A photo club is a great way to keep your photography going, meet new people with similar interests, share your work, and get inspired by other photographers. Here are 10 simple steps to getting your local photography group up and running — or becoming a part of one that’s already in place.
1. Check if there already is a local photo club
Don’t re-invent the wheel. If there’s already a local photography group were you live, join them! See how you can take part and contribute to the existing community. It’s better to have one large community than several smaller ones. As a group, you and your new team members can help each other, and the bigger you are, the more local partners will be interested in participating and sponsoring your events.
2. Find a venue for meetings
Photographers are usually down-to-earth people. They don’t need a fancy hotel conference center to meet. Try approaching local high schools and photography related shops, galleries, and museums. A local library or book shop is also a good option. See if they’re willing to sponsor use of their venue for free. If not, see which event venues can be hired and ask if they give discounts for nonprofit initiatives. You can charge your members a small fee to cover the costs. Check where other local clubs meet and approach those venues, too.
3. Find members
The members of your photo club don’t all have to be photographers. They can also be enthusiasts interested in seeing and discussing photography. Sites like meetup.com are popular places to find or start a photo club. They can relieve you of administrative work like keeping track of who’s joining your meetings, sends reminders, limits RSVPs, and generates waiting lists for full events.
4. Name your club
The traditional term for a a photography group is a “camera club.” You can name your photo club with a simple and direct name like “Jackson Camera Club,” or choose a creative name that uses a photography related term, like “Jackson Shutterbugs.”
5. Create events
A photo club can have several different kind of events, including portfolio reviews — where members bring their photos, share, learn and get inspired by each other — and photo walks, where you meet up and walk together, taking photos. Expect the participation numbers to be low at first. Remember you are in the early stages of building your network. If your events are good, word will spread, and your photo club will grow. Other type of events to keep in mind include visits to local galleries, workshops by hired instructors, and lectures by local professionals.
6. Membership fees
Decide early on if you want your photo club to charge a membership fee, or if it will be free. Keeping it free will mean more members. You can always charge per event.
7. Communicating with members
Be very clear in your communications, and explain events in detail. It’s important that participants have a very clear picture of what the event will be like. That way, you increase your chances the event will meet expectations and be a success.
8. Website and social media
A photo club should have a website were people interested in joining can find basic information. It’s a great way to feature members’ photos and advertise upcoming events. A Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr account would be natural additions.
9. Growing your photo club
As your club grows, pay attention to the most active members. Invite them to help run the group. Make a written contract — it doesn’t have to be in formal legal jargon — simply outlining who is responsible for what, how events should be run, and what should happen with the photo club’s assets should the partnership not work out. Make sure people you take on don’t have conflicting goals about what the group should become, or what you want to get out of it.
10. Quality, not quantity
It’s better to have a small photo club with good quality events, than a large group with little or no activity. Spend time developing events you think other photographers would love to participate in. This way, your photo club will grow at a comfortable rate with good quality events.
Do you have any additional tips, questions, or ideas? Let us know in the comments!
Top image: Graphic camera set by emojoez