There are many camera clubs up and down the country, with at least two quite close to me. I look at their web sites every so often, and I’m always impressed with the quality of much of the members’ work. They seem to attract lots of enthusiastic photographers, and have regular events that both inform and entertain their members. They usually interact with other clubs, too.
Sounds great, so, why don’t I join one?
The simple answer is that I’m put off by their competitive nature, and the emphasis on competition, both within the club, and with other clubs, often referred to as “battles”.
I enjoy taking photographs, and looking at the work of other photographers, too. But I don’t really want to take part in the judging of one photographer’s work against that of others. I just don’t see the point. It’s like marking a Van Gogh out of 10. Having said that, I’m probably one of the least competitive people around. (The only things that seem to make me want to win are go-karting and pub quizzes. Don’t ask me why – I can’t explain it. I don’t win very often, mind you…)
It may be possible to judge a photograph on its technical merit alone, allocating or deducting points for sharpness, or other aspects of an image. But that misses the point. The appeal of photography for me lies more in the feelings that an image provokes than its technical excellence. And you can’t mark that out of ten, because it’s entirely subjective. Some of the best-executed photos leave me cold, because there’s nothing about them that grab my attention. Conversely, some of the most arresting images may be be less than perfect, technically.
So, I won’t be joining a camera club. I’ll plough my own furrow, and not worry about someone else’s marks out of ten.