Student Chapters Are An Easy Start Up

Howard University's student chapter of the National Press Photographers Association presented a Community Service Award to Roy Lewis (center), a long-time Washington-area photographer. at Howard University's School of Communications on Thursday, April 21, 2016 in Washington, D.C. (Photo/Milbert O. Brown, Jr.)

By Adrienne Andrews

Athens, GA (June 17, 2016) – There are 14 NPPA student chapters dotted across the country, and there are room for more. Whether the goal is to cultivate a larger visual journalism community on campus, educate students about opportunities in the photojournalism industry or help students build stronger connections in the field, beginning a new NPPA student chapter has many benefits.

NPPA President Melissa Lyttle joined the University of Florida student chapter in 1996 and recalls her time in the chapter as a formative experience.

“It was great being around like-minded folks who were all pushing each other to be better,” Lyttle said, “and it'd force us to get together over pizza or beers or coffees and talk about photography, share what we knew, invite professionals to speak to our group, share work and stories and review portfolios.”

Starting a new chapter is simple

All you need to kick off a new student chapter is four students and a faculty advisor who are already dues-paying members of NPPA. Then, fill out the application on NPPA’s website.

“Anyone can fill out the application, but usually it's either the chapter president or the student advisor that submits the request,” Lyttle said.

Further, make sure to file the paperwork to become an official organization with your university, complete with a constitution and mission statement.

There are benefits

Building a strong campus photojournalism community is the most important benefit to creating an NPPA student chapter, but there’s a financial incentive as well.

Each student chapter in good standing with at least five members is awarded $100 yearly and an another $20 for each additional member up to a cap of $400 per year. To claim this stipend for the 2016-2017 school year, submit student chapter applications between Aug. 1, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2016.

“Chapters can use that money any way they see fit,” Lyttle said. “I've urged some to start photo book libraries at their colleges, or use it to pay a speaker's fee to bring someone great in, or to pay registration fees for a conference or workshop for their members to attend.”

What’s next?

Once a new NPPA student chapter is off the ground, members and faculty advisers must spread the word about their organization to attract members and stay active in the local photojournalism community.

NPPA’s newest student chapter at Howard University in Washington, D.C. was created in spring of 2016, and faculty adviser Milbert Brown and his 12 founding members already have several projects completed and underway for the chapter, including a Best of Photojournalism competition in April, and a photojournalism conference in the works for later this fall.

Brown also incorporates NPPA membership into his classes by giving students the choice to buy a membership or a textbook.

"We've just tried to teach them in a way to get them prepared if they would like to get involved in a career in visual journalism and tell them, ‘This is what it takes,’” Brown said. “It's not just getting all A's in your courses or doing one project and never letting it see the light of day. One of the best organizations that has a structure for visual journalism is NPPA.”

Lyttle recommends speaking with other established student chapters about their successful practices and informing prospective members about the many benefits of joining NPPA such as the mentorship program, discounts on workshops, the newly relaunched quarterly clip contests and the hard-working legal counsel available to all members.

“For $65 a year, or the cost of about one Starbucks venti latte a month, that's a pretty great return on investment,” Lyttle said.