the Pros and Cons
Should you try your local Camera Club?
What do they do?
What can i expect?
Why not give it a try?
What can I expect from a Camera Club?
Camera Clubs are simply a meeting of photographers to discuss and share work and ideas. They exist all over the country and you will probably have one quite close to you. They are normally a structured organisation with a committee, who will organise and run the group. Typically they will meet once a week or month for a few hours on a set evening or day of the week.
Meetings will consist of some or all of the following aspects
A talk from an outside expert or group member on their photography or a particular aspect of photography.
Competitions where all members enter images in a set format and a judge will critique the images and rate the images.
Practical evening where you will have the opportunity to learn new skills.
Photo shoots and photo walks.
Typically a social aspect where members can get a coffee and have a chat
I have been a member of my local club for the past 10 years it has given me new friends, some great evening the ability to share my work and have enjoyed being a member. It has helped me grow as a photographer and try new things. Yes at times it has been frustrating in what they have done and how they have done it but at the end of the day it's just a camera club. I would encourage any photographer to give their local clubs a try and attend the one that feel right for you.
What should you expect to bring to the club?
Ideally you should go to a club with a willingness to contribute the following aspects.
To be sociable and polite
Respectful of others work and abilities
Welcoming to new members
Willing to learn
Prepared to share your knowledge
Prepared to contribute
Assist in some way to the running of the group
Take part in competitions (when comfortable to do so)
They are organic groups that change over time
The Positives of a Camera Club
We need an outlet for our photographic work and simply filling up hard drives with images nobody will see is a waste. Camera clubs are a great outlet for you work.
You will get challenges from the competitions to go and try photographic genres you have not tried or have been nervous about trying. People who deliver the talks will give you new ideas and new skills.
Get out and meet new people - Most of them are nice
A coffee a chat with people you share an interest with, what could be better.
You will make some great new friends
The ability to share your knowledge, help another photographer, deliver a talk, organise an event is highly rewarding.
Get Your Work Out There
No more filling up hard drives for no reason share your work.
I need to go and take a photograph in monochrome of "Triangles!" for the next competition. What on earth am I going to take!
You will learn new skills and new techniques
The Negatives of a Camera Club
At times camera clubs and the people organising them can get wrapped up in the "rules", typically for a competition. Photography is a creative art form and as such rules can fence in that creative process. Clubs need to take care on how many rules they have and how they are applied.
An example of a Good Rule is to clearly define what a monochrome image is, we've had that discussion so many times!
Never have so many owed so much too so few!
People who attend need to assist in the admin and not just arrive ,enjoy,leave.
You don't need to be the chairmen it is simple tasks like set out chairs and putting them away.
The committee members work hard enough as it is.
I Won't Share
You may be very very good at a particular genre of photography but you joined this club to share and some don't. Sharing your knowledge with others is highly rewarding.
Poor Social Skills
Don't just sit in the same spot every week with the same people.
Mix with the others meet people and when new people arrive go and introduce yourself and make them welcome
I need to win
Some become obsessed with winning the competitions and can lose sight of some of the other aspects.
Photographic accreditation letters are great things for some people as they validate that they are a good photographer. They do not however make them a better photographer that the person sat next to them with no accreditation, they just did not need validating and don't wish to progress in that manner.
They can be very good giving relevant critique and constructive criticism followed by a fair and balanced view of the entries.
Unfortunately this is not always the case;
Some judges will be positive about all images and then score them over a wide range
" I don't understand how I got a low score when he said so many positives"
Some will go on and on about the same positive and negative attributes
Some don't like specific images, I met one who hated images of Meerkats
Some are scared of a particular style and love a certain style and will react accordingly
Love flower photography hate street photography and the winner is the flower!
At the end of the day the judge is just a person and if they are any of the above they are not a great judge. Don't take it personal it's just one persons opinion and you will find those members of the club who's opinion you respect and when they say they loved you image that's worth 10 judges comments.
What's the Final Verdict
Well have I put you off?
I do hope not Camera Clubs are great organisations, so go and try your local club you will
Find it rewarding
Benefit greatly from what they have to offer
Its a great outlet for your work
Don't be worried about any pressure as you go at your own pace.