[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s this year ends and we look forward to a brighter 2012, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank our IPA members and Staff , the 15,000+ members on our social networking sites and the many thousands of visitors that come to our websites. All of you have made 2011 an exciting, if not challenging year.
This year has been a trying one, one that has tested many of us in many ways. We have dealt with a global economy in ruin, politicians that simply cannot lead and world stock markets in chaos. The elderly and disenfranchised worry about their future and the continuation of social programs. Around the world we already see many social and retirement programs are being changed and even eliminated.
Many families have lost or are losing their homes, because of corporate greed. So many have also lost their jobs and are now hard pressed to make the ends meet. More then ever before, some have simply given up hope. Yet with all of the gloom and worry, some are keeping their spirits high and believe that, this too will pass.
At IPA we have also seen the struggles of our members and their families. Our new membership and our renewal rates are down. In speaking to our members we have discovered it isn’t because they have given up at IPA, but simply because they simply don’t have the ability to contribute the small yearly dues they pay to help support IPA’s operations.
Our mission has always been one that helps our members to “Learn By Doing” and that has not changed. We have continued to move forward on new projects and improvements, including our member support programs. Last year we completed our member support blog. We ran our huge photo contest and reached out to the photo industry for over $8,000 in prizes. This year we have created our new online publication IMPress, an online magazine that will give our talented staff a new way to showcase their best works and receive the exposure and credibility they deserve.
We continue to seek out new benefits for our members and have even redesigned our Press identification kit adding a new wallet sized press card and an updated look. Many IPA members especially our chosen IMPress staff now have the one-on-one personal support, we feel they deserve. Helping them with access to events, showing many how to do effective product reviews and helping others by editing their works both photographic and written, has now become an important part of my job.
I have worked with each one of our IMPress staff members over these past few months and have already seen the willingness to work hard and do the job. Although some may think I have been hard on them. I have demanded they learn to edit their own articles and images and in some cases, have rejected some of their works. I believe that is the only way for them to learn, you don’t learn if you don’t do it yourself. I was always told that you can only cook and feed a handful of people yourself, but if you teach all of them how to cook themselves then you can reach millions. So my job is to teach, not do the work for our members and I take this job seriously. Our members are the future of IPA and I will continue to help each and every one that wants the support how to succeed in becoming the best they can be.
Now more then ever before, IPA must continue to reach out to our photographers and journalists who are being hard hit. In good times we as a group have struggled with declining assignments, clients and income. We have dealt with meager budgets and have taken on jobs that were less then desirable and yet, we continue to do what we love to do, take our photos, our videos and we write, write, write.
As creators and artists, we are all driven, if not by the mighty dollar, then surely by our desire to share our work with others. So to those of you that have stayed the course and now have a new and better platform to display your work, we say Thank You. It is my special cadre of IPA members that are making IMPress and IPA stronger, if not leaner, then ever before.
My commitment to our members and my responsibilities to those of you that have worked hard to make IMPress a success a very special thank you. We know it is hard to keep moving forward when the world seems to be going the other way, but it is the only way. If not that, then what? Do we surrender now or do we continue the good fight.
I would ask each and every one of our readers and members to stay the course. Although we don’t know how, or when, the world will come back on its axis, we do know that it will. From the beginning of time man has proven he can survive and even thrive no matter what the obstacles. I want to thank those of you that have helped me personally. I have reached out to some of you and you have responded with an open heart and an open mind to some of my ideas and projects. Others have started out strong and seem to have lost their way. I will continue to monitor each staff members work, will continue to push you and encourage you to participate, learn techniques that will help you reach your full potential and at times scold you for simply giving up.
So let me raise my glass to all of you and assure you that I will not give up on you. I expect the best of my own family, strive to be the best I can be and expect nothing less then the best of our members that have proven they do have the abilities and desire to be the best they can be.
I wish you all a very Happy and Healthy Holiday. I look forward to the challenges of 2012 with great hope and optimism and will continue to seek out those exceptional individuals like the thousands I have been honored to work with for over the past 20 years at IPA. Thank you all.
President – Founder and Editor-In-Chief
International Press Association