ASSOCIATION NEWS

MAY 2008 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

Well it's May already and winter has definitely arrived. For some reason I find it a lot easier undertaking the more mundane business tasks at this time of year. When the temperature drops and the weather turns nasty the glow emanating from my LCD screen seems almost inviting.

In the last month we've seen a flurry of AIPA activity. At our April general meeting in Auckland we held the first ever Panel Discussion on "The Current State of the Photographic Industry in New Zealand". This event featured five highly respected individuals from the advertising, editorial and graphic design communities responding to questions from AIPA members. The information shared by these industry experts was extremely interesting, and more importantly, incredibly useful. I for one learnt a lot - gaining some valuable insights into the minds of photography buyers.

Not surprisingly the night was well attended by members and non-members alike, drawing one of the biggest crowds ever for an AIPA general meeting. What's more the feedback received following this meeting has been overwhelmingly positive. Those of you who missed this inaugural event can rest assured there will certainly be more AIPA Panel Discussions in the future.

Another inaugural event held recently was the AIPA Assistant Training Seminar held at Kingsize Studios in Grey Lynn. The eager participants spent an intensive day learning what it really takes to become a top photographic assistant. Emphasis was placed on gaining practical experience with a wide variety of photographic equipment, while also learning basic business practices that are essential for survival in today's highly competitive assisting market.

The Assistant Training Seminar is part of our new Propel programme that aims to inform, educate, assist, and inspire the next generation of commercial photographers. The entire Propel initiative (which includes the AIPA mentoring service) is being driven by Association secretary Mike Farrelly, so if you want to know more just send an email with your contact details to propel@aipa.org.nz.

As always we have a number of other initiatives lined up over the coming months, but like the Panel Discussion and the Assisting Training Seminar we only tend to publicise these events a few weeks in advance. So remember to keep an eye on the AIPA website or join NZ Photographers yahoo group for the latest information on upcoming Association activities. Or better yet, join the AIPA and along with discounted entry you will receive personal email invitations well in advance.

Photo above: © Ross Brown

JUNE 2008 | by Leon Rose, President

As I write this we’re only a few days away from the AIPA Annual General Meeting, so it’s seems appropriate that I should take a quick look back on my first 12 months as president of the Association. 2007 proved to be a great year for us.

Of particular note was the re-launch of the Headspace exhibition which became the biggest single project ever undertaken by the AIPA. Preparing for this event took months of planning and hard work by a sizeable team of dedicated volunteers.

The final few weeks leading up to the launch night were somewhat stressful, but I was extremely proud of how the Headspace team pulled everything together and took all of the last minute hurdles in their stride. The end result was superb, and it proved to be a great boost for the Association’s public profile – especially amongst our key target market of advertising and editorial photo buyers.

Last year also saw the introduction of the Executive Director position which was taken on by former president Aaron K. The ED role was put in place to ensure important AIPA business was achieved on time and on budget, and to share the president's substantial workload. I have to say that I am extremely happy with how things have worked out in this regard. Some of our members initially had concerns about the financial viability of having a part time ED, but thankfully those fears were unfounded.

There have been plenty of other highlights - like the Assistant Training Seminar and the increased attendance at our regular General Meetings - but unfortunately I don't have room to list them all here.

Our membership continues to increase at a rate of around 20% per annum. The AIPA now has over 230 members, which I believe can be directly attributed to the very real advantages of joining.

Having said that, I find it surprising that I still meet non-member photographers who say the reason they haven't joined the AIPA yet is because they can't afford it. My response is always the same - "If you're that hard up you can't afford not to join!" Honestly, with all of the benefits, discounts and promotional opportunities we now offer I can't really understand how any commercial photographer could cite financial reasons for not signing up.

Being a member of an association like the AIPA is primarily about supporting the greater photographic community, and contributing in some way to the future development of our industry. But now, more than ever, if you're a commercial photographer then being a member of the AIPA is just a good business decision.

Photo above: © Grant Maiden

AUGUST 2008 | by Leon Rose, President

Here we are then, deep in winter and being told that the country is slipping further into recession. As professional photographers, and mostly trading as freelancers, a lot of us work on job-by-job basis, never really knowing when our next assignment will arrive. So when the word ‘recession' starts being used regularly in the media we, like other small business operators, tighten our belts significantly.

To reduce operating costs photographers often start by snipping their marketing budgets, or worse still, freezing them temporarily. This is an entirely bad idea. Research shows that in tight times people are more careful with their money, but this does not mean they buy cheap. To the contrary, they're more likely to go for the reliable and well-known brand - i.e. the ‘safe' purchase option!

These are times when it is important to look at ways in which we can increase brand exposure - we need to get our name in front of as many photo buyers as possible. Promo cards and one off advertising in magazine publications may be effective for a month or two, but it will not connect and reconnect with new and past clients. A photography sourcebook will do this!

Which of course brings me to Workspace - New Zealand's only professional photography sourcebook. We have had to push back the dates for the delivery of this project until February 2009 due to a slow uptake by our membership. It has been a hard year for most, so this is understandable, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the power of this award winning sourcebook.

In last months issue of Admedia magazine editor David Gapes stated that the approximate print spend by Advertising Agencies in NZ is close to a quarter of a billion dollars! He also pointed out that "Ad Agencies demand the very highest quality work from their printers to bring out & enhance the creative ideas they present to their clients, so choosing the right printer from the hundreds in the market can be a rigorous exercise."

David was referring to the fact that many Agencies use the Pride in Print awards as a benchmarking tool. If they are doing this then surely they are looking at the major prize winners, such as Workspace 07 which won a Gold Medal and the Sheetfed Category, and was up for the Supreme Award!

Although you may not be able to calculate the actual amount of additional work you gain as a result of being in a book like Workspace, you can rest assured that both your name and your photography will be seen by leading creatives throughout the advertising and editorial industries.

So maybe if business is a bit quiet at the moment you could spend some time creating a couple of exceptional images for Workspace 09. There are only 60 places available and we currently have 43 confirmed participants. If you are not an AIPA member this is a great reason to join up and watch your business grow.

Photo above: © Michael Ng

SEPTEMBER 2008 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

This month it gives me great pleasure to announce a new initiative that we've been working on for quite some time. In December of this year we will be awarding the first ever AIPA Student & Assistant Scholarships.

Our aim with this event will be to encourage photographic excellence and increase awareness of important industry issues, such as copyright and licensing. So entrants will not only be required to submit a portfolio of 6 to 10 high quality prints, they will also have to complete a written component (i.e. answer 10 industry related questions). As always we believe it's important to emphasise that success in the photographic industry doesn't rely solely on artistic ability or skill with a camera.

All New Zealand full-time tertiary photography students and working assistants will be eligible to enter this competition. There will be two major prize packages up for grabs, one for the top student entry, and one for the top assistant entry. However, unlike your standard run-of-the-mill photographic competitions we won't just be giving away some cool products (although there will be plenty of those on offer). Each winner will also receive a week long paid internship with a leading NZ photography business - Photo New Zealand image library (for the assistant) and OPTNZ production services (for the student). But wait, there's more...

Images from both winning portfolios will be featured in an editorial in D-Photo magazine, and on the AIPA website. Plus, both winners will also receive two year's free membership in the Association and a cash prize as well!

The deadline for entries is Friday, November 28. Then early in December our 5 esteemed judges (including Christina Force from the Collective Force and Rob Lile from Photo New Zealand) will gather in Auckland and closely scrutinize every entrant's submission before making their final decision.

At the end of it all we will recognise two outstanding young photographers who have the ability to make a positive contribution to the photographic community, and help them on the way to realising their future potential.

For further details and entry forms check out the AIPA website.

And while we're on the subject, I'll just quickly mention that work has begun on developing the new and improved AIPA website. Our current site continues to be a valuable resource for photographers far and wide, but I can confidently say that the new site will really take things to a whole new level. I can't reveal any details right now though, so I guess you'll just have to wait and see.

Photo above: © Alistair Guthrie

OCTOBER 2008 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

Well, it would be fair to say that September was a huge month for photography, not just internationally but locally as well.

The big news for New Zealand professional photographers was that Associate Commerce Minister Judith Tizard has announced Labour will finally be introducing a bill to amend the Copyright Act and repeal the absurd Commissioning Rule. This is another step forward in our ongoing fight for equal rights - however we're still a fair way from reaching our goal. As I understand it, after the first reading of this bill in Parliament (hopefully before Christmas this year, but there are no guarantees) it will then head off to a select committee where all of the interested parties (both for and against) will once again state their case. The committee will then review what they've heard before the bill goes back to Parliament for a second reading. This process is likely to take a further six months, possibly longer.

During this time it's important that we keep pressuring our Members of Parliament to support the bill and make the proposed amendment a reality. Regardless of who wins the upcoming election it is vital that professional photographers continue to fight for their intellectual property rights. The current situation is simply unacceptable, and our MPs need to be made aware of this at every opportunity.

Meanwhile, overseas there were numerous newsworthy items of interest. Several new products announced at Photokina have the potential to revolutionise our industry (again). It looks like the next generation of digital SLR cameras will have some impressive video capture capabilities, which has certainly stirred up a lot of excitement within the online photographic community. Leica and Sony have thrown their hats in the ‘pro-level digital SLR' ring as well, launching some high mega-pixel alternatives to Canon and Nikon.

In the United States there were two stories that dominated the pro-photography forums. The first was the announcement that the Photoshelter Collection would be ceasing operations. This was seen as a major blow by many pros who had hoped that a truly ‘photographer focused' stock library could compete with the likes of Getty and Corbis. The second big story was the uproar over Jill Greenberg's photo shoot with presidential candidate John McCain. After producing an image for her editorial client, Greenberg then fired off a few deliberately unflattering outtakes for her own ‘artistic' purposes. These photos were published on her website along with slogans ridiculing the Republican candidate. Not surprisingly many have labelled Greenberg's actions as highly unprofessional, while others have defender her right to voice her political opinion through her art. Either way Greenberg has certainly gained a lot of attention for her work and raised her public profile immensely. Whether this controversy ultimately harms or enhances her photographic career only time will tell.

Photo above: © Jackie Meiring

NOVEMBER 2008 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

In the past month we have seen the passing of two prominent and highly respected figures in the New Zealand photographic industry - Brian Curtis and Richard Poole. Both men made significant and valuable contributions to the photography community. For decades Brian and Richard worked tirelessly to help educate and inform photographers - their efforts benefited us all. On behalf of the AIPA I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the Curtis and Poole families.

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As I write this the election is closing in fast. As a result there is a fair bit of effort going on behind the scenes by myself and other AIPA members to try and communicate with various electoral candidates. Now is the time to apply pressure as prospective MPs need our votes. At this stage Labour has clearly positioned themselves as a ‘photographer friendly' party with the recently introduced Copyright Amendment Bill which seeks to repeal the commissioning rule. Unfortunately, despite numerous requests, the National party has refused to reveal their position on the commissioning rule so it's impossible to know where they stand on this important issue. (Note: It was a National government that did the unthinkable back in 1994 and expanded the commissioning rule - a decision completely out of line with international trends which can only be described as utterly absurd.)

Assuming you're reading this before the election, you may wish to call your local candidates and ask them whether they will be supporting the Copyright Amendment Bill. I believe this is an issue that will actually have far more impact on our lives than the proposed tax cuts. Like the ownership of our land, utilities, and health care services, the ownership of our intellectual property is something we need to manage and protect for future generations. Please vote accordingly.

Finally, to all photographic assistants and photography students reading this column, I would once again like to encourage you to enter the Sony / AIPA 2008 Assistant and Student Scholarships. There are two major prize packages up for grabs worth a combined value of over $15,000. The winner of the assistant scholarship will receive a new, top-of-the-line, Sony α900 D-SLR camera and a Carl Zeiss 24-70mm / F2.8 lens, plus a week long paid internship at Photo New Zealand stock image library. The Student prize package includes a cash prize of $1600 and a week long paid internship at OPTNZ stills production. There is also a raft of other prizes courtesy of our generous sponsors: Colour Management Ltd, Tamrac, C.R. Kennedy, Chimera, Westcott, Kingsize Studios, Sandisk, Lacklands, Enlight Photo, and D-Photo magazine.

If you would like to be considered for either scholarship you'll need to get cracking - the deadline for entries is Friday, November 28.

Photo above: © Geoff Hedley

DECEMBER 2008 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

December already - crikey that was fast! I have to admit that I'm feeling a bit shell-shocked at the moment. So much has happened in the past month I hardly know where to begin...

First up; there is a new National Government in power. At this stage we don't really know how this will affect New Zealand professional photographers in the coming years. Apparently there will be more support for small businesses - which sounds great. On the other hand the long overdue Commissioning Rule repeal now appears to be in a state of limbo, again. According to Chris Finlayson (the new Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage) National is considering a complete review of the 1994 Copyright Act - which sounds very time consuming, and completely unnecessary. The next step is to continue lobbying the new Government with the goal of getting the Commissioning Rule repeal back on the agenda, and pushed through the Parliamentary process ASAP. Stay tuned for more information as it comes to hand.

Meanwhile construction on the new AIPA website is proceeding at pace. There is still a considerable amount of work to be done before the site is ready to go live, but even now it's looking brilliant. It's fair to say that the new website will be a vast improvement on the current version, both in terms of overall appearance and functionality.

Judging for the inaugural Sony / AIPA Scholarship competition will be nearing completion by the time this article gets to print. This means that two very talented young photographers will soon be receiving a phone call letting them know that they have won a plethora of amazing prizes. I'm sure this will be a welcome surprise just before Christmas. For the many students and assistants who didn't win this time around, please don't be too disheartened as you can always try again next year.

Chicago based photography marketing consultant Carolyn Potts will have also come and gone by the time you read this. On December 1st the AIPA in association with Livebooks and Blinkbid hosted a seminar with Carolyn entitled "Rebooting your Business Brain". Given Carolyn's impressive credentials and vast experience it was no surprise that her talk was so highly anticipated and well attended. We will certainly be looking to hold similar seminars with other international speakers in the future. Be sure to check the AIPA site regularly (or better yet, join up) so you don't miss any of these unique and inspiring events.

Well, that's probably enough from me this year. I hope you all have a happy and exciting silly season, and a long relaxing summer holiday to follow!

Photo above: © Nigel Gardiner