Friday, March 14, 2008

Get Connected: Join Local Photo Clubs

Earlier this week I attended a meeting at the Denver Photo Martini Club, and I can't tell you how inspiring it was. Just spending a few hours in company with other talented photographers had me revved up with new ideas and better techniques for capturing images. And I immediately made new friends who helped me feel as if I were a part of a community instead of an isolated photographer struggling alone in my craft. If you haven't done so already, join a photo club in your area to maintain your zest for photography.

Too often I have allowed myself to get overwhelmed with shooting portraits and events for paying clients while still working 40 plus hours a week at my day job as a reporter at the Denver Post. Suddenly my photography was starting to feel more and more like work and not enough like a creative outlet.

I think the monthly assignments I receive at the Photo Martini Club will give me a chance for personal expression. Last month, club members were asked to photograph "Secrets" for their assignment. What is (or was) a secret, and how would you go about interpretting that mysterious topic in captured images? It's those type of questions that get the creative juices flowing again, that force you out of your comfort zone, that help you remember why you started taking pictures in the first place: to share your world in pictures.

Joining a photo club can even suit the practical needs of showcasing your work. For example, the Photo Martini Club produces bi-monthly photography shows featuring members' photography and their interpretations of the different monthly topics. The work is debuted of the members work is debuted at local studios, clubs and other venues where friends, family and fellow photographers can view their work. For example, one upcoming event will be held in the Denver Museum of Art. Now that is an incredible opportunity for exposure!

The Photo Martini Club also produces "SHOT! Magazine," a photography publication featuring members' work. The magazine's cover art is always chosen from one of the photographs taken by club members for the show that coincides with the magazine issue. Paying $100 can net a member a full sample artist page in the magazine displaying their pictures and bio information to a magazine circulation of 10,000 potential clients. That's the best advertising I think I can get for my money right now. On top of that an online website gallery for all club shows, exclusive opportunities for photography work available only to members and a discount card good for products and services all over town -- all for about $25 per show. Plus, at the meetings, each member has a chance to show their images and receive critiques. Being able to explain why you did something and getting an immediate response is very beneficial for a photographer, no matter if they are beginners or pros.

I'm going to join this group, and I would encourage others to check out the offerings in your home town to see how you can get connected. And what is next month's topic, you ask? "Decay!" I've already got some ideas, but I would love to hear what your first thought was in how you could photograph this topic.

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