If ever there were an era that was catered entirely to the end user – the beginning photographer – that time is now. Digital cameras give us instant feedback. They log our settings, allow us to control off-camera flashes from the back of the display and even allow some minor edits directly on the camera. The in-camera meters have never been better and with facial recognition, many cameras automatically know exactly what to focus on. The newest cameras even have help manuals loaded directly on the camera itself. Sharing photos has never been easier or more beneficial. Which is why I am dumbfounded to find that more than half our readers still do not belong to a photo sharing community like Flickr, Instagr.am or DeviantART. Still on the fence? Here’s some reasons to join such a community:
- Encouragement – There is nothing more encouraging than being a part of a larger group of people, a portion of which are at exactly the same place you are. Some of these people might “favorite” your work…and each bit of praise encourages you to do more.
- Feedback – It might take a while, but you will eventually start to garner some input and constructive criticism from viewers of your work.
- Fame – No, you won’t go down in history like Ansel Adams, but you will develop a bit of a fan base. You can count on these people for both feedback and encouragement. Some will become like good friends.
- Group Participation – Many of these communities have groups or challenges that you can participate in. These groups are a source of common interest and may help you to build your own style.
- Inspiration – Hit a rut? Browse through your community. You’re bound to find some interesting styles and approaches that you may be willing to try yourself. Even if it never sticks, it might get you out of your rut.
- Experimentation – A photo sharing community is a great place to float ideas and some of your riskiest experiments – perhaps those you don’t want to put in your regular portfolio (yet). You can deliver such works as experiments and get the feedback and thoughts that you need to tweak.
There are a number of photo sharing communities out there – each with its own benefits and drawbacks, each catering towards a different type of purpose. But if you want to start somewhere, we of course would recommend Flickr. If you are a member of Flickr, or if you consider joining, you’ll be able to join our Shutter Photo @ Flickr Group. That way, you can see and share photos with other readers of Shutter Photo. As a bonus, you’ll note that our Tuesday inspiration column is always drawn from that group.
Surely, I can’t possibly have come up with all of the reasons to consider a photo community. If there’s anything else I missed, please share. And for those who are considering new communities, feel free to share your thoughts about communities that you belong to and love.