AHFAP was founded in April 1985 when it was realised that it would benefit the photographic studios at the national museums in London to form an association. The following year the inaugural meeting was held, attended by photographers from the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Tate Gallery, the Science Museum, among others, and, significantly, a sponsor, a representative from the manufacturer Ilford.
Prior to this the photographic departments had been working in isolation and there was little communication between them. It was recognised that closer ties between the departments themselves and with the industry which supplied them would benefit the profession. The association has met regularly ever since, with annual conferences held both in London and elsewhere.
The association’s existence straddles the major upheaval of the greatest revolution in image-capturing since its invention. It quickly became obvious that AHFAP was well placed to facilitate communication between photographers and manufacturers as the painful transition was made into digital technology.
The association ensured an even distribution of information as equipment appropriate to achieving the standard of quality required was located and tested, even if it was not fully understood what the indicators of digital quality were or how its parameters would change. The move to new technology stimulated dialogue with individuals and organisations abroad including the USA, China and of course mainland Europe. In 2011 AHFAP organised an ambitious inaugural International Conference in Brighton. This conference became the model for a wider-reaching and more targeted international conference now held every two years at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, attracting representatives from 22 countries.
As AHFAP’s position of authority became established, its membership widened. The association, originally the sole domain of museum and gallery photographers, attracts a more diverse group of imaging professionals. It now includes Special Interest Groups from major libraries and archives, including universities, as well as independent professionals and commercial digitisation companies.
The success of high-quality reproduction is dependent on high-quality multi-purpose digital images. Confidence in technique and commonly held quality standards is rightly demanded by picture libraries and can now be delivered efficiently with confidence by in-house teams and independent specialists alike. Quality control over image reproduction has always been fundamentally important to ahfap and progress in this area has helped strengthen the image-maker’s hand.
Image-making in the sector is seen as an attractive professional option whereby individuals can follow both their technical and creative ambitions. Crucially, budget-holders recognise the expertise of their in-house teams. Specialist work, such as architectural and advertising photography, web creation, film-making or project management, which was commissioned externally is now entrusted to in-house staff. With the professional framework promoted by AHFAP, heritage sector image-makers are now recognised as leading the field rather than following it, which was certainly not the perception in 1985.
AHFAP now has over 400 members and communicates with countless delegates and speakers at its annual conference
This is the final draft of the constitution agreed at the committee meeting held in July 2013 and ratified, subject to two accepted amendments, at the AGM.
1. The Association shall be called ‘The Association for Historical and Fine Art Photography’ (AHFAP).
2. It shall exist for the promotion of photography in the fields of history, fine art, archaeology, museum and gallery display, conservation and fields related to the cultural heritage sector. It shall encourage the interchange of ideas and general support among photographers practising in these fields and promote workplace access, thereby increasing opportunities for experience.
3. The membership shall be open to imaging professionals working in the cultural heritage sector.
4. The business of the association shall be conducted by an elected committee comprising four officers: Chair, Membership Secretary, Treasurer, Minutes Secretary, and up to seven committee members, with the facility for co-opting other members as required.
5. The business of the association, including the election of officers and committee members, shall be open for scrutiny and discussion at an Annual General Meeting (AGM).
6. The officers and committee members shall be elected at the AGM.
7. This committee shall be voted to serve for: Officers, twenty-four months; Committee Members, thirty-six months before re-election. Committee members co-opted are to perform a specific function ratified at the AGM. Members failing to attend three successive committee meetings, without reasonable cause, shall be disqualified.
8. The management committee requires a quorum of five members, two of whom will be officers.
9. The Chair shall have the power of vote and shall have the casting vote.
10. The association awards the role of Honorary President to a member who has served the association or the industry with distinction. The president shall be elected by the members for a two-year term at the AGM. A president may only serve for one term.
11. A quorate committee shall have the power to dissolve the association on notice of one month, with any funds held being distributed to a charity or organisation named in the same notice to dissolve.