Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Thoughts on Photography Meet Up Groups

A few years ago Meet Up took the country by storm. I don’t even recall the name of the first group I joined, Houston Photography Meet Up, I think. They met in a small back room at Jax Bar and Grill and eventually moved to a restaurant out near the horse track, The Carriage House. After a year or so, like the horse track, the group was not able to sustain a viable interest. The original organizer left and slowly the group faded away.

I was a strong proponent of NWHPC expanding into a meet up to bring some life to an aging club. I am pleased that after five or so years NWHPC is still an active group. Has it done everything for the club that I had hopped—not at all. But it has been a positive. New people are still coming in as a result of the meet up. That is good for the club.

At one time I probably belonged to a dozen or more groups. That made for a lot of photographic activity which I have greatly enjoyed. I had at least one shoot a week and often two or three. Unfortunately almost all of the groups no longer exist. Three or so years ago Meet Up changed the rules about charging and many of the organizers saw Meet Up as a cash cow and totally lost the original purpose. Most met a fairly rapid demise, as, in my opinion, they should have.

I just went through a clean out of the groups I still belong to as you might notice from the shortened list on the right. There are still a number of active groups. By active I mean a shoot maybe every month or two. Almost all charge or limit the number of photographers so I usually don’t know about the shoot until it is filled to capacity and I have little interest in paying for what I would get out of most of the pay to play groups. I miss the activity but that’s okay. I will find other things to do.

I still belong to the four most active groups although I don’t always attend as many of their events as I would like. If

The predominant Meet Up Group in Houston is still Houston Photowalks. Nothing can hold a candle to Joe’s dedication and organization. I attended the first meet up he put on and have made the majority of them since. Although he sometimes goes off on cruises that I cannot afford but I enjoy the stories and photos when they get back. Like most meet up groups that have been worthwhile, it is the organizer that makes the group and for that no one comes close to Joe Lippeat. If I could only be a member of one group it would be Photowalks.

I still attend when I can meet ups with the Sugarland and Katy groups—both are excellent groups; great organizers, great members. And after a two year hiatus I have rejoined Northwest Houston Photo Club. I swore I would never again hold an office with NWHPC but somehow I hadn’t been a member long when the editor of the newsletter passed away and I ‘volunteered’ to edit the newsletter for the remainder of the year. I hope that I made it clear that at the end of the year I am out.

I am still a fan of Meet Up and wish I had the wherewithal to start a small, limited group to discuss photography. But I have too many irons in the fire to take on another one.

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