On September 18th 2015 the ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission) formally recognised the status of an “Accredited Professional” through the award of a “Certification Trade Mark”
http://www.aipp.com.au/members/certification-and-you (Link available to logged in AIPP Members)
If you are a current AIPP member you are likely pleased with this result. The AIPP have been working for this for 5 years. But what does it mean for non-accredited photographers?
I was a member of the AIPP for a few years prior to having children. At the time membership was a viable option for me. I was able to make the most of the events and networking. However just prior to us having our first child, the AIPP brought in new rules that required members to accrue CPD (Personal Development) points to hold on to their membership status. As a soon to be mother, unsure of just how I would manage juggling a new baby and my business, the added stress of needing to take extra time out for this additional learning caused me to review my membership and withdraw from the AIPP. Don’t misinterpret my reasons. I am all for further learning, and looking back there may have been ways I could have fulfilled these requirements even as a new mother (online CreativeLive courses for example). However my focus at that time was on minimising the stress and enjoying motherhood for the first time.
Fast forward to early 2014
In planning for a major Wedding Photography Workshop that I was running in April (through my wedding/portrait business), I had A Current Affair contact me about an interview regarding wedding photography. Their initial focus was on what I was doing to train up aspiring wedding photographers through my very practical ‘real wedding’ workshop – you can read about that here: http://emeraldeyephotography.biz/a-wedding-re-do-shoot-their-photographer-never-turned-up/ Through social media I reached out to couples that had horror stories of their own wedding days. I chose a couple to participate in the ‘real wedding’ who had the unfortunate situation of their own wedding photographer forgetting to show up for their wedding day.
This was an interesting angle for the investigative television program. We initially talked about featuring our wedding couple and having them talk about their experience and what it meant to be having a wedding re-do shoot. In being invited to speak as an industry leader on national television I realised that I needed to talk to the AIPP again about re-establishing my membership. I have always been of the belief that there should be more legislation on who can operate as a professional photographer. Sad stories from couples and families let down by less than professional photographers, and even con-artists has the potential to be alleviated with an official governing body.
I rang Peter Myers and had a long chat with him at the time about my reasons for wanting to rejoin along with my personal frustrations regarding AIPP membership. I was pleased to discover that there had been changes to the CPD requirements (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that had struggled with that). However my other issue was that the general public don’t know about or respect the governance of the AIPP. At the time I asked if there was any potential for the AIPP to become a more official governing body like in other professional industries. Peter shared it was something that the AIPP were working towards.
Although A Current Affair didn’t end up running with the story, I ended up finally re-establishing my AIPP membership in early 2015. Since then I’ve been an active member attending events and entering the VPPY’s and APPAs. I’ve made new friends and strengthened my business (which has been particularly important with my change of direction from Weddings to Story Art).
What this announcement means for the industry
When the AIPP announced this new ACCC legislation I was behind it 100%. This is what the photography industry needs to ensure that clients across our country are serviced by upstanding, professional photographers that have all the necessary insurances, contracts and experience. I’ve had to sign a new document outlining the new Terms and Conditions and I’ve agreed to these terms. I feel confident in these strict terms because they protect the client.
This legislation will also mean that beginners will need to strengthen their business set ups and the quality of their work before offering their services to the general public. Does it mean that beginners have to be a member to charge money for photography? No. But in the eyes of the public as awareness grows it will mean that clients will have a better understanding between hiring a professional that is accredited, or a beginner. The lines are very blurred at the moment with so many people picking up a camera one day and charging for photography the next.
If I had still not re-instated my membership, I would be quickly signing up now. This is what we’ve needed as a photography body for a long time.
If you are not yet a member, but are operating as a Professional Photographer I want to encourage you to take a look at membership. Non AIPP members will still be able to call themselves ‘Professional Photographers’, that has not changed (so make sure you are clear on that fact). But to call yourself an ‘Accredited’ Professional Photographer you must be a member of the AIPP.