Should You Join a Photography Club?

As a photographer, you are probably a participant in a number of online groups or forums that discuss photography. But have you considered joining your local photography club? Let’s look at the value of joining one!

Online communities are a great way to talk about photography on your schedule. Communities like Fstoppers bring current news, events, and photography-related releases with the speed we are used to with the internet while providing a place to share images and engage in discussion within article comments. However, local photography clubs also bring tremendous value to photographers of all types and skill levels. 

This article is in the context of my local photography club, but my local group does several things very well and are things you can look for in your own local club. Or, even use the ideas here to start your own local photography club in your area!

Local Opportunities

While it is fun to share our images online, there is something even better about sharing your work in print for display in public. Photography clubs can be an excellent way to learn about local opportunities to display your work. Sometimes, it is an open call for a juried show in a local gallery, and other times, the club will put together a proposal to share the club’s work at a community gallery.

Being a photography club member has helped me be more aware of local galleries, open calls, and participating in group showings than I would have otherwise. In addition, this has helped me learn more about what work people select for open calls to help me tailor what I present for consideration, even for opportunities outside the group.

Image Critique

My local photography club has an image critique section of the meeting. Members of the club are invited to share up to three images that are presented and open to critique from the other members. Often, there is a monthly theme – for example, dappled light, reflections, or some different theme – a challenge of sorts.

The level of critique varies depending on the person presenting their work, as a wide range of skill levels are at the meeting. Some simply want to share images, some want a softer critique, and others request critical analyses – all reviews are welcome.

Beyond having my own images critiqued, I also appreciate the moment to view other photos and think about what works in the image or doesn’t work and then immediately hear other people’s thoughts on images in real-time during the meeting. 

Looking at other photographic works and participating in the critique helps strengthen my images over time.

Share Your Knowledge

The skill levels vary at my local photography club, from beginner to advanced. But small sections of each meeting are dedicated to “Through the Lens” talks, short 15-minute introductions to various topics from other members in the club. This could be lighting, tripod selection, basic editing processes, and more. 

This often shows a different way to do things or think about things that a photographer might not have considered. Even though I consider myself well-versed in editing in Lightroom and Photoshop, seeing how someone else does it sometimes reveals a new technique I can adopt in my own work. 

These “Through the Lens” talks also offer the opportunity for members of the club to practice their speaking and instruction skills. Preparing to talk about a topic often helps you learn even more about the subject to present it well. 

I have presented several topics to the club over the years and have appreciated the experience it has given me.

Join Your Local Photography Club

These are just a few of the things my local photography club offers that I find valuable. Online communities are great, but meeting local people who participate in the same hobby and activity you do helps make even stronger connections in your community.

Are you a member of a local photography club? How has your experience been?

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