By Christy Straight
Reliable. Trustworthy. Familiar. Honest. For more than six decades, the National Press Photographers Association has fought to promote and protect integrity and excellence in visual journalism. We've been the go-to source for education and advocacy, information and skill-building. None of this has changed. But our industry is changing rapidly, and we are more committed than ever to reflect the comprehensive, modern transformation of our craft and our more than 6,500 members.
Founded in 1946, NPPA quickly became the leading voice for the working press and television photographer. In the first issue of National Press Photographer, published in April of that same year, an editorial on the front page proclaimed, “With this issue is born a voice, one that has been mute much too long.” Much like our commitment to continue as the leading voice of visual journalists, our look has remained the same. That is, until now. We are thrilled to reveal our new branding architecture and visual identity, which will be applied to all our programs, advocacy, services, publications, and new Web site this year. Our new look is all-encompassing and contemporary, but more than that, it is reflective of the evolution of NPPA into its modern form.
This project essentially began back in 2008 during an evaluation of our brand and Web presence. As audio, video, and multimedia emerged as essential tools of the visual storyteller, we began crafting new ways to equip, support, and celebrate our members' work in new media. But as an organization, we needed to do a better job of communicating, both visually and in message, these additions to the NPPA's offerings. This past January, NPPA president Sean D. Elliot echoed this sentiment in his address to the Board: “We may still have some work to do convincing visual journalists that we have moved beyond print, but the mission of the NPPA is not tied to the printed page.”
The official start of work on the rebranding project began in the summer of 2011 when NPPA collaborated with Journey Group, of Charlottesville, VA, to develop our new brand and redesign of our Web site, NPPA.org. This was an important step, because while we have made our move into the modern era of visual journalism, our look did not match the evolution of our initiatives.
As the design concepts went through the refinement process, a new mark began to emerge. The logo of today reflects the concepts of motion and community, and is a loose representation of a camera lens, which relates to our craft and gives a nod to our history. The addition of our new tagline, “The Voice of Visual Journalists,” not only describes exactly what we do, but it also reminds us of that editorial headline in the first issue of National Press Photographer. NPPA Executive Director Mindy Hutchison said, “Developing the logo was challenging, and I'm grateful to all who gave valuable feedback throughout the process. When we eventually landed on this iteration, the reactions I heard were so positive that I knew we had finally hit the mark!”
This was the first step in communicating the evolution of the NPPA to the outside world. The next was the redesign of our Web site, also handled by Journey Group. NPPA’s Web site originally launched in 1995 at the Visual Edge Workshop, and was hosted by the University of North Carolina. Since then the site has gone through many internal updates and revisions, but this is the first major redesign by an outside company.
We envisioned a Web site that would offer members the opportunity to curate fantastic galleries of their best work, showcasing their art and marketing themselves to peers and potential employers. We wanted to create a virtual community of professionals and students, establishing better ways to connect with one another, and providing networks where journalists can talk about their work and discuss issues relevant to their craft. We desired a better format for students to find and connect with professional mentors, and an enhanced portfolio critique program. The development of regional pages would allow journalists to network with other professionals and participate in local events. In addition to an updated look, efficient navigation, and striking visual elements, we wanted an improved visitor experience, one that would better serve our members and provide innovative ways to inform, update, and promote their work.
We are thrilled that our vision has become a reality, and we're excited to share the new NPPA Web site with all of you! New features and enhancements will continue to improve our site. The innovative virtual corkboard function is nearing completion, and will allow members to share images and works-in-progress with other members, much like the darkroom discussions of years past.
NPPA is very proud of its decades of service to its members and to the profession of visual journalism. Now, added to this pride, is our great excitement to present our new look and message, along with the Web site’s redesign. “We are so fortunate to play a major role in helping visual journalists realize their full potential,” Hutchison concluded “With this new site, we're re-imagining how we can better serve our members. We will continue to equip, educate, and inform, and we are thrilled to serve as the primary resource for professionals and students in our industry.”