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Why Should You Belong To An Association?

Posted on October 21, 2015 by Elsa under Partners, Theimagefile

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One of the best parts of being in any industry is socialising and partnering with other fantastic people in your industry. At theimagefile we’re partnered with multiple photographic associations who we truly believe aim to support, benefit and grow photographers. We collated information from some of our partner associations so that we can give you a comprehensive outlook on why you should belong to an association as well as try to help you decide which society is best for you and your business.

Our interviews are covering the SWPP, the BIPP, the PPANI, the AOP, The Guild Of Photographers and The Royal Photographic Society.



A lot of our partner associations aim to support all photographers in their work, regardless of location or speciality. The Royal Photographic Society explained that they “exist to promote photography to support photographers. It is a membership organisation and as a registered charity much of what it does is for the wider public. In addition, The RPS is also widely consulted by the media for comment on matters affecting photography”. Similarly, the BIPP said “we are an internationally recognised qualifying organisation with over 100 years of experience in supporting and networking photographers” while the AOP quoted “we are the leading trade association for the best of professional photographers”. In addition the Guild of Photographers commented that they were “a warm, friendly association for all individuals committed to the craft and art of photography”.

On the other hand associations such as the SWPP and PPANI are a little more specialised. The SWPP tend to focus on wedding and portrait photographers throughout the UK and Ireland but said that “the SWPP is just one part of the Societies, an Association with in excess of 7000 members. The Societies provide a range of benefits to assist professional and aspiring photographers to achieve their objectives, through educational activity and providing the opportunity to gain qualifications/distinctions based upon a member’s level of proficiency”. Also the PPANI commented that they were “the only trade association based in Northern Ireland for professional freelance photographers based in the province”.



For the majority of photographic associations, anyone can become a member. This includes associations such as the AOP, the SWPP, the BIPP, the Royal Photographic Society and the Guild of Photographers. Other associations such as the PPANI are more specialised. They said “not everyone can become a member. Membership is only open to full-time photographers who hold appropriate public liability and professional indemnity insurance, have premises that’s sole use is photography (this could be a purpose built studio or a dedicated room in your house) and have a clear pricing/terms and conditions for customers”.



Below we have included a list of price ranges from each association:

The PPANI membership starts at £20 for Auxiliary membership, £180 for Probationary membership and £280 for Full membership.

The SWPP membership subscription rates range from £60-£120 per annum and include a flexible monthly payment option.

The BIPP membership starts from £75 + VAT for students to £195 + VAT for other membership bands.

The Royal Photographic Society membership starts at a concessionary student rate of £54 and runs through to a family membership at £168. The benefits of the association are the same throughout memberships.

The AOP membership ranges from free for students of affiliated colleges to photographer membership at £315 per year including VAT.

The Guild Of Photographers membership starts from £10 a month or you can pay £90 annually. There is also a Professional membership option of £120 which includes additional business benefits.



Below we have included the membership levels of each association:

The Guild of Photographers offer four memberships; a Registered member (which anyone can be) as well as Qualified Status, Craftsman membership and Master Craftsman membership (which can be achieved through an assessment process).

The PPANI offers five memberships including Auxiliary, Trade, Probationary, Full and Honorary.

The Royal Photographic Society does not offer different “levels” of membership but does offer different subscription rates as mentioned earlier. However, as a member you can apply for distinctions by submitting a panel of your work and therefore be awarded either a Licentiate, Associateship and Fellowship distinction.

The SWPP offers three levels of membership including Digital Membership which provides a basic membership package and includes access to the online archives of Professional Imagemaker magazine. The Enthusiast Membership providing extended benefits which include a hard copy of Professional Imagemaker magazine and finally the Professional Membership which includes all membership benefits including unlimited mentoring.

The BIPP offers four types of membership including a Student membership, Friends membership, Provisional membership and Qualified membership.

The AOP offers a membership for everyone including a Photographer, Assisting Photographer, Junior Assistant, Student, Open Member, Affiliate College, Affiliate Company and Agent Member levels.



The main benefits of being a member of the PPANI are:

  • Your own page on the PPANI website
  • Access to a busy “closed” Facebook members-only group to discuss and issues and achievements
  • Regular monthly seminars and meetings covering all aspects of photography
  • 3 full day seminars are included in your membership
  • Fantastic support and networking opportunities
  • Cover if you are unable to attend a wedding
  • Good craic and lots of social opportunities.


The main benefits of being a member of the Royal Photographic Society are:

  • A monthly award journal that goes out to all members
  • Regional and Chapter meetings
  • Society Distinctions
  • A members area on our website with benefits
  • Special interest groups
  • Members can receive expert advice and feedback on images when applying for a Society Distinctions.
  • Members can use our Coat of Arms on their websites
  • Distinction holders can use a specified logo on their letterheads and business cards
  • Specialist insurance
  • Discounts on Society activities
  • Product discounts or savings
  • Monthly E-newsletter


The main benefits of being a member of the SWPP are:

  • An online magazine
  • Weekly email newsletters
  • Access to the forum
  • 20×16″ print comp discount
  • Monthly image competitions
  • Weekly competitions
  • The SWPP Convention
  • Seminars
  • Handbook
  • Membership card
  • An unlimited mentoring programme
  • Reduced insurance rates (UK only)
  • Online gallery (for a maximum of 30 images)
  • Use of SWPP logo
  • Trade promotions for members
  • The SWPP magazine
  • Membership certificate
  • Membership pack
  • The Photographer Academy (available with the Academy Membership only)
  • 24 hours legal advice line (available with the Pro Membership only)
  • Arbitration service (available with the Pro Membership only)
  • Full business listing (available with the Pro Membership only)
  • Discounts on accepting Credit/Debit card (available with the Pro Membership only)
  • WPPI (available with the Pro Membership only)
  • Unlimited societies (available with the Pro Membership only)


The main benefits of being a member of the BIPP are:

  • Recognition of your qualification by other organisations and employers
  • The opportunity to achieve a BA (Hons) Photography Degree through the OCA with just one year of study
  • A tiered structure offering continual professional development
  • Qualifications advice
  • Events and seminars across the country
  • Portfolio reviews
  • Regional meetings
  • Subsided training by industry leaders
  • Entry to the Professional Photography Awards
  • Entry to the BIPP Towergate Camerasure Fine Art Competition
  • The Photographer Magazine
  • Regular email updates
  • Use of the BIPP logo
  • Your own portfolio page on
  • Business generation leads
  • Free resources – contracts, licensing, releases etc
  • Discounted display advertising
  • Preferential deals from the 3rd party companies
  • International network of contacts
  • Credit card processing packages
  • Free 24/7 legal helpline
  • Exclusive UK access to the Federation of European Photographers
  • The peace of mind that comes with a framework of a code of professional conduct and complains procedure
  • Promotion of qualified members to the users of photography/buyers


The main benefits of being a member of the AOP are:

  • Free business and legal advice
  • Having members and their work marketed by the AOP
  • Great discounts
  • Members can enter our Photography Awards


The main benefits of being a member of the Guild of Photographers are:

  • A free and unlimited cloud based backup service
  • Access to high quality training and mentoring, as well as our highly respected Assessment programe.
  • Over 22,000 discounts covering many photography products and non-photography related items, for example 7% off many high street stores and 8-12% off at Apple.
  • A free bi-monthly online magazine
  • The Professional membership level also includes some amazing business support including access to a 24/7 Legal and Crisis Cover Helpline, a free Debt Recovery Service, a Tax Advice helpline, Tax Investigation Protection and much more



The Guild of Photographers assured us that they provide a legal helpline which is available 24/7, 365 days a year. This is included at no extra cost to those that have the Professional Membership. Also, the SWPP provides professional membership holders with access to their legal helpline (UK only) as do the AOP. However the BIPP do not provide legal advice directly to members but do have other partners that they can direct you to while the PPANI don’t directly provide legal support but it can be sought through their support system. The Royal Photographic Society do not provide legal advice.



The SWPP provide all the UK and Ireland members with access to their preferred brokers who provide substantially discounted rates. Similarly the BIPP have company partners that offer insurance to photographers at discounted rates once they have become a member as do the AOP. Equally, the Guild of Photographers do have some aspects of insurance built into the Professional Membership however they do not offer Public Liability, Public Indemnity or equipment insurance themselves. But, they also have brokered discounted deals for their members including for example 20% off equipment cover. The PPANI do not provide insurance for photographers but they can recommend reputable insurance companies to their members.



The PPANI host a yearly album and print competition – followed up by a gala award dinner and presentation. They also provide a range of seminars throughout the year for their members and provide qualification advancement through mentoring.

The SWPP run numerous competitions including a weekly forum competition, a monthly member’s competition with 26 categories, an annual 20×16″ competition which is judged at the annual Convention. The Societies also organise meetings in the UK and Ireland as well as an annual January Convention in London. Also occasional seminars and workshops are hosted around European destinations. Additionally, The Societies run Digital Imaging Roadshows throughout the UK and Ireland, providing access to leading companies in the photographic industry along with complimentary workshops for delegates to enjoy.

The BIPP host regional awards, student/college awards and national awards every year as well as holding regional and national training days, workshops, talks etc.

The AOP host an annual Photography Award which includes the Photography, Assistant and Open awards. They also offer a brilliant range of talks, training workshops and seminars that are very popular.

The Guild of Photographers offers many workshops and seminars across the UK as well as online and in-person mentoring which their members find very insightful and a great way to help them with their personal learning. Every month they hold the Image of the Month competition where members can submit images and have their entries graded. Award winning images are granted a Bronze, Silver or Gold award with the elusive Platinum having yet been awarded! The Guild have over £1000 worth of prizes to be work as well as prestigious titles. All of this culminates at the end of the year Award’s evening.

The Royal Photographic Society also host competitions, workshops and talks for their members.



The Royal Photographic Society is pleased to offer theimagefile users a 20% discount on their first year Society membership when they join online.

The BIPP send a copy of their quarterly magazine “The Photographer” in the post when it’s printed.

The Guild of Photographers offer our member a notable discount off your first year’s membership. If you use the code SAVE15TIF when taking out the regular annual membership, it will reduce the price from £90 to £75 (saving £15). Alternatively if you use the code SAVE21TIF when taking out the Professional annual membership it will reduce the price from £120 to £99 (saving £21).



The Guild of Photographers said; “Members say that we have a strong community feel and give incredible support. As it says on our flyers, ‘the people behind the camera genuinely matter to us’. We like to think of ourselves as being an open, friendly and warm association. There is a person at the end of the phone if you ever want to discuss an issue or problem, or even if you want to call to let us know something you are proud of! We have a very active social community through Facebook, where members can ask for advice, arrange social gatherings or join in on our “Fun Friday Evenings” where members like to chat about a chosen topic. We also consider our service to be very bespoke, so if there is something that you feel Guild Members can benefit from, a course that you would like to see run near your home town, or a company that you think photographer’s should have a discount with, then we can certainly look to arrange this!”

The AOP said; “We are the only trade association for photographers. We exist to protect photographers and are uniquely positioned to offer business and legal advice as well as marketing the work of our members to help them get ahead in the industry”.

The BIPP said; “We are one of the biggest governing bodies offering a structured qualification programme to photographers in the country and internationally. We pride ourselves on offering a fair and equal system that allows our members to achieve the best of their abilities.”

The SWPP said; “We endeavour to supply the maximum benefits of membership at a range of subscription rates to enable everyone to have the opportunity of benefiting.”

The Royal Photographic Society said; “The RPS is about photography and imaging in their broadest way and this is reflected in the way it approaches all its activities. This differentiates it from camera clubs and other trade organisations and appeals to those looking for something different. This is underpinned by The Society’s history and heritage which gives it a unique position within the photography world.”

The PPANI said; “We are local and a lot of our members know each other both personally and professionally. As we are a network of local photographers we are able to provide local support to our members whether this be personal or professional. We have also been around for 50 years this coming year in 2016. Our members are made up of very experienced local photographers at the very top of their game and newer full-time professionals just starting out. We are friendly and work as a team”.


For more information about the SWPP, The BIPP, The AOP, The PPANI, The Guild Of Photographers and The Royal Photographic Society  just follow the links!


Do you belong to any photographic associations? If so, how do they benefit you?