Message from the incoming president of ASMP New England John Benford

Photo by Shawn Henry

Dear ASMP New England members and friends,

I’m writing to introduce myself as the new chapter president. I’m a portrait/lifestyle and architectural photographer based in Portsmouth, NH. Photography is my second career (or third, depending on how you count). I’ve been an ASMP member since 2010, when I joined as a photography student, and a chapter board member for the last three years.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the outgoing president, Kelly Davidson, and rest of our board colleagues. Kelly took over under the most challenging circumstances – in the middle of a pandemic and following the big footsteps of her predecessor, Mike Ritter – and led us through this strange new world with grace and humor. Thanks to them and those who came before us, we have a strong chapter: we are the third largest ASMP chapter – after only New York and LA – are financially sound, and have good participation and solid leadership.

The last few years, since the pandemic started, have been hard for nearly everyone, both personally and professionally. Despite the push to be “back to normal,” some of our lives have been fundamentally changed and perhaps our society has been as well. Many of us still face financial, health, emotional, and other impacts of the pandemic. Given that, I think this will be a year where we simplify some of our programming and do some regrouping, so that we can move forward stronger next year.

In times like this, the value of ASMP becomes even clearer to me. ASMP was a national leader in addressing the pandemic’s impact on our industry, keeping us informed in a rapidly changing situation and creating fantastic resources to help us proceed safely.

I’m glad to have ASMP advocating for us as photographers, playing a key role in changing policies at social media giants, passing federal legislation and winning Supreme Court cases on behalf of the industry. That collective voice isn’t possible without a strong membership base.

But I’m most grateful to have the ASMP community. Working for myself has mostly meant working by myself, and I’m grateful to have colleagues I can call to figure out a challenging estimate, learn about new gear, find a last-minute assistant, or simply to commiserate. Can we lean on each other more this year?

Beyond COVID, our industry is ever-changing and ASMP has always evolved to meet new challenges. Trade association membership has been declining across the board and, in response, ASMP joined forces with NANPA. While in many ways we will continue to function as two separate organizations, one of this year’s adventures will be integrating NANPA members.

Over a longer period, the rise of digital and resultant proliferation of photographers has pushed ASMP from being an “old-boys network” of elite photographers to a broader community, teaching visual creators of all stripes the business of photography so it remains viable as a career and an industry. I’ve seen a significant culture shift in the time I’ve been here, but our membership and leadership are still overwhelmingly white and male. I’m hoping ASMP will continue the shift, and make ASMP a place where all visual creators are welcome, included, and have a say.

I’m always happy to hear from colleagues, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have ideas for a program, a vision for our chapter, or just want to chat with another photographer. You can reach me at