Back in January of this year, after attending a Dane Sanders workshop, I made a commitment to find community. Not online or Facebook friends, but real live community.
You see, it is so easy for me to sit behind a computer, chat on Facebook with some clients and other photographers, post some blog posts, read some others and think that that is enough. But I knew that I was missing something, local support and community. So I started doing things, little things. And I ended up shocked. Shocked to find many other photographers that were craving the same thing. Photographers who were supportive and nice. And who wanted to get together and just chat about life and photos.
Five months later and lots of those little steps, Knoxville now has a community co-op studio that my friend and I run, a Facebook group of 250+, monthly shootouts, SMUG's, and best of all, we all have the support of one another! It has been such an amazing thing to witness and be part of. I had no idea how reaching out and embracing local photographers would change my whole sense of who I am as a photographer.
My challenge to you: Leave your desk and computer screen in this next week for a real life connection. Reach out, don't get hurt if someone tells you no because there are people out there who won't get it. Then keep doing it. Take a little step every week and see how your support and community builds!
Here Are Some Of The Little Steps You Can Take:
1) Search one of your fave forums to see who else from your area is on there and then connect with them
2) Have a local photographer whose blog you stalk? Leave a comment or email them
3) Invite a local photographer to coffee
4) Search Facebook for a local photography group
5) Invite a JSO photographer to go on a photo walk with you. Learn from each other
6) Be nice and friendly when you see other photographer's out doing shoots. Maybe give them your card and start a conversation
Does your town or area not have a local photographer group? Or are the local resources available to you limited? Then be a path maker! Start doing things that build community in a larger sense.
1) If your town doesn't have a photographer group, start one on Facebook and organize some get togethers
2) Ask a local photographer to teach on something for your group
3) Organize a shootout (details here)
4) Find out if other groups are meeting in your area and go! (check to see if there are SMUG's around or other locally ran groups)
5) If you are on the hunt for a studio, consider a co-op or community one that will help save costs and build relationships for you!
A Note On Shootouts:
Shootouts have been one of the best ways here in Knoxville for us to reach out and build community. While these can be time consuming and detailed, they can also be basic and so easy to put together that you could be having a shootout by next weekend.
Here is a simple way to do a shootout: Ask someone you know to be a model, pick a cool location, tell the model to wear fun and funky clothes, invite another or several photographers along. Bam! You got yourself a little fun shootout.
There are tons of ways to make shootouts more complicated but if you aren't into all the planning of it, you can still do one and keep in simple. This is how we organize photographer shootouts in Knoxville
Here Are Some Images From Our Recent Local Shoots:
So what do you think? Are you ready to start or be a part of a photography community? What benefits do you see in collaborating with other photographers? What kind of road-blocks are you experiencing? Do you think you can or want to overcome them? Speak your mind in the comments section below. We love to hear from you!