The AIPP plans to roll out major structural change that will introduce new membership categories, give State Councils more autonomy, improve the financial situation and fix communication issues.
The changes have either already been implemented, or will take effect before the end of the year.
Inside Imaging reported on the AIPP’s restructure in May 2018, following the closure of National Office.
Since the closure of the National office, AIPP volunteers and part-time staff have worked behind-the-scenes to modify the institute.
‘We were left with quite an interesting place when we came back onto the board for the first time (following the closure of National Office),’ AIPP president, Melissa Neumann, told Inside Imaging. ‘So we’ve gone, and continue to go through, the Institute piece-by-piece to see what’s bringing members value or joy. Then we consider what’s the best way forward. There may not appear to be a lot happening externally, but internally there is a lot going on.’
The AIPP National Board is working with numerous committees – such as Membership and Accreditation, Compliance, Education, Constitution, Awards – to review and draft new policy where it’s deemed necessary.
The AIPP will introduce a new ‘General Membership’ category for anyone and everyone interested in joining the Institute. Melissa said there are no prerequisites to join as a General Member.
The proposed changes are still being formulated, with the Membership and Accreditation Committee consulting with the National Board.
General Membership will provide an option for people who don’t fit into the current available membership categories.
‘There are people like retouchers, printers, and all sort of people who make up the photo industry who just aren’t able to be members of the AIPP,’ Melissa said. ‘General Membership will give them an opportunity to be part of the community.’
Melissa said the new category will incorporate the current Emerging, Enthusiast and Retired Member categories. Emerging Membership was designed to serve as a stepping stone for aspiring professional photographers to earn full accreditation, and General Membership will still offer this pathway.
Melissa says the Institute wants to encourage everyone with a vested interest in the business of photography to be able to join the AIPP. This includes people like her partner. He isn’t a professional photographer, but does attend AIPP events, such as the APPA dinner and local business types events, yet is unable to receive membership ticket prices and pays full non-member fees.
Accredited Professional Photographer membership remains strictly for part-time and full-time working photographers, with new specialist sub-categories under proposal for newborn photographers, drone operators, and photo tour operators.
The purpose is to ensure safety and regulatory standards are met for these categories. Specialist accreditation will certify that the photographer knows how to legally and ethically operate within a specified field.
For instance, an Accredited Newborn Photographer will have experience at posing babies and creating a safe studio environment, and be vaccinated for disease; drone photographers will have Civil Aviation Safety Authority commercial drone licence and experience operating unmanned aircraft; and photo tour operators will hold a Tour Operator Licence. Other genres of specialist accreditation are also open for consideration.
Melissa said she expects some backlash against the Institute, and stresses the changes are designed to ensure members meet professional standards.
‘Photography is an unregulated industry, and what people need to understand is specialist accreditation isn’t required to call yourself a professional in these areas. We’re just trying to set standards in areas where there are safety issues. These changes are what members have asked for, and it will allow them to build the community they want.’
Student membership, currently only open to students studying specific photography courses, will soon be open to any student card holder regardless of the course.
‘The main change we’ve made within the [state] councils is they now have their own bank account,’ Melissa said. ‘A percentage of the membership money is redirected into the Council’s bank account.’
In the last financial year the Institute put aside $70,000 in membership fees – 50 percent of this was split evenly between the State Councils, and the remaining 50 percent was allocated based on the number of members in each state. Payments are made into State Council accounts every three months.
‘This provides State Councils more autonomy. The National Office previously required each State Council to run a profitable budget, and some of that money went back to National Office. We’ve sort-of done it the opposite way, by providing money to State Councils. Of course, we don’t want them running everything at a loss, but this gives them money to subsidise what they want to do.’
The new Councils Bylaw permits State Councils to operate an event at a loss ‘where considered prudent’ but generally to aim to run an operational profit. Events with an expenditure above $1000 are required to have a budget approved by the AIPP national treasurer, Sara McKenna.
State Councils are expected to host a minimum of 10 non-award-related events per year, and encourage involvement from both regional and metropolitan members.
‘There is a bit of a myth out there that the AIPP is just about APPA. We have been looking at increasing the amount of events outside awards, to focus more on photography and business.’
In May AIPP treasurer, Sara McKenna, published a mostly-optimistic financial report in the Institute’s monthly online magazine, The Journal. However a membership income graph shows the primary income stream is down compared with previous years.
‘We are still in a rebuilding phase. We don’t have as much in the bank account as what we use to have, and I imagine that once APPA is over we will probably get to the lowest we’ve been in some time due to the outgoings from running the event.’ Melissa said.
‘Sara has been working through our previous accounts to rebuild the Chart of Accounts to allow accurate reports to be generated from our books more easily. This coming financial year we will be able to look back on last year and know where every single dollar has gone. This is something we struggled with in the first year – trying to decipher the books and work out what money went where.’
Melissa says the Institute is being cautious with spending, and is working on establishing a good system with a solid savings plan.
‘While we’re not overly concerned about the financial situation, I wouldn’t say we’re comfortable just yet.’
Based on a graph in Sara’s report, the AIPP’s largest expense for 18/19 is administration, which takes over a quarter of expenses, followed by IT infrastructure at just under a quarter and then accounting/legal.
While the AIPP no longer has a physical National Office, there are eight part-time employees working in administration.
IT System and communication
With IT infrastructure taking up a significant chunk of expenses, the outdated system will be revamped to cost less while providing a modern touch with improved communication capabilities.
‘The IT system is incredibly expensive. It was tailor-made for the AIPP, but is now not doing what we need it to do,’ Melissa said. ‘For instance, our e-mail list is unable to be segmented to enable members to opt in or out opt out from selected notifications lists. Nowadays that’s a stock standard.’
The new system will come at a financial cost, Melissa says, but it’s estimated to have an ongoing cost that’s about half of the current system.
‘The new system will be a lot more efficient when it comes to communications. One thing we’ve struggled with over the last 18 months is the ability to talk not only to members but also ex-members and non-members. The current system doesn’t allow us to keep in touch with people after they leave us. We have their information, but doesn’t allow us to contact them.’
– The new changes are expected to be rolled out after APPA (August 10-12). Melissa says the AIPP is ‘looking at an outward reach in a fast-changing industry to make a difference for our members and all photographers’.