My Advice . . .

. . . join a camera club!

Last night my camera club wrapped up our season with a banquet and awards ceremony at the Heuther Hotel in Waterloo. As we reflected back on the season and celebrated each other’s achievements, I started to think about why I joined the club and what I have gained from being a member.  

I started getting into photography about 2 years ago when I got a Kodak point n’ shoot for Christmas from my sister Jenn. It was lots of fun to use and I took some pretty cool pictures with it – at least I think so. You can see a few of them here. Last year however, the little button that allows me to cycle through options on that camera broke so I was stuck with pretty much just the Auto setting. It was kind of costly to fix, so I decided that it was time to make the jump to a DLSR. It was a great decision, and I have expanded my love for photography significantly in the 8 months since my wife purchased my Canon Rebel for me as a birthday present. But the choice also presented a lot of learning challenges – especially the challenge of where to find information.

I was lucky enough to make friends with Wayne Simpson right around the same time. He was and, still is, great at answering all my questions, but he also introduced me to some great resources online, including Darwin Wigget’s website and photography blog. When I read over Darwin’s bio he stated that when he started out in photography he joined a camera club to learn more. It seemed like a great way to learn and  to meet new people, so I looked around a bit and decided to join the Highland Glen Camera Club in Waterloo.  

HGCC started about 40 years ago and has maintained a strong membership since that time. I have felt really welcomed by the members there, and I have learned tons of great information about photgraphy since joining. Not only do I have access to some of the best photographers in the area, all of whom are more than happy to talk shop and offer some friendly advice at a moment’s notice, but the club organizes lots of presentations, guest speakers, outings and competitions for the membership.

Since joining I have participated in workshops on composition, lighting, and creative photography; attended guest lectures on low light and night photgraphy and astro photography (how sweet is that!); ventured out to the butterfly conservatory for a shoot; and participated in 3 competitions. All in all it has proven to be invaluable to me and I recommend that anyone interested in becoming a better photographer join a local club and take good advatage of all the resources that are so readily available to you.

It’s been a great year, and I definitely learned a lot from my fellow members. I even earned an award for most improved new member last night (as well as an honourable mention in the Nature category). To be honest, the awards and competition don’t really do much for me, but it was really amazing to know that someone other than me feels like I am getting progressively better at this.

The big question for me now isn’t whether I’ll continue to be a member, but how can I give something back to an organization that offers so much and asks so little?


4 responses to “My Advice . . .

  1. Great advice and article Mike! I kinda wished I had joined a camera club a couple years back rather than getting all my info from Flickr. Shooting with others is really invaluable and fun too… something I haven’t had the opportunity to do too much. A big congrats on your award :))

    • Thanks Amber! The club has been a great opportunity to learn from others and really to start thinking outside the box a little – not that you would need much help with creativity :). It’s never too late to join a club though – most of the members in mine are very experienced photographers who come out to share as much as to learn. I bet a camera club would love to have a member like you who teach other people so much.

  2. What a great article Mike. There is no better way to learn this craft then to be out with others. You can talk about what you do and compare it to others in the group. Even if you just observe, you can learn so much. The sharing of knowledge and info is such a big part of learning. Workshops and photo shoots that the club can organize are also a big help. Congratz on the award, I think you deserve it, just watching your blog shows the great work you can do. Keep it up Mike.

    • Thanks very much for the kind words Lee! I really appreciate it. I have always admired how you have bolstered the photography community in your area by arranging workshops and tours for people. Hopefully everyone there appreciates the amazing learning opportunities you’ve created! If I lived up your way I’d be knocking on your door all the time to go shooting.

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