FEBRUARY 2011 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you've all had a long relaxing summer break that has recharged your batteries and left you ready and rearing to attack 2011 with gusto. Personally, I'd have to say that I was glad to see the back of 2010 as I found it to be a pretty tough year financially - and I know from my dealings with numerous photographers around the country that I'm not alone in this regard. With the retail sector effectively in the doldrums there was definitely less commercial photography work on offer. The various financial forecasts I've read for 2011 seem fairly mixed, but at present there does seems to be a more positive vibe in the air. So here's hoping the local creative economy rebounds sooner rather than later.

The beginning of the year is traditionally when we all spend some time planning for a better and more productive future (New Year's Resolutions anyone?). If you're a self-employed photographer (or assistant) then making the effort to put in place a proper strategic plan for your business is essential. If you've never done this in the past then now would definitely be a good time to start. With the industry changing so rapidly it's even more important for photographers to take a step back and look at the bigger picture in order to prepare for new technological developments and maximise the chance of long term success. If you need a hand getting started I would highly recommend checking out the recent Photoshelter blog post entitled ‘Your Photography Business Plan for 2011'.

Speaking of new technological developments the next ‘big thing' for commercial photographers is almost certainly going to be producing HD video content. The more innovative and web savvy clients are already starting to demand this additional service on the back of stills shoots. In many ways this reminds me of the film to digital shift, when in the space of 12 months the landscape completely changed - photographers were practically forced to adopt a digital workflow or lose a huge chunk of their client base. So with the upcoming D-SLR film revolution in mind the AIPA has teamed up with Canon to provide a basic ‘hands-on' workshop that introduces photographers to the HD video medium (both shooting and editing). This event will take place in Auckland early in February.

Photo above © Mara Sommer

APRIL 2011 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

In the last Association News column I mentioned the importance of having a strategic plan for your business. Obviously the same rule applies for not-for-profit associations like the AIPA, so earlier this year the executive team met in Auckland for a day-long strategic planning session. This proved to be a very productive and revealing exercise.

First we reviewed the AIPA's current state of health and overall purpose. In doing so we identified many areas where we want to make changes and improvements that will bring greater benefits to AIPA members and the local industry. It was also encouraging to look back and see how much progress the Association has made over the past decade. More importantly though, we quickly recognised that the AIPA's primary intent is still the same as it was in 1978 when the organisation was founded - and that is to provide much needed support and assistance for commercial shooters working in the New Zealand photographic industry.

Next we set about developing goals that are directly in line with the Association's purpose. One of our main objectives will be to establish a physical ‘home' for the AIPA here in Auckland within the next 5 years. This will involve creating a multi-purpose venue that can be used to host regular photographic exhibitions, meetings, workshops and seminars. Obviously leasing such a versatile space won't come cheap, so to achieve this will require growing our membership base considerably over the coming years (attracting new members by providing greater support and learning options), while at the same time actively pursuing a higher level of financial support from sponsors. These two additional goals rely heavily on the Association becoming far more visible and active within the public sphere.

Finally we set in place an action plan for the coming year that will move us closer to our long-term goals. Along with continuing to host our regular two-monthly meetings here in Auckland we are planning to hold quarterly meetings in Wellington and Christchurch. This year there will also be more AIPA ‘Special Events' than ever before - i.e. Portfolio Reviews, Gear Fests, HD Video Workshops, Assistant Training Seminars, etc. And then of course there's the big one; the 2011 Image Nation Photography Conference in June, which will once again feature an incredible line-up of local and international speakers. Watch this space for more info about this exceptional event.

Photo above © Adam Custins

JUNE 2011 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

On the weekend of June the 18th and 19th the AIPA will be holding its 3rd annual Image Nation photography conference at Unitec in Auckland. This is the premier event on the AIPA calendar; an exposition of outstanding industry talent that continues to grow in size and stature year after year. The format for 2011 will be similar to previous years - 12 one hour lectures spread across two days - however this time around there will also be a mini trade show on site, so attendees can check out the latest photographic gear during breaks.

Once again Image Nation will feature an exceptional line up of local and international speakers presenting informative and entertaining talks covering a diverse array of subjects. Headlining the conference this year will be documentary photographer Stephen Dupont from Australia. Dupont is without a doubt one of the world's leading photojournalists having won numerous prestigious awards, including a Robert Capa Gold Medal citation from the Overseas Press Club of America; a Bayeux War Correspondent's Prize; and first places in the World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International, and the Australian Walkleys. It's a huge honour to have Stephen appear at Image Nation and I'm sure his talk will be truly mind-blowing (check out his work at and you'll understand why I'm so confident about this).

Also speaking at Image Nation this year is Mat Blamires, one of New Zealand's top advertising image makers. Mat will be joined onstage by Lightfarm Studios (specialists in high-end post production and retouching) where they will talk about the integration of photography and video with computer generated imagery - i.e. the future of advertising. Another accomplished artist giving a presentation will be Garth Badger, a young photographer who has recently transitioned from still imagery to moving imagery with great success. And on a more practical note, highly experienced photo agent Christina Force (of the Collective Force) will be giving a lecture on her specialty topic - effective marketing and promotion.

For further information about the conference visit the Image Nation website - Please note that seating at the venue is strictly limited so be sure to book your spot ASAP as tickets are selling fast!

Photo above © Stephen Dupont

AUGUST 2011 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

As Bob Dylan sang back in 1964, "The times they are a-changin'".

I recently read an interview with renowned photographer/director Vincent Laforet on In this article Laforet talks about how the arrival of the new Red Epic M camera will impact the photography industry.

The Red Epic M is a digital cinema camera that captures 14 mega-pixel RAW image files at 96 frames per second. Looking at those stats I'm sure you can immediately see how this emerging technology has the potential to be a real game changer. It will take the convergence between stills and moving image to a whole new level.

If you're still thinking "So what, I have no interest in shooting moving image" then perhaps the following quote will illustrate why you need to take note:

When the Red One came out, they had the ability to save stills to an external card. And I went up to a DP who was on stage at a Red event, and I asked, "Who in the world would want to shoot a still image with this huge Red camera with a Cine lens? It's insane. Why wouldn't you go out with my 5D Mark II that shoots RAW?" His response sent shudders down my spine. He said very bluntly, in a German accent, "We want to take your still jobs away from you, just like you want to take our video jobs away from us with your HD SLRs."

[FYI: The Red Epic is a third of the size of the Red One.]

If you currently make your living as a pro photographer (or ever intend to) then you should take the time to read this article - in fact, while you're there I would strongly recommend that you subscribe to the RSS feed and read it regularly.

Over the past decade our industry has seen massive change thanks to the introduction of digital capture and high-speed internet. But this seismic shift only represents the very beginning of the rollercoaster ride - and just like a real rollercoaster ride you have a few choices. You can refuse to hop on and get left behind. You can take a seat reluctantly at the back, filled with trepidation, hang on for grim death and pray that you don't lose your lunch. Or, you can jump on-board feeling excited about the upcoming experience, embrace the challenge ahead with enthusiasm, and have the time of your life. Laforet is clearly in the latter camp. If you want to have a truly fulfilling and rewarding career as a ‘Professional Image Creator' then it would definitely pay to follow his example and take your seat at the very front of the rollercoaster.

As ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell sang back in 2001, "Scream if you wanna go faster"!

Photo above © Troy Goodall

NOVEMBER 2011 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

With Christmas fast approaching, November tends to be one of the busiest times of the year for commercial photographers. I suspect this will definitely be the case this year as businesses snap out of their Rugby World Cup lull and realise that they need to take immediate action in order to meet the end of year marketing and publishing deadlines.

I speak to many professional photographers throughout the year and based on what I've heard so far it seems like 2011 has been a real mixed bag - with the overall impression being rather negative. However, some photographers have managed to prosper despite the difficult economic climate. These ‘lucky few' tend to be the ones who have continued to promote their businesses regularly while also actively looking to exploit new opportunities. In other words, they're taking calculated risks and reaping the rewards as a result. Meanwhile the vast majority are still playing it safe - waiting and hoping for the economy to turn around. In the process most will simply sit and watch their businesses decline, slowly but surely. It is at times like these the Latin proverb "Fortune favours the bold" springs to mind.

Speaking of the bold, November is also when most of the tertiary photography courses finish and unleash a veritable horde of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed young photographers into the industry. I always try to attend as many of the end-of-year photography shows as I can - primarily to see where the future of contemporary photography might be heading stylistically. Without fail I will discover a number of exceptional photo essays that are crying out for publication. It is for this reason that the AIPA initially set up the Image Nation Online Photography Showcase ( - i.e. to provide an outlet for concept driven photographic work that often slips under the radar and fails to receive the attention or recognition it deserves.

Any New Zealand photographer can submit a photo essay for publication on the Image Nation website (you don't have to be an AIPA member or a student). All submissions are judged anonymously by a panel of five highly qualified photo industry practitioners. If the judges deem a photo essay to be worthy of publication then it goes up on the site. The photographer then receives $200 cash ($400 if they're an AIPA member), a 16GB Sandisk Extreme CF card, and a Frio cold shoe. But wait there's more! They will also be in running to win a major annual prize which includes a Sony NEX camera, a Sony VAIO laptop, a Bowens Gemini lighting kit, and an Orbis ring flash (altogether worth well over $5000). The winner of this incredible prize will be announced at the Image Nation Photography Conference in June next year.

So here's an idea: Over summer why not come up with a couple of interesting and original shoot concepts and then set aside some time to go out and make them happen. Even if your photo series isn't accepted by the Image Nation judges you can always use those new images to promote your business in the coming year. Don't just sit around and watch your business stagnate. Be bold in 2012!

Photo above © Ian McRae