What Belonging to ASMP Really Means


Robert Capa and Alfred Eisenstaedt are probably not names discussed around the family dinner table.  But their photographs are. 

The Magnificent ElevenCapa’s photos of the second wave of American troops landing on Omaha Beach, are still printed in history books.

And Eisenstaedt’s photograph of a sailor kissing a young woman at the V-J Day celebration in Times Square is an American cultural icon.

It was the 1940’s. Photojournalism, as an art and profession, was new. The photojournalists of the day, CapaEisenstaedt, and countless others, were joining the newly formed American Society of Magazine Photographers. By 1946, the acronym ASMP was well known in the New York magazine and photography world.  In 1951, they established a Code of Minimum Standards, the precursor to ASMP’s current Member Code of Ethics.

Set in its proper place historically, it is clear why an ethical code was important for photojournalists.  They captured stories through the lens. They told our stories of war and celebration in pictures - stories that have remained.

The photography industry was, and still is, continually re-defining itself. Due to technological advancements, it’s easier then ever to take a decent image and market oneself as a professional photographer. The need for a professional organization is even more important today than in the past.

When starting his business, Focal Flame photographer Clint Thayer noticed a common thread between a few Madison area professional photographers. They were consistently producing well-crafted, story-driven images - and they were ASMP members.

The ASMP, whose full name changed 1992 to American Society of Media Photographers, is stronger than ever. ASMP offers educational resources, workshops, and is a consistently vigorous voice on topics such as copyright, licensing, and photography business practices. Upon investigation, Thayer was impressed with the ASMP’s Member Code of Ethics. He shares, “As a growing professional, I was seeking an organization that would allow the ability to build a business on a well-defined, established list of principles that protects the rights of the client as well as the professional.”

Protecting a client’s best interests and confidential information and stipulating fair and reasonable replacement values for lost or damaged photographs are just two of the principles an ASMP photographer commits to offer their client. “The code of ethics serves the whole community, the clients and the photographers," said Thayer.  

"Photographers helping photographers" is a core value at ASMP. The organization undergirds the local independent photographer with a network of support, educational seminars, and staff available for consultation.  “Responsibility to colleagues and the profession” is the first section of the ASMP’s Member Code of Ethics. Thayer, who was accepted as an ASMP associate member earlier this year, continues, "The code defines what it means to pick up a camera and use it to narrate the world in front of us."

Knowing your selected photographer has built their business on a commitment to something greater than themselves elevates the standard. Clint Thayer has pledged himself and Focal Flame Photography to a level of professionalism governing photographers since World War 2 celebratory kisses in Times Square. When Thayer narrates the world, not only is the newest story unfolding in front of him. Seventy years of photojournalists are standing behind him.