May 09

Art, Advertising, Fashion & More: qualifying with the AOP

Fulfilling a long-held ambition in qualifying with the prestigious Association of Photographers (AOP).

Check out Michael Wharley's portfolio on the AOP site

Check out my portfolio on the AOP site

Happily, I fulfilled a long-held ambition in the last few weeks.

After working hard over five years of professional practice, I felt that my photography had reached the point where I had a realistic chance of joining the Association of Photographers (AOP). ‘Why join another organisation?’ you might reasonably ask, and as a already-qualified Associate of the excellent British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP), it wasn’t for ongoing professional development or a sense of professional community. BIPP provides those things in abundance.

THE Association

No, the AOP, is a group I’ve always aspired to join as long as I’ve been a photographer, because it has been a hallmark of quality in the advertising, fine art, editorial and fashion photography worlds since its creation in 1968.

These days the AOP’s mission statement is:

[important]”…to promote and protect the worth and standing of its members, to vigorously defend, educate and lobby for the interests and rights of all photographers, especially in the commercial photographic industry.”[/important]

And more than that, its reputation is a byword for excellence and creativity with commercial and art commissioners.

Playing Hard to Get

Wind © Michael Wharley Photography 2015

Wind © Michael Wharley Photography 2015

No surprise then, that the entry requirements are so stringent.

Qualifying as a Full Photographer, requires submitting a portfolio of work showing the quality of your photography, as well as 15+ examples of the work in use, and other evidence including contracts & references from existing commercial, fashion, or creative clients.

I was almost surprised they didn’t check my teeth and hooves…

All of that evidence is scrutinised by a panel of members, who deliver the verdict. In this case – very happily – a yes!

Of course, it doesn’t create work or change the way you shoot, but it is a hallmark of quality, and – for me – feels like both a fantastic promotional tool, and an indication to clients of my commitment, expertise and ability. Especially in pursuing the sort of film and theatre advertising and poster work I want to shoot more, I think it’s going to be invaluable.



09/05/2015 MW

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