ASSOCIATION NEWS

JANUARY 2013 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

Happy New Year! January is traditionally a quiet time for commercial photographers, so I expect that many of you will be enjoying a well-deserved break from work right about now. If you're looking for a good book to read while you're on vacation I can highly recommend The ASMP Guide to New Markets in Photography. As it succinctly states on the back cover, "This indispensable manual from the American Society of Media Photographers sets the stage for understanding where the industry is now and where it is headed while offering step-by-step instructions for building a career tailored to one's own talents, interests, and business style in today's market." In other words, if you want your photography business to remain relevant and profitable in years to come then it would probably be in your best interests to read this book. And although I personally don't agree with some of the opinions expressed by one or two of the authors involved, as a whole this publication contains a lot of revealing and useful information for professional photographers.

2013 is set to be a big year for the AIPA. As I mentioned last issue, in April the association will be producing a new high quality photography sourcebook featuring the work of over 70 AIPA members. This publication will be called Cliq and it will be introduced to the local creative sector via exclusive, invitation-only launch parties in Auckland and Wellington. These unique events will give the photographers involved an opportunity to mix and mingle with art directors, graphic designers, magazine editors, and numerous other photo buyers. At around the same time we will also be unveiling the Cliq blog with its accompanying monthly email newsletter. These two additional promotional tools will be used to highlight new work produced by Cliq contributors throughout the year.

Meanwhile planning for the AIPA's annual Image Nation Professional Photography Conference is already well under way. Our 2013 line-up of guest presenters is going to be well and truly EPIC! However, all I can reveal at this stage is that the conference will be held in Auckland on the weekend of June the 22nd and 23rd. I will have more information for you in the next AIPA News column - including the names of some of our international speakers. Until then, stay safe and have a great summer!
 

Photo above © Robin Smith

MARCH 2013 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

This year we've decided to re-launch the AIPA's Propel initiative, which is all about helping New Zealand pro photographers advance their careers by running industry focused educational seminars and training courses. Last month we kicked off the 2013 Propel schedule with our first ever "Knowledge Share" event. The topic for the evening was Adobe's Lightroom 4 programme, with AIPA member and experienced Lightroom user Andrew "Moppie" Hales stepping up to deliver a highly informative presentation and encourage discussion from the 37 other photographers in attendance.

I have to admit that in the lead up to this event I was somewhat concerned that an audience comprised of reserved Kiwi photographers wouldn't really embrace the sharing element of a Knowledge Share - but I needn't have worried. It was a fantastic success, with plenty of attendees contributing to a vibrant discussion that got better and better as the night progressed (a plentiful supply of beer and wine probably helped).

Looking back on it now this particular event is perhaps one of the best examples I've ever seen of how an association like the AIPA should function. We had a large group of freelance photographers (i.e. solo practitioners), from a wide variety of different photographic backgrounds but with a common shared interest, coming together to help one another advance their knowledge and skills. From my perspective as AIPA Executive Director it doesn't get much better than this. Which begs the question; why not run regular Knowledge Share events that address other industry topics? And I'm not just talking about software applications such as Photoshop, or Capture One. What about a studio lighting or assisting Knowledge Share? Or how about addressing important business issues - like copyright, pricing, marketing and negotiating? Well, with the support of my fellow AIPA members, I believe we can run regular Propel Knowledge Share evenings covering all of these subjects and more. Keep an eye on the Propel website (www.propel.ac.nz) and "like" the AIPA Facebook page (www.facebook.com/aipa.org.nz) in order to find out about future Propel events.

Last month I promised that I'd reveal more information about the 2013 Image Nation Photography Conference, so I better not disappoint. I can confirm that the conference will be held at Unitec in Auckland on the weekend of June the 22nd and 23rd. At this early stage I don't want to give too much away regarding the roster of presenters, but I can reveal two of our star attractions to whet your appetite. The first is Ingvar Kenne, one of Australia's leading contemporary photographers whose award winning work is highly regarded in both the advertising and fine art spheres (no mean feat). The second is our very own Tony Drayton, current AIPA President and New Zealand's preeminent fashion and beauty photographer. And this is just the tip of an iceberg of Image Nation awesomeness!

Start saving now because limited early bird ticket will go on sale later this month. Visit imagenation.co.nz for further details.

 
Photo above © Emma Bass

JUNE 2013 | by Aaron K, Executive Director

A very wise Greek philosopher named Heraclitus once said "The only constant is change." (That was back in the year 470BC by the way.) Change is inevitable and unstoppable, yet so many of us feel compelled to resist change at every turn. I suppose this reaction isn’t surprising given that most of us tend to associate change with uncertainty, which then triggers our (often irrational) fear of the unknown. This fear can paralyze us and prevent us from making hard decisions and taking necessary actions. I’ve seen a lot of this lately in the pro photography community – i.e. experienced photographers who are basically stuck in limbo while they struggle to come to terms with a paradigm shift that has dramatically changed the entire creative sector. To be perfectly honest, I’m pretty sure I’m one of those photographers.

So what should we do to snap out of our collective limbo? Continuing to resist change is obviously futile. Embracing change sounds like a far more appealing and easier option – but there are significant risks involved if we just decide to "go with the flow" (i.e. "do what we’re told"). Ultimately I think the best scenario would be to accept and adapt to the changing environment as quickly as possible (so that we can take advantage of new opportunities), while also actively attempting to influence and direct future changes in the market. That’s not going to be easy, but I believe it’s essential if we ever want to see an improvement in photography standards and working conditions. In order to lead the market along a favourable course we’ll need to step-up and start behaving like market leaders!

For a photo association like the AIPA implementing this kind of ideological shift will require a fairly dramatic change in tactics. First and foremost we need to start looking at new ways of generating revenue so that (in addition to providing better benefits and services for our members) the association will be able to invest in innovative new technologies and create awareness campaigns that have the potential to influence public perceptions and behaviour. Neither of these options will ever be possible under our current financial model that relies solely on member subscriptions and industry sponsorship. Therefore, in the not too distant future, you can expect to see some radically different initiatives being developed by the AIPA – projects that we believe will redefine the role of a photographic association, and eventually help put pro photographers in a position where they can actually influence future changes in the market.


Photo above © Marcus Adams

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