I’m on the National Board of Directors of the ASMP, The American Society of Media Photographers. About four years ago, I was asked if I had ever thought about running for the board. The person who had asked me this question, knew that I had been shooting video in addition to still photography and thought that it might be a good idea to have someone on the board who had an understanding of this medium. That was four years ago, and even though I had been shooting video for over 10 years – the “explosion” of this medium (in terms of the demand) had really just started.
I did run, served three years, ran again and got elected. I’ve shared my knowledge of this medium through meetings, seminars, blogs, emails and during Q&A’s when I screen my film.
This past Wednesday, I spent my day manning the ASMP booth at DV East Expo. Former national board member (and now President of the ASMP Tennessee Chapter) Chris Hollo and my partner Tom Kelly joined me. We were well prepared with a large flat screen monitor displaying a loop of our members work. I was intimate with the reel as I had just finished editing it and I was very impressed with the quality of the work. It certainly was an attention grabber.
So, what was ASMP, a trade organization of still photographers, doing at a video expo? Essentially, we were there to provide a community and reach out to other professionals who are shooting both mediums and provide information about sound business practices. If this demographic does not understand the value of copyright or value the concept of licensing, then it will ultimately affect the way business is done in the still photography industry.
Some people may think that ASMP is becoming too inclusive or is creating more of a problem by suggesting that video may be the answer for its members, only for them to find out, that industry is glutted as well. The old business models of bloated production companies with fat budgets are hanging on for dear life, along with the old business models of the film industry. But if you think outside the box, especially in terms of how you structure your photography business – the opportunities are out there.
ASMP doesn’t cease to be an advocate for its still photographers who have no interest in motion – it’s actually making the entire industry healthier by educating the hybrid competition. A lot of the people I talked to yesterday, shot both still photography and video, but even the ones who just shot video – called themselves “photographers” and they all had questions about “the business”.
I’m so closely associated with “video” by members of this society; they tend to forget that I am a photographer. I don’t call myself a photographer simply because I spend 50% of my time shooting still images, or call myself a videographer because I spend the other 50% of my time producing video. I don’t want to define myself by my tools, at all. I “see” as a photographer, with the vision of a filmmaker and the heart of a storyteller. I also have a strong desire to stay in business doing what I love to do. By being an advocate for sound business practices across these mediums, I get a lot more back than I give. All photographers’ benefit, regardless of what type of cameras they shoot with.
Friend and fellow board member Ed McDonald, tells his own story about how he had become too rigid at one point in his career, as far as how he perceived himself and what kind of photographer he was. He found that when he became more flexible in how he “defined” himself, his business got better. As I think about Ed’s story, I know we have a lot in common. For me, when I stopped restricting myself to just shooting still images – not only my business got better – so did my still photography. Shooting motion has made me a better still photographer because it has made me a better storyteller.
I got an email late last night from someone I ran into at the expo. They wrote:
“Thanks for your vision and inspiration and all you’ve done for ASMP.” So simple and so poignant and I thought – “isn’t that what I was supposed to do?”