The UK’s 14 foremost photographic trade associations have founded the Coalition of Photographers, a united voice for image makers formed in response to the UK government’s lack of industry support during the pandemic.
The Coalition’s plan is to lobby the government, and raise further awareness through the media. As in Australia, the UK Government’s response to the pandemic has ‘grey areas’, and photographers are finding it difficult to apply to their business. According to the Coalition, photographers and videographers have ‘fallen through the cracks’ of support packages, despite being equally as devastated as the hospitality and travel industries, which receive government financial assistance.
While UK photographers are spoilt for choice when it comes to trade associations, the overall fragmentation lacks the unity needed to address a major concern like Covid-19. The UK’s photographic trade associations have identified that they need to come together in order to make any meaningful progress.
On October 6, the newly-formed Coalition sent out an e-mail outlining the plan:
‘The Government has focused any targeted assistance on the largest of industries. The photography industry is not one of those. With that in mind, we all need to come together and punch above our weight by collectively creating a tidal wave of activity to highlight our situation.
The first stage is to literally flood key departments, individuals and media outlets with letters arriving collectively on October 12, rather than being spread across months as they have been so far.
This will make sure our message is heard!
Obviously we are all in unique situations so our combined message needs to be simple and generic if it is to open the door to discussion or change – the initial message will therefore focus on our need for industry support and parity!’
At this point we want everyone to invite support to this group. We need as many people as possible involved. Every Association, Trade Company and Photographer/Videographer has a role here.’
The associations have drafted a letter template, and asked any affected industry professionals to post letters to local MPs. The Coalition states that letters are more effective than e-mails, as they must be opened and aren’t lost in the digital ether. (‘Oh sorry, it must have gone into the Spam tray.’) As well as covering how photographers and videographers have been devastated, the letter points out this also impacts businesses reliant on professional photography, such as printing labs.
The Coalition is made up of the following associations:
The Association of Professional Headshot Photographers
British Institute of Professional Photographers
Disabled Photographers Association
The Federation of European Photographers
The Guild of Photographers
London Portrait Group
The Master Photographers Association
The National Photographic Society
The Professional Photographers Association of Northern Ireland
The Royal Photographic Society
The Society of Wedding & Portrait Photographers.
As well as the 14 UK photographic associations, there are over 40 trade businesses on board, including magazines and publishers, printing labs, album manufacturers, education groups, festivals, retailers, and so on.
Inside Imaging will continue covering any progress made by the Coalition, and we’ll take this opportunity to explore the other Covid-19 initiatives launched around the world by professional photographic trade associations. Check out the Coalition website here.
The Australian Institute of Professional Photography, the peak body representing Australian photographers, has rolled out numerous initiatives to assist members during Covid-19.
The Victorian AIPP Council is currently campaigning the State Government to provide an exemption to the mandatory face mask rule for portrait subjects. All Victorians are currently required to wear face masks, and the roadmap for easing restrictions doesn’t specify when the mask rule will be lifted. Face masks are still mandatory in regional Victoria, where as of October 8 there are no active Covid cases besides a potentially ‘false positive’ in Mildura, according to Ballarat’s The Courier.
While most businesses can deal with workers and customers wearing face masks, AIPP Victorian Council president, Emily Black, points out that portrait photographers cannot operate if clients are required to wear a mask. Black, backed by the AIPP Victorian Council, launched a Change.org petition, which impressively sits at over 7600 signatures.
The Institute also compiled a Covid-19 Resource Library – a lengthy blog post with links branching off to relevant government department resources, such as on JobKeeper and JobSeeker, as well as other services, information sources and articles.
With the cancellation of the AIPP’s two major annual events – the print-based Australian Professional Photography Awards and State Awards – the Institute successfully ran two online contests, the Silver Lining Awards and Reframe Video Awards. And during the ‘first wave’ of Covid, resulting in fresh restrictions across numerous states, the AIPP hosted weekly presentations and online catch ups for members.
The AIPP recently released free online information about copyright and contracts for Australian photographers, including a 40-minute video featuring Chris Shain, the AIPP board adviser on copyright issues. In the video, Shain interviews Ian McDonald, senior counsel at copyright law firm, Simpsons Solicitors. They cover a broad range of topics like controlling copyright, indemnity provisions, licensing, moral rights, and more.
The AIPP also published a 4-page document on unfair contracts, which provides general information to help photographers flag a bad contract. While the free resources aren’t directly related to the pandemic, the AIPP states these initiatives are part of a continued effort to advocate for all photographers, not just AIPP members.
Kiwi photographers, like Australians, have one primary industry body – the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP).
The NZIPP has continuously published updates on Covid’s affect on professional photography, sourcing information from relevant government departments to keep photographers informed about how and when they may safely operate. It also launched a survey to measure the impact the pandemic is having on the New Zealand photo industry.
The NZIPP prepared a member directory, where photographers sign up based on location so others affected by travel restrictions can refer work onwards, or find a second shooter.
‘We worked internally with our members to offer assistance. This information wasn’t really published in our Covid information,’ Sarah McGregor, NZIPP executive director, told Inside Imaging. ‘We held frequent online events to keep our members feeling supported – these were held on average twice per week. Our first event was a group discussion on how and what we could all do to get through this time.’
The NZIPP also shifted its printed-based IRIS awards into an online contest, and also hosted ‘fun’ image awards and organised online speaker events.
‘One of our most relevant (events) was Mark Lindberg, who gave us lots of useful information about marketing through these times, and re-launching once borders opened,’ Sarah said. ‘We had many, many discussions with our members about re-opening. The messages from government over the period of lockdown and moving through different levels made it very hard for us to understand at what point we could return to work. As a collective, our members worked together to share templates for Covid opening requirements – such as notices to be displayed on doors etc.’
The US has a few photographic trade associations, but photographers have been served by the peak Professional Photographers of America (PPA) for 150 years.
Like the NZIPP and AIPP, the PPA provides documents highlighting government updates and how to apply for government assistance. It also published guidelines for safe business operation, and included a waiver for photographers to have clients sign which absolved the business of any Covid-related legal issues.
For its members, the PPA created a ‘two-pronged relief package’ that waived two months of membership fees, and dropped registration fees for its Imaging USA 2021 conference. The PPA estimates the value of this program to be US$3 million.
Earlier in the year the PPA opened up all of its premium online education to anyone willing to sign up to the newsletter.