Don’t Understand Some Camera Clubs

Posted: December 23, 2015 in Uncategorized
My understanding of a camera club is that all it’s members come together, meet, and share information that helps each photographer grow to be better photographers. The members do this by passing on their knowledge to the lesser experienced photographers, through speakers that come in for meetings and present on what they know, and through competitions and critiques that also help photographers to grow.
When I set up a workshop in different parts of the country, typically major cities with large populations, I will contact the local area camera clubs letting them know to let their members know that a multi day course about macro photography will be in their area, and that it would benefit their members and help them become better at macro photography.
Most clubs are very happy to see my workshops being offered in their area, and they do contact their members to let them know, as that is what a camera club should be about, helping their members grow as photographers. Why would you not want to offer this information.
It amazes me on how many clubs refuse to let their members know about this opportunity. The club president will say, well if you are not a member of our club, or haven’t presented at one of our club meetings, then we will not promote your workshop.
I don’t understand the reasoning that they would withhold this information from their members, which would be a benefit to their members, and could help them grow as photographers. This is what a camera club is about, helping photographers grow, and not about withholding information that may help them.
Now I can understand that they wouldn’t promote workshop leaders workshops that are in other states, but mine are right in their backyard, close for the members to attend without any cost for travel.
I think all clubs should have a page on their websites for workshop leaders to post their workshops for the members to be able to find workshops all over the country that they may be interested in attending.
Some will say, well Mike you are a business and making money, so maybe that’s why they don’t want to promote your workshops in their area. Well of course workshops are making money, that’s how they exist, but the fact reminds that the people attending are all benefiting from an experienced photographer, and money is what allows a workshop leader to come into the area and teach the workshop. Without the money there is no workshop, and the photographer loses the benefit of an experienced teacher.
Maybe I’m missing something with these clubs that refuse to let members know about these opportunities for their members to learn and become better photographers, or maybe they are trying to keep all the learning within the club, like some kind of secret society.
The absurd idea that if you are not a member or haven’t presented at our club, we can’t let our members know about your workshop, is ridiculous. If I was a member of a club and interested in macro photography and found out that a pro was in town teaching on this subject, and the club refused to let that info be known when they knew about it, I would be a little upset.


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  1. tlcroce says:

    Mike, I couldn’t agree with you more! I asked a leader of a local group in the Cincinnati are why they would tell there members about workshops offered by nationally recognized photographers, and I was left speechless by the answer, ” they were protecting their members”. WOW

  2. tlcroce says:

    And I would happy to help promote anything you want to do in the Cincinnati area!

  3. We are the Cobb Photo Society, oldest photo club in the Atlanta GA area. You are welcome at our twice-monthly meetings any time…any time you are down at Old Car City or other venues in the Atlanta/Marietta area, send us an email. Thanks for sharing your work and expertise.

    • Mike Moats says:

      Thanks Paul. I will be in your area in the end of January, and I am doing a program for one of the clubs in the area, don’t remember which one it is, but I will also be coming back again in the end of March for a Old Car City workshop.

  4. Mary says:


    I am a member of one of the oldest camera clubs on the East Coast, the Delaware County Camera Club, 78 years strong, with over 150 members. I also serve as the VP of the club. I did reach out to you to see if you could come to our club but your schedule did not allow it…if you are ever in the Philadelphia area, we would love to have you come make a presentation.

    Camera Clubs are a dying thing and we have many struggles to survive. One of the struggles that we face as a camera club is the declining membership and the lack of ability to recruit new younger members. This places a strain on the club’s resources to be able to provide high quality programs and competitions for members to participate in, at the same time, trying to grow our club.

    We have been lucky in attracting quality nationally known speakers such as your friend John Slonina and John Barclay. John was the one who recommended I contact you to see if you could come to our club. John happened to be in our area and was happy to provide a talk on his way home. We try to invite local speakers and we try to get nationally known speakers such as yourself. However, to be very honest, many speakers do not want to come to camera clubs because we are relatively small in size. Plus many speakers, frankly, look down on camera clubs. We are a bunch of volunteers who love photography and give our time to help others develop their passion for photography. However, we also have members who have won local and national photo competitions, so we are not too shabby !

    As far as providing information to club members, we try to distribute as many opportunities to our club members as possible. There are many different price points workshop options that we publish so our members have options in their budgets.

    In hopes to change your mind about camera clubs, I will be posting our upcoming schedule to our facebook group and the first weekly email in 2016. I will do this in the hopes that you will change your mind about camera clubs. I also hope our members will be able to attend your Virginia or New York workshop in 2016. I am coming to the one in Virginia in March and hope to bring some of my club mates with me.

    If you would like to offer one of your workshops in the Philadelphia area, please do not hesitate to contact me, our club members can help you find a good location and promote the workshop to our members as well as our peer clubs in the tri-state region.

    Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season !

    • Mike Moats says:

      Hey Mary, thanks for your support and I have been in the philly area a number of times with workshops and I have also presented for tons of camera club as long as they can work with my schedule when I’m in the area, which sometimes just doesn’t always work out. I do have to be careful when scheduling a camera club because I’ve had some that I spent extra time in an area to do a presentation only to have 15 people show up. I do plan to come back to the philly area to do my new workshop but no dates or location set yet.

  5. Thomas Nighswander says:

    I run the largest camera club / Meetup in the state of Michigan. I would love to have you teach a workshop that focused on my club members. i also teach workshops as well but MACRO isnt my specialty so your workshops would be a welcome addition.
    Thomas Nighswander
    Michigan Photo Adventures
    National Photography Workshops

    • Mike Moats says:

      Thanks Thomas, I have found the meet up groups to be the least likely to help promote a workshop and in many cases very unfriendly. I remember a few years ago one meet up group leader physically threaten a workshop leader for contacting his group.

  6. Rebecca Lovern says:

    I am a co-organizer of a club that has had an issue with this in the past before I was involved. The leader has another agenda and promotions growth was not a goal. Ridiculous as it may sound clubs are formed for many reasons and all are not unselfish. It is ideal when a club is like you describe. We are currently changing this and beginning to list growth opportunities for photographers in our area. I share in your frustration and hope to be one of the clubs that welcome your information. I loved your presentation at Nature Visions Photography Expo. It was filled with specific tips and guidance on equipment.

  7. jaygheiser says:

    Petty bureaucrats.

    It takes a lot of time and energy to run a club, and often, they attract people who are more interested in the power than the product. It’s a very local form of politics. If and when the members get upset, they will vote in new leadership. Last I saw, the Cleveland Photographic Society was suffering from growth pains and not everyone was happy with the latest leadership.

    We recently moved from NoVA, where I had participated in 3 clubs, to Columbus, OH, which seems very underserved. A metro area comparable in size to Cleveland, it has much less club activity. It seems to have a lot of photographers, and maybe is over served with camera stores and repair shops. You going to do a seminar there some day?


    • Mike Moats says:

      Jay, I do want to hit the Columbus area soon, if I can get some help from the clubs. I do generate a lot of my participants from the internet, but still rely on clubs for help.

  8. Elane Graves says:

    Definitely not how we run our club. We’re always looking for new and interesting speakers and our membership loves workshops.

  9. Pixelchaser says:

    Been seeing a trend of professional photographers using clubs/Meetup to get members to pay for their own workshops, personal mentorships and/or travel photography. These “clubs” block others leading workshop/training so they don’t erode their business.

    • Mike Moats says:

      Not sure what you mean by clubs eroding their business, clubs are not businesses, they are designed for teaching and learning.

      • Rebecca Lovern says:

        Mike, I think the reference is about clubs that are started by those in the photography business. There is one in Virginia that is run by a company that does photography tours. I don’t know if they restrict outsiders from presenting but they do teach most of the workshops and charge a fee.

      • Mike Moats says:

        Rebecca, that group sounds more like a meet-up group rather then a camera club. I ran a meet-up group for a while and know of others that run them and do run workshop that people pay to attend.

  10. Kathy says:

    I do hope you can see from these comments that not all camera clubs are created equal. That’s like saying all presenters do it for the money. Here in Connecticut there are many different clubs. Some clubs have leaders that self promote and use membership to promote only their workshops. However the club I belong to now is absolutely wonderful. Our board and experienced members eagerly share. As a club we are young. That means some members have put up their own funds to benefit the club (projector, screens, speakers ….) Everything costs. Our president is always looking for speakers who will help the club as a whole and not just those who could afford an expensive workshop. If you are ever in the CT area – and are within our means – I can assure you there will be more than 15 people.

    • Mike Moats says:

      Thanks Kathy, I do speak at a lot of clubs when I’m in their areas, and if night I am available works with their schedule. I don’t mean to refer that most clubs are like this, it’s just a few I run into, but it puzzles me when I do get this kind of attitude.

  11. Fred Emery says:

    Sad to hear this attitude exists. I belong to a wonderful club and as a new member and novice, appreciate all help I can get and the comaradarie.

  12. lighthouse75 says:

    I agree entirely, Mike. Seems that some people can be very territorial and/or like adhering to some arcane rules. i guess it’s the same mindset that, in effect, prohibits entering photos of Mt Washington (NH) in a nature competition because that sublime peak has a couple of tiny buildings on top.

  13. George says:

    So you’re whining because they won’t provide you with free marketing for your paid workshop? How do they know you are any good or worth the cost to their members. Do you offer to buy an ad on their website?

    • Mike Moats says:

      George, do you think I’m getting rich selling multi-day workshops at $159 to $199. I’m providing a service to photographers at a great price, and if I had to pay for ads, then I would have to raise the rates, and then it becomes more expensive for everyone to attend. I give away free macro advice here on my blog every single day to people like yourself, and don’t ask for you to pay for it. I have spoke at many clubs for free if they have no budget to pay. I help people all the time when they have questions or ask for advice. Three times I have given away a free 50 page e-book here on my blog and through social media. I also give away many many books, e-books, and even workshops at camera clubs and photo conferences as door prizes, so don’t accuse me of whining for free advertising when I do my share of free services and products.

    • I can understand being cautious of who is brought in to talk at a photo club meeting. I attend photo club meetings to learn as much as possible about photography and how to improve my skills. Less than two years into a hobby that I absolutely love, I have so much yet to learn. From my personal perspective, the various photo clubs that I attend should inform me about opportunities in the area that may help me grow as a photographer. What I decide to spend my money on and whether it is worth the cost or not is solely MY decision (and my husband), not any other photo club member or leader. If I choose to pay for a workshop promoted by a club that turns out to be awful, the fault is mine. I should have spent more time researching the person leading the workshop. Each photographer is different, with different interests and skill levels. No one should assume that one workshop that does not seem worthwhile to them will not be beneficial to any other photographer. As I said before, this is just my personal two cents worth (if that much). 🙂

      • Mike Moats says:

        You are exactly right about workshops, you have to do your own research on any workshop whether it is recommended or not. You can’t go buy what others say because everyone views things differently.

  14. So glad I found your site through WordPress! I have already told my husband that I cannot wait to attend one of your workshops. It may not happen any time soon but one of these days, I will be there with so many questions.

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