APRIL 2012 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

Thanks to everyone who came along to the Robert Erdmann lecture last month. We had a great turnout and Robert didn't disappoint with his honest and revealing presentation - he certainly didn't hold anything back! It really was a fascinating insight into the life of a top fashion and celebrity photographer. (Who would have known that shooting bikini clad supermodels on exotic beaches around the world could become such a chore!) Here's hoping that we have the opportunity to organise similar one-off events with visiting international photographers in the future.

Speaking of top international photographers, I can now announce two of our special guest speakers for the 2012 Image Nation Professional Photography Conference that will be held in Auckland at the end of June.

First up we have Jez Smith, a British born and Australian based fashion and advertising photographer. Jez has shot campaigns for the likes of Levis, Virgin Atlantic, Collette Dinnigan, Carla Zampatti, Alannah Hill, Oroton and Tiger Lily. His work is so mind blowing that it's a real challenge trying to find any words that could adequately describe his unique style - just check out his website and you'll see what I mean. Personally, I can't wait to discover out how he creates some of his more cinematic and ethereal images.

Also speaking at Image Nation this year will be German born commercial and fine-art photographer Frank Schwere, who recently relocated to New Zealand after living and working in New York for 12 years. Frank's style of photography is very stark and unforgiving, almost brutal in some respects, and yet the images he creates have an inherent beauty that really captivates the attention. You can just tell that Frank is a true master of his craft.

Joining Jez Smith and Frank Schwere will be ten other exceptionally talented image makers and highly regarded media industry experts. I can assure you that this year's conference is shaping up to be a real doozey, so make sure you keep the weekend of June the 23rd and 24th free in your diary. For the latest information regarding presenters and ticket sales simply visit the Image Nation 2012 event page on Facebook.

Photo above © Robert Erdmann

JULY 2012 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

Firstly, I'd like to thank everyone who attended the 2012 Image Nation Professional Photography Conference last month at Unitec. It was fantastic to see so many people from different locations and diverse photographic backgrounds coming together for this annual event. There was definitely a very positive vibe throughout the entire weekend - and although practically all of the speakers acknowledged that making a living from photography has become very challenging in recent years, they certainly didn't dwell on this. Instead they gave inspiring and revealing presentations about how they have adapted and evolved in order to make the most of the current business environment. It really was astounding how much practical advice and hard earned knowledge each speaker shared with the audience. At the end of the weekend my brain felt like it was about to explode due to information overload - and in my book that's always the sign of a great conference.

In other ‘not-so-good' news we've recently discovered that two well established New Zealand publishers have decided to issue their own ‘Contributor Agreements' for photographers - i.e. contracts that try to dictate freelance photographers' terms of trade. As you might expect these legal documents are horrendously lopsided - giving the publishers extraordinary benefits while photographers are denied basic rights and burdened with unreasonable responsibility for inadequate fees. If you'd like to check out these contracts simply visit the White Papers & Guidelines page in the Resources section of the AIPA website. Clendons (legal counsel for the AIPA) have kindly dissected these documents for us, and we've posted the resulting reviews up on the site so all photographers can access them. Obviously it's vital that all contributing photographers understand their obligations under these agreements, and the serious implications that may arise as a result of signing them.

If you are ever presented with a ‘Contributor Agreement' by a publisher (or any client for that matter), please remember that as an independent freelance photographer you should be setting the terms and conditions under which your business operates (ideally they should be the AIPA Terms & Conditions). Protecting your rights will enable the long term viability and growth of your photography business, preserve an image archive for your future use or stock availability, and ensure that the photographic profession has a future in New Zealand.

Photo above © Geoff Hedley

SEPTEMBER 2012 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

I think it would be fair to say that the last few years have been pretty tough for a lot of commercial photographers. The poor economic climate has forced many businesses to reduce the amount of money they spend on marketing, which in turn has resulted in fewer assignments and smaller shoot budgets across the board. Based on what I've been hearing recently from AIPA members (and my own personal experience) 2012 hasn't seen any real improvement - in fact some people have been reporting that this year might be the worse yet. The depressed retail market is creating lots of depressed photographers!

It's a real challenge trying to stay positive and motivated when times are tough. The solitary nature of our profession certainly doesn't help. Paranoia and self-doubt start creeping in when the phone isn't ringing (especially when everyone else on Facebook seems to be so busy). It's at times like these that I find talking to a colleague can make a world of difference. When you're stuck in the doldrums it's amazing how a conversation with a fellow photographer can put the wind back in your sails. And by 'conversation' I mean a face-to-face get together - not some online chat nonsense. (I don't know if you've noticed, but Social Media has actually made us less social and more isolated.)

One of the major benefits of belonging to an association like the AIPA is having the opportunity to socialize and interact with your peers on a regular basis. Unfortunately I think a lot of photographers don't realize how important this is, which is a real shame. Building more positive and supportive relationships throughout the industry will ultimately result in a better business environment that actually promotes growth and generates wealth.

We're all in this together, so why not make the effort to become a more active and involved member of the local photographic community. Trust me, you won't regret it!

Photo above © Fraser Harding

NOVEMBER 2012 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

There's a lot of activity going on within the Association at the moment so I'll just get straight into the nitty-gritty this month.

Twenty-two Wellington based AIPA members will be holding a group exhibition at Flashdog Studios later this month. The show has been titled "One Night, Two Days" and will open with a big launch party (invite only) on the evening of Thursday November 15th, and then run for an additional two days. All of the photographers involved will be showcasing their personal work, so this presents a great opportunity to check out what Wellington's leading commercial photographers can produce when they have complete creative freedom. I'm sure the imagery on display will be both visually stimulating and thought provoking - I can't wait to check it out for myself.

On Saturday November 24th the AIPA will be holding its third annual GearFest event at Kingsize Studios in Grey Lynn, Auckland. As with previous years, the GearFest is all about giving serious photographers an opportunity to check out the latest photographic equipment and accessories from leading international manufacturers and local suppliers. One of the main advantages of attending an event like GearFest is having the chance to try out a wide range of different cameras, lenses, and lighting gear in a professional studio environment. There will also be plenty of experts hanging around to answer questions, and we'll have a few professional models on-site so photographers will have something attractive to aim those fancy new cameras at! But wait, there's more... Throughout the day there will be a variety of mini-workshops where experienced AIPA members will reveal some of their top shooting strategies and techniques. Absolutely everyone is welcome to attend GearFest and entry is totally free, so I look forward to seeing a large turn-out at Kingsize Studios on the 24th.

Looking further ahead, in March next year the AIPA will be publishing another high-quality commercial photography sourcebook (similar to the award winning ‘Workspace') which will showcase the best work of over 60 AIPA members. The aim of this initiative is pretty simple: to raise the profile of the AIPA members involved and, by doing so, help them attract new clients and land better photo assignments. Obviously we are well aware that in the internet age a physical sourcebook isn't going to have the same breadth of functionality that it once did, so that's why this project will also incorporate online and email activities that tie in seamlessly with the book itself. We'll also be hosting some exclusive creative industry parties to launch the sourcebook and help introduce photography buyers to the participating photographers in a friendly, social environment. If you're not a current member but you'd like to be involved in this exciting new AIPA initiative then I would encourage you to join up immediately ( as space in the sourcebook is limited and filling up very, very fast.

Photo above © Michael Valli