I haven’t been involved with camera clubs or photo clubs for many years now. As a preteen/teenager I was a member at a local camera club. My goal when I joined that camera club was to try to learn about photography, and meet people with the same passion for photography that I had. The experience that I had with that camera club was one of the reasons that I put my camera down for a period of time. Ever since I bought my first DLSR I have been toying with the idea of joining a camera club or photo club again, with many reservations. I started to look into the different photo clubs and camera clubs in my general geographic vicinity. The search came up with many options. Honestly, it didn't look like much had changed over the years. Many of the different camera clubs and photo clubs are highly competitive with photo competitions every month. These competitions are judged by someone or a panel, that may or may not be qualified. Consequently, I find these clubs to be highly political and generally frustrating. The other thing that I find frustrating about photo clubs or camera clubs was the endless compliments of photos that members post. I don’t think this helps anyone. Leading to the members getting IPS (Internet Photographer Syndrome). Internet Photographer Syndrome is when new photographers get so many compliments that they think they should be recognized as the next Ansel Adams or, start shooting weddings without prior experience, and generally think they are much better photographers then they actually are. When someone does post constructive criticism, which is extremely rare, everyone thinks you are being a troll. Constructive criticism is needed for growth, no matter what it is about.
You should join photography clubs, but never camera clubs or any clubs that try to score art, since art is entirely subjective and cannot be scored numerically - Ken Rockwell: "The Seven Levels of Photographers"
By pure chance I ended up hosting a night photography workshop on a Saturday night and one of the attendees was a friend that I had not seen in quite some time. Apparently the word about my workshop had been passed around the Barrie Photo Club and far more people that I expected attended the workshop. The group that showed up was a fantastic bunch that wanted to make pictures, have fun, and be social. As a result I found myself taking Monday off work to make pictures of two sow bears with two cubs each in Algonquin Park. By Wednesday I was a member of the Barrie Photo Club and was at my very first meeting.
Do's and Don'ts when Joining a Camera Club or Photo Club
If are thinking about joining a camera club or photo club, here are my recommendations. DO NOT go out and join the closest camera club or photo club. DO take your time when deciding which club(s) to join. DO visit each club you are considering joining. Most clubs will let visitors sit in on a meeting to get a feel for what they do and who they are. DO ask questions of the members. People are generally friendly and everyone is there for photography so the conversation is easy to start. Finally and maybe most importantly DO take the time to figure out what you want to get out of being a part of each club. Then you will be able to join the camera club(s) or photo club(s) that best suit your personal interests and goals.