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Battle cry from Scottish Photographers

19 May 2006 - EPUK

Sunday, 9pm: Channel Four airs ‘Braveheart’, a story of how plucky Scots (led by a short Australian) rose up to overcome oppression. Two days later, Scots photographers meeting in Glasgow decide to form the Scottish Press Photographers Association. Just coincidence ?

A meeting of Glasgow press photographers on Tuesday evening has led to calls for the creation of a “Scottish Press Photographers Association” (SPPA), with Glasgow Evening Times staff photographer Lenny Warren appointed as temporary chairman.

The meeting, called by contributors to the recently established Scottish Snappers web forum, heard calls that Scotland is in need of a body to look after and promote the profession, in what some have taken to be a lack of faith in the NUJ’s Scottish office.

In an email to ScottishSnappers members, Lenny Warren said:” If we are seen to represent the majority of professional press photographers working in Scotland, we will be treated seriously”

While the fledgling organisation has only recently appointed an interim steering group, it plans to hold competitions and lay on talks as well as opening dialogues with public relations companies, the police, and the Scottish Premier League.

Scotland is surprisingly well served for newspapers with eighteen Scottish or Scottish-branded national titles serving a population of only around six million.

And while it’s rare to find a picture desk which isn’t tightening its belt, Scottish photographers are always well represented at the national awards, with around half of all trophies consistently finding their way north of the border.

However, many photographers have spoken privately of falling editorial turnover due to budgetary cuts. One large Scottish picture desk has been told that they are not to hire freelances at all unless absolutely necessary, and three other have daily freelance budgets of around £200, compared to five or six times that just a few years ago.

While the impetus clearly exists for a Scottish body, it is yet unclear as to the form it might take. Its closest relative recently would be the Scottish Newspapers Assocation of Photographers (SNAP), formed during the Scotsman copyright dispute as a free email network of 200 editorial photographers. The British Press Photographers Association has enjoyed remarkable success since it was reformed in 2003, and it looks as if the Scottish Press Photographers Association might look to follow the same subscription business model, which would put it in direct competition for funds with the London-based organisation.

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