When I started really focusing on photography last year, I primarily thought of it as an individual occupation. I spent hours by myself reading, shooting, reading, trying things out, reading. I was aware that people put their photos online for sharing, but I didn’t really think of putting my own stuff “out there” for reasons other than sharing with family and friends.
In the middle of winter, though, it occurred to me that maybe I would be able to find shots from other people with Canon XS’s on flickr. A few searches later, I came across the Canon DSLR Beginners group… and from there, the EOS Projects group, both run by a guy named Gary Roberton. It was the EOS Projects group that really made me aware of the community that was online – people there were participating with comments and feedback, not just throwing their photos up online. And the two-week themes gave me some focus. I’ve been enjoying the group and the themes (even though the current one, “Passion”, is giving me a hard time.)
Sometime around the end of February I found out about a local meetup group, with a monthly theme (current theme: “warm”) . I have great hopes for the meetup group. Having real conversations – in person! – with experienced photographers and newbies alike can only be good. An additional bonus is that when a potentially photographically interesting event comes up, members (especially Stacey) let the group know about it. I’ll be attending my second meeting next month.
Also in February, I found Shuttercal – a site with an active online community, a daily spot in the calendar for photos, and yet another theme. The Shuttercal themes are announced every two weeks, and are optional, but still provide focus (when I’m not working on the other themes.)
3 groups, 3 themes, but I am enjoying each in a different way. I’m “doing a 365” in Shuttercal, so I’m forcing myself to get out with the camera every day. Many of those shots, especially the weekday ones, are pretty uninspired, but sometimes I put things there that aren’t great shots but that I like anyway. It’s the daily discipline that is of value.