The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic is profoundly affecting our membership and now more than ever ASMP needs to be there to support all those in our community who identify themselves as professional photographers.
Given the economic dislocation that is happening everywhere and the losses of income that are being experienced due to project and assignment postponements and cancellations, it might be tempting for an individual member to see a membership as an expendable luxury and I have heard that sentiment expressed. However, I think now is exactly the wrong time to give up a membership with ASMP.
I say this because I know I, our national board, and staff are doing everything in our power to provide the necessary information and support so members can navigate through this pandemic’s turbulence.
Here is a good example to buttress what I am saying. Two weeks ago, Tom Maddrey, our legal counsel, did the first in a series of weekly webinars designed to provide information about the legal and business implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the same week, we also did our first town hall to discuss the help and support needed by members in the moment.
At the same time, I was working behind the scenes, contacting key Representatives and Senators, as part of our advocacy effort to ensure that any massive relief package would include provisions to address the needs of our members; people who work as the smallest of small business owners, often as sole proprietors or LLCs or even as “gig workers” as freelancers.
Literally on the heels of the first webinar, I received an email from a member who had been rebuffed in his attempt to renegotiate credit card payment terms from a major credit card company. I immediately wrote him back asking for more particulars so I could see what I could do to help our member resolve this situation. I found the email of the CEO of the company and wrote him a letter, sent as an email attachment, describing the situation. In it, I noted that as a longtime loyal credit card holder of 43 years, I would hope he would instruct his employees to take a different stance when dealing with requests like those of our member. Overnight, I got a reply from the CEO, to his credit, acknowledging my email and thanking me for calling the situation to his attention. Then, a few hours later, a member of his senior staff called me personally to reiterate the message and gave me information that would be helpful to our member. She assured me that they would be reacting differently, and again thanked me for calling the situation to their attention.
Here’s what our member wrote back to me in part:
“Thank you, thank you, thank you for your assistance and voice.
I called ********** on Friday the 20th and they seemed to have had my case notated – so it’s possible the original rep. made some notation. They indicated in vague terms not to worry at the moment. I didn’t get a sense of the time frame. No fees, no interest, no money due.
Stay well and safe and thank you for your kindnesses….”
I appreciated the chance to be of service. That is my reason for being Executive Director. It is in this spirit that I am committing my best efforts to meet the needs of the moment. I hope you can communicate to other members that this is why they need to stick with us, as we all work to navigate our way through this crisis.