We are used to hearing and seeing the advertisements for plumbers, builders and accountants that have a licence number quoted at the end. These professions are required, by law, to have a licence to protect the customer and to ensure that certain standards are maintained. There is an overall body that oversees the accreditation process and does checks to ensure their members maintain the standards required.
The photography industry does not have such a requirement and as such, it is important to check that the photographer you are trusting your most treasured moments with – be it family portraits, weddings or your business portrait – has some form of association with professional bodies to ensure they are not just a ‘weekend warrior’.
The peak body for photographers in Australia is the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (A.I.P.P). To be eligible to join this association you must present a portfolio of images and be sponsored by an existing member. Within the organisation, you can then also reach various levels of accreditation with the highest being a Master of Photography. To reach this level you are required to earn points over a series of years and be judged by industry leaders at National Awards.
Without a formal licence process in place, it is important to ensure that the photographer you are engaging actually has the credentials needed to capture the moment. Just like owning an expensive set of pots and pans doesn’t make you a chef having a ‘good camera’ doesn’t make someone a photographer. It is imperative that you check out their work and compare it with others who have the AIPP accreditation. It can be a case of ensuring they have the basic business requirements like Public Liability Insurance and an ABN. All of this will protect your investment in the capture of your important moments.
While there are many in the photography industry who would like to see a formal licence system in place this is unlikely to happen any time soon. In the meantime it is very much a case of ‘buyer beware’, do your research, ask questions and enquire about qualifications.