Sunday, September 28, 2008

Photography tips: Join a community

This week's photography tip is very non-technical, yet useful for photographers of all levels: join a community. Communities help you develop your skills, as other members comment on your pics and tell you how they made theirs. These are great places to gather new ideas, learn new techniques and sharpen your skills by engaging in photo contests. And you can have fun while you're at it. For any community, the golden rule is that you recieve more when you give more. Just dumping your pics without ever commenting on the pics of others will not earn you respect. Communities can only thrive if members participate.

In the pre-internet era, the local photography club was the only option. Today, that option is still open, and many many are added. The world wide web is full of communities, many of which are dedicated to photography. In fact, the web is so full of these communities, that you'll have a hard time picking one. I'll mention a couple of the options, by no means suggesting that the others are not worth a try.

Contests (or challenges) are the backbone of this community. You can either become a registered user (free) or a member ($ 25/year, check out the differences here). Apart from challenges, DPChallenge has a forum with some very experienced and helpful members.
The site is famous for its extensive user reviews of photo gear, but it also has a nice forum with mostly very friendly and helpful members. The forum features a weekly and a monthly assignment with an oddly flexible deadline. Membership is free, but you can buy extra features as well as post processing software and gear.

Trekearth is all about travel photography. You can put your travel photo's online and hope for comments that either praise your photo or help you increase your skills. Sometimes, a member takes the trouble of re-processing your pic if he or she thinks it can be improved in post processing. Membership is free.

Flickr is a well known place to put your pictures online. Flickr is simply too large to be a community. Instead, it houses thousands of so-called groups. Some groups are very closed or hardly active, but others are thriving communities, often highly specialized in a specific type or aspect of photography. Some just collect pictures by theme, others have discussions and contests to go with the pics.

Local communities
The web may be world wide, but you can use it to join a local community as well. Why would you? Well, beacuse the members are near, that's why. In a local community, get-togethers are easy to organize, so you can go on field trips with other photographers and learn (and have fun)even more. Local members also know a lot about local things, such as dealers, photo locations, studios, models, make up artists and so on. And they are a nice place to trade second hand gear.

No comments: