Nobody truly “makes it on their own.” Whether it’s as complex as a mentorship or as simple as a passing piece of advice, every professional has had some level of support or guidance on their way up.

In the photography business, the ability to craft an attention-grabbing image only gets you part of the way. To be successful you have to know the state of the industry, market standards, fair value, laws, paperwork, and the remaining litany of considerations that have remarkably little to do with crafting a photograph.

Like all industries, photographers have professional organizations to turn to for guidance and advice.

American Society of Media Photographers

About a year ago, I began working with The American Society of Media Photographers on a national campaign to promote the organization’s efforts toward education and advocacy in the world of professional commercial photography. The project went live this week. Here’s a behind-the-scenes peek.

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In the early 1940s The Society of  Magazine Photographers was formed to provide industry and business knowledge to commercial photographers, working with magazines and other publications. Over the years, as photography permeated all aspects of our lives, the industry expanded. Other outlets needed the imagery, the industry grew, the internet took over the world, social media, smart phones, so on and so forth. The organization adapted and, today, the American Society of Media Photographers (or ASMP, because it’s way faster to say) is one of the world’s leading professional organizations, promoting the business of photography.

In the fall of 2014, I was fortunate enough to join ASMP as a board member of the Michigan chapter. Over the following years, our chapter has provided workshops, lectures, and guest speaking appearances on anything from on-the-job experiences, to essential equipment breakdowns, and (our specialty) professional business practices for commercial photographers. Speakers have ranged from local artists to world travelers. Even the illustrious Greg Heisler (Record holder of “the photographer to shoot the most TIME Magazine covers”) has graced our audiences.

The problem is distance.

While events and presentations make it easy to see why joining a professional organization is a logical next step in an emerging artist’s career, it’s hard to get a reach outside the geographical epicenter.

This past fall, I met with Tom Kennedy, Executive Director of ASMP. In discussing how best to reach up-and-coming artists, it became apparent that, while ASMP advocates on behalf of its members, in terms of business standards, copyright law, and professionalism, its members also advocate on behalf of the organization, and all the good it does for our industry.

Pretty straight forward – we need to see what our members think.

So, last winter, I met with local members to interview and set a precedent for other chapters to gather testimonials as a way to show new-comers in the commercial photo community why The American Society of Media Photographers is the leader in best photo business practices.

A huge THANK YOU! to photographers Rosh Sillars, Matt LaVere, Darrel Ellis, Elayne Gross, and Ben Colman for helping to roll out this campaign to show artists how to turn their passion into a career.

One comment

  1. Great work putting all of this together, asking the right questions, and focusing on the connection aspect. I enjoyed listening to all of these photographers you featured. The idea of being a professional and taking care of yourself and clients (as Matt said) is really important. Elayne mentioned the importance of pricing guidelines, and getting this right from the beginning is something many probably overlook. I would have liked to see all of these in one clip. Are you planning on releasing a longer, expanded version of these?

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