By Colin Bushell
Let’s start more broadly.
Just what is the point of joining any professional association? “I pay membership fees and get little in return!” “I can’t see any value to my business!” “I don’t get any real input!” All valid concerns and – in some cases – justified.
Professional associations exist for just about any profession where qualifications and experience – either earned of learned – are a prerequisite for offering a high level of quality output, combined with customer confidence and satisfaction.
The polar opposites of this are the ‘enemy’ of professional associations and their members, and in our industry are frequently ‘fly by night’ photographers who harbor only an interest in a quick buck while undercutting in price, hovering dangerously close to malpractice or just plain exploitation. It’s a frequent topic of sensationalistic journalism, the likes of which A Current Affair lap up: ‘My wedding photographer ran off with my money (and sometimes the bride!)’.
Photography is an industry in constant transition. As professionals who rely on it for our income, we look at poor quality and questionable customer service and shudder. But what to do?
Being in a professional association is certainly not the be-all, and end-all. I know of many professional photographers who produce some of this country’s greatest work, and still don’t belong to a professional association. They let their credentials and talent do the talking for them. And good luck to them.
But in a time where many photographers are questioning their futures, and the industry they love, one of the main benefits of joining an association isn’t a certificate, or a lanyard, or even letters after your name: it’s camaraderie; a knowing collectiveness that embodies a creative pursuit, as much as it determines a business ideal.
The PPAQ has been many things to many people over the years, not always perfect, but always determined to provide the right environment and support to ensure that those who pass through its ranks can be proud that they belong to something that has goals and ambitions aligned with their own.
As such, consider again the value of the distinction I made earlier (quality output, customer satisfaction et al). The PPAQ seeks this from its members, but that is simply a requirement. No association says, ‘join us and we won’t care too much about what you do!’ Quality is a given. What’s missing from most people’s assessment of whether to join is rarely a question of how committed their fellow members are, or how effective a Council may be, it’s ‘how and when can I get help?’
And that, my fellow professionals, is the point here.
It may be for no other reason, but the PPAQ is worth joining because we share a common goal, a common outlook and a common passion. And therefore, we know what hurts. We know what frustrates. We know how to succeed. And we know how easy it is to fail.
We know all these things collectively. And, as an Association, we are dedicated to standing together and striving for success, even when questions become doubts, and doubts become fears.
The point of being in an Association is being part of a team of like minded individuals, who are working towards one end. And, as if by way of an immediate contradiction, that one end is actually a hundred variations of the thing we need more than ever as sole/individual/lonely professionals: a sense of teamwork.
Your Association may have many imperfections, but it always agrees that the most important people in it are you.
About the PPAQ
The PPAQ guarantees the highest standards in professional photography, ensuring exceptional imagery, business probity and client confidence. PPAQ members nurture relationships with fellow professionals, clients and community; actively promote the Association and build membership; and commit to continuous learning and improvement.
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