Thursday, April 21, 2011

Private Forum Membership

I have at times, been a member of PPA, SEP, DWF, Pro4UM, SPI and some other private membership groups. Each of these communities has their own activity level and talent and creativity levels, and caters to specific groups of the photographic industry.

I remain a PPA member for the indemnity insurance and several other benefits, including their focus on education and certification. I'll probably always be a PPA member. But I'll be honest - their online forum is very weak. 

For a vibrant private professional photography forum I have used Digital Wedding Forum (DWF), which incidentally now supports portraits and other types, and Pro4Um, which was started as a senior portrait group and has since also broadened its scope. Pro4um is Kirk Voclain's baby. He is a nut, and a top-notch senior portrait photographer, and has attracted top talent to his forum. It's definitely my favorite at the moment.

Why do I write this?  For a few reasons:
- Casual blogging, public forums and open subscription sites are OK. They teach you some good stuff. But they are also teaching every other wannabe photographer the same basic stuff.
- To really grow, you need to rub elbows with working pros, as peers.  Real pros, who have shot 10x to 100x what you have. You need to hear what the real world of professional photography is all about, from people who have done it for 20 years or more.
- These paid forums have posters with thousands of messages to their credit. They are the ones that will set you straight and will blow your mind. They post everyday about something. They are avid, I might say rabid, posters about the life and world of professional photography.
- Truly creative ideas come from those private, pay sites. People open up and share with their peers. They trade secrets, from pricing, to special offers and favorite poses. Their "shots of the week" will make you cry - either from their emotional impact, or from your own sense of insignificance as you compare your work to these amazing artists.

I have learned many things from these forums: How to shoot beach photos at sunset. How to use RadioPopper triggers. How to use modifiers on my hot-shoe flashes. Specific approaches to posing male and female subjects. Certain wedding poses and approaches. And many more topics and impressions that I have since absorbed into my skill set without even knowing where they came from.

So, I'm NOT telling you to abandon my blog or other free sites. I still hit free as well as paid forums on a regular basis. But consider including DWF, PPA or Pro4um or other paid sites for some of your photographic learning.  You still need to go to seminars and get hands-on experience. But you also need to talk to people in Australia, England and somewhere else in your country or state who have gone through what you are doing right now.  Search the archives and spend a weekend soaking up their knowledge.  There has never been a time such as now, when you can benefit so heavily from others' experiences, without ever seeing them face-to-face. You will get $1000 of benefit in the first 2 days, I guarantee.

Then, after you have soaked it up, pick up your camera and show us what you have learned.

1 comment:

  1. I would really like your post ,it would really explain each and every point clearly well thanks for sharing.