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A quick post while this issue is on my mind. Why do people join a photographic club, which sort of indicates they have an interest in the subject. Perhaps more than most.

Then they submit images that shout Desperation into a set subject competition. Images that have had no thought, no skill or no effort applied. It's like time is running out, quick, look around the house, find something that loosely fits the subject, take a snap, don't worry about trying to add any contrast colour or clarity. Just shove it in competition and hope some poor sap can find something pleasant to say about it.

I despair at how little effort some people who CLAIM to be keen amateur photographers put into their work. Doesn't anyone have any drive anymore or do we all have our fingers in so many pies that we can't do justice to any of them. 

 

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I’ve been doing some judging, but images are so bad I regret agreeing to do it and I ain’t doing any more. I was viewing better stuff back in 1972.

Its a pretty poor show when images are so bad there is just no way to be able to say anything positive to start off the comments. There really is nothing you can say unless you lie to the author. A picture so dull and flat you could use it as an 18% grey card. The content is boring and fussy, with no composition or centre of interest. It’s presented in 16:9 but portrait format ??? The image isn’t sharp, but the one detail that can be clearly seen is the massive amount of noise.

Its the new kid on the block, Smart phone photography. I’d sooner watch paint dry 😂 

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Sounds like you were determined to have a good time there then lol.

In all seriousness, is this the norm for all photo clubs or just this one? I personally think that photography is changing, with a move away from the classic photo club image. This is not a right or wrong argument, its about what works for a changing population and fashion.

There’s even a new phrase going around for landscape photography now, waited for it…..

 

….Phoneography….

 

 

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I think people join camera clubs with the intention of learning how to use their camera. However, when they get there they invariably find out that there is little or no practical experience and that they have joined an image appreciation society.

Now, they have two options, one is to walk away, and many do, or alternatively join in. And, that's where the root of the problem lies. They may not have the necessary skills to use their cameras or what it takes to make a good photograph , after all that's why they came to the club initially, but with modern cameras, we can all be a good photographer.

The next problem then befalls the competition judge, as Barry rightly highlights. No judge wants to say this a load of rubbish, even though he may think so, because it may be the first photograph that the author has entered in a competition and such comments would destroy their confidence for ever. But in an attempt to give encouragement the author may well take the judge's comments to be praise and if that be the case then the likelihood of the author greatly improving is diminished.

I have a lot of sympathy for a judge. Even in the UK having to travel some distance on dark winter nights to be faced with who knows what and having to be positive each time an image is put before him/her. It can't be easy and judging by Barry's comments there comes a time….

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Judges normally give constructive criticism so I can understand it is hard when faced with an image that does not meet the standard expected. I would say there is nothing wrong with pointing out the errors and what could be done to improve an image. Perhaps this where the scoring system falls down when most judges score at the top end of the range. If it is so bad why not give it 1 out of 20. It may be the beginner is given false hope if scored at the bottom of the higher end of the range.

Most judges come from clubs in the first instance and probably still active on the club scene. Therefore one can see their bias towards good club images and trends within the club arena. This probably makes them a little blinkered to new thinking or perceptions, of what photography means to the new kids on the block. Of course the judges are still aware of what is required to make a good image and give it top marks in their eyes. 

A club is not just about images to be judged though, as the most enjoyable nights are those where a speaker shares their photographic experiences with members and they get to judge the speakers images, mentally of course. Other speakers give equipment or software demonstrations for part of the practical side that new and old members are looking for. 

 

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I suppose I sounded a bit like a demented half wit having a rave, but I hate to see photography dumbed down. Especially by people who can do much better, that’s the thing. Why belong if you’re not going to give it a good go.

 

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It goes back to those clubs who try to differentiate between the beginner, intermediate and advanced using classes or at least separate the beginners from more advanced. In doing so they are trying to advance the beginner to improve and likewise the intermediate to advanced. As we know there will always be those that never improve because they don't put in the effort or they don't have a good teacher to guide them through the journey. It is part of the judges job to give them that guidance even if they have to berate the image offered. You can take the horse to water but you can't make it drink. There is also an onus on the club to try and guide people but they don't always achieve this in the most efficient way. With regard to the authors of those images it's down to time, preparation, learning, composition, camera craft and software experience that they mostly should be focussing on before submitting images. 

I can understand your frustrations though, but it it was also an opportunity for you to offer a helping hand to the club on that journey.

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Just to open the discussion a bit more, instead of asking the question "Why do people join a photographic club?", turn the question around.

What would be your answers to the question "What should a photographic club be offering and providing for new members?"

Regards

wideangle

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I have offered that opportunity for learning and I make them videos nearly every month, but few seem to have any drive at all. Those who do quickly move to the top slots and then as you say, people whine because they can’t compete with them. So they want the bar lowered to them rather that just try a bit harder. After all in a hobby you like enough to join a club, isn’t that expected.

Its disappointing because as you can tell their lack of effort spills over on those who spend a lot of time working for their benefit. This month I got stuck with the judging, plus the putting together of the comp slide shows as normal and a live talk on why we shoot raw. I’ve made a video to go with the talk and spent a couple of days doing all this. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t want to, but the thought has crossed my mind that if those that do this work reach a ‘why bother stage’ the club goes down hill. 

Its probably just a sign of the times and as Morturn rightly says, clubs are fading away in some areas. 

I need another beer to help me get through the evening 😁

 

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1 hour ago, wideangle said:

Just to open the discussion a bit more, instead of asking the question "Why do people join a photographic club?", turn the question around.

What would be your answers to the question "What should a photographic club be offering and providing for new members?"

Regards

wideangle

Some join a photographic club thinking that they will be taught all that they need to know. If they watch carefully, listen carefully and take notes they probably will get there in the end.

the ideal club would offer a programme of tutorials for beginners separate to the main programme in an environment where they are not intimidated by "the experts". This could be a different night or before the main evening gets under way. It is a big ask but how many clubs could identify that need and afford to provide that service?

DG

 

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Our club does provide that service DG. We have separate nights for Landscape photography plus days out, Natural History plus days out, Studio Lighting with models and have provided some for Monochrome before as well as providing a Newsletter of 6 to 8 issues over the season. The members attending pay a fee for venue hire, or models etc. These extra sessions are run by the more knowledgeable members and in some cases the attendees are separated into beginner sessions and advanced sessions. 

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I would be interested in hearing the detail of how you help the "raw" beginners who come to your club.

You are indeed providing a great service. Not all clubs do that.

DG

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1. First we determine if the new member is a beginner or have some or lots of experience. This is done by giving the person a questionnaire. This may usually entail a discussion with the membership officer to determine if they are a beginner. Usually if they have won a medal as  number 2 below they are not classed as a beginner for POY. A discussion each year with the member is usually required to see if they want to remain a beginner.

2. Essentially we use that questionnaire to determine if they are a beginner and if so, when they enter images into POY nights their highest points gained are totalled over 6 heats. This is then put into a league against other beginners and an award (medal) is given at season end to the beginner with the highest points. They can enter PDI heats and/or Print heats and a beginner medal is awarded for each. 

3. When a beginner enters a PDI or Print Heat they are also competing with all other members. We have open, Nat hist, monochrome heats in both PDI or Prints.

4. On becoming a club member they can automatically join in with any focus groups that are running or access any club events or lectures. If they want to visit the club rather than become a member that can for three times before being asked to join as a member, this does not give them access to focus groups though.

5. Focus groups are held outside of normal club nights and usually occur once a month approx over the season. Sept. to April. With the Landscape group we meet and organise away days of discuss attendees images or have lectures about Landscape photography. Being a small group we don't organise specific beginner sessions but we help each other and provide advice if needed.

Natural history group have meetings and hold sessions as well as away days. Specific beginners sessions for macro photography have been held and repeated most years. The more advanced help out at these sessions. Again help and advice offered by the attendees is available. 

Studio Lighting group hold sessions specifically for beginners each year for them to practise setting up and using the equipment, as well as working with models. Once they get started further sessions of usually max 6 people are held where they can join in but have specific access to models to practise. Outside modelling sessions are also sometimes held.

Events for Monochrome have been held before, such as Hollywood style sessions with a model, or lectures with a monochrome expert judging members images. Other events such as how to cut print mounts have also been held as well as a visit to the local Japanese garden and other summer events organised to re-enactment events etc.  

So plenty for the beginner to get involved with, as well as all the lectures we have from respected speakers in their field.

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This sounds great, can you move your club to here. There just doesn’t seem the skill level or commitment to do that and it has to be population numbers. I wouldn’t mind betting you have 10 times the number of potential people you can call on compared to here. It seems the city clubs are more like that, more people I guess.

Here, smaller clubs seem to hang on a thread and struggle at times to get those they need into committee positions. Different way of life too, it all has an impact

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As you know Newark is a smallish market town and we have about 65 members with usually over 40 regular attending a club night. I would say the vast majority are at the higher end of the age scale. We don't get many 20 year olds coming to dip their toes in the water. Most older age beginners mostly come with at least a little experience of photography. The focus groups are smaller groups of 10 - 15 people roughly but can be smaller. The committee and focus group leaders work hard to arrange events for members, with content as well as room hire. Keeping costs down for members is key to keeping things ticking over. There was another group in the town that ran mostly as practical sessions and these did attract younger members and taught a lot of photoshop. We found that we gained quite a few members from this group over the years wanting to progress to RPS membership. Overall as a club we have benefited as in inter club comps we are featuring more highly up the ranks than we have ever been. 

As a comparison in Nottingham there are about 5 different clubs you could attend. 

So an open question to all members,

What are the demographics in your areas?

Usually the young photographers are starting photography in school. They may get a decent camera as a present. They may carry on in college or university and may be involved in art of media. They tend to hang around with their own age group and go to places where they can meet others of a similar age. They experiment with cameras that are simple to use and come to hand easily, e.g. Phone.Do they want to join a bunch of mostly retired people with a combined photography experience of hundreds of years or would they rather watch you tube to get their experience. Or do they want to video their experience and create their own you tube content and be a you tube star. ( Today's news of the Bull Ring Birmingham being totally packed with thousands of young un's to see a you tube star who demonstrates how to put on make up ) is testament to how popular that can be. Fame through you tube is what interests them now days. 

Usually the middle aged photographer has little time on their hands due to work, family or home constraints. What little spare time there is, is given to the hobby, but cannot devote enough time to master the art. It is usually two steps forward three steps back. What is learned about camera craft one week is forgotten the next time they pick it up. If they happen to join a club and enter images into a competition can they afford the time to devote to an image to make sure it is the best it can be. 

The newly retired person wants a new experience and is interested in photography as a means of occupying some of the spare time that's available to use up. Having been through middle age they probably had a go before when film cameras were all the rage. Spare cash is available to spend on photography. It might be nice to join a club and have a weekly event to look forward to and spend some social time with new friends having the same interest. They can go for walks in the daytime and join the National Trust and go for drives to stately homes and take some images. They have a computer that may be getting old and have some experience of using it, but Photoshop is a whole other ball game. Well they don't really need to know Photoshop because the camera can take a nice jpeg and that should be good enough to put in a competition. 

The above is a bit tongue in cheek I know but you can see it's not easy trying to please all of the people all of the time. When you look round there are a lot of Photographers offering all manner of training and trying to make a living out of it. This means that the market is confusing for beginners as to what is the best software, best methods to use on images, best equipment for their budget, best training to follow, best way to get the best looking image from a raw file. How much manipulation to apply, how to calibrate a monitor, how to get a good print, how to generate a good pdi that is going look good on a club projector. These are things the beginner and intermediate face so it is no wonder that every image is not perfect in some way.

So I for one am pleased we have Barry to guide us and help us get through our 10,000 learning hours with sound advice and training. 

 

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Your area reminds me of the Eastern Suburbs of London in the 80’s. You could rattle off 20 clubs in a 5 mile radius before you stopped to remember the last few. Dagenham had a Club. Ford Motor Co, also in Dagenham had a Club. May & Bakers chemical plant in Dagenham had a club and there were two just in Romford alone.

Here, the shear numbers of people are not there to draw on and the lifestyle is very different. Surfing, paddle boarding, fishing, boating. All competing with a bunch of oldies in a Camera Club 😂 Then of course we have the internet and social media, which has changed peoples habits.

I think the clubs like ours have had their day. The larger city suburb clubs will be ok, because there are more people in the area.

But, I still get pissed at the couldn’t care less attitude. Make an effort or don’t bother. I’m not talking about rank beginners either. Some have been members for a while and they know the sort of standard to aim for and they have done far better themselves in the past. Work of that low standard devalues a club and will send it down the tubes even quicker. Who wants to come out on an evening to look at images like that?

 

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Is it possible to have an online club where the location of the club does not matter. You could still have competitions each month, and have video lectures and training. You could organise real world meetings every so often. The only real problem would be collecting money to run the club, but this could be an annual fee. Doing this could make you more in touch with members needs allowing tailoring of events. Having more input from different people serving as the club committee would help rather than one person doing the graft.

 

 

 

 

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We had one of those back in the very early days of digital when clubs would run you out the door if you mentioned the word digital. So I formed a group which became about 10 strong. It was very successful, because we were all digital enthusiasts and taught one another.

It was called Internet Digital Imaging Group (IDIG)  Back in the days of dial-up Internet

But, it’s really no different to a forum like this. What we did back then could be done again here, but there is now a lot of competition for peoples time that wasn’t there back then.

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On 1/23/2019 at 11:43 PM, Barry said:

A quick post while this issue is on my mind. Why do people join a photographic club, which sort of indicates they have an interest in the subject. Perhaps more than most.

Then they submit images that shout Desperation into a set subject competition. Images that have had no thought, no skill or no effort applied. It's like time is running out, quick, look around the house, find something that loosely fits the subject, take a snap, don't worry about trying to add any contrast colour or clarity. Just shove it in competition and hope some poor sap can find something pleasant to say about it.

I despair at how little effort some people who CLAIM to be keen amateur photographers put into their work. Doesn't anyone have any drive anymore or do we all have our fingers in so many pies that we can't do justice to any of them. 

 

Your confused? join the club (no pun intended) wait till you are my age, you don`t know what confused is yet 😢 I go into a room and can`t remember why I came in and what I came in for and then i can`t remember where I came from😁

Photography seems to be more about equipment that shooting images and capturing the moment. In some of the forums they go on about "should I use a filter or carry spare batteries etc etc" Don`t get me wrong, as you know I love the equipment side of the hobby but buying stuff just to have it seems to be the new trend I`m afraid and some people haven`t got a clue how to use all the features and spend their time trying to find their way around the camera as the photo opportunities pass them buy. When we were judging it was just so exciting seeing lots of really great images but times have changed for sure Becks. do you remember at the club one night, I was judging and someone presented a print mounted on the back of a Kelloggs conflake packet? As I remember it was a decent image but I refused to mark it.

Dave

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I make the point here in Australia that back in our day at Dagenham CC  in the UK, no one would have dreamed of suggesting that we change the scoring from 1-10 in favour of something that spares delicate members feelings. No one would have suggested that we create three different grades of photography, Basic, Intermediate and Advanced so that those who have just picked up a camera can win something.

I’ve met many people here who are not embarrassed to say they don’t want to move out of a lower grade. They prefer to be top of a lower grade rather than progress to the next. What does that say about human nature? Some clubs have even moved away from calling the grades, Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. They give them letters like A, AA and AAA. Forgive my bluntness, but it’s pathetic. 

There is no such thing as advanced photography, it’s just photography. The individual can advance themselves, but those who do usually don’t need a dumbing down of the standard to encourage them. Entry, Acceptance, Merit and Honour. Does anyone know what they mean entirely?  

Is sanity likely to return? Not in my lifetime 😁

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