No matter what your profession or hobby, networking with likeminded people is never an easy task. This can be doubly true of photographers. Writers may find other writers hanging around at coffee shops and bookstores. Businesspeople generally have a plethora of conferences to attend. For photographers, opportunities are often fewer and farther between. Even if you don’t have lots of workshops or clubs nearby, however, there are still a few good ways to meet fellow photographers. Like photography itself, sometimes it just takes a little bit of creativity to find these chances to network. Here is a guide that features some of my top ways to meet photographers and make new friends!
Start with Facebook
It’s a discussion I’ve had before: Social media just isn’t an ideal place to show off photographs or to get the critique you’re hoping for. However, social media is a great place to meet new people of all backgrounds. Facebook has thousands of different photographer’s groups that will let you meet photographers all over the world — and many of these groups are geared toward specific things like landscape photography, portraiture or wedding photography.
But that isn’t all you’ll find on Facebook. Surprisingly, Facebook is also a great place to meet local enthusiasts, too. The best way to find local groups is to use the Facebook search directly. Check for photographer’s groups in your city, your county or your state and see what the search turns up. Often, these localized groups use Facebook to keep their members abreast of news and notifications for in-person events, which means that in joining these groups, you may find yourself with new opportunities to meet photographers in person!
Meetup.com is Worth a Look
If you’re looking for even more local networking opportunities, Meetup.com is a great place to check. Part social media and part online classifieds, Meetup.com is geared specifically towards listings for groups that host in-person events regularly. Search your city, state or area to find photographer’s groups near you. In general, groups listed on Meetup.com have chosen to list themselves on this website because they are actively looking for new members, which means that you’ll almost certainly find a warm welcome from any groups that you decide to join.
Professional Clubs and Associations
Every state and almost every major metro area has at least one major photographer’s association serving it — often several. These associations are usually geared towards those who consider themselves professional photographers and some of these associations are national, with branches or chapters by state or region. Start with a search for associations and clubs in your city or region. Make sure that you also look into associations that aren’t just about photography in general but also photography relevant to your own interests — for instance, media photography, wedding photography or fine artist groups.
To get you started, here are a couple of associations that may interest you:
- Professional Photographers of Ohio: This is a state level association that hosts competitions, a business summit and various other fun events all throughout Ohio. For instance, if you’re an Ohioan, then you may enjoy the upcoming Mansfield Mayhem event, which takes place at the little photographed (and hard to access!) Ohio State Reformatory. This particular group hosts similar events all year round.
- Professional Photographers of America: This is a nationwide group that hosts events year-round all over the United States and it features an online forum to help photographers across the country connect. Give this association a look to see what events may be happening in your area.
- The American Society of Media Photographers: If you do any sort of news photography or even if you have an interest, then the ASMP is a well-regarded association with chapters covering many states in the U.S. You’ll need to look at the chapters in your area to see which networking events you’d like to attend.
Check Your Chamber of Commerce
The local chamber of commerce is an often under-utilized resource. Start by checking out the business listings on your chamber’s website. Here, you may find several photographers that you can reach out to directly for networking opportunities. More importantly, however, keep an eye out for chamber events. Most chambers will have yearly or semi-annual events specifically for area business owners. If photography is your business, you’ll want to make sure that you attend not only to network with those who may need your services but also with any other photographers who are attending these events, too.
Attend Industry-Specific Events
One great way to meet other photographers is to go to events that aren’t specifically for photographers. For example, if you are a wedding photographer, then go to as many bridal shows as you can. There will be other photographers attending with the same ideas in mind as you — pass out business cards so you can reconnect later. Similarly, if you enjoy other types of events (like reenactments, sporting events and so on), then it doesn’t hurt to say hello to the fellow photographers you see attending these events.
Go to Gallery Showings
If you’re interested in fine art photography, then you need to attend as many gallery showings as you can. These events are invaluable to the fine art photographer. Number one, you’ll be able to experience the art itself — the types of photography that gallery owners are looking for, popular techniques and so on. You’ll gain more knowledge about what makes a composition strong and hopefully, what makes art meaningful. You will also likely be able to meet the photographer that the showing is centered around as well as a variety of other photographers who are intending with similar motivations to yours.
Networking isn’t always the easiest task but it’s one that is well worth your while. Coming to know a diverse range of photographers gives you a lot of opportunities — chances to give and receive critique, business opportunities and hopefully, lifelong friendships centered around the art.