—by Laurie ShoulterKarall for ASPP’s Midwest Chapter.
In a business psychology class I learned that people come together in groups for only two reasons, that of a common enemy or a common goal. Last night the ASPP Chicago Midwest chapter came together for a common goal, honoring Judy and Roger Feldman with the Jane Kinne Picture Professional of the Year award. Roger and I talked about the reasons to be a member of ASPP including sharing information, learning from one another and solving problems.
But being a member of ASPP is about more than just what individuals receive from the organization. Consider the Latin inscription on our coins: E Pluribus Unum. Translated it means “out of many, one”. In ASPP we bring all that we are as individuals in order to work together towards a common goal, that of strengthening the photo industry for all of the stakeholders. The photo industry is in a state of flux; will print books become an anomaly; will partnerships between stock agencies and social media continue to provide income for photographers; how will the rise of creators and curators (groups identified in a Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project) effect the current roles of photographers, agencies and researchers?
ASPP needs to get ahead of these topics and so many others. In order to do so, we need to be the vanguard in recognizing and understanding the issues. It is no longer possible to operate in a vacuum, creating and licensing images for traditional print use. And the excuse that running a business takes up way too much of your time can easily be countered by the argument that membership in ASPP allows you to combine your limited resources with those of others in order to achieve more than you could as an individual. In this evolving marketplace we cannot survive without banding together, drawing upon the strength of belonging and supporting one another.
ASPP needs to be the thought leader in our industry. According to Forbes, a thought leader is the foremost authority in a selected area of expertise. But wait there’s more; Forbes suggested that there is a second part to the definition; that the organization (or individual) “significantly profits from being recognized as such.” This radical idea is supported by the concept that a thought leader should see actual monetary returns for the investments of their time and effort. I am not suggesting that ASPP becomes a for-profit commercial business but I am suggesting that its members could benefit from access to state-of-the-art thinking by implementing new ideas. If ASPP leaders and members decide it is time for the organization stand as the go-to group for the photo industry it could develop actionable strategies for the benefit of all of our members. If you want to a part of this, renew your membership, attend a meeting, email your board members. Offer your expertise to the collective and improve the body politic.