ATHENS, GA (May 21, 2016) National Press Photographers Association local leaders are organizing meet-ups for the NPPA members in cities across the country.
One of the goals of NPPA’s national realignment last Fall was for NPPA to have more of a “grassroots” structure, and these local meet-ups are starting to help establish the local NPPA connections that members tell the leadership they’ve been wanting.
Kyle Grantham, the NPPA Regional Chair Representative, said they’ve been getting a lot feedback from members who want to do things locally, to mingle and network, and these planned meet-ups are a good way for members to get together with other visual journalists.
“Really, it's just about getting together and blowing off some steam and comparing notes and having a good time,” Grantham said.
Andrew Stanfill, the chair for the Southeast Region, has had three meet-ups across his region, and said that it’s about having a place for members to come together and be social with people in their community.
“Everyone seems kind of just excited to be doing this just because we weren't like this before,” he said. “Everyone's doing their own thing all the time, and we’re not really gathering other than maybe when covering an event. So it's just the stronger we are as a group, the better everyone is. So getting people together like this can only benefit the community.”
The meet-ups are organized by a local leader in each area. For example, Stanfill hosted one in Gainesville, and Zak Bennett hosted one in Miami, and David Welker hosted one in Atlanta.
Stanfill and Grantham both said the local leaders are important because regional chairs may live too far away from some of the places in their regions, so they can’t arrange these smaller meet-ups.
“So people stepping up and taking on the local leader role is key, and it's great having them do it,” Stanfill said.
Welker, the local leader in Atlanta, said he decided to take on the role because he feels like the photojournalism community has been fractured over time.
“I wanted to help bring each of the varying photographic communities together to show that we all really care about one thing, telling the stories of those that we come in contact with,” he said.
Welker said the meet-up was straightforward to plan, and people enjoyed coming together.
“‘We need more of these types of events’ was a common statement for those at the gathering,” he said. “It was nice to see about 15-20 people come together and just discuss life and photojournalism.”
Grantham said in areas far away from the regional chair or without a local leader “we want to make sure that those members have stuff to do. So, if you want to see it in your area, step up and say, ‘Hey I'm willing to go to a bar and tell people to meet-up, and corral them and make sure we have a good time, that's all we're looking for.”
The shift to have more local, grassroots involvement has been difficult to get started, but members are enjoying the result.
“It's coming from scratch because the organization's been a national-based group and going local is big shift,” Stanfill said. “So it's definitely not an overnight move, but I'm happy to see so many people stepping up and willing to help out.”
Welker said the change is important because everyone deserves to have their voices heard and appreciated, and that it’s good to know what others in the industry are dealing with professionally and personally.”
“I am personally excited to see how NPPA is transforming and addressing the needs of the members,” Welker said “to show that it is still very much a vital playmaker in the photojournalism community.”