If someone were to ask me what has made the biggest impact on my photography to date. I would have to say, “Getting involved in a camera club.” At the time (over twenty years ago) I had been shooting for a while and thought I had some skills. At least that is what all of my friends and family told me. Then I went to my first meeting of the West Oakland Camera Club here in Michigan. What an eye opening experience. I realized right then that I knew very little about photography. But I was eager to learn, and they were eager to teach.
Here are some of the top things you get from a good camera club:
-The opportunity to network with other photographers about such things as equipment, shooting locations, photographic technique, business advice, image processing, computer programs, etc. etc…the list goes on and on.
-Inspiration and ideas from seeing other members work. Most clubs will have some type of competition or sharing sessions where people will show their work. In addition most clubs will have a monthly presentation night where a member or outside speaker will give an informative lecture about a photographic topic.
-You can receive critical and constructive feedback about your work. I would argue that this is in fact one of the greatest benefits. Sure it’s nice to have your friends and family tell you how amazing your pictures are. But the truth is sometimes we need to hear what’s wrong with our work in order to improve as photographers.
Okay so you’re convinced. How do you find one in your area? First I would get recommendations from your photographer friends. Or try an internet search for camera club councils in your state. These larger organizations will usually list most of the local clubs in your area. Then go to a couple of meetings and see if it is the right club for you. Most will let you attend some meetings prior to joining.