Join a Meetup group

If you’re like me you’ll say “I think I’ll go and make some photos tomorrow.” Well, tomorrow gets here a week or two later and you still have not gotten out to make those photos. Then you start over again, “I think…” You see, we can all find things to fill up our time and photography is one that is often pushed to the back burner. Here’s a suggestion, join a photography group at Meetup.com. I joined a meetup and within a month I took over that group when the original organizer was ready to step down. Then in October 2010 I changed the name and the direction of that meetup group and I haven’t looked back since.

The original name of the group was “When Everyone Else Is Working Photography Meetup Group.” I joined because I liked the name and I have time to shoot when everyone else is working. Well, before I could go to my first meetup along came a message saying the organizer of the meetup was stepping down and did anyone want to take over. Even worse, if no one wanted to take over the group would fold. Just my luck, I find a group to join, when I can get out and shoot and the group’s organizer is ready to call it quits. But then I had an idea, why not take it over! If I was the organizer I’d have to show up, right? That would get me out shooting! Well that’s what I did. I became the group’s organizer.

Being the organizer of a photography meetup group is not very hard at all. All you really have to do is pick a location that you want to shoot at and then schedule the meetup. If you are starting from scratch you will have to let people know about the new group. That’s not too hard because Meetup.com has some ideas on how to attract people to your group.

After about a year, the meetups during the summer months having very low attendance with people going on vacation, and low attendance over all, it was time for a change. Last October I decided to change the name and the direction of the group. So that’s what I did. The When Everyone Else Is Working Photography Meetup Group became the Night and Low Light Photography Group. We meet every three weeks at different locations in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC area. Over the winter months we have gone out in some cold temperatures, 17º on one occasion! Yeah, that was cold. For a guy from Key West, that was REALLY cold! Being the organizer has gotten me out shooting when I would have otherwise not gone out and that’s a good thing.

Even if you are not up to being an organizer, join a group that will get you out shooting and you will be glad you did!

Update July 25, 2011: I have started a third Meetup: Digital Photo Academy DC. If you are in the DC area and would like more info on DPA Classes join this new Meetup, we’d love to se you at a future Meetup!

Why make an image?

Have you ever thought about what caused you, at any particular moment, to make an image? I say make because there was some thought process at work when you thought “Hey, that’s nice, I think I’d like to have a photograph of that.” Taking a photograph has always sounded a bit sketchy to me. Like running into a gallery and grabbing the first photograph you see and heading for the door. We should always make photographs not take them. So what where you thinking when you made that photograph? It sounds like an easy enough question but at times you just don’t know or do you? Think about it for a minute, something inspired you to make that photograph. Was it the light? How about the subject? Was it possibly a combination of the two? Maybe it was an event that would never be repeated? Where you at a location that you might never get back to again?

Think about it next time you want to make an image… Why should I make this image?

Deep In Thought
Deep In Thought

Wilson Bridge at Night

Recently, as the organizer of the Night and Low Light Photography Group I went to Alexandria to photograph the Woodrow Wilson Bridge with several members of the group. This was the first time that I have gone to photograph the bridge since the new bridge was completed. I have driven across it several times and I think it’s a great looking bridge, not as nice as some, but a lot nicer than what was there. I plan on going back and photographing the bridge again and again. There are a lot of great angles and views to explore from both sides of the river and from the river itself. I like finally getting out to photograph something that I have been thinking about photographing for a while. Not that I have checked it off my list but because I want to go back again and again to see how I can make photos of something that many people look at everyday and never give it much thought. Why don’t you find a subject that you think many people take for granted and show everyone what they are not seeing?

Woodrow Wilson Bridge at Night

Where have you been for the past three weeks?

In the previous post, I said I was going to post a photo a day of my yard. So, what happened? Well, that’s a very good question. As happens often with me when I set out to do a personal project, the universe has another plan! Several things have been going on some good and some not so good. I’ve felt a bit ill on a few occasions, staying in bed trying to sweat out a fever is not my idea of fun but it beats being really sick for a few days. I have signed a contract with Digital Photo Academy to teach classes and getting everything they need to get things started has taken up quite a bit of time. I have been running back and forth like crazy making sure the boys get to their after-school activities and I have been to a few Meetups that I organize. Busy yes but should I let it get in the way of creating images? Well no, I shouldn’t, but I have. It’s not like I haven’t been making photos at all, just not of what I set out to make photos of. And therein lies the story of my photographic life.

You see I truly believe that the photo universe will give you hints as to what you should be shooting. These hints can be very subtle or a right kick in the pants! When I was assisting other photographers I said all I wanted to do was stock photography. Go to nice place shot everything is saw and then market those images to various photo buyers. Yeah, do that and life would be grand! The one thing I did not want to do was to shoot people! Well guess what, most of the work I have been assigned to do has been… you guessed it… photograph people. The photo universe loves to play wicked little games with us photographers. Well, maybe its just me.

So what does all this have to do with the last three weeks? Like I said I have been making photos of different things but those things are just not what I set out to do for a month. Is that a bad thing? I think not. But, if you were hoping to see what I came up with from the part of my yard that you can see from that window, well, you might be saying… “Get out there and shoot something!” and you would be right!

Month long project

The view out of a window here at my house.

I sit at this window every morning from late fall to early spring watching for the school bus. When all the leaves are off the trees until they come back in the spring we have a clear view of the bus stop just before ours. We live on a corner so the boys just have to walk to the end of the drive way and a short way before they are at the bus stop. This morning I was sitting there thinking that there must be something interesting to photograph in all that. So I started to really look and see the possibilities.

I have been following Michael Kitada’s blog at TakeBetterPhotosNow.com for some time now. I read a few of his posts about making images in his back yard, something I have been doing on occasion in my backyard. Since I started reading his blog I have liked his tag line “Be inspired!”. I have been using a similar tag line of “Create Every Day!” for years. Its something I don’t do, photographically at least, often enough. Michael’s blog is full of ideas to help you find inspiration and I guess he and his blog are more than just a little bit responsible for the inspiration for what I came up with.

Sitting at that window on this rainy, cloudy, dreary morning, I came up with a plan: make a photograph a day for the next 30 days of that area of the yard and only from that area. Doing a photo a day is not very original idea but I look at it more as a challenge than just making an image a day. In this view it does not look very inspiring and that is part of what I mean when I say I look at it as a challenge. Creating images is easy in some places. All you need to do is get to the right location. What I think will be the biggest challenge is finding images I want to post and share with people from just the part of our yard.

If you want to follow along I’ll be posting the daily images to my Tumblr account for all to see. I’ll post weekly updates here with a recap of all the images from each week. I’m looking forward to the challenge and I hope you like the images I come up with.

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