Member Benefits: Affiliation with the AOP reaps rewards for our students

When our commercial photography degree was launched 5 years ago we immediately sought affiliation with the AOP – The Association of Photographers.

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The AOP is the UK Membership Organisation that supports the industry, promoting and protecting the rights of photographers. They also provide accredited membership to educational institutions – those who seek  involvement with the commercial photographic industry, who include appropriate professional practice in their curriculum and can provide evidence that their content responds to the current demands in fashion, advertising, and editorial photography.

Membership has numerous benefits, one of the most notable being that our students gain free membership of the Association while they are studying with us. The AOP also provides access to their extensive network of photographic professionals. Over the years many award-winning photographers such as Olivia Beasley, Wendy Carrig, and Jon Enoch, to name just a few, have become closely involved with our programme and have been guests at our annual photographic symposium.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck earlier this year and the country was placed into lockdown, the industry faced some unprecedented challenges, and the AOP was quick to step up to provide support to its members, including our students.

Within their professional practice modules, our 2nd and 3rd year students are required to undertake reviews of their portfolios with industry professionals. Prevented from meeting in person our students had to seek online meetings so we were absolutely delighted when a number of top AOP photographers kindly volunteered their time for free to support our students.

Huge thanks go to the following people, all of whom met with a number of our students online and provided incredibly personal and thorough reviews of our students work:

Dean Belcher

Jack Eames

Lorentz Gullachsen

Ray Massey 

Gabrielle Motola

Stephen Potts

Karl Taylor

Naomi Wood

Despite the challenges of meeting and discussing work online via Zoom or Skype, for many of our students these portfolio reviews with such notable industry practitioners were the highlight of their Professional Practice module. Importantly they also provided a much needed motivational boost during a particularly difficult period of their studies. One student reported spending over an hour looking through work and chatting online.

Given the financial challenges imposed by the lockdown, we were incredibly grateful for the generosity of these photographers who gave their time and energy for free, and our thanks go to the AOP for their continued support of our programme and our students success.

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