Hi Mark,

I moved from Connecticut to the Bay Area many years ago - my dated impression is that there is, indeed, a traditional photo scene here. I'll second vdonovan's recommendation for getting involved at Rayko. They have a great setup and are very approachable for lessons, shows, whatever... in terms of "meet ups" and general groups, I know what you mean about New England. People come together and are usually very active and loyal in social clubs... my experience (just one person's opinion) is that the flavor out here is very different. More transient, less committed to groups and focus is on the individual. It was a change of personality coming here ... hard to explain, but I will say that the high cost of living affects how many approach art. It's rather gear-centric, being a tech hub. The galleries here are incredibly aggressive in booking known talent, and those that aren't don't often survive. Rent is high. A wonderful place that fits the aggressive (yet high quality) category is modernbook in San Francisco. Check them out for sure.

Also, you should get to know Alan Bamberger at artbusiness.com - he covers all, and I mean all, of the local shows and openings. He has a great Facebook page as well.

In summary, I find it rather lonely here in terms of really connecting with others of similar styles and likes. However, that's a total generalization and a lot depends on your time and effort. APUG does not appear active here, and there aren't any traditional photo get togethers on meetup dot com either.

Good luck, and when you do arrive, try to remain positive about YOUR art... and go to Los Angeles often. I've found a scene down there happening, at least for showing work.

Best,
AD