I have attended several meetings of a couple clubs and recently attended a few meetings of more a group of photography friends that actually have Apug presence. It seems to me that most people either go looking for inspiration or looking for entertainment. A few go looking to learn about photography. I am one that goes for inspiration/creative conversation/input/feeback, and haven't found it. I have found that no one has a strong opinion about anything to have a conversation about. And I have found that people don't want to say anything but blase nice things about all the work. Also I have found that no one really cares about looking at or considering other work or ideas, they just want to hurry up and get to showing their own work and get slapped on the back for it. When I talk to other members of the groups I find that they feel the same way as I do but no one knows how to make it different. What keeps groups together is an interesting meeting place and friends and good beer. At least in my corner.
I think our biggest problem is that prints just dont look as good as they should on the tinternet. To get a real feel for how the print looks you have to physically see it.
I've been printing for a little under 12 months and until last week (when I received a print from a APUG print exchange) I had never seen or held a FB print.
Plymouth is not exactly well known for its jaw dropping photography exhibitions and I've never seen a workshop within a 200 mile drive of where I live so personally if their was a film photography I could join I would jump at it!
Meanwhile, I'II just keep gleaning what info I can off APUG and keep asking the daft questions!! :)
Which begs the question - aren't we all members of a club here, even though it uses the word "group" in its name?
Originally Posted by mealers
I've attended a few club meetings as a guest/judge/visitor and my impression is that they are mainly populated by those who like the social element (and why not?) and those who regard photography as a competitive sport, as per the earlier posting. That term "print battle" is guaranteed to set my teeth on edge. It conjures up visions groups of people beating one another about the head with Daler board window-mounted 10 x 8s !
Clubs are primarily social events that bring together people with similar interests. There's nothing inherently wrong with clubs, but one must not have expectations that are too high.
Photography clubs can be a great place for learning. However, one must understand that photography clubs tend to be trendy. Currently, the trend is toward digital, so that's where the emphasis is going to be in most clubs. If you want to learn digital stuff, clubs provide a great learning opportunity. But if you want to learn traditional or alternative analog techniques, either you need to find a club that specializes in those fields (they do exist - but they are about as scarce as unicorns), or else you need to look for something other than a club.
Another thing about clubs is that they tend to reinforce success. Photography clubs often involve competition - there's nothing wrong with that. Competition is a way to make learning more interesting. But understand that what the club is ultimately going to teach is whatever is needed to be successful in those competitions. If your personal vision differs from the mainstream, you probably won't be successful in club competition, and you will probably not learn very much of what you need to know to satisfy your own personal vision requirements.
I've belonged to the local photo club for 10 years, on the executive for 8. I've pulled back from my involvement this year, partly because of family issues and crises, and partly because of the relentlessly digital concentration. When I first joined the club I was new in town and in a rut with photography - shooting the same stuff in the same style over and over. The club was a big inspiration to me, got me out of that rut and trying new things. Digital was just starting to make occaisional appearances at meetings. It was also a fairly small club - it was possible to know everyone, their photographic interests, and something about their personal life.
The club now has well over 100 members. Many of them folks who are looking for info on how to use the expensive digital cameras they have bought, and the computer programs that back them up. I hear the monthly "Photoshop Night" last year was very popular. (I never went.)
I'm still a member and go to meetings sporadically. This weeks was worth it - Sharon Milstein with a lovely slide presentation.
I make the occaisional presentation talking about what I'm doing hoping someone will get inspired to put a roll of film into their old camera. A sub-group of film users is forming. I no longer look to the club for inspiration, but I've got APUG for that.
I'll stay a sometime member this year. Who knows what the future will bring?
I'm in Houston, Tx and would love to find an analog photo club, but of course they don't exist.
If I did join any photo club, I would expect to hear discussions on lighting, composition, and other factors that are common to any camera, digital or not. As AA said, 90% is knowing where to stand.
If they ignore or marginalize these pre-shot compositional factors, they are not much of a photo club.
I used to belong to a club in Edinburgh and found that it could be both very good and very frustrating. Over the years there were some excellent talks by a good range of photographers and the club was generally very encouraging, helpful and friendly. However, I did get fed up with the emphasis on competitions, print battles and gaining RPS distinctions. (Even though I used to take part in those competitions!) I wanted to learn more than the club was offering to teach me...
However, the experience and learning that I had gained encouraged me to go to college to study photography, which I perhaps wouldn't have done otherwise. For that I am grateful.
Since moving to England, I've given both the RPS and another photography club a go but found both too 'narrow'. I don't want to be told what to think about photography, I'd rather go out and do my own thing. That's where APUG helps. (I hope!) With so many members there must be a huge amount of variety in approach and plenty of scope and encouragement for real exploration of photography...:)
I started going to a local club when I moved and was pleasantly surprised. Some digital, some film, no biases either way. The guest speakers have been interesting and most of them have been film-based and do LF (surprise, surprise!). Some of the members are quite knowledgeable about various films, cameras, etc. Others could care less. But everyone has been pleasant and welcoming. Club competitions are dependent upon the judge du jour, but once in a while a good critique by an unbiased observer can be a learning experience. In the end, the club members make the club...if you want it to change, you have to participate or they become exactly what you don't want.
I used to belong to the local club but did not like the arbritary way the president ran the club so resigned my executive position. Received a pile of emails blasting me for not embracing digital and that digital was the future and that all photography was digital as negatives had to be scanned in order to be printed. The club had a darkroom by the way and I was one of the few using it. I never stated my reason for leaving the executive but after the barrage of anti film statements from him I just let my membership lapse. Clubs can be good or bad depending on its members and who is dominant.
He had arbitray changed part of the program I was in charge of and instead of criticing prints there was a contest of projected images. The club could have had both but as I said arbritary decisions made by one person. There were some nice people there and some even though they were 100% digital thought that film was neat and wanted to learn more but believe that ended when I left. To this day he still tells everyone that I left becuause the club had gone digital (at the time 80% of my shots were digital) and not for the reasons I told him.
Years ago I learnt a lot for a club in another city. Diferent time, different place and different people.
I belonged to a club for 12 years and find selecting my entries for competitions an interesting reality check.If it is wished to enter a competition,get a picture framer to cut some window mats to fit the prints,stick a bit of card on the back and write your name and the title on the back.For slides we mark a round spot on the bottom left hand corner as the slide is viewed, and write name and title on the mount.
At least, if a competition is entered,the judges comments will be interesting if not agreeable.
IMO going along with nothing and expecting a lot of people will want to dicuss photograpy is a bit optimistic to start with.