Gaining an Associateship in Advertising Photography with the BIPP

Taking a look at how (and why) I went through the demanding process of earning my Associateship in Advertising Photography, with the British Institute of Professional Photography.


Michael Wharley with BIPP CEO Chris Harper and judge Kevin Wilson

Me looking smug/delighted with BIPP CEO Chris Harper and judge Kevin Wilson

Last week, I took another small step along the road of improving as a photographer, by qualifying as an Associate in Advertising Photography with the British Institute of Professional Photography, otherwise known as BIPP.

I’ve been a member since I turned professional in May 2010, and BIPP does an ace job of broadly recognising, supporting and protecting the work and interests of UK photographers, running awards and lobbying for the sector, but also provides these qualifications.

Recognised as sort of kitemark of quality for clients, going for qualification means following strict criteria and providing a substantial portfolio of commissioned work, together with supporting information about yourself as a professional.   I reached Licentiate status back in February 2011, and have definitely benefited from wearing the LBIPP badge.

Developing as a Pro

Beyond being pro-badges, the tiered qualification structure also means that – in what’s a fairly solitary, self-employed profession – you can also engage in structured professional development.

So, as my skills and work have developed over the last few years, and my business has evolved, I wanted to push myself to the Associate Qualification in the field of Advertising, both to assess where my portfolio was lacking, to get guidance on where to improve, and – hopefully - to have those improvements recognised. 

Prepping the evidence

Prints & supporting evidence ready to go on assessment day

Prints & supporting evidence ready to go on assessment day

I had to prepare a hardcopy portfolio, but also a book of supporting information, displaying how and where my advertising photography work is used, and how it fulfils clients’ briefs.

Check out the magnum opus in e-format  below:

Assessment day…

The formal assessment at BIPP headquarters near Aylesbury, involved a nerve-jangling wait while assessors Kevin Wilson  and Bryn Griffiths, together with Chris Harper, considered and discussed the work, before calling me in to learn my fate.

Thankfully, they put me out of my misery straight away – it was the pass.

The takeaways

I left with a new ABIPP certificate and lovely, weighty, perspex ABIPP block for my client area, plus a metaphorical badge to reassure clients that my work meets high professional standards.

But, just as importantly, despite being time, money and effort-intensive, the process was hugely important, taking me out of the day to day grind of business, and helping me focus on what’s good about my work, and how I’ve developed since the LBIPP, but also what I want to focus on in the future and how to improve.

Fingers crossed, the jump to FBIPP won’t be too long coming…

MW 24/06/2014