How to Start Your Own Camera Club

How to Start Your Own Camera Club

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KjellLeknes

Kjell – camera club leader

A camera club is a great way to keep your passion for photography going, meet new people with similar interests, share your photos, and get inspiration from other photographers. Here are a few tips on how to get your own local camera club up and running. Before getting started, check if there already is a local camera club were you live. If so, join them! See how you can take part and contribute to their existing community. It is better to have one large community, than several smaller ones. As a team, you and your new team members can help each other. Local partners will be more interested in participating and sponsoring your events.

Finding members and venues for meetings

The membership of your camera club doesn’t have to be all photographers only. They can also be photography enthusiasts interested in seeing and discussing photography. Social online networks like MeetUp.com are popular places to find and start a camera club. It relieves you from much of the administrative work like; keeping track of who’s joining your meetings, sends reminders, limits RSVPs and generate waiting lists for full events.

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Photo walk

Photographers are usually down to earth people. They don’t need a fancy hotel conference center to meet. Try approaching local high schools and photography related shops, galleries and museums. Perhaps the local library, book shop or municipality. See if they are willing to sponsor use of their venue for free. If not, see which event venues can be rented. You can charge your members a small fee to cover the costs. Ask if they give discounts for not-for-profit initiatives. Check where other local clubs meet and approach those venues.

Events and membership

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Portfolio review

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Model workshop

A camera club can have several different kinds of events such as; portfolio reviews where members bring their photos, share, learn and get inspired by each other; photo walks were you meet up and walk together taking photos. Expect the participation numbers to be low at first. Remember you are in the early stages of building your network. If your events are good, word will spread and your camera club will grow at an accelerated speed. Other types of events to keep in mind; visits to local galleries, workshops by hired instructors, and lectures by local professionals.

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Model workshop

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Model workshop

Be very clear in the communication with your members, and specify events in detail. It is important that participants have a very clear picture of what the event will be like. That way you increase your chances the event will meet expectations and become a great success. Decide early on if you want your camera club to charge a membership fee, or if it will be free. Keeping it free will mean more members. You can always charge per event to cover costs.

Website and social media

A camera club should have a website where people wanting to join can find basic information. It’s also a great way to feature member’s photos and advertise upcoming events. Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts would be natural add-ons.

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Selfies with Vivian Maier at a gallery visit

Quality, not quantity

As your camera club grows, pay attention to the most active members. Invite them to help run the camera club. Together, your initiative can become a great success. Make a written partnership agreement. It doesn’t have to be in formal legal jargon. It just needs to be a simple outline; who is responsible for what, how events should be run, and what should happen with the camera club’s common assets should the partnership not work out. Make sure people you take on don’t have conflicting goals about what the camera club should become, or what you want to get out of it in the end.

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Photo course for beginners

It is better to have a small camera club with good quality events, than a large camera club with little or no activity. Spend time developing events you think other photographers would love to participate in, this way, your camera club will grow at a comfortable rate with good quality events.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Kjell Leknes runs the Amsterdam Photo Club, organizing more than 30 events per year for local photographers. He is also a Shutterstock community leader, helping many photographers become stock photographers. See more on his own website and the camera club site.

  • me

    I run a camera group.90% of our activities are out and about, in a park, street walks etc. Once a month we have a meet in a community centre for specific tutorials. BUT over the past few years it is clear that people want to get out and about and ask questions and learn ‘on the job’. There is a theme our aim, technical or composition and this can be made fun by combining this with a required element i.e five of something or the number 5 etc.

    I also make people attend at least one outing in their first month. In these days of ‘click and join’ I find people join, then never participate. No attendance, they are sent an email saying they have been removed and can rejoin when they are in a better position to participate (this rule is also on the info page).

    I also clean out non-active members – those who have not participated at all or even checked the meetup site for three months.

    Yes it is participate or perish.

    I also charge just $10pa to cover costs of the meetup site and a little towards petrol as I scout locations prior to listing an outing.

    But perhaps the most important aspect is SOCIAL. I always have coffee and cake in the park or a cafe, or a pub meal etc after. This prevents people standing around and talking as they know they have the chance later!

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