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Tim has been interested in photography for many years. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Biology and a Master's in Environmental Science. Writing nature articles allows him to combine his interest in photography and nature into one medium.

Three Online Learning Resources (Part 2): Meetup.com

Searching for More Training

In my first article concerning online learning for photographers, I discussed my experiences with Betterphoto.com during the first few months of my photo learning experience. Fast forward in time to about a year later and I had learned to incorporate the training from BetterPhoto into my photography. Now, I was looking for more of a connection with other photographers in my area and some hands on training for equipment, such as strobe lighting, that I didn’t own.

Another Form of Online Training

So, I returned to the internet to see what was available in the area. Again, I considered some local courses, but passed on them for various reasons. Then, I found a site called Meetup.com. On Meetup, there were not one, but several photography groups in the area that met on a regular basis and offered workshops and photo tours of local attractions.

Now, you might be thinking “Gee, this isn’t really an online learning experience” and you might be technically correct. However, Meetup.com is primarily a website tool that members can use to discuss topics, propose meetings, manage the group, etc. It has a very strong online experience and except for the meetings themselves, it has the feel of an online community. The website design on Meetup.com is very strong (at least from my point of view) and very well executed. I find navigating the site and finding groups I’m interested in very easy. Also, in my area of the country anyway, there are many excellent, very active groups.

Giving “Meetups” A Chance

After deciding to give Meetup.com a chance, I joined a couple of photography groups (as well as some non-photo groups) and was soon off to my first “meetup”, a photo tour of Yale University. When I reached the designated meeting point, I found approximately 30 other amateur photographers waiting to get started. Our meetup leader kicked things off right on time and introduced us to our tour guide – a Yale university student majoring in architecture. We were given the grand tour of the campus and taken to places I would never been able to find myself. The other photographers on the tour were incredibly friendly and the leader and tour guide were very well organized. I was able to take some great shoots and had a fantastic time.

My Second Meetup

The next meetup I attended was a workshop on the use of off camera flash. We met with the instructor, Bob, and a model, Stacey. Being relatively new to photography and having never photographed a model made the beginning of my session a little tense and awkward. However, Stacey was great and just started modeling. One thing about photography – it can definitely move you out of your comfort zone. However, by the end of the workshop, I was feeling much more comfortable and was even asking Stacey to strike some poses for me. Overall, I learned a tremendous amount at this workshop and took one more step into the world of photography.

Conclusion

I would highly recommend Meetup.com to anyone with an interest in meeting other photographers and learning in a hands-on environment. Since it has such a strong internet presence, it makes managing your schedule and deciding what to attend very easy.

Pros
• Great website
• Many different groups (at least in my part of the country)
• No charge to join Meetup.com and most groups have no charge except for specific events
• Meetups that I’ve attended have been high quality

Cons
• The groups are led by volunteers who decide to start a group on their own – so, quality may be uneven
• Some groups aren’t as active as others
• Some parts of the country may not have as many groups

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