AUGUST 2013 | by Aaron K, Executive Director
For a number of years now our Wellington AIPA members have been gathering at the Southern Cross Garden Bar on the first Tuesday morning of each month for a coffee and a casual chat. This has always seemed like a great idea to me as it gives local pro photographers an excuse to catch up with one another on a regular basis.
Back in the days of shooting film I remember how visiting the local lab (or specialist photography store) was often a rewarding social experience - even though I certainly didn't recognise this it at the time. Whenever you were dropping off or picking up film you inevitably bumped into a colleague and spent a fair amount of time talking about the industry and life in general.
Since the advent of digital photography (and online shopping) the opportunities for this kind of casual face-to-face interaction between professional photographers has diminished dramatically. I'd say it wouldn't be uncommon for many pro photographers to go for weeks or even months without ever speaking, in person, to another pro photographer. As a result it's hardly surprising that so many freelance photographers now feel isolated from one another. And if you don't get to know your professional counterparts it's easy to fall into the trap of labelling them competitors (i.e. threats to your business), when they should be viewed as colleagues (i.e. "brother in arms"), who could even be good friends (i.e. supporters and advisors).
Social isolation is a breeding ground for paranoia and self-doubt. It's these negative qualities that certain clients (especially large publishing companies) love to take advantage of when they negotiate with commercial photographers. For example, a publisher's representative will say something like, "Every other photographer has signed our [highly exploitative] contract, why are you being so difficult by refusing to sign?" - knowing full well that because the vast majority editorial photographers don't (and won't) talk to each other, this blatant lie will be accepted as fact.
Combating the isolationist tendencies of freelance photographers is one of the primary aims of the AIPA. That's why we've always strived to hold at least 4 or 5 general meetings (and a conference) in Auckland every year. But that's obviously not enough to effectively address this issue. So we've decided to follow the lead of our Wellington compatriots and start our own regular monthly get-togethers in Auckland. Our new secretary/treasurer Melanie Tollemache has even come up with a catchy name - The Percolator.
From 9:00am to 10:30am on the first Monday of every month The Percolator will be held at a cafe somewhere in Auckland city. To keep things interesting the location will change from month to month - we'll just list the name and address of the venue on the AIPA website home page a few weeks in advance. All AIPA members who attend receive a complimentary cup of coffee (or hot chocolate) upon arrival. Non-member photographers and assistants are also welcome to come along and join in the fun!
Photo above © Laura Forest