Formed in 1901 when one hundred photographers met in a bar in Fleet Street to form ‘The Professional Photographers’ Association,’ the BIPP has a proud history. Several name changes later the present British Institute of Professional Photography was arrived at and the organisation now boasts over 1600 members. Earlier this year some significant changes were made with the arrival of a new CEO, Martin Baynes. Martin is a well-known character in the wedding and portrait fraternity, coming from a senior position at premium Italian photo album producers Graphistudio, and he’s currently shaking up the organisation and is overseeing an expansion.
His first job was to re-locate the BIPP headquarters to a new home in Preston, giving the BIPP a central geographical location in a beautiful building called Artistry House, which now houses some of the area’s best creative businesses.
Overs the years the BIPP has had a close and rewarding association with many academic courses and frequently offers up experienced speakers who can talk to graduates and undergraduates about the benefits to be had from long term membership. They can also be found in government circles working with The Defence School Of Photography and the College Of Policing as well as prestige private companies such as Rolls Royce.
The BIPP accepts new members from many different specialist fields but insists they need to be correctly insured and meet various other professional requirements before they can join. They also encourage members to produce personal creative work alongside their everyday imagery.
The BIPP offers three levels of qualified membership for professional photographers. After joining you’re required to offer up a panel, defined as a coherent body of work connected by a theme or style, which needs to be supported by a written report. Provided the work is up to the required standard the applicant is then granted a Licentiateship, Associateship or Fellowship depending on the quality of the panel.
Of further note is the fact that the annual World Photographic Cup – WPC awards – regards the BIPP as the key photographic organisation within the UK. You have to be a member of the BIPP if you want to join team GB and compete alongside teams from Russia, China, USA, Australia and many other countries for this truly international event. The same is true for the Federation Of European Photographers – FEP.
Successful members can place the letters LBIPP, ABIPP or FBIPP after their name on cards and email sign-offs etc. This is a sign of quality and helps to reassure a potential client that they are dealing with a qualified, professional photographer. Fellowships are much sought after and only granted to the very best in the business. It’s rare, but some photographers have been known to apply for more than one fellowship, which can be awarded in different disciplines such as ‘wedding’ ‘portrait’ or ‘documentary’ etc. Members are drawn from every field of professional photography, from wedding to scientific, social to commercial.
Fellows of the BIPP form the pool of judges who assess annual awards, so the experienced members of the association are expected to share their knowledge and skills with the membership at large.
The annual BIPP Awards have changed and developed over the years and are there to reflect the ideals of the association, encouraging the highest artistic standards. To enter you’re required to present a set of five images that must work as a series, and these are then assessed as a serious body of work: there are no single image categories.
Membership of the BIPP entitles you to discounts for equipment insurance plus the right to enter regional as well as national awards, along with a glossy quarterly magazine. Further benefits include a twenty-four hour legal helpline and access to some of the most established professional photographers in the business.
Membership costs £25 per year for students whilst still studying and £225 per year for full time working professionals.
Above: Janice Dongworth’s project on care homes was considered to be the best Licentiateship Panel of 2019.
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