Are Professional Organizations Worth The Money?

At some point in your photography career you’re going to consider going full time. Or you may be working in the business already, either full or part-time, and might be wondering if it’s worth joining a professional organization.

There are several professional organizations aimed at photographers, but the biggest and most popular, at least in the U.S., is the PPA, Professional Photographers of America.

The annual 2011 dues for professional photographers is $323 a year, which you can pay off at $27.92 per month if you wish. There’s also an Aspiring Photographer’s option that is $194 a year, but does not include a listing in their referral database and you’re limited to two years at that level before stepping up to a full membership.

So what exactly does that money buy you? Quite a lot actually. Because the PPA can offer vendors real buying power, they can offer discounts on services like data recovery, shipping, music licensing, office supplies including discounts on Adobe, Apple and several other hardware and software vendors, even discount financing for new equipment purchases.

You’ll also get access to their online learning resources (for six months) and Professional Photographer magazine.

Probably the best learning resource is having access to the local chapters of PPA, where you can get together for events with other local photographers. Those might include things like lunches, photo walks, charity events and TFP shoots with local models.

By far the biggest benefit that comes with your membership is the PhotoCare equipment insurance, that covers up to $15,000 of your gear against loss or theft.

You also get access to PPA’s malpractice Indemnification Trust when things go wrong on an assignment for which you might be liable.

In addition you get access to discounted liability coverage for your equipment and studio.

The insurance and local PPA meet-ups are worth the price all by themselves. Having coverage can really save you in case of an accident.

The best part is professional association dues are generally tax deductible.  Provided the organization is not primarily devoted to entertainment, like a country club, the dues are generally a write off.