I'd previously considered the idea of joining a camera club but had visions of it being full of stuffy, blinkered old duffers which would probably do my confidence in my photography more harm than good. So, when I moved to Suffolk and my new neighbour suggested I go along to the local camera club with her my first reaction was to make my excuses,
"Thursdays you say? Darn, would you believe I'm washing my hair?"
Then again she didn't seem to fit my mental image of a dusty old camera club member so I found myself accepting her offer and becoming a guest at Felixstowe Photographic Society... six months later I'm still going every week.
Ok so either I was totally wrong about camera clubs or I got lucky, but the people, although admittedly not exactly Radio 1 demographic, were neither blinkered or stuffy but actually friendly. More importantly I was wrong about what joining a club would do for my photography, it added a whole new dimension... I discovered prints.
Now, I'm an unashamed totally digital photographer. Although I remember the feeling of excitement as a child when the holiday snaps arrived back from Tru-print, all my creative photography has been in the digital age with memory cards, Raw files, Photoshop and online galleries. I love the way I can instantly share my photos online with people all over the world, I don't even own a printer so prints are, or were, pretty much irrelevant to me.
A lot of the photographers at the club are totally the opposite, they have a lot more experience with film and although everyone shoots with digital cameras now, their love of printing didn't die when they moved from film... and sitting there studying members prints one at a time, I can understand why.
Looking at photos online you are overloaded with images, stunning images, awful images, clichéd images, Flickr has about 2000 images uploaded every minute! You flick through thumbnails only stopping at the best and view low quality versions that because of screen differences you're not even sure you are seeing as the photographer intended. Looking at a print you somehow take the time to study it, to see the detail and appreciate the colour and tone in a way that you don't get sat in front of a computer. What's more you look at work outside your usual sphere of interest and broaden your horizons.
So if you've ever wondered about going along to a camera club, why not wash your hair a different night and give it a go.