by Gwyn Headley
If we were astonished when we heard BAPLA’s plans to go into business on Tuesday, we were grateful and even more astonished by the overwhelming flood of support from so many people to our last blog posting.
Simon Cliffe, the BAPLA Director, used the fotoLibra blog to post his refutation of our complaints, happily writing “The great thing about blogs is that you get an opportunity to respond, which is what I’m doing now.”
He subsequently posted an intemperate attack on fotoLibra on the BAPLA site, accusing us of posting
“a blog that was full of misconceptions that led to many inaccurate statements. Due to the potentially destructive and libellous accusations, BAPLA is forced to respond to reassure members and the industry that fotoLibra is completely mistaken in its perception of BAPLA’s future plans.”
Destructive? Libellous? The great thing about a closed website like BAPLA is that no one gets an opportunity to respond. So we can’t comment on what Simon wrote in the way that Simon could on our blog. We have to reply here.
We are not remotely worried by the sale of mugs and mousemats. That’s an irrelevant diversion. What concerns us is, as we wrote in Wednesday’s blog, is that
“The BAPLA Academy will be directly competing for the subscriptions of the same photographers who supply fotoLibra with its top images. The same graduates, keen amateurs, semi-pros, wedding and studio photographers we work hard to attract, encourage and foster. It’s not about print and mousemat sales versus rights sales, it’s about diverting a body of good, keen and potentially great photographers to ally with BAPLA rather than fotoLibra. That’s not BAPLA’s remit.”
Yet Simon missed that. He writes
“This is the only part of the BAPLA Academy which they seem to have registered; the sale of prints to the public.”
That doesn’t concern us in the least, Simon. We’ve already said that.
What truly concerns us is this: The public purse is only so deep. Who is going to want pay a subscription to fotoLibra as well as to BAPLA? You don’t buy Nike and Reebok, you buy one or the other.
We agreed with Simon at the AGM that we would meet up to discuss this when he returned from his holiday. We’re still expecting to. As we wrote on Wednesday:
“But if they’re determined to do it, then they should talk to us — once we’ve overcome our horror and dismay. We are better placed than any other organisation to help them.”
So Simon posted (on our blog):
“I have agreed a deal with our commercial partners who under my instruction, are getting the project up and running (including full market research), promoting the project and managing the project going forward.”
So it’s a fait accompli. Our participation, advice, help, whatever will clearly not be required. We don’t know who these commercial partners are, or what experience they have in setting up, maintaining and growing a subscription-based roster of photographers.
What is a Trade Association for, if not to listen to and act on behalf of its members? We’re astounded by a move that threatens our livelihood, and our own trade association — to whom we pay subscriptions which presumably go to fund their ‘commercial partners’ — responds to our justifiable concerns by describing them as “destructive and libellous”.
Is that supportive?