AIPP moves toward mentoring

The Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) will provide a new revenue stream opportunity to members next year through the Mentoring Marketplace, an online platform for photographers to offer mentor services.

The AIPP offered a Mentoring Program to members this year. The new Mentoring Marketplace platform is larger – and more ambitious.

It’s a major new initiative for the AIPP, which plans to launch the professional development platform at the Lenscape conference in May, 2018.

The Marketplace is designed to complement the existing AIPP Mentoring Program. The existing program, three 10-hour small group sessions available to members for $1000, will continue to provide a more ‘traditional’ mentoring solution, provided there’s demand for it.

Mentoring is a valuable supplementary source of income for some professional photographers. Many have found running tours, workshops, and speaker sessions more profitable than image-making.

The independent DIY photo education sector is fragmented – each individual photographer markets and publicises services through their own channels.

The AIPP aims to bring its ‘photo education’ members together, and have them offer mentoring services through the new platform. By building a solid selection of Mentoring Marketplace listings, the AIPP hopes to create a one-stop-shop for booking education sessions.

‘It’s a tool for facilitating the communication between those people providing mentoring services, and those require mentoring services,’ Peter Myers, AIPP executive officer, explained to ProCounter. ‘We’re launching this to improve the standard of professional development for photographers, both members and non-members. Visitors will be presented with an interface which will enable them to select topics or criteria and filter on delivery-style or cost, and other variables associated with delivering mentoring services.’

Only experienced AIPP members will be allowed to become mentors – those with at least five years experience in the business.

Mentoring differs to speaker information sessions and workshops, Myers explains. Each mentor session will be ‘tailored to the needs of the person receiving the mentoring’. They will apply their expertise and experience to an individual’s circumstances, whereas speaker presentations have set information prepared and delivered by the presenter.

Mentoring services will be designed for one-on-one sessions or small groups, and mentors will be able to set prices and customise the experience.

Ideally the Marketplace will have a variety of services with a wide range of pricing.

For instance, a photographer could offer basic two-hour portrait session at their studio for a few hundred dollars; a more high-end photographer could set the price at $4000 and host it over a weekend; or an adventure photographer could run an intensive seven-day on-location outback landscape mentorship, including helicopter flights, for $5000.

The Mentoring Marketplace is open to all disciplines of photography, as well as running a photography business – printing, post-process, administration and management, workflow, marketing, and so on.

‘We will have some overall category parameters, but they will be loose guides rather than prescriptive rules. It’s not our place to tell photographers what they can and can’t mentor – that’s entirely their decision.

Myers says the platform will be flexible – it all depends on how the mentor photographer wants to position themselves in the marketplace, and their terms of availability.

‘Mentors have to provide us with a synopsis of the program content – the overall profile. We will use that to publicise and market it,’ Myers said. ‘When every mentoring session is complete, we will ask mentorees – the people being mentored – to provide feedback. This will act as a pseudo quality control.’

A feedback rating system will, to some degree, hold mentors accountable.

A satisfied or unhappy client can flag how they felt about a session, with the information publicly available for future applicants.

It’s the mentor’s role to draft contract terms for clients. If a service requires things like public liability insurance, it’s the photographer’s responsibility.

The platform is still being conceptualised, but is under development.

The AIPP plans to charge an annual listing fee to mentors, and a commission fee for each session – no more than 10 percent.

Logistics of how it will charge mentors is a work in progress, Myers says this money will cover the development and ongoing administration and management costs.

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