Professional Photography is distinguished from Art Photography, although in today’s media-saturated digital environment the line between them becomes more hazy. Art photographers however are unlikely to join professional industry bodies for photographers and more likely to belong to bodies such as the National Association for Visual Arts (NAVA) or other visual arts based bodies.
Professional photographers are not held accountable in the same legal and regulatory environment as many other professions, such as medicine, dentistry and law. The “Imaging Industry” is open to abuse by those who claim to be professional photographers, but may not be trained or work to acceptable ethical standards. The AIPP offers an accreditation process to photographers and video producers.
Accreditation requires that the photographer abides by a mandatory “Code of Practice”, demonstrates that they have been practicing for at least two years, shows that they have written references from clients and have complied with ethical legal and other requirements. They have to demonstrate their photographic skills through a portfolio of work assessed by experienced AIPP image assessors. Full details of accreditation requirements are provided at http://www.aipp.com.au/join.
The Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) http://www.aipp.com.au/ is run mainly for members only, so it is not easy to get information about their history, constitution or practices. The main function to the outsider seems to be to support the Australian Professional Photography Awards, an annual event which have their own dedicated website. There seem to be separate State councils, each with their own policy statements. The AIPP journal provides updates, news, information and events. Much of the journal seems to consist of republication of notices and policies from regional bodies along with some tips such as “How to Keep Detail in a Wedding Dress”.
The Home Page of the website offers a site where a visitor can search for a Professional Photographer by name, category or location.
The association seems to be supported by several visual-related companies such as Epson, Leica, digiDIRECT and others.
Until recently there seems to have been little or no attempt to provide professional accreditation through formal education and training. However James Cook University has recently announced a program together with the AIPP so that students who regard themselves as emerging professional photographers can enter the industry through internships and mentoring. There does not seem to be any comparable program elsewhere eg in NSW.
Given the size of the industry and the increasing costs of professional photography especially servicing the wedding industry, it is hard to see why a more formal pursuit of qualifications is not called for around Australia.
The Association of Australian Commercial and Media Photographers established in 1991 seems to have merged with the AIPP and no longer has its own website.
The number of societies and associations interested in photography in a non-professional way is vast. Internationally, there are also societies such as the American Photographic Artists, mainly interested in advertising; the Aperture Foundation, mainly concerned with Fine Arts, and many others with specialisations such as gardens, picture research and editing, pro-imaging and specialty graphics. Reading through this vast list highlights the variation in interest and practices of photography, which must be one of the few industries which preserves an aura of the old Guild era. The lack of University qualifications (or similar), the predominance of networking and competition, the wide variety of organisations, the visibility of amateur associations such as camera clubs, and the distinctive practices required of professional photographers makes for a most unusual “industry”.