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APS in good health despite Covid

The Australian Photographic Society (APS) has appointed a new Management Committee, which has flagged its commitment to ’embracing new technologies’ during the pandemic.

The APSCON event has moved into an online format, and features presentations by Australian photographers Kris Anderson, Lisa Langell, Peter Eastway, and Heather Prince, along with Malaysian photographer Yusuf Hashim.

The APS is a not-for-profit organisation that runs events primarily geared towards the traditional camera club movement. Its major annual conference, APSCON, has run since 1969 and for the first time will be adapted to an online format on October 25 – this weekend.

In recent years the APS has launched initiatives that appeal to a broader, dare we say younger, membership, primarily through the Contemporary Group which operates the $10K Mullins Australian Conceptual Photography Prize (MACPP). It’s a different kettle of fish to the APS’ typical roster of events.

There’s no denying that the APS membership is ‘one of the most valuable demographics to the Australian photography market’, as recently noted to Inside Imaging by a prominent photo industry figure. This remains largely untapped, with only a handful of active partnerships and sponsors.

But even without major sponsorship dollars, the APS is in good financial health with $236K in the bank at the end of the 2020 financial year. For the last two years it has generated just over $70,000 from membership fees, with the number of members currently at 865.

Here’s a short Q&A with Margaret.

What’s your background with the APS and photography in general?
I’m a passionate amateur photographer who lives and works in South East Queensland. I’ve been interested in photography most of my life and joined the Ipswich Photographic Society, Queensland in 2004 after completing a short photography course at TAFE.

I’ve been a member of the APS since 2008 and have held various volunteer positions within the organisation over the years. I particularly enjoy outdoor photography including sport and wildlife. I was contracted to join the team photographing the Asia Pacific Master Games on the Gold Coast, Australia for a number of years. I also enjoy photographing events such as dog agility trials and photograph these events from time to time. In my spare time I spend many hours in wetland and coastal regions photographing birds and other nature subjects.

Over the next two years, what are you hoping to achieve?
Over the next two years, working with the energetic and forward thinking management committee which is made up of three women and three men, I’m hoping to further build the APS into a vibrant, technologically agile organisation with an increased global presence particularly in the closer regions such as Asia and New Zealand. On a more member-based level I think it’s important to re-invigorate a strong sense of camaraderie and develop activities and programs on a local level for members to be involved in without extensive travel.

In the APS 2020 Committee announcement, you mention embracing new technologies. What areas do you have in mind?
Currently the APS is transitioning to using online platforms as a communication tool and this has been a very big project for 2020. Once this has been firmly established and embraced by all members there will be a move to encourage members to look towards using new and innovative photographic technologies as they come available. One of our groups has begun to work actively in this space to bring fresh ideas and information to members. The Management Committee members are all active photographers and aware of trends and advancement in photography and communications and so are well qualified to bring about these trends.

How has the APS adjusted to Covid?
The APS has increased online and remote activities to replace the face to face activities that were a part of the APS culture. We have updated our Rules of Association so that the operational functions such as the AGM can be conducted in a virtual environment. We’ve also set up a Virtual Business Committee to ensure the smooth and seamless transition to running activities such as conferences, awards ceremonies and meetings online.

What are you most looking forward to achieving over the next two years?
The thing that I would most like to achieve is a strong vibrant culture within the APS and an increased presence within the national and global photographic communities

The new APS Committee consists of president Margaret O’Grady, senior vice president Greg McMillan,  junior vice president Yvonne Hill, and committee members Pia Jessen and Jeffrey Venning.

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