arshuter

Senior Member
This is kind of an off topic but I figured with everyone being involved with cameras this might be a good place to ask this. A camera club I belong to is have problems with 1) attendance and 2) involvement. Let me explain. There are 40ish members always the same 15 at meetings. We have a monthly meeting, a monthly SWG (special work group) usually discuss post processing or something in that line and a monthly "photo walk". To my main topic, attendance, as stated always the same 15. Looking for suggestions from others as to how/what could we do to improve our groups attendance, Also does anyone think it would be a negative to have member do a mandatory 4 meetings? .. Thank you for any and all help, Alan
 
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Clovishound

Senior Member
I was a member of a wood turning club a few years back. We ran into similar problems. Stagnant growth, meetings generally turned into show and tell, and not much else. The straw that broke the camel's back for me was that the solution some came up with was to greatly increase dues and bring more professional presenters in. I was on a limited budget at the time and the increased dues would have pushed me over the edge of what I got out of the club. It was the breaking point for many others as well, and we left.

The point is, in order to attract new members, you have to have activities that will keep up the interest, and have some variety. With a photography club, the obvious choice to me is to organize outings. I assume that is the "photo walk" you refer to. Those could be a real draw, if there are those willing to put the work in to organize them and make them interesting experiences. A "photography walk" to me sounds more like an impromptu walk through a nearby area looking for interesting subjects. I'm thinking more about full fledged outings to areas of interest that offer excellent photo opportunities. Depending on your area, that could be a tough row to hoe after picking all the low hanging fruit. You also run into burnout on the part of those that are willing to step up and do the heavy lifting of planning and carrying out the outings.

One suggestion I would make is to try and bump up the presentations at the monthly meetings. The presenters don't have to be experts in the technique presented (heck I made several presentations at our turning club), but they do need to be prepared and do their best with a technique/subject that they have some facility with. Obviously there will be those in the club with more experience and talent, and those that are either just learning, or don't have as much talent or interest. Still, everyone should be able to take something from a well prepared presentation.

I would advise against making restrictive rules. In my experience it merely leads to driving off some of the folks that you may be able to draw in to the core membership. I'm not saying you should cater to the every whim of those on the periphery, but restrictive rules and expectations can be off putting to those you are hoping to increase your numbers with.

The other thing is to advertise. I'm not talking about buying a spot on the local TV station, but there are ways to get the message out that you have a photography club and are looking for new members. Flyers on bulletin boards at libraries, work places, senior citizen centers etc. Perhaps you could contact the local newspaper about doing an article on your club. Some radio stations will broadcast information on local clubs and charities. And of course, word of mouth by the members can be a great way to spread the word. Advertising some of the more attractive photo outings to non members might be a great way to bring new members into the club.
 

arshuter

Senior Member
Thank you for the response. You must be a member of my photography club your answer hit the nail directly on the head. I can see you spent some time with this, that's very kind of you, again thank you.
 

Clovishound

Senior Member
No, I'm not a member of photography club. My experience with the turning club has a lot of transference. I thought about checking out a local photography club last fall when my interest in photography re-emerged. My experience with the other club got me to thinking about what to expect from a photo club. Unfortunately, I didn't find any local clubs that fit the bill.

What I didn't mention in my post is to explore the possibility of hiring a professional expert to make the occasional high quality presentation. Be careful with this as it can lead down a rabbit hole of needing a lot of cash to pay for it, but it can also reap benefits of drawing new folks, and retaining members.
 

Needa

Senior Member
Challenge Team
I think that is not a bad number 15 regulars out of 40. Have you been exposed to formal problem solving at work? Would any of these methods be appropriate here?


Simple 6 step here.


1. Define the Problem ( Be specific)

2. Determine the Root Cause(s) of the Problem
3. Develop Alternative Solutions
4. Select a Solution
5. Implement the Solution
6. Evaluate the Outcome


The reasons people do not attend a most likely varied. They would need to be ask why the don’t attend. Survey what could we improve? Is it a new thing or has it been that way for a long time? Is your club inclusive, ILC to phone cameras, stills and video. Demographics? Recruiting, people regularly encouraged to bring a guest. Meeting day or time a problem? You mentioned post processing is it generic or Adobe specific. If it’s Adobe specific I’m not coming to that meeting. :)



Requiring four meetings might have the opposite effect.
 

arshuter

Senior Member
For me to answer a lot of your questions to be truthful, I can't. I have only been a member for 3 years. Yes the meetings are stale and directed at one specific "brand". Most everything is from 1975, heck even at the end of the meeting it sounds like the Waltons, goodnight Johnboy, goodnight Maryellen... That said the majority of the members are retired and don't want to change anything but don't want increased dues, etc to keep up with inflation.
 

Clovishound

Senior Member
At the end of the day it may come down to what a core of the membership wants from the club. If it is primarily a social gathering, they may be content with a small membership and low expectations on growth of the hobby (not talking membership here, but growing as a photographer). There is nothing wrong with that, although it may not be what you want from the club. Also, larger membership does not necessarily translate to a better club experience. As Needa suggested, a thorough exploration of the issues and expectations is a good first step. A clear goal is absolutely necessary to implementing improvements.

I think you will find that many hobbies these days are compromised of older folks. I'm active on a couple other hobby interest forums. Most of the members are either retired, or knocking on retirement. There was a lot of grey looking at the folks in the woodturning club I was in. Nature of the beast, unless you develop an interest in something like skateboarding, or rock climbing.
 

arshuter

Senior Member
Here's a little bit of the overall situation. At our last membership meeting it was decided to form a committee to come up with ideas to help get 1) more participation and 2) membership growth. I volunteered, yes the corp taught me better. The committee consists of myself another newer member, the club president and 2 members that have been with the club for 20+ years and both of which are on the board. The president and the other new club haven't said a word yet and the older members disagree with any suggestion I make. So I thought maybe getting outsiders thoughts/opinions might give me other suggestions to throw at them.
 

Peter7100

Senior Member
Contributor
I suspect nowadays with so much online tutorials and photography content on places like youtube etc, it must be difficult to attract and retain club members. Having said that I think it is important that any such club offers something above and beyond the normal photography related discussions.

Is there a possibilty to invite professional photographers to give a talk and/or share their work?
How about creating a challenge/competition with prizes that involves attendance to the club?
Other than local walks, how about an extended trip once a year or more to some exciting photo locations?
 

Bikerbrent

Senior Member
I agree with Peter7100 fully. Now days with all the computer training and photography content, photo clubs are rapidly becoming a thing of the past! I know I gave up on my local club some time ago.
 

Clovishound

Senior Member
Well, there is something to be said for face to face interactions. There is also the aspect of "having" to complete a project prior to the next meeting that can boost your involvement in a hobby. I learned a whole lot from my time spent in the woodturning club. It challenged me to branch out and try new things. It also fed my enthusiasm in the hobby. Learning on your own often results in a narrow experience based on what you decide to try, rather than being pushed to explore new aspects. Another plus for a heavily equipment based hobby is the opportunity to get some hands on with equipment other than what you have.

Unfortunately, they can often require more of you than you are willing to give, be it time, money, or responsibility. Keeping a club running well is a difficult business, and often the hard work is borne by a dedicated few.
 

BF Hammer

Senior Member
I think Peter's comments ring true. I will go even further in that a classic club structure is just going to have a limited amount of people seeking it out in this modern age.

In the past I have been involved in chess clubs and yo-yo/skill toy clubs. I even in the past year sought out some information about a local astronomy club. But one thing that tends to be universal among these organizations is that there are a core group that is tight-knit, and it is rare for them to embrace new ideas that may keep up the interest of newer members. Changing situations for all the individuals will work to drag them away from the club at some time.

Clubs used to fill the role of exchanging ideas, furthering education, and organized activities. Today we can stream videos or read articles for any topic imaginable instantly and without leaving home. It fits our time schedule always. This forum itself is an evolution of the classic monthly club. We exchange ideas and showcase our work. We ask questions, somebody usually answers. But even the online forum format is slowly evolving into Facebook groups or Instagram. People find it inconvenient to even scroll through the latest messages and want them presented in a feed directly.

With all of this working against your club, I don't really have a great idea for helping. I would say the way to go is to find what the club can offer that really is not packaged so well as an online experience. That would be organized trips in my mind. With the way film is finding interest with younger people, maybe find a way to organize some film processing events on a regular basis. Somebody has to have film development gear and an enlarger or 2. Maybe even just developing film and making contact prints. That can be done without building a dedicated darkroom. Idea being it can give a hands-on experience for young photographers that they don't have by passing off the exposed film to a lab.
 

arshuter

Senior Member
Can you give us a little info on what the photo walks, and the SWG presentations are like?
SWG stands for Special Work Group, normally the president will took about one of the tool in lightroom or photoshop, one of the other members will share screen the topics on Petapixel then we'll critique members photos that are put on Reddit. photo walks are "let's go here and take pictures", once there you're on your own.
 

arshuter

Senior Member
Is there a possibilty to invite professional photographers to give a talk and/or share their work?
How about creating a challenge/competition with prizes that involves attendance to the club?
Other than local walks, how about an extended trip once a year or more to some exciting photo locations?
To answer question 1. we have had a few, didn't seem to help. Question 2, I'll throw that out there but i'll bet the answer will be "no" Question 3, we have trouble getting people to go more than 5 miles from home.
 

Whiskeyman

Senior Member
... and the older members disagree with any suggestion I make...

If they don't/won't participate, ignore their disagreements and press on. Find an interesting location, and tell everyone you're going and ask if they want to join you. It's too easy to be the naysayer, and much more difficult to be a leader.

As an aside, is your club insured? If not, you may want to look into it before you go on official club sanctioned trips. Is your club affiliated with PSA? If not, look into making that step for the club.

And getting 15 people to regularly attend a meeting these days is pretty darn good, with so many folks reducing their exposure to others.

W
 

arshuter

Senior Member
If they don't/won't participate, ignore their disagreements and press on. Find an interesting location, and tell everyone you're going and ask if they want to join you. It's too easy to be the naysayer, and much more difficult to be a leader.

As an aside, is your club insured? If not, you may want to look into it before you go on official club sanctioned trips. Is your club affiliated with PSA? If not, look into making that step for the club.

I press on most all the time by myself. It's hard to get them to go more than 5 miles from home. They use Reddit as a communication carrier. I have 3 suggestions for places to shoot yesterday I was the only one, next Saturday I have a suggestion for a milky way shoot, I'll probably be the only one there too. Yes we do have insurance. Also meeting are virtual on Zoom they only have to leave the TV.
And getting 15 people to regularly attend a meeting these days is pretty darn good, with so many folks reducing their exposure to others.
 

Danno

Well-known member
Contributor
@sthuter, That is not bad for a voluntary club or organization. That is the way that they work. I would be happy with 15 regulars in attendance. That is enough to plan an event and have help executing tasks. I have run volunteer organizations and that is how things unfold. People sign up and the organization is not what they thought it would be or they get busy and only show up when something really interests them.

I have also run LESS voluntary organizations that had mandatory runs and meetings where you paid a fine, or you gave up significant organizational rights if you did not show up and there were some that would still not show up and take the hit.

I learned that the best thing is to make everyone aware of events and be happy with who shows up. In my club, in the old days, I helped them understand that there would be fines higher than the cost of the trip and stood by them those fines. You really cannot make folks love something as much as you do but you can choose to enjoy the time with those that do.

The best thing I found was to post lots of photos of what they missed out on.
 

Bikerbrent

Senior Member
Let's also not forget that how many people are using the cameras built into their smart phone, rather than using a real camera. And why not. The smart phone cameras are getting better and better all the time and it is getting too easy to not bother with all kinds of control. As time goes by, their will be less and less users of real cameras, which means less and less camera club members.
 

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