Monday, February 29, 2016

It is time for ASMP and NPPA to combine

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 5000, ƒ/4, 1/100
For the past few days I was at the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference. Through the years some of my colleagues and friends who have attended the conference have been member of either NPPA or ASMP. Many like myself have been members of both organizations.

Don Winslow is the editor of the News Photographer Magazine for NPPA and is in the photo above. I commented to him how we should just combine the two organizations. Don said that sounds like a great blog post.

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 3600, ƒ/4, 1/250
I am tired of being a naysayer about things in the industry. I can continue to be a whiner about the changes that I don't like or I can put forth this idea that many of my friends and I have talked about through the years.

The reason I think they should be combined is when I looked around the room I see people like Stacy Pearsall, Anacleto Rapping, Brad Smith and Dave Black and none of them are staff. They are now all freelancers or a better term independent contractors.

The biggest difference when these two organizations were founded is that NPPA was primarily made up of staff photographers and ASMP was freelancers.

In an earlier blog post I wrote:
You’ve probably heard that by 2020, 40% of the U.S. workforce will be independent workers. Today, there are already 53 million Americans (34% of the workforce) that fall into this category. That number is growing based on a number of factors. Some from employers who see this as a better choice and many employees who want more control over their lives as well. 
Chauncy Lennon, who runs JPMorgan’s workforce initiatives said:
“The workforce of the past was organized around company. The workforce of the future is organized around the worker. If we can’t find the right people, it’s going to hurt our bottom line.”
Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/640
Many of my friends like Bill Bangham [pictured above] who were members of NPPA are joining ASMP for many of the similar reasons I did so back in 1987. They see how important it is to help the freelancer.

NPPA has had to do a lot of catching up with ASMP to help it's members with understanding business practices.

Due to the decline of staff jobs and even the number of independent photographers there are less members for these two organizations. At one time the NPPA had membership of 15,000+ and today they are closer to 5,000.

I believe that the members of both of these organizations have more in common than different and therefore would benefit of combining the two organizations.

How all this would happen I do not have that worked out in my head, but I do know that they need each other more today than at any other time.

I do know that one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the cost of membership. We have so many NPPA members who are either living in poverty or so close that every little penny counts.

Nikon D750, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/100
This is Anacleto Rapping here teaching a class at the workshop. He has always been on staffs like the LA Times and Brooks Institute before the past couple of years having to run his own business. We need his talent and knowledge to help grow our industry.

For many members the cost of membership for their $24,000 salary is like the cost of their food for a week.

I know that for the freelancer that the cost of ASMP membership is well worth it. It is actually more valuable early in your career since they can help you navigate the business aspect of the business better than you going it alone.

Since the executive director of ASMP was on the board of NPPA and NPPA needs an executive director why not just combine the two organizations and let Tom Kennedy and the boards help lead us to a healthier organization than two struggling organizations?

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