Community in 2021

“Showing up is something almost every creative leader has in common. In business, in the arts, in society. And community is essential. The people you surround yourself with can reinforce your story, raise the bar and egg you on. After the fact, the community becomes an integral part of your story of success. But first, you have to commit to the journey.” Seth Godin

I started my photography journey over 15 years ago. What began as a hobby to capture my travels and kids expanded to part of my life. I now shoot with intention, as a way to calm the chaos of life, to explore places and the small details of life. As I look back on my journey, my skills have grown, my abilities increased, the quality of images increased, but most of all, I found a connection with others, a community. If you are getting started with photography or in the middle of your journey, I encourage you to be sure you have found a community. A Network of artists who inspire you, teach you and help you with your craft’s vision. I have been a part of several organizations along my journey, and I continue with some today. I have made life long friends from very unexpected places. As you think about this new year, will you stretch yourself and find a community supporting your growth and vision?  Below are some great options to consider. 

If you are new to photography and your camera, you cannot go wrong with the community and program of A Year with My Camera, Emma Davies. This community is such a simple, easy to use, and fun group of new photographers.  There is an easy to use app to review lessons, share images, get support, and make connections. This network is extensive but encouraging for beginners. And since it is virtual, you get to use it when it works for you. 

One of my first communities was Click in Moms. They are an extensive network that could seem overwhelming, but I encourage you to jump in and check it out. They have a ton of small group forums, workshops, courses. A defining moment for my photography was taking a leap and attending one of their annual conferences. I did not know anyone; for me, an introvert, that was hard. But, this event was life-changing. I learned so much, but more importantly, I found community. I made connections that are with me today. I left knowing what a difference a photo community could have in my life and with my art. 

Over the years, I have been a part of smaller communities, both online and local. One of my all-time favorite artists and instructors, Caroline Jensen, has started her own Creative Photography Network. She has created a warm community where you can learn, share images, and meet like-minded artists. It is a safe place to connect with others. Another network specific to off-camera focus is The Salted Collective.  I am jumping into this as a personal project this year. The Salted Collective network is an excellent resource if you want to grow in the area of off-camera focus and all things photography. 

Meetup groups in your local area or around the globe are another way to build connections. They offer virtual and in-person meetings in local areas, webinars, and speaker series. I am a part of several local meetup groups focused on nature photography. Camera Clubs can also be an option and are available in most areas. I have joined those over the years with mixed reviews. I encourage you to check them out online, read about their mission, and ensure that it is on track with where you are as a photographer. Often they are focused on education and competitions. Just be sure the competitions are in line with your vision for your art. Find a club that supports the type of work you do is critical to this community type. 

Subscribing to a blog post, online Facebook, or other groups can be a smaller way to connect. I love the blog by Clare Nolan, A flower-filled life. Her photography, stories, and flower knowledge is inspiring. There are also Facebook groups, be mindful of their purpose and support of connection and community. One of my favorite Facebook groups is ICM photography magazine. They have a very active and supportive Facebook group. Their mission is to share knowledge and inspiration around intentional camera movement. Facebook groups or other networks can be a great resource, be aware of the group’s mission and how the community supports one another. 

In our digital and virtual world, there are so many options. I encourage you to determine what type of community would benefit you, your goals, and what personal projects you want to tackle this year. Then I would choose 1-2 places to get involved. Jump in and see if the community is a fit for you. To get a good feel for a group, you have to get involved. Share images, read posts, and be active to see if it will be a good fit. If not, there is no shame in closing a door and moving to the next. Be true to yourself and your art. I hope you will find a purposeful connection and community in 2021. 

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