Embrace Photography Culture With Meetups

Embrace Photography Culture With Meetups

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.

At a recent Photography meet-up, the guy sitting next to me, casually pulls this combo out of his bag. Have somehow died and gone to heaven?

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.

Group workshops during meet-ups are so much fun, great energy abound when you are around others who also excite by the craft.

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. 

Online

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.

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14 Comments

Dallas Dahms's picture

Er, camera clubs?

Derrick Ruf's picture

Yes! Good call Dallas, great way to build interaction with others on a consistent basis.

Michael Holst's picture

If there were any Like-Minded meet ups in my area I'd be interested but every one I see is a bunch of teenagers trying to start their own engagement pods for Instagram so they can become "influencers"

Hans Rosemond's picture

If anyone knows any good ones in the Denver area that aren’t trying to sell me on a workshop, I’m all ears.

Tony Tumminello's picture

There's a 'Photography and Beer' one in Boulder that meets up the first Wednesday of every month. Some people are in Boulder, others make the drive from Longmont, Lyons, and Arvada. It's mostly just people getting together, having a few drinks, and showing off work in both print and digital forms. There's a good mix of people who shoot digital, film, and both.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Nice! I’ll have to look it up. Thanks much.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Haha. More like everyone would be annoyed that I was taking so damn long to take a picture.

Tony Tumminello's picture

At least two of the attendees shoot large format as well, so he'll be in good company!

Derrick Ruf's picture

Agreed Bob, so much so I whiffed at the idea.

Dallas Dahms's picture

Down here in South Africa they still seem to be going along strong. I have done talks at a couple of them in the last few years that seemed to have a fairly good attendance. Granted, they were in smaller towns, so this may not be the case in major cities. I'd have to defer to those with more insight than I have in that regard.

The camera club scene never really appealed to me much on a personal level. It seemed too structured with the "salons" and all that stuff. Also, having your work "judged" by others who may not necessarily share the same artistic viewpoint seems a little off.

A couple of years ago a friend and I organised this outing for local photographers and it went down very well. I made a lot of new friends who are also pro photographers: https://www.fotozones.com/live/index.php?/articles/story/township-life/

I wish that there were local camera shops in my area. However, the only stores that sell cameras locally are Best Buy. There's Walmart, but I haven't been in one of their stores in a long while to see what they sell.
My wife understands that I want camera gear. She said "Buy it" when I told her of a used Canon New F-1 for sale and she bought me my Canon 5D III; although, with the 5D, I shifted the purchase from Amazon to B&H for a better deal.

Derrick Ruf's picture

You saying that makes me realize I am pretty lucky to have over a handful of solid brick and mortar options within reasonable driving distance. That said you have a supportive wife when it comes to Camera gear so clearly you are winning here.

I had to smile at the timing of this article. I saw this the other day but did not get a chance to read it until now. Last night a went to a photography meetup here in Doha, Qatar. There were 6 of us and we had fun meeting each other. We met up about half an hour before dark in the park in front of the Sheraton hotel. We used the blue hour and took photos of the city skyline reflected in the water of the reflecting pond. Then we stayed another hour and took low light images. It was fun.

Derrick Ruf's picture

Thanks for sharing Tim! Photography can be so solitary, it's easy to forget how much fun it is to create alongside others. Great example.