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The AOP brings professional photographers together, protecting their rights and promoting photography. We campaign for all photographers and our awards promote the best in photography. We also provide information services, education programmes, exhibitions and publications to support these activities. As image-makers respond to globalisation, the AOP is building an effective network of photographers around the world.
The AOP was formed in 1968 by a small group of photographers. United by a common aim to challenge the then unreasonable demands of model agencies, it brought together professional photographers, to protect their rights and promote photography.
Constituted as a non-profit distributing trade association, today its membership exceeds 1,800 photographers and photographic assistants covering advertising, fashion, editorial, architectural and design sectors. It is supported by photographers' agents, manufacturers and suppliers of photographic equipment and services. The AOP also has a number of affiliated colleges and plays a significant role in promoting, maintaining and developing relationships between all levels of higher and further education and the professional industry. A board of directors comprising 9 photographer members and three non-member directors governs the AOP. It currently employs 14 staff, with a main office and gallery in London and a regional office in Manchester.
The AOP's principal aims have remained the same over the past 35 years and through its campaigning and education work it has improved rights for all photographers and created a unique community of professionals. We are proud of our history, and rightly so: we negotiated reforms which led to the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988; we developed the widely accepted Standards of Practice, which afford photographers greater protection and ownership of their work; produce 'Beyond the Lens'; and created the AOP Awards, the most prestigious accolade in the photographic industry, now in its twenty first year.
Recognising the many pressures photographers face, the AOP has developed a number of support services under the umbrella of its Business Advice Unit, a one stop unit encompassing legal, education and information services. The aim is to provide members with practical help to reduce the administrative burden of running a business; it includes workshops, guidance on how to resolve business and rights matters, freelance assistant referrals, and a database of world-wide services. We also act as a forum for discussion and exchange of information about changes in the industry and the impact of new technologies.
The AOP website has an average of 50,000 visitors (2 million hits) a month, and promotes over 600 members' portfolios to the world, many of whom have received commissions as a direct result. In addition to this tool for self-promotion, we publish a high quality source book, exclusively for members, targeted at creative sectors in the UK and selected cities in Europe, Africa, South and North America and the Asia and Pacific regions.
Membership details and further information about the AOP's activities can be found here.