One of the biggest challenges in photography is that it really helps if you are a 'people person'. Whether you are just shooting for fun or if you want to make a serious career from it, at some point you are going to need to interact with clients, contractors and the general public. This can be a real challenge and if you are a little shy, like me, it can be a real barrier!
Photography is naturally a solitary pursuit and that suits the introvert down to the ground. However, if you want anyone to see your images and get feedback, you need to start interacting with people. Friends and family will always tell you that your pictures are the best thing since sliced bread. This is dangerous, I lived off these kind of compliments for way too long and only when I got some honest 'they're a bit rubbish' feedback, did I really get my act together and try to improve!
So what if there was some amazing way that like-minded people could get together and discuss images, share tips and generally chat about photography? Well they do exist, in fact, Birmingham is awash with them! We are fortunate to live in a city that has a strong creative sector which celebrates local talent and actively aims to assist those that want to learn. Digbeth and the Jewellery Quarter are creative hot spots where you can't walk down the street without tripping over new trendy start-ups.
Instagram has changed the photographic landscape and done more than just make photography accessible to the masses, it has made it a genuinely 'cool' activity. More people than ever are understanding the subtle rules behind creating an image rather than merely 'taking a snap'! Even the major players on social media (Birmingham Updates, IChooseBirmingham, Independent Birmingham, Brumpic etc.) actively promote local talent and regularly share some amazing pictures of our city from the local photographic community.
All of this sounds great but there is one final bonus, the real 'cherry on top' which is that 99% of people I have met, are genuinely nice people. Many of these people, I now class as close friends and enjoy socialising with (even when we leave the cameras at home!). I was at an 'Instameet' organised by IgersBirmingham at the weekend and it was genuinely amazing to meet up with people that I haven't seen in a while and also get to know a few people who were attending for the first time.
We are very lucky to live in a city that celebrates creativity and the photography community is incredible. Everyday there are new names springing up and providing spectacular new ways of seeing our city and the suburbs. Whether you are just starting out with photography or an old-hand, I would strongly suggest getting involved in one (or more) of the local groups (Instagram is a good place to start) and sharing your experiences with like minded people. If you're really unlucky, you may even bump into me at one!