What if instead of settling in on yet another evening of editing that overwhelming avalanche of photos, and half heartedly watching Netflix in your pajamas, tonight you excite your palette with a tasty libation while rubbing elbows with a group of like-minded photography enthusiasts. I don’t know about you, but I’m sold.
I wrote before about the importance of leaving the house when sustaining a small photography business. This article can be considered an extension to those previous points.
Hands-On Gear Time
Before you think it, I know how dangerous being around gear is for most of us. And like I wrote before, CBSS is a real thing, so simmer down those endorphins, embrace actual no strings attached hands-on time, but apply self-control. This is not destined to manifest into eight straight solid hours of mouth drooling gear-related videos, of that body and lens combo that you just fell head over heals for. While I could drive to my choice of local camera shop and claw at the display glass, instead a meet-up is so much more of a casual affair, far from the camera shops sterile overhead fluorescent lights and lurking commission salesman's sale closing techniques. And if you are more of an online buyer who is actually in the market for a genuine gear upgrade, you will surely get a better hands-on feel in those 10 minutes of interaction then all the stacked up hours of video reviews combined.
A Chance to Strut Your Gear, Technique, and Learn
What’s cooler than having all that cool gear stowed away in an airtight safe? Easy, having someone to show off all that cool gear to. Someone who will actually appreciate it. I’m not saying that your significant other, or sibling, or high school reunion meetup does not appreciate your camera gear but, let's be honest, they don’t. They may even think you are a weirdo over this obsession of yours. And maybe they are right, but meetups are a safe, no judgment zone to let the inner camera geek come screaming out. This is also a great time to help others around you who may not harness the technique you have acquired to this point. A lot of attendees are just dipping their toes into the photography pond; show them the ways of the force. And as good as you think you are, or as experienced, there is bound to be someone there who you can learn a trick or two from as you shoot as a group, comparing notes along the way.
A Couple Suggestions for Attending a Meetup
Start With the Local Camera Shop
Think about it if you are them: how do you combat the barrage of faceless online deal threats trying to suck up all the local business? One way they do it is by getting involved in their respective community. Check the events page on your local shop’s website. Chat with the employees around upcoming events, and link up with the social media outlets for that shop. Often via social media they reach out to the community with updates on events they are hosting or are a part of.
This just in: humans like to organize things, and organizing events online is no exception. A few site suggestions are Meetup, Eventbrite, and of course love or hate it, Facebook. Bookmark these, except the last one (I know that's already bookmarked). And if you are lucky enough to have these close by, there are even established groups like Beers and Cameras whose handful of chapters host bi-weekly meetups at local breweries and restaurants. If you are a member of B&C and reading this, let me say I’m super jealous. B&C come to Philadelphia, please!
Remember, the primary goal is to get out and have some fun. Enjoy this downtime. Create an in-person connection with those in your community who love photography just as much as you. Rejoice my friends, these are indeed your people, and we are all welcome here.