London Photographers Branch

If you work as a photojournalist or editorial photographer in London for at least part of the time, I’d urge you to join the newly formed London Photographers’ Branch of the National Union of Journalists. I was at the inaugural meeting last night at the union headquarters although I kept my head pretty low, there were others who volunteered to join the committee, and I left feeling fairly confident that they had a wide range of experience between them and would do a good job.

Although the start of this group has been attended by a similar “reds under the beds” scare as marred lost year’s NUJ election for the editor of ‘The Journalist’, members at the meeting last night showed little appetite to continue this divisive bickering, though it is a shame that it has meant that a couple of the strongest advocates of a photographers’ branch in London have decided not to join the committee.

NUJ Left is an important and influential force in the union, and although I’ve never felt it necessary to join it, I do occasionally read the web site and have belonged to the Facebook group. It’s an open group that anyone in or employed by the union can join and its aims seem to me to be to promote the kind of active trade unionism that I’ve always felt was necessary for the union to be successful.

So it doesn’t worry me that some of the people on the committee (though not all) are in NUJ Left. I don’t think they have made any secret of it and we talk enough about politics when we meet on the job or in the pub for me to be aware of their views and for me to trust them to work through the branch for photographers and photographers rights.

To run an effective union branch you need activists willing to give up their time to work for the union. If there is some kind of association for activists in the union they are quite likely to belong to it.  So what’s the problem? And if anyone does think it is a problem, then surely the best response is to take a part in the running of the branch yourself.

You can find more details about joining the NUJ on their web site. If you work in the UK and make more than 50% of your income from photography/journalism it is in your interest to join the union and an appropriate branch.  If you are a photographer working in London and already an NUJ member, I understand that members can belong to both a chapel and a branch, but not to two branches and it tells you here how to transfer to the new branch (of course you will have missed the deadline for the meeting on the 26th – and one day the NUJ will update its web site.) The London Photographers Branch will shortly launch its own web site and branch meetings will be held monthly on the last Tuesday of each month at 6.00pm at Headland House. The next meeting is on Tuesday 23 Feb 2010, which I see is also Shrove Tuesday, so if I can get time off from tossing pancakes I’ll be there.

Photographers are only too aware of the growing problems we face, particularly over matters such as jobs, contracts, copyright and licences and new technology, relations with the police and more. Being a union member won’t solve all your problems but it does provide some very much needed advice and support.

3 Responses to “London Photographers Branch”

  1. donnachadelong says:

    Don’t be too hard on the union about the website, both members of the Campaigns and Communications department (responsible for the site) left in recent months and the union is currently recruiting their replacements.

  2. Sorry I wasn’t aware of that, I hope they appoint someone who will do a good job. But even before they left I think it was hard to find things and certainly I found it far less use than the London Freelance Branch website, an excellent site with lots of useful information for photographers and other freelances. I hope the new branch site will also have a lot of practical stuff on it too, though it wouldn’t make sense to duplicate what is already on the LFB site – I’m sure the two branches will work together.

    But photographers need to join the union and become active in it, and I hope that the new branch will grow rapidly, both by transfers and new members. The plans for its launch unfortunately came off the rails a little and the committee need to work hard to get it running properly. My post was meant as a small contribution to their work.

  3. London Photographers’ Branch site is now on-line

    and gives the names of the branch committee and information about how to join. You can also follow the branch on Twitter

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