- Hide menu
When I came back from Afghanistan I wanted to learn a lot more about the Art of Photography. I had spent most of a year recording images of the war zone most people didn’t get to see. As we flew out to MEDEVAC missions I would snap shots with an old Canon 1100IS with dust permanently behind the lens or later my Canon G12. People really seemed to be drawn to them, and I was asked to produce a book. However I had no real grasp of the Art behind the images. I was just taking pictures of things I thought were worth taking photos of.
When I got back I discovered there was a SMUG in Fairbanks. A SMUG is a SmugMug User Group, a photography Club. They were a great group of people and it really didn’t matter what your skill level was. Everyone was there to enjoy photography and learn from each other. In the six months I had remaining in Fairbanks, I gained a wealth of knowledge. The SMUG led me to take classes on lighting, business models, as well as going on several excursions, including a few into Denali National Park. I enjoyed it so much, I am still connected to the group via Facebook, although I am currently about as far away from Fairbanks as you can get and still be on the continent.
When I got to my current location, I discovered there really weren’t any groups like this. There is a group for PPA members, but not really for the public at large. I found a group two hours away that was well established as well as a group in the north end of the state, the NAPG, where I had friends. None of these options was really close enough to be a viable option. I missed the camaraderie, learning, and enjoyment that my SMUG had offered.
I started asking around and discovered there were a lot of other people in the same situation. They enjoyed photography, wanted to improve or share, and didn’t have a group to travel and socialize with. So I started a Facebook page for a group and its currently growing. We recently had our first meeting and are actually starting to plan some events. I modeled it after my SMUG in Fairbanks, but unfortunately SmugMug is not offering any more sponsorships currently.
If you don’t belong to a group or don’t have an outlet for your art, you really need to find one nearby. I can’t tell you how important it has been to me and my craft to have other people to talk to, learn from, and even have critique my work. Its a wonderful way to network and pick up chances to second shoot, take seminars, and offer your services. I even posted a job on a group site and had several offers within an hour, making the client extremely happy. If you don’t have one, start one. I did, and believe me, if my anti-social self can do it, you can too!