The British Press Photographers’ Association was formed in 1984 by a small group of Fleet Street photographers to showcase the work that they were so passionate about. Over the next few years the Association grew staging a series of hugely influential exhibitions and publishing three volumes of “Assignments” – collections of each year’s best work.
From UNSEEN in 2003 right through Five Thousand Days in 2005 to the hugely successful Assignments exhibitions in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021 showing the work of our members to the widest possible audiences has remained a major part of who we are and what we strive to do.
In 2021 we ran a Press Photographer of the Year competition open to all UK news, sports and feature photographers to further showcase the important work that we do – especially during the worldwide COVID-19 Pandemic.
Whilst we are not a trades union we still get involved when our profession and our industry need us to. We support working news, feature and sports photographers in line with the ‘mission statement’ that we adopted in 2003:
To promote and inspire the highest ethical, technical and creative standards from within the profession and raise awareness and appreciation of our industry outside it.
In 2020 and 2021 we worked with The Premier League during the various lockdowns to make sure that as many photographers as possible were able to cover football when the matches were being played behind closed doors or with strictly limited attendances.
In 2006 we became one of the ‘Gatekeepers’ for the United Kingdom Press Card Authority. As part of the UKPCA we have the ability to assess and potentially approve photographers as holders of the UK Press Card. We are also a member body of the British Photographic Council and have worked very closely with other organisations representing photographers and journalists to help to shape our industry and its practices.
In 2011 we made a voluntary submission to the Leveson Inquiry into the Culture, Ethics and Standards of The Press when it became clear that news photographers were being singled out for criticism from many of the celebrity witnesses without any satisfactory replies. We made an appearance at the Inquiry in February 2012 after which Lord Justice Leveson made it clear that he saw The BPPA as part of the solution rather than the problem.
The BPPA continues to make its voice heard on a range of issues that face our profession including work around copyright and orphan works legislation.