Everybody knows Michael!

Stock photography luminary Michael Masterson was honored recently with the ASPP’s “Jane Kinne Picture Professional of the Year Award,” joining such company as Cathy Sachs, Jane Kinne and so on. Of course we took the opportunity to spend some time with Michael getting his POV on the industry.

© Jeff Bridges
© Jeff Bridges

You have seen the industry go through so many permutations. Where do you see the opportunities for Picture Professionals now?

That’s a loaded question. I attended the DMLA (formerly PACA) annual conference in October and one of the panels was “The Death of Stock.” I think that’s been a topic at every conference I’ve attended in the past twenty years! And yet, Lazarus-like, the stock industry continues to morph and grow with new companies sprouting up with fresh content and different business models. I think it’s much harder to make a living as a picture professional these days, but there are still opportunities. From my perspective as a recruiter, it’s important for people to realize that they have transferable skills applicable outside the photo industry if there are more options for them there too.

Trade associations are also morphing – with your experience and insight, what does the ASPP of the future look like?

I think most trade organizations are struggling for membership now. It’s important to let folks know the value of belonging to a group of like-minded individuals who share similar experience and connections. The ASPP celebrates its 50th year in 2016, so we are gearing up for a membership drive in conjunction with that. And we need to remain relevant and accessible. I think we need to do a better job on social media and in providing educational content to our members. Most critically, we need people to step up and volunteer to be on chapter boards and the national board. There are terrific opportunities for networking with peers and giving back to the industry. Volunteering for ASPP has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. Dear reader: Think about it!

You have worked in many sectors of the stock industry all over the globe shoulder to shoulder with our leaders – can you share a memorable moment/anecdote?

Gosh, I’ve been to every PACA/DMLA conference since 1987 and most CEPIC events since the late 90s so I have lots of memories spanning many cities, countries and colleagues. One memory that stands out was from the CEPIC conference in Florence in 2007. I attended with Jerry Tavin, a fellow Picture Professional of the Year and an industry icon as you know. He’d arranged for us to stay in a stunning boutique B&B behind gates and a very high wall on a remote street several miles outside the center of Florence. In those pre-Uber days, calling a taxi was the only way to get to or from it. CEPIC conferences are very social and after the final night party I went out with a group of colleagues to savor Florence and sent Jerry back to the B&B in a cab. However, since he was with me, he’d neglected to bring his key and didn’t think about it. Nobody at the B&B heard him pounding on the gate or ringing the buzzer. Luddite as he is, he didn’t have a mobile phone either! When I finally came home at 4:00 AM he was huddled by the gate like the little matchboy, shivering from the cool night. He’s never let me forget it.

What do you see as your legacy?

We accomplished a lot during my four years as ASPP national president. I added member benefits, spearheaded updating the bylaws (unchanged since 1985) and chapter handbook and was part of the teams that revamped The Picture Professional magazine as well as the ASPP website, both enormous projects. We also diversified our membership categories and expanded our “Find A Pro” service at aspp.com. I also implemented the Board of Trustees on which I now serve. I believe I had a very positive impact on the organization. And I was honored that they acknowledged that with the Picture Professional award.

What is next for Michael Masterson, PPotY?

I worked with Deborah and Edward on last October’s Visual Connections in New York which was very successful. I’m helping them out with the Chicago event on May 5th where we also expect will see record turnout for both exhibitors and attendees. I’m also looking forward to helping several companies with their staffing needs, a job I love. Recruiting leverages all of my connections, industry experience and people skills and I love finding the right person for the perfect job. I hope and expect 2016 to be the best year ever!

And we fully know it will be a fantastic year! Michael, our heartfelt congratulations on the PPY recognition and thank you for all you do for the industry!

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