Education, hands-on learning opportunities, competitions, new experiences, field trips and friendship amongst peers with similar interests and passions are just some of the benefits of a camera club membership.
Have you ever wished you could find a real person to talk to about photography or to get a review of your work to help you improve your technique? If your answer is yes – a camera club could be the perfect answer for you.
Posting questions or photos on amateur photography websites will sometimes get you help, but more often than not you receive arrogant and testosterone fueled criticism of your work. None of which is helpful and usually come from people with less skills than you have.
This article is shared from BPS member Joe Edelman, a professional commercial photographer based in Allentown, PA It first appeared on his blog I Shoot People! The Photography Blog
I am a member of the Berks Photographic Society (BPS) based in Reading, Pennsylvania. BPS was established in 1938 and is one of only a few photography groups in the country that owns it’s own building with studio, darkroom and a 60-seat auditorium.
YES – even as a full-time professional I find value in a camera club that is made up of mostly amateur photographers. WHY, you ask? For all of the same reasons that I mentioned in the first paragraph. I won’t lie to you… I don’t make it to every event and every meeting. I get to them when I can. I help out with the clubs web site and I do a few programs and workshops a year to help the club raise money. What I love most about the club events is the fact that most of the people there are passionate about photography. They are passionate about learning and what I have learned is that making myself available to these people teaches me a LOT about the photography that I do for a living.
In most careers the longer you do it and the better you get at it, much of it becomes second nature, almost instinctive in process. I find that when people ask me questions about lighting, and depth of field, and composition… questions that to a professional may even seem basic… it makes me think and evaluate my own processes and approach in order to give a good answer. At the same time it often causes me to rethink the WHY behind much of what I do and as a result – makes me better at what I do.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit to the fact that more than once I have even learned a thing or two from a club member who may be years my junior or a generation or two older. If you ever meet a photographer who claims to know-it-all, then you have met a photographer who is lazy and not very talented. Lazy because creativity requires us to challenge our knowledge and skills and not very talented because they stopped developing their skills when they decided they had learned everything.
Camera clubs are not a new concept – they have been around for a very long time. You can find them all over the country in small towns and cities and even worldwide. Camera clubs provide an excellent opportunity to improve your photographic skills and knowledge, a venue to challenge those skills, and a place to share what you have learned with others who have a passion for photography.
Most camera clubs meet several times each month. My local club meets every Monday evening. Each meeting centers around a theme, a workshop (how-to) session on equipment or software, a presentation by a member or expert on a particular subject, a competition between members, or a night to review and critique other’s work.
Interested? How do you find a local club? Well, there is this thing called Google. If you do a search for “Camera Clubs” you will get over 40 million results. You can narrow it down by adding your state or city or town name to the search. Most camera clubs have a website which will give you a feel for how active they are, what opportunities you will have to learn and compete, etc. You can also visit the Photographic Society of America (PSA) website (www.psa-photo.org) for a list of affiliate camera clubs by state. Photographic Society of America is a national organization established to promote and enhance the art and science of photography.
Most camera clubs will allow you to attend their meetings before joining. You will not be allowed to participate in the competitions when you visit, but attending a meeting before you sign up is a great way to see just what you are missing out on and to get a sense of how many people share similar interests to you.