Mission + History

Creativity is your passion and your livelihood — and ASMP and its membership will stand beside you to help you live your best creative life.

Photo courtesy ASMP member Andy Batt

Photo courtesy ASMP member Jon Muzzarelli

Our Mission

At ASMP we believe:

  • Creators have the right to own their work, and we will fight for that right.
  • We are stronger together.
  • Images are a vital form of communication and visual literacy is invaluable to our entire culture.
  • Successful creatives are successful entrepreneurs.
  • The art and business of photography changes constantly, and we will evolve with it.

ASMP is guided by these values. Our core mission is to advocate, educate, and provide community for image makers — fostering thriving careers, a strong sense of professional ethics, and an unshakable belief in the power of images.

Creativity is your passion and your livelihood — and ASMP and its membership will stand beside you to help you live your best creative life.

Total Members

Years of Service

Association Chapters

Our Story

2021

The ASMP Academy

ASMP launches the ASMP Academy, a unique and comprehensive education and resources platform built to serve the needs of all visual content creators.

2020

ASMP moves to San Francisco

ASMP moves its National Headquarters to San Francisco to be close to the new media innovation happening there; but maintains its physical archives and lobbying operations in Washington, D.C.

James Edmund Datri, a media executive, film producer, and former president & CEO of the American Advertising Federation, is hired as the organization’s first non-photographer CEO

ASMP opens its membership for the first time to non-photographer visual content creators, including YouTubers, TikTokers, and Instagrammers.

2019

ASMP Celebrates its 75th Anniversary

ASMP Celebrates its 75th Year with a series of events celebrating the history of the organization and the history of photography.

2015

ASMP Moves to the Nation’s Capital

ASMP sells its Philadelphia Headquarters building and moves to Washington, D.C., in order to focus greater attention on its lobbying efforts, and establishes a new physical home there for its extensive archives collections on the history of photography.

Tom Kennedy, the former Director of Photography at National Geographic, is hired to lead ASMP.

1999

ASMP Moves to Philadelphia

ASMP purchases a building in the heart of Philadelphia as its new National Headquarters.

1994

Strictly Business

ASMP launches the first Strictly Business seminar series.

ASMP’s 50th Anniversary celebration in New Orleans is a great success; President Bill Clinton sends ASMP a letter of congratulations.

1994

Name Change

The Board of Directors votes to change ASMP’s name to American Society of Media Photographers, retaining the ASMP acronym but replacing the word “Magazine” to better reflect the diversity of work done by ASMP’s members.

1993

ASMP Relocates to Princeton

ASMP relocates from New York City to Princeton Junction, New Jersey. 

1991

10,000 Eyes

ASMP completes the 10,000 Eyes project which culminates in the publication of a large format book and production of a highly acclaimed photo exhibit. (The next year, the exhibit, shipped to Russia for a photographic festival disappears. St. Petersburg contacts say the exhibit is in storage. It is never returned.)

At the insistence of president Vince Streano, the ASMP board approves establishment of a Legal Action Fund, a legal war chest.

1988

Uniform Capitalization Rule

Through ASMP’s efforts — and similar efforts by associations representing other creative arts — photographers, writers, composers and artists are exempted from the IRS’s Uniform Capitalization Rule. (The rule treats the costs of creating images as capital assets rather than deductible expenses. It is still in effect for movies, videotapes and sound recordings.)

1978

Copyright Act of 1976

After years of tireless effort on the part of ASMP staff and officers, the Copyright Act of 1976 goes into effect, placing ownership of a photographer’s creative work back in the photographer’s hands.

1976

Officially a Trade Association

ASMP requests union status from the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB denies the request, saying that ASMP, a group of independent contractors, is officially a trade association.

1971

Name Change

The Society changes its name to “ASMP — the Society of Photographers in Communications.” Within three years, the Board and members decide to get rid of the second part of the new name, retaining simply the original ASMP.

1967

Declaration of Conscience

The issue of residual rights to images shot during a magazine assignment is raised and vigorously challenged by the magazine industry. ASMP’s answer: a “Declaration of Conscience” stating that “reproduction rights and ownership belong to the photographer; that each use of a photograph must be compensated for; that limitations on a photographer’s freedom to reuse his own creations must be related to the purpose and protection of the publication and must be limited in time; and that no ASMP member or unaffiliated photographer should agree to terms inconsistent with the resolution.” A two-year battle with Time Inc., is waged, and many ASMP members jeopardize their livelihoods before this basic right is recognized by the publishing industry. The stock photography business, and the benefits photographers realize from it, is a direct result of ASMP’s stand.

1963

Equal Rights Committee

In a letter to President John F. Kennedy, ASMP’s Equal Rights Committee supports and urges passage of the proposed civil rights legislation, stating: “We are a well-informed and influential group of photographers whose pictures inform and thereby help to mold public opinion. We are behind you one hundred per cent in this fight and rest assured that we will do everything in our power to make sure that Civil Rights legislation becomes a reality and that the word Democracy will take on a deeper meaning for all Americans.”

1957

Workmen’s Compensation Benefits

In a decision with far-reaching effects for the industry, the New York State Workmen’s Compensation Board rules that an ASMP member who was injured on an assignment is entitled to workmen’s compensation benefits. ASMP worked hard to help establish this ruling.

1956

Henri Cartier-Bresson Joins ASMP

Asked to join ASMP, French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson responds, “I am much honored of your proposal. I never belonged to any club, nor did my camera, but my trigger finger and I cannot resist your suggestion.”

1951

Code of Minimum Standards

ASMP is licensed by the state of New York to act as a labor union.

ASMP establishes the Code of Minimum Standards, an agreement that, while not legally enforceable, spells out what the Society believes to be fair pay rates for freelance magazine photographers. One by one, magazines sign the agreement, and the publishing industry is forever changed.

1949

The Fight Begins

The Society amends its charter and begins the fight to represent magazine photographers in matters of wages and working conditions.

1946

Edward Weston Becomes a Member

When the Board learns that the School of Modern Photography holds claim to the letters SMP, members vote to rename their group the Magazine Photographers Guild — only to discover that name is spoken for, too. SMP then changes its name to American Society of Magazine Photographers, and the acronym ASMP officially enters the vernacular of New York’s magazine and photography world.

Edward Weston becomes a member; Edward Steichen is made an honorary member.

Fall 1945

Growth

After just one year of the Society’s existence, it is estimated that over three-fourths of all eligible magazine photographers belong to SMP, including David Eisendrath, Margaret Bourke-White, Robert Capa, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Jerry Cooke, Andre Kertesz, Peter Stackpole, Lisa Larsen, Andreas Feininger, Dimitri Kessel, and Arthur (Weegee) Fellig.

February 28, 1945

First Official President

John Adam Knight believes that a full-time working magazine photographer should serve as president, and steps aside. Philippe Halsman is elected SMP’s first official president, serving with his fellow officers Eliot ElisofonHarold Rhodenbaugh, Herbert Giles, Michael Elliot, Nelson Morris, and Robert Disraeli, as well as board members Fritz Henle, Fritz Goro, and George Karger. Operating temporarily from Halsman’s studio on West 67th Street, the founder’s group establishes committees for publications, membership, exhibitions, and a monthly bulletin. SMP holds regular meetings at the Hotel Belmont-Plaza as well as the Waldorf-Astoria and attracts more and more interested photographers as word spreads about this small but increasingly visible group.

ASMP’s Bulletin, originally edited and written by Herbert Giles, Allan Gould,Sid Latham, and Jack Manning, publishes Volume 1, Number 1.

December 1944

Officially Chartered

SMP is chartered by the state of New York. A temporary board of governors, including Herbert GehrNelson MorrisHerbert Giles, Bradley Smith, Roland Harvey, and Allan Gould, write the Society’s constitution. Members elect John Adam Knight as temporary president and Philippe Halsman as temporary secretary.

November 1944

The Society of Magazine Photographers

Photographers pay a $25 initiation fee, plus $2-per-month dues, to become members of The Society of Magazine Photographers — SMP.

October 12, 1944

Organization

Some two dozen photographers gather in Ewing Krainin’s New York studio and agree that a formal organization is both wanted and needed. Wrote founding member Bradley Smith: “It was the year of 1944, a year of the beachheads of Normandy, the beginning of the end of World War II. It was also the year of the first meeting to organize photojournalists, a new breed of concerned visual communicators.” Philippe Halsman, a portrait and editorial photographer who had moved to New York from Paris in 1940, attends that first meeting.

Fall 1942

Our Story Begins

Click magazine photographers Bradley Smith and Ike Vern chat with New York Post columnist/critic John Adam Knight about the need for magazine photographers to “have some sort of club or something.”

“ASMP is where I learned the language and understanding needed to know what I was talking about and doing when it came to big contracts.”

Justing Kase Condor, ASMP Member