Why would a professional photographer want to be an APPA member? What does it mean to be a member of APPA and why should people seek out APPA members when hiring a photographer?
I hope to address some of these in part with the APPA code of ethics that every member agrees to uphold when they become a member.
A big part of the code has to do with how we treat our fellow members of our profession.
WE SHALL show a friendly spirit of cooperation to our fellow professional photographers and assist them in time of need whenever possible.
The APPA is a fairly small group of professionals, and the friendships that are gained around a lunch table, working print crew together, and hanging out at member meetups is invaluable. You will hear it over and over again - when I was in time of need, I could call on my fellow APPA members to help me out. We are all small business owners - most of us do not have a staff of photographers that can step in and help us out in a time of emergency. It gets lonely not having other photographers to bounce ideas off of. It is nice to have a colleague to call and ask something as simple as how they suggest to handle a client issue.
WE SHALL share our knowledge with them and encourage them individually and collectively so the status of professional photography may be constantly raised in the eyes of the public.
One thing you can do all alone, is get technical information from the web. It is everywhere, no need to ever leave your computer desk. So why should you bother being a member of APPA and attending educational events? Because there is no substitute for live interaction, live questions, hands on experience with people that are there for YOU. Do you ever have a day that you feel you just suck at being a photographer/business owner/marketer/scheduler? Even the best of us have those days. YOU have something to offer and something to learn from your fellow APPA members - no matter if you just picked up a camera today, or if you have been in this business 40 years. The technology and business of this industry changes FAST! But good solid photography skills remain the foundation. We could all learn more of both. And we ALL BENEFIT when other professional photographers get better in business practices, and photography. It looks bad on all of us when a professional photographer does not know how to work with clients but has beautiful photography, or can market their services, but cannot deliver quality images. We are all called to learn and improve what we offer our paying clients.
WE SHALL at all times avoid the use of unfair competitive practices, as determined by any court of competent jurisdiction and related laws and statutes.
Work hard and play nice. This is a tough business. Lots of situations affect our businesses. Your fellow photographers are not your enemies.
WE SHALL observe the highest standard of honesty in our transactions, avoiding the use of false, confusing, inaccurate and misleading terms, descriptions and claims.
Be a honest business person. This also applies to having the required permits that Arkansas requires (Sales Tax Permit), that your individual counties or cities might have. I know, that part of business is not fun - but if you are a professional photographer, it comes with the job.
WE SHALL endeavor to produce photographs of quality equal or superior to the samples we display, to apply our finest efforts toward providing the best possible photographic services and to play our part in raising the general standards of photographic craftsmanship.
The public that hires you is trusting you with their time, money, and memories. Too many times recently, the news has reported photographers that have used other photographer's images on their Facebook, blog, website, and marketing. They did this because they didn't feel that they could produce their own images that clients would hire them for. There is even a website that busts out photographers that have done this. What a sad thing this is! Maybe you don't yet have a lot of experience - that is fine. But someone hiring you expects to get the same type of photos you display. Your images that you use in advertising is your word out there saying "I can do this for you".
WE SHALL endeavor to maintain a dignity of manner in our behavior, in the presentation of our photography and photographic services, in our appearance and that of our place of business, and in all other forms of public contact.
Represent yourself as a business person, and as a professional. No matter your personality - which is why most of your clients have hired you - do well by your clients. No matter your style, treat them with respect. You may not have a brick and mortar studio, but you do meet with clients at sometime and somewhere - that is your place of business at that time.
Of course some of these might seem common sense to you, but they have always been very important values in APPA. No matter how much technology changes, or who makes up our membership, having these values will always be appreciated by the clients that buy photography.