certification. Judges will score the overall consistency of your work and you will need to receive a 4 or 5 to pass.


Master Certification for the Lifestyle category will be open from July 11 – July 25, 2022. You must submit your portfolio during this time frame for consideration – no late submissions will be allowed. If you miss the deadline, you may apply for Master Certification in this category the next time it opens.


A fee of $125 dollars will be required upon submission of your portfolio for each certification category.


Q: Why should I apply for a Mastery Certificate?
A: Becoming a NAPCP Master Photographer in your chosen photography category is a milestone of artistic and business success. This achievement can be used to set you apart from your competition and instill confidence in your clients.

Q: How is this different than winning an award in NAPCP’s image competitions?
A: When you submit your portfolio for NAPCP Master Photographer consideration, you are not competing with any other photographer. Mastery level is achieved by exhibiting consistently proficient photography skills with multiple subjects and situations.

Q: Will I receive a reimbursement for my submission fee if I do not pass?
A: No, your submission fee covers our evaluation panel’s time to review and assess your portfolio for Master Certification. As outlined in our portfolio requirements, there is no guarantee to pass, however our panel will provide feedback on images that do not score a 4 or higher.

Q: Do I get to see my scores?
A: NAPCP will not publish scores. However, feedback will be provided for any image or overall portfolio that does not meet the required proficiency score of 4 or higher.

Q: How is scoring different for Mastery vs image competitions?
A: Each image is rated based on the use of photography rules and skills, as well as the impact of an image as a client would likely see it, rather than how a judge would see it compared to hundreds of other images. For the purpose of mastery in this case, an image does not have to be “Best in Show”, like in an image competition. Rather, the image must be impactful to a client, while also technically great and with application of the appropriate photography rules.

Q: How long is my certificate valid?
A: The Master Photographer designation is valid for three years. After that time, you may choose to re-certify for a small fee by following a few easy steps.

Q: Do I have to be a NAPCP Member to qualify for the NAPCP Master Photographer Certificate?
A: Yes. Join us in celebrating our child and family photography community by applying for membership today!

Q: In the guidelines, it is stated that each image must have a different subject. Why is that?
A: To achieve Mastery, each artist must show a wide variety of subjects and settings. Images must be consistent in skill with various lighting scenarios, subject variety, and overall settings. A wide variety in subjects also exhibits longevity in the industry and/or breadth of work.

Submissions are NOW OPEN for

Master Photographer Certification

Lifestyle Category

Evaluation Panel


NAPCP Co-Founder

Alice Park Photography


2019 Photographer of the Year

Ashley McBroom Photography


2018 Photographer of the Year

Elan Studio


2014 Photographer of the Year

Jennifer Kapala Photography


2020 Photographer of the Year

Carolyn Ann Ryan Photography


Multiple Award Winner

Jaye McLaughlin Photography


Founder of Birthbound Photographer

Photos by Lei