Camera clubs are a great venue to learn the craft of photography. They’ll help you understand terminology like f-stops and ISOs. The people who are really into it will use language like hyper-focal distance and inverse-square law.
But there are a few problems with camera clubs that eventually became a deal-breaker for me.
It’s about the rules — focus, exposure and framing, with numerical values to decide the quality of a picture (and by extension, of course, the quality of the photographer).
Repeatedly, I saw amazing images disregarded, and “nothing special” work would be awarded the club’s highest accolades.
If you’re paying attention, you could easily assert that my statements about this are merely my own opinion. No argument here! Actually, that’s my point — the judging process is that.
There is no way around subjectivity, even with multiple voices in the mix.
Additionally, a club is all about rules, structure and competition. It’s not naturally about experimentation, and attempting something new. In fact, people who were trying something new were often scoffed at.
It was often about looking back, not looking forward, and the people who are intent to pursue what’s next could not find a home in a club like that.
I like modernist poet Ezra Pound’s mantra:
“Make it new.”
It assumes that while absolute originality is impossible, there are ways of bringing classic virtues to a fresh audience. There’s room for a lot of different expressions and intentions in the world. But I tend to gravitate to the innovators amongst us.