Who Needs Photo Assignments?
In the world of photography, growth and improvement come hand in hand with embracing new challenges.
Stepping out of our comfort zones and pushing our artistic boundaries is crucial for honing our skills and unleashing our true potential as photographers. But how do we know if we are ready to take on these challenges?
My recently published online questionnaire, designed for people thinking about joining my one-year Photography Masterclass, has proved to be an insightful source of information – and has shed light on this very question.
The questionnaire posed a thought-provoking question: “Would you enjoy being set photo assignments – even if they stretched you?” The response was unanimous: 100% of them answered with a resounding “Yes.”
Interpreting the Results:
This unanimous agreement suggests that there is a genuinely adventurous spirit lying within all of us. That we’re not simply content to stay within our comfort zones; we crave new experiences, challenges, and opportunities to grow.
However, a result of 100% also suggests to me that the only people to have taken part in the quiz so far, are perhaps among the more keen to improve their photography skills. Few things in life are genuinely 100%, so I am expecting that number to drop a little – as more and more people complete the quiz.
Nevertheless, it is immensely encouraging that so many photographers would want to push themselves. The hunger also suggests to me that assignments are a bit in short supply. Could it be that hungers are not being satisfied elsewhere?
Is that really a surprise? I don’t think so.
The Problem with (some) Camera Clubs
The feedback I get from so many students these days is that the traditional place where hobbyists have been able to grow and learn (camera clubs) are on the decline. Numbers are dropping and recruiting new members is becoming increasingly difficult. As the demographics inside many of these clubs get older and older, it compounds the difficulty of finding fresh new blood. Added to that is the constant need for competitions.
The ‘C’ word
I can’t have a conversation with students these days without someone telling a story about how they visited their local camera club only to find the preoccupation with competitions a real turn-off. Certainly, the feedback I’m getting is that most people go to camera clubs to learn – not to compete. They are new to photography and their expectation is that the local club will be a source of knowledge. Instead, week after week they get competitions.
What if… instead of competitions the club ran assignments?
Remove the competitive element and inspire creative development through assignments (which people can team up on if they wish). Remove competitiveness and foster cooperation.
I’ve been responsible in the past 15 years for starting two camera clubs. Neither had competitions, both had assignments.
There are some truly excellent camera clubs in this country, but they are not in the majority. I find it immensely sad.
Up and down the UK, club volunteers are putting in long hours and working hard to support their clubs, but working hard does not replace working smart. It is perhaps time for radical change, radical to the point of possibly upsetting the old guard and transforming in order to attract a newer, younger membership.
There’s no doubt that photographers want to be set assignments that stretch them, to help them learn and grow, but the evidence shows that many of them don’t want a competitive environment. This would be so easy for camera clubs to do.
How many times have I said that for many of us, photography is a lonely hobby?
Because it is.
Well, for some people it is.
I know from data coming in from Hampshire School of Photography’s Photo Assessment Tool, that one of the key areas that hold us back from developing as photographers, is a lack of photography friends. If we’re not going to camera clubs like we used to, how on earth do we find and make photography friends?
Hobbies are nearly always more fun when shared with friends. Apart from the social benefits, our friends have their own photography knowledge which is different to ours. This means, that when you go out together, you can tap into the other person’s knowledge and learn from them. It’s a symbiotic relationship, you learn from each other.
Going out together has always meant for me, certain additional benefits. If you go out together, there’s always the need for a spot of pub lunch, or at least a coffee somewhere. And where there’s coffee, there’s usually cake.
So, as you can see, there are some real benefits of teaming up with others.
Importance of Photo Assignments:
Photo assignments play a vital role in a photographer’s journey. They encourage creativity, foster experimentation, and push us to think outside the box. By engaging in assignments that stretch our abilities, we expose ourselves to new techniques, subjects, and perspectives. This process fuels personal and artistic development, enabling us to evolve as photographers.
Moreover, assignments provide structure and direction to our practice. They challenge us to explore unfamiliar genres, experiment with different lighting techniques, or capture moments that evoke specific emotions. In doing so, assignments stimulate our imagination and help us expand our repertoire, ultimately enhancing the quality of our work.
The Power of the Masterclass:
For those who thrive on challenges and desire to push themselves, the Photography Masterclass is the perfect vehicle. It’s a comprehensive one-year program, designed to inspire, educate, and empower photographers of all levels, from beginners to those who have doing it for a while. We meet once a month (each module lasts 3½ hours) and your photo assignments, which run between modules, will test and stretch you.
By enrolling in the Masterclass, participants gain access to a wealth of knowledge, tips, and techniques shared from my 50+ years of experience behind the camera. They also have the chance to immerse themselves in a community of like-minded individuals, where they can exchange ideas, receive feedback, and find motivation.
Oh, and did I mention..?
Masterclass students get free access to the studio for the whole year!
The Masterclass Quiz
Because Masterclass has proved so popular over the years, I wanted a quick way for photographers to check whether it was the right photography course for them. It absolutely is not for everyone (as you would expect – such a course is impossible), but by answering the quiz’s twelve simple questions, most people will know very quickly.
Of course, there is one important factor that must be considered. You need to be sufficiently local to Fleet in Hampshire to attend.
This is a real course in a real, physical training environment. You’ll be meeting with and sitting alongside real just people like you, there will be real practicals… and of course, you will be taught by me, face to face (really).
Photography Masterclass is not online, no Youtube and no Zoom. This is old-school – and it’s the best way to learn.
At the time of writing, I am offering a massive £250 discount to anyone who participates in the quiz and then goes on to book Masterclass. Whilst it is not a cheap course, you can spread the payments interest-free over ten months. That facility had proved immensely popular since we introduced it back in 2019 – and about half of all Masterclass students take advantage of it.
The Masterclass Quiz can be accessed by clicking on this link.
The results of the quiz clearly demonstrate that photographers possess an inherent willingness to explore new horizons and embrace challenges. Setting photo assignments that stretch our abilities is a powerful tool in our quest for growth and improvement. By taking part in the Photography Masterclass one year course, photographers can embark on a transformative journey that will help them unleash their full potential.
Take the quiz today at https://www.photomasterclass.co.uk and discover if the Masterclass is right for you.
Embrace the challenges, broaden your skills, and embark on a rewarding photography adventure like never before.