The dark side of photo club photography
There is one other topic I want to cover more on this channel this year, and that is mobile phone photography.
Being a member of two local photographic clubs, I have a good overview of what kind of people are engaged in photography clubs. And I can tell you one thing: it is not the mobile phone photographer. Some people would even go that far to tell you that taking images with a mobile phone is not ‘real’ photography and therefore does not belong in a photographic club.
Photo Club membership is in decline
Let me take a little detour here. I think that photo clubs face a lot of adverse effects in the year 2023. We have seen some clubs not being able to survive, they just didn’t have enough people to do the work that is necessary to run even the smallest clubs. It would be interesting to see if that is a general society thing, or more a thing for photographic clubs. But even the national association here in New Zealand for amateur photography (PSNZ – Photographic Society of New Zealand) has problems filling the roles to run the society smoothly. Now what has that to do with mobile phonephotography?
How do we cater for mobile phone photographers?
I think that we do not have a problem with small numbers of photographers, we have a problem that we just do not care for a big portion of them: mobile phone photographers. Everyone who has a phone that is at least a little bit ‘smart’ can take pictures with it and is therefore a potential candidate for diving deeper into photography, given the opportunity and education. But the photo clubs do not pick them up where they come from. A lot of young people step into the world of photography with their smart phones, taking images of their life and post them on social media. But where do they go if they want to get better at taking the images and do post-processing? When you look at the average age of the photo club members, you see where one of the problems is. We need more younger people in the clubs, it is a rare occurrence for someone in their 20s or even younger to turn up to the meetings. It just doesn’t seem to be attractive for them to talk about photography with mostly older people, and the monthly program does not recognize mobile phone photography at all. In the last five years I have not seen one single talk or competition or workshop or anything that would cater specifically for mobile phone photographers. I think that is a big opportunity missed.
I will try to dig a bit deeper into that topic this year, maybe we can do something about it.
What can we do?
What do you think, do we need different photo clubs to cater for mobile phone photographers, do we need to change the program? Do we need to get off the high horses to open the eyes and welcome this different kind of photography, that is actually not that different from photography with dedicated cameras?
Put your comments below, I’m curious to see what your thoughts are.