A Brief History Of The AIPP

From its inception, the AIPP has always been about bringing people together.

The present iteration of the organisation however is only the last link in a chain of evolving entities that can be traced back to March of 1944. In that year, with increasing problems emerging for the industry due to World War II, a group of representatives from various state professional photography associations gathered together in Melbourne to discuss the possibility of forming an Australian Association to speak as a united voice on behalf of the industry and to represent the photographic profession throughout Australia. At this inaugural meeting, under the chairmanship of a Mr E.L. Sharpe, the Professional Photographers Association of Australia was formed.

Conferences were held regularly throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and in 1963, the organisation changed its name to The Institute of Australian Photographers after a member’s ballot. At this time, the member associations within the Institute represented New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, and members were persons engaged in the profession of photography or those with associated interests. The ACT association joined in 1966, and Tasmania in 1973.

At the first official Institute meeting in September 1965, a Federal Council was established and Claude E. McCarthy was appointed the first Federal President. The name later shifted to The Institute of Australian Photography to better represent the diversity of membership, and then finally shifted again to its current iteration in 1986.

Prior to 1970, prints were often displayed at conferences and conventions for the interest of the delegates. However, at a Federal Council meeting in 1970 the suggestion was put forward to instigate a “merit awards system” similar to those conducted by other international photography associations. Several years later, after much work and planning, the first “National Print Judging” was held at the Gold Coast in 1977, with 268 prints submitted.  From these modest beginnings, this national print judging has become what is now known as the Australian Professional Photography Awards, the largest photography awards in Australia, with upwards of 1500 submissions each year. The award system is also conducted each year at the state level.

National Conventions, originally known as “Hypos”, began in 1969 and originally ran every two years. They allowed the Institute to combine a Federal Council meeting with access to trade shows. In 1983, they shifted to an annual convention. It became tradition to hold a closing “dinner” function to thank attendees and trade partners, and these dinners grew from small informal functions to the larger and grander traditional dinner that now closes APPA.

The AIPP was forged by the commitment, dedication, time and energy of its members and councils. It has played a pivotal role in representing the industry in Australia, and is the peak photography body in the country thanks in no small part to those who built it from the ground up with the goal of coming together to advance photography as an art form and a profession.

For further information about the history of the AIPP, you can view a pdf, The Birth of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography LTD (AIPP) 2010.


1991 Convention Hobart


Peter Whyte, National President, 1980, presenting an award to Richard Bennett under the watchful eye of Peter Foeden.


Copyright delegation to Canberra in 1992.

Left to right, Nancy Cohen, Peter Eastway, Richard Bennett, Greg Hocking.