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Why Join the AOP?

30 October 2018

Florien Mueller copy 200

©Florian W. Mueller

Find out about how our work benefits all photographers as well as those working in the creative industries. If you are not already a member we ask you to consider supporting us to protect the future of your industry. Hear direct from our members why they joined and how we support them. SPECIAL OFFER 25% off all memberships!

Karen Yeomans

©Karen Yeomans


Why join the AOP?...

There are many different reasons and benefits to joining the AOP which you can read all about on our website, here we provide you with a more personable insight into the work that we carry out on protecting, educating and promoting best business practice. Without the work of the AOP over the last 50 years the creative industry would be a very different and potentially unruly place!. Our work benefits all photographers as well as those working in the creative industries, we hope that by sharing some more in-depth knowledge about us it will highlight the worth of supporting us.


History, lobbying, campaigning…

Campaigning and lobbying have been fundamental to the AOP’s activities ever since its inception back in 1968 (in fact, one of main reasons for our formation was to push back against what was seen as unfair practices by model agencies at the time) and we were instrumental in getting the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 on to the statute books.

We engage with various industry bodies, including government at UK and EU level, making sure that our opinions are heard on all matters relating to professional photography and that where we see the potential for things to take a turn for the worse, we speak up and try to get things changed for the better.

More recently, we played a key role in mobilising support for the EU Copyright Directive, along with other creative organisations and trade bodies, and were able to shift the balance of opinion among MEPs, in favour of the Directive in the face of sustained lobbying against it by large tech corporations (we all know who they are!).

These activities are not glamorous, nor do they create headlines particularly, but they underpin the ability of all professionals to continue to make a living in photography and, as such, are a vital aspect of our work as a trade association.

Member, Tom Oldham, talks about his reasons for joining,

‘I genuinely felt it was my duty, as at this stage in my career, to be counted as a photographer and to become part of what is as close to a photographers’ union as I think we have. When there are such ongoing challenges around copyright and usage, for us to band together and shout louder than ever just seems to make sense to me. An organisation that is fighting for me and what I do deserves my support, financially and ethically. It’s quite ethereal how the AOP has helped my business but to know I’m supported and effectively have a very experienced expert in Nick Dunmur, who I can contact for free advice when I need it, is a comforting safety net.’

Member, Karen Yeomans, highlights the importance of the support and networking that we offer, 

Since joining the AOP I’ve attended events, enjoyed talks, cogitated business concerns and turned to the forum for advice. With the changing times, the business of being a photographer presents new challenges. The AOP presents a great indication of temperature, points of view and advice from others working in similar environments. Being a member means I have somewhere I can feel part of something bigger and possibly input with developments in the industry. Mix with photographers in various stages of their career, seek and offer advice. We all know it’s a challenging and sometimes lonely path and I believe together we are stronger. Finding others with an intention to grow, perfect individual qualities and extend past boundaries to reach their full potential is heartening and being part of the AOP offers that support.

TomOldham India PracticalAction01

©Tom Oldham


Promoting & best business practice...

Not only do we help our members get work through the continual marketing of our Accredited Photographers through our ‘Find A Photographer’ service and other channels, we also provide tools and support to assist members in making sure that work is commercially viable and based on best business practice. We provide a whole host of documents for members to use, which have been vetted and checked to ensure their legality and robustness as well as keeping tabs on developments in policy and law surrounding business operation, Brexit, data protection and intellectual property, amongst other things, not only within the UK, but in the rest of the European Union and further afield.

Overseas member, Florian W. Mueller, explains how being part of a UK-based professional association helps him, 

‘If you are working worldwide, it is helpful to be a member of such a prestigious association like the AOP. It also shows a level of professionalism to clients, agencies and even camera and equipment manufacturers. It can help to open doors for your career. I have had clients/agencies who didn’t know me in person but said, “Well you are a member of the AOP, so you can’t be bad!. I also benefit from all the offers for AOP Members, from forms and the usage calculator, the legal and business template forms and more’.

AOP Feature piece Karyn Louise 2018 KL NO LOGO

©Karyn Louise


Why join the AOP from a business & legal perspective?

In addition, a great many AOP members use the Business & Legal consultancy services that we provide in support of a wide range of issues, ranging from chasing very overdue invoices (and getting them paid!), looking over contracts and identifying the often highly dubious clauses contained therein all the way to preparing letters before claim in court action for members who are having to pursue people who have used their images unlawfully, in the absence of any resolution.

In the past 12 months, we have secured additional income for members in the region of £60,000, through a mix of damages for copyright infringement, successfully getting unpaid invoices sorted out and licence fees for the (previously unpaid) use of members’ work. We deal with an average of around two to three business and legal matters per week and are generally able to get things moving within 24 hours of being contacted. The support we provide is primarily driven by Nick Dunmur, our Business and Legal adviser, who is directly contactable by email and mobile. Where an issue is more complex and requires in-depth specialist legal advice, our Accredited and Assisting Photographer members can seek a discounted referral to one of the UK’s foremost intellectual property specialist law firms, Swan Turton.

This kind of support is vital to those working in the creative industries, particularly in isolation, where knowing that expertise is available saves our members time and money and guesswork. For Accredited and Assisting Photographer members, this consultancy support provided by us is free - it doesn't matter how many queries a member might have. For Associate members, blocks of consultancy time can be purchased in advance for a reasonable fee, but this difference in approach is reflected in the lower rates we charge for that level of membership.

Assisting Photographer member, Karyn Louise, highlights elements of why she decided to join and how it has provided her with confidence where it is needed, 

'100 per cent the support, its hard to find the right information online nowadays you don’t know what is real from what isn’t.  Within the group is a vast knowledge about the industry and it is nice to know that there are others out there are having the same thoughts and worries as yourself, so there is no such thing as a stupid question. 

Having that abundance of knowledge to hand about the industry has given me the confidence to be able to deal with clients in ways that I am able to provide a good service whether it’s photography or assisting another photographer. Also it has given me motivation to carry with working towards my photography career. I always feel motivated after attending an event held by the AOP'.

Uwe Duettmann

©Uwe Duettmann. AOP Awards 2017


AOP Awards..

2019 heralds the 35th Year of the AOP Awards. There are so many Awards for professional photographers these days but do they actually give you exposure to the right crowd? Our Awards party is attended by 1000 industry creatives, finalists work is on display in a 6-week public exhibition at One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London along with the Awards book which gets sent to all commissioners of photography. It’s fair to say that the Awards are one of the main reasons why our members join (and remain!). Read below to hear about their experiences,

'The AOP Awards is a first-rate showcase for photographers working in advertising and editorial as lots of agencies and brands attend to look at new work, which is reason enough to enter I think. I got in one year and it just elevates your status that one click higher, pushing you closer to where we all need to be – a position where people you want to reach out to happily answer your emails and take your calls'. Tom Oldham, AOP Accredited Photographer.

'The main attraction was the AOP Awards. The AOP is a fantastic network of professional photographers, offering more than just a competition, a great book and a splendid exhibition/party. Participation of the AOP Awards has really helped me to become known in the UK photography world'. Florian W. Mueller, AOP Accredited Photographer Member


Who is supporting who?

If you are a represented photographer you might feel that you have the support you need from your agent, however Skye Trayler from Trayler & Trayler, AOP Agent Member and AOP Board Member gives her pitch as to why you should support the AOP,

'The AOP may not be as helpful a resource for you, established and represented as you are. However, it can be, and is a great resource for the younger, emerging talent. The more clued-up we can make these new photographers regarding rates, usages, copyright and other legal requirements, the better it will be for everyone. By becoming a member, you are declaring your support, which in turn inspires the new generation to take note and join in, and in doing so helps to preserve the longevity of your industry.#longtermthinking’. Skye Trayler.

As the work we do benefits all photographers and those working in the creative industries we think it’s fair to say that every photographer owes the AOP their support by joining. By looking at the bigger picture of the work carried out by AOP, you are supporting and securing the future of your industry. 

Now that we have scrapped our application administration fees there is really nothing stopping you from applying to be part of the best professional photographers’ trade body there is!.  


Find out more about joining the AOP here

MEMBERSHIP SPECIAL OFFER – 25% off all memberships valid until Monday 5 November. Quote YAY25 at the checkout or with your email application.

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