Like any field, staying in close connection with your fellow professionals can benefit you on so many different levels. Don’t think of these photographers as competition, think of them as a resource to improve your skills, broaden your client base and add revenue to the bottom line of your studio. My local group has encouraged me, critiqued my work to improve my artistic vision and helped me navigate the ins and outs of the field. Find a group that meets as often as possible — at least several times a year — to share information and learn everything possible from each other. It will also help boost your morale if you’re having a slump.
From social networking to meet up groups, the possibilities are endless. First, start by getting your photography business organized. If you want to be treated as true professional, make sure that your business reflects that. Update your website, flesh out your social networks and make sure you have your business properly registered. Some groups even require a Tax ID before allowing membership. Act like the professional you are and you’ll be treated as such by your new group.
Here’s just a few ways joining a local photography group can help you and how to find the best one for you.
1. Exhibition & Revenue Opportunities
I personally belong to the LongIslandPhotoGallery.com. This enables me the chance to participate in monthly exhibits and competitions. For a small fee (as low as $9.95 a month) I can upload photos for sale on the site. I also receive eblasts alerting me to clients looking for specific images. I also get to meet new connections at their monthly exhibits.
Additional jobs can also come through referrals from your fellow photographers. Everyone has their niche and you’ll find other shooters passing along work that they’re not skilled in, don’t have the time for or may need assistance with to complete the project. Your group can be a continual resource to gain more clients, interesting work and higher paying gigs.
In art school I often dreaded the weekly critiques from fellow classmates. However, in the end I was always grateful for their input and ended up creating some amazing imagery because of it. My professor told us that of all the things we would miss the most about art school were these critiques to move our work forward. Your local photo group peers will give you this honest, professional feedback you need especially if you’re trying out new techniques or switching up your style.
3. Partnering Resources
Equipment can be one of your largest expenses. Nobody ever feels like they have enough or the right tools for the next shoot. We usually just muddle through. Think of your local photo group as a rich resource for equipment and knowledge. Double your backdrops, stands and lighting! Looking for a reliable vendor to frame your work or make an archival print? Groups share vendors including which are their favorites and which ones to avoid. Working alone can also leave you behind on the latest tips and tricks in your favorite software. You’ll gain Lightroom developing tips, workflow ideas, best business practices and more.
4. Exposure to Different Styles
Each photographer has his or her own vision. We can each look at a face, a landscape or a still life setting and capture it in our own your unique style. Experiencing the perception of other photographic artists will give you insight into developing your skills in the art of seeing. Make sure you choose a group that exposes you to a broad range of styles. You’ll also learn about how other photographers brand themselves to establish their name in the marketplace.
We’ve all dealt with photographers who put down other photographers. Typically these are individuals working from their ego-based mindset and may feel threatened by others. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals that will help you, support you and encourage you. Build lasting relationships through a group that allows you to develop and grow your skills over the long-term. You’ll gain enormous benefits from networking with your group to help you run a more profitable business, protect your work and extend your connections.