In the past few years, I’ve learned more about the importance of community than ever before. It’s about collaboration, genuine care for each other’s success, and an acceptance of who we are as individuals.
Being part of a community of photographers allows us to see how every one of us approaches the art in different ways—that none of them are right or wrong and that we can learn from one another.
A community can create magic—and isn’t that what it’s all about?
It’s a brand-new world out there, with many new ways and reasons to push our love of photography to the next level. Here are some ideas to help add the benefits of community to your journey.
Study Your Favorite Photographers
My favorite photographer is Freeman Patterson from Canada. His connection to the world he photographs is evident—especially when in Namaqualand, where the images he captures of abandoned places and natural landscapes are both beautiful and haunting.
I have three of Patterson’s coffee table books and often study the pages, hoping to learn more about photography from his vision and talent behind the camera.
Join Photography Groups Online
Becoming part of a photography group online is probably the easiest step to take once you decide to branch out and learn from others.
Many groups are interested in sharing all kinds of photography—from cemeteries to architecture, portraits to wedding sessions, travel destinations to food styling. No matter what you’re interested in, there’s a group of warm and friendly people out there, ready to welcome you.
(In fact, GEP has its own photography group called the Snap & Sell Photo Club, which you can learn about right here.)
Take Part in Neighborhood Photography Tours
One of the best things I’ve ever done is join a neighborhood photography group. Usually, one person is in charge, and we spend two-plus hours every couple of weeks wandering around our hometowns. Everyone has a chance to think about a theme for the class, so each tour is different.
I’ve made some great friends during my photography walks, and we meet up in between the group excursions to talk about our love of photography and life in general.
Like-Minded Photographers Add to the Journey
I’ve always loved jumping in the car by myself, intent on spending the day taking photos of someplace new. My mom taught her five daughters that it was healthy to learn to like our own company, to realize we didn’t need to be with people 24/7.
But, I’m also smart enough to realize that people are an essential part of life. When I share my love of photography with others who have that same interest, we learn from each other. Photography becomes an experience, and my life is richer for it.
Take a Photography Class
Professional photographers who’ve mastered various skills are usually the ones to teach these classes. Because they’re willing to share tips on creating a great shot, as well as mistakes they’ve made along the way, you can learn a great deal. Sometimes, a class like this will include honest critiques of your images—this can be a great help as your love of photography grows.
Enroll in an Editing Course
Every photographer I know uses some sort of editing program to make their images “pop.” It might involve a slight crop, straightening the horizon, or amping up the saturation. These minor edits can turn a so-so photo into a stunning piece of art to hang on someone’s wall.
But, editing can also seem intimidating to a person unfamiliar with the process. Joining a program that focuses on the technical side of things makes it easier, and meeting others who are on the same learning curve can make the art of editing fun.
Learn Something New
One of my favorite things about being with other photographers is how we’re all willing to try something new. In one of my photography groups, we had to assign each other a project to work on—and it had to be something we’d never choose to do ourselves.
At the time, I had no interest in architecture. The design of a building held no appeal. When a colleague told me this was the only thing I could photograph for a week, I wasn’t happy. But I stuck with it, and some of the images I took were good enough to enlarge, frame, and sell as fine art.
Community, Community, Community
For me, being part of a community has helped me grow so much as a photographer. The people I meet tend to round out my life in ways I never expected. We learn from each other, freely sharing ideas and offering help when needed.
Here’s the thing; you don’t need to go it alone either. There are many ways to network with other photographers and flourish in your journey—you only need to find your place.