A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published April 29th 2014
Snap to it
Are you a seasoned photographer or a smart phone happy snapper? Either way, if you have an interest in photography, there are many good reasons to think about joining a camera club. I joined a club for the first time midway through last year, and I'm glad I did. Below are some of the reasons I'd encourage others to think about doing the same. Overall, I've found it highly motivating to belong to a group where there is regular discussion and activity focused on photography.
Joining a camera club will encourage you to get out and start shooting!
1. Technical advice and support
There are people at all levels of experience and with all levels of knowledge. If you have a question about photography you'd like answered, there's probably someone at your local club who can help. In my club there are people who are highly skilled in using different cameras and post production technologies (such as Photoshop) and are more than willing to share their knowledge.
Even 'smart phone-ographers' are welcome
2. Advancing your photography skills
Think you're a good photographer - maybe good enough to exhibit or start to sell your work? Camera clubs provide a forum for getting objective feedback on your images. The club I belong to holds monthly intra-club competitions, where the entries are judged by an impartial external expert. In the most recent competition, there were over 100 entries. Entrants are grouped into A and B sections, depending on their level of expertise, and success in previous competitions. Certificates are awarded for the best images.
You may also get the opportunity to enter inter-club and international competitions. You will hear about these at your club meetings. Where a club is entering these competitions, they will generally select a handful of the best images from those offered by members to submit.
Listening to the judges' critique on not just your own but all the entries is a great learning tool. You soon learn (broadly) what judges like and don't like, and it helps to hone your own photography.
3. Photographic holidays, weekends away
My club has monthly 'outings' to a wide range of destinations. Some recent ones have included visits to our local Chinatown, an art display, a street photography exhibition and a fruit orchard (for the spring blossom). There are also weekends away that happen a few times each year. We also learn of overseas tours that photographers are organising.
All of these events are an opportunity to immerse yourself in photography. There's a chance to learn from the approaches of others to the subject matter. And because you're all photographers, no-one is going to tell you to hurry up and take the shot because they're getting bored.
4. Finding like-minded people
There is something comforting about being able to spend time with a group of like-minded people. Those of you familiar with Sir Ken Robinson's wonderful book The Element - How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything might recall his discussion about the importance of 'finding your tribe' or people who share our passions and commitment. Being part of a 'tribe' can help us to develop our 'Element' - the place where 'the things we love to do' and 'the things we are good at' come together.
Find like-minded people at a camera club
5. Special interest groups
Got a particular interest in portraiture? Or maybe AV? Or panoramas? There are often special interest groups within camera clubs, which gives you the opportunity to work with others who are passionate about their specialist field.
So how do I find a camera club?
If this article has piqued your interest, then the next step is to look for a suitable camera club to join. In some countries, there are peak national photographic bodies. For example, in Australia, there is the Australian Photographic Society (APS). In the UK, you could look at the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) website; it has local chapters listed. Otherwise an internet search will probably bring up the overseeing photography body for your country, and should lead you to details of the clubs in your area.
My club, and others I know of, welcome guests at their monthly meetings (but not at special events or special interest group meetings). So if you're not sure about joining, see if you can go along to one of the meetings and find out what happens.