Are you in a camera club? How about a meetup group? Maybe a professional organization? Why not?
Ever wonder what the big deal is about camera clubs and meetup groups? In short, they provide you with incredible opportunities to learn. At camera clubs and meetup groups, you’ll have lectures, workshops, and hands-on opportunities to try different types of photography that you’ve maybe never tried before. You’ll have the opportunity to enter competitions both in the print and the digital realm. And, most importantly, you’ll have the chance to spend time with like-minded individuals who are, like yourself, passionate about the pursuit of photography.
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Camera clubs exist all over the country and, for that matter, all over the world. In the last 10 to 15 years, meetup groups have sprung up that offer incredible learning opportunities. In my experience, I found that the camera clubs tend to be a little bit more traditional with a heavy focus on landscape and nature photography. The meetup groups tend to be a little bit more people-oriented. Again, that’s not 100% of the time. Do some research in your area and find a group that best fits you.
Generally, there is some type of an admission or registration fee. But trust me, in the grand scheme of what you’re spending on camera equipment, computers, and software, the fee to join a camera club or a meetup group is going to be very, very small and very worth your while. That is, provided that you go and you participate.
In most cases the camera clubs and the meetups get together either once or twice a month. Some of them do meet weekly but you don’t have to go to every single meeting.
Although Google and YouTube are incredible learning platforms, nothing replaces the ability to touch things, to learn with other people, and to have discussions with people like yourself who are trying to improve their photography. Seriously, you should check it out.
If you’re looking for a camera club, try the website for the Photographic Society of America. They have a great directory of camera clubs all over the United States. If you’re looking for a meetup group or you can’t find a camera club in your area, try meetup.com. Once you set up a profile, the website will kick back to you a list of all the meetup groups in your area and the topics that they cover.
If you’re at a point in your photographic career where you’re looking to go professional or you’ve just turned professional, I would really encourage you to look into organizations like PPA or ASMP for commercial photographers. These organizations provide tremendous learning opportunities as well as support for their photographer members.
There you have it. Expand your horizons. Check out a camera club or a Meetup group real soon. And remember, your best shot is your next shot. So keep learning, keep thinking, and keep shooting. Adios!