At the end of my first full year as a member of Felixstowe Photographic Society (my first full year as a member of any photographic society come to think of it) came last Saturday's annual awards dinner.
Looking back on an interesting year of discussions, exhibitions, models, films, food, talks, tuition and last but not least competitions, there have also been a lot of firsts... First time entering a print competition, first time using studio lighting, first nerve wracking time giving a presentation about long exposure photography to name but a few. Whatever your opinions of camera clubs joining one has taken me out of my comfort zone slightly and I've learnt a lot from the experience.
Entering the monthly competitions has been a learning curve, choosing and preparing prints for entry and then having people comment on your photography gives you a valuable (if slightly scary) insight into how other people see your work and seeing other people's take on a competition theme keeps you thinking. Of course it's best not to take these things too seriously, sometimes you'll agree with what the expert judges think (when you win), other times they clearly have no idea what they're talking about (when you don't win) but it's all just opinion and enjoying and hopefully improving your photography is what matters.
So what have I come away with after a year being involved in a camera club? I honestly believe my photography has improved and I've made some new friends (see the motley crew below)... oh, and at the awards dinner I came away with three nice shiny trophies for my efforts in the competitions!