Half-week homework: Squad up

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll have heard me suggest you call up a photo buddy, list “meeting fellow photographers” as a perk of attending some event, and suggest that you share your photos with the same group of people on an ongoing basis. These are not suggestions for marketing purposes, nor are they a result of a naturally outgoing nature—on the contrary, I frequently half-joke to my wife that I wouldn’t want to do something because I might accidentally act as if I were a part of a community. I’m an introvert by nature, and always have been.

(You can sense the “but” coming, because it is a big “but.”)

I’m an introvert by nature, but no matter how uncomfortable or antisocial you are, spending time with the right group of people can enhance your life dramatically. For me, I lucked into finding those people through photography. I’ll elaborate in a moment, but first, here’s this week’s challenge to help you improve your imaging lifestyle:

  • If you love photography and you don’t have a group of people with whom you’re regularly shooting and sharing, get busy finding that fellowship.
  • If you’ve already got the group, get a photo quest on the schedule!

Need help finding folks with graphical intentions? Check out our list of photo clubs—one is meeting this week!—or come to our famous Photo & Video Expo, this weekend or the next depending on location.

There’s no better way to grow. A sounding board for creativity where you feel safe is invaluable, and shared enjoyment makes actually doing your art more fun (and harder to get out of). You can puzzle through dialing in the right settings for a new situation, multiply your collective knowledge and specialized supplies exponentially, and, sometimes, just hear that “awesome shot!” you really need to keep going.

For me, it all started with an invitation to explore downtown Denver from a girl I was kinda sorta head over heels for. I was apprehensive, because I thought they were all old friends and that I, uncomfortable with even low-stakes social interaction, would be an unwelcome insertion. It turned out that I needn’t have feared. Not only were each of these folks delightful, welcoming, and rich in personality, no one really knew one another except through limited mutual acquaintance. Yet, something—divine providence or gut intuition—had brought an instantly-compatible group together around a common bond; i.e. being unrepentant photo nerds.

Having grown up deeply immersed in the imaging industry, I was no stranger to photography. I have avidly documented travel and special events my whole life. I have always respected photographers and the value of photography as an art rather than a science. I was not, however, particularly good at being a disciplined creator without the extra inspirational force of some special event, e.g. vacation, graduation, birth, death, and so on.

That changed when I started running around with photographically creative people. With a whole brain collective and the extra emotional incentive of finding a reason to get together with people I liked, projects for the sake of creating rather than documenting became a much more common occurrence in my life, and the “it’d be cool to do that sometime” list got picked at much more frequently. For example, if you’re a fellow Front Ranger, do you recognize the background of the photos below?

Hint: it’s on the way to our Park Meadows store from Denver proper. I can’t tell you how many times I’d seen this wacky white ladder-like sculpture off of I-25, but I finally saw it in person thanks to a photo quest. My wife (then girlfriend) had her first visit to the bright yellow articulated wall (also off of I-25) for the same reason. It’s nice to have a reason to transfer items from your list of what might be onto your list of experiences enjoyed.

It’s also nice to have cohorts for inspiration when working on something special. Whenever one (or all) of us were interested in a photo contest, it was straight to the group chat for ideas, meet-ups, and feedback on our progress. Why burn flowers alone when you can burn flowers together?

Even better? When someone gets access to specialized equipment and we all get to try it out. Fuji Instax? Check. Pixelstick? Check. Lasers and fog machines? Check.

Enormous digital billboard? Sure, why not?

Since we started getting to know one another in 2015, there’ve been two weddings, one baby, several business venture embarkations, at least one major victory against repressive governmental bureaucracy, and countless adventures. From 3D photo booths to impromptu dance parties to light painting under the northern lights, it’s been a wild ride, and it wouldn’t have happened without that very first photo walk.

Good luck out there, friends. And while you’re shooting with people, don’t forget to take at least a few photos of them. Show your city what its photographers’ community looks like and share your squad’s selfie on our Facebook page or on Instagram tagged #mymikescamera #halfweekhomework. May you be as lucky as I.

shitywok forever
To infinity and beyond, as they say!

Header photo by Shannon Rose

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