April 7, 2010: Two press releases arrived from the AIPP last week: one announcing that members had identified amateur hobbyists as their main concern, and the other announcing the AIPP had opened membership to those self-same amateurs!
Almost 90 percent of respondents to the AIPP survey nominated ‘hobbyists muddying the waters’ as the biggest concern for the industry ‘moving forward’, followed by ‘issues with copyright’ (30.9 percent), stock image libraries and the lessening of the need for photo shoots (16.7 percent) and ‘still photography becoming obsolete with advent of video DSLR cameras’ (12.2 percent).
Back to the present (ie, not moving forward), survey respondents nominated a lack of marketing support as the biggest current concern. The economic downturn and keeping up with new technology were other concerns.
Asked about which areas they see their business developing, respondents nominated ‘diversifying into different photography types’ (51.1 percent), ‘online delivery of my images’ (35.2 percent), ‘AV delivery of my images’ (19.3 percent), ‘video production’ (13 percent) and ‘3D technology’ (4.8 percent).
The new Enthisiast category of AIPP membership was was described by AIPP executive director Peter Myers as a way to ‘better represent the landscape of photography in Australia.
‘We believe that through enhanced communication to and education for enthusiasts we can improve the standard of photography in Australia,’ he said.
‘We want to attract them to AIPP events and seminars so they will be better educated and better informed,’ Myers later told Photo Counter.
‘In addition, we can better inform the general public about the distinction between a professional and an enthusiast,’ he said.
Benefits include discounts at relevant industry outlets, free magazine subscriptions, access to the AIPP Continuing Professional Development program and the opportunity to rub shoulders with top photographers.
‘We strongly encourage all keen photographers around Australia to become “AIPP Enthusiasts”. All that we ask is that you have a love of photography and a desire to strive for more knowledge to improve your photography,’ said Myers. He added that enthusiasts would now join students ‘as the seed bed from where [full] members will come from.’
‘Enthusiast’ members of the AIPP pay a $35 joining fee and $85 annual subscription. Enthusiast members can also enter the APPAs (Australian pro photographer awards) from 2011. The combination of membership fees, increased attendance at AIPP events and increased APPA entry fees will provide a new revenue stream for the AIPP.
‘That was never our primary driver,’ Myers said.
COMMENT: Apart from the financial motives alluded to above, the decision to open the AIPP to amateurs seems to be aimed at getting semi-professional weekend wedding photographers ‘in the tent’ (Google ‘LBJ and ‘tent ‘for further detail). Then there are the aspirational types who will prize possession and display of an AIPP membership card and lanyard.
One prominent pro photographer we spoke to explained that increased member numbers deliver more lobbying power and make an organisation more attractive to sponsors. Whatever the rationale, here’s hoping the Royal Australian College of Surgeons doesn’t open up an amateur division in its ranks. Ditto the Commercial Airline Pilots association!