Having been a member of a Photographic Society / Camera Club for many years now I thought I might jot down some thoughts which may be of interest to anyone considering membership.
Photographic Society’s / Clubs have now been operating successfully, and without a great deal of competition since the late 1800s, and I began to wonder what effect the emergence of web sites such as Flickr, Instagram, 500px, Facebook, and many others I may not even heard of might be having on Club membership. Certainly the younger generations seem to do everything on line, and as time passes the older generation are catching up. Social media sites certainly appear to have contributed to a definite long-term downward trend in membership.
When I consider what my motives for being a member of a Club are, my chief reasons would probably be:-
- A desire / curiosity to see and hear about the work of others,
- To gain inspiration from seeing that work,
- Have the opportunity to show and receive feedback about my own work.
- Enjoy the social aspects of interacting with other like-minded people.
Certainly the likes of Flickr give people the opportunity to fulfil at least three of those criteria, and therefore might be considered virtual Camera Clubs. Also in many cases they are free, and don’t even require leaving the house to participate.
The main weapon clubs have over social media sites are the social interaction aspects, good clubs will for example organise many of the following:-
Talks / Lectures from members & other interesting local photographers covering all genres of photography.
Competitions (Both internal & between other clubs in the area). Usually judged by a local experienced photographer who will offer useful critique.
Organise trips etc.
A visit to the pub after a meeting is always a great opportunity to discuss aspects of the meeting & gain tips from experienced members.
In general I think membership is definitely useful to those who wish to improve their skill level quickly. I certainly feel that I have gained enormous benefit / enjoyment over the years.
Information about joining a club can be found quickly on the web as most clubs will have a web-site. The useful links for the UK are shown below:-
Photographic Alliance Of Great Britain: http://www.thepagb.org.uk
Each area of the UK has a Photographic Federation who will list all their affiliated clubs. The Federation covering my neck of the woods is the Northern Counties Photographic Federation: http://www.ncpf.org.uk