HELLO! My name is Terry and I haven’t joined a photo group since March 2023.
I’m not looking for a group intervention unless it is for you!
Being a lifelong learner and a photographer since I was 13, I have been a member of Photo Clubs and Professional organizations beginning in High School. In 1968 I became a member of PPA and then Nebraska PPA, Central Nebraska PPA, Heart of America regional, Nebraska Photographer’s Guild, and most recently Kansas PPA. Excessive you say? No not really, In addition, I attended Imaging USA, numerous PPA Workshops, Schools that sadly are no longer around like MAIPP and Kansas School. I had the opportunity to learn, at state and regional conferences, from many of the greats that are no longer with us but still remembered and quoted. All I can say about it is….. you should try it too at every opportunity you have.
Over all these years I have heard it all. Too expensive, It’s not relevant information for me, It won’t work in my area, they are not friendly….etc. etc. etc. While some of that may be true, if you give it a try, the interaction with other photographers, your peers, you might find that it can lead to a more profitable business but more importantly a more fulfilling experience in your work life.
It is not always easy to join a group of strangers, but once you make the effort to introduce yourself, nearly all the photographers I know and associate with will welcome you. You do have to make the effort to join in and contribute. There could be some trolls out there but just toss them under the bridge and continue on to find someone else to connect with. Many times you will find conversations with other photographers, even ones you don’t know, will lead to more information and learning than attending some of the programs.
At our first state conference, not knowing many of the photographers statewide, my wife and I were a little intimidated meeting nearly every photographer in the state and some out of state but we were welcomed by everyone. Over the following years, as we continued to volunteer for various committee tasks, we connected with and welcomed the new members. One great advantage of making these connections is that if at some point you have a problem, illness, equipment failure, or medical emergency you will have a backup community of individuals who will help you. All you have to do is ask and help will gather around you. This has happened in nearly every group I have been in.
You might not have this type of experience but by becoming active in groups, it too might lead you to a lifetime connection to friends and learning. Become involved, enter print competition, teach a class about something that is working for you (scary but yes there is a class to teach in you). I achieved my PPA Craftsman by just presenting classes. At some point become a board member and possibly the president of your state. I did it 3 times. It is a commitment but you can do it and you can’t begin to imagine the personal feeling of achievement.
In conclusion, You have to make the effort to get started by joining and attending. The rewards are worth the effort so give it a try.
BTW you may also discover that not everything you are learning on YouTube is necessarily correct!