I started a Meetup.com photography group in June 2012 and it has grown to over 350 members. I really enjoy going out and shooting with amateurs, it is a completely different atmosphere than when shooting with pros. I’m rather competitive, but I don’t feel any pressure when out with the meetup group, I can just shoot what I enjoy and help them improve their photography.
This afternoon one of the members organized an outing to Sandy Hook National Recreation Area, a six-mile long barrier spit on the northern New Jersey coast. The day started rather dismal looking, gray skies and bits of rain. In the mid-afternoon the sun took over but many people had already decided not to go. The dozen or so who did show up were treated to a great afternoon of shooting and a spectacular sunset. You can see photos from others in the group by going to our Meetup.com/somerset-photography site.
If you aren’t familiar with Meetup.com, you should check it out. There are local groups for every interest where people meet up to share their commonality. I’ve made lots of friends in N.J. with the Somerset Photography group and also in Vermont with a group I joined there, the extremely active Quechee Area Camera Club.
I like the meetup format better than the traditional camera club because most of the old clubs are based on competitions. While judging does help you learn, I’d rather go out and shoot and talk photography without thinking about who is winning. We do a monthly critique night so people can get feedback on anything they have shot. It is a lot of fun.