It's not that long ago that I was happy to haul my camera around with me where ever I went and snap "pix" of anything and everything adhoc and make the best of what I could in Photoshop. However since going to Venice in February on a photo travel workshop I have become quite obsessed with what I see through the viewfinder, more concerned with composition, depth of field, bracketing, ISO etc - yes all those geeky types of technical photography terms that I never really thought should concern me.
Since that workshop I have also actively sought out lots of new ways to connect with other photographers and find opportunities to go take pictures in places and of things that I would normally not have done. So I have been late night walking around Manhattan and across the Brooklyn Bridge to take nightscapes, traipsing off to upstate New York hunting for Hot Air Balloons, tucked inside a dark dingy Soho studio taking Fine Art Nude pictures, driving hours away to take photos of Birds of Prey and LOTS of other things...... all accomplished by way of connections that I have made via Meetup.
It's a fabulous facility and I am not sure whether the same thing exists outside the US, but certainly within the boundaries of this country it is massive, flourishing and really quite fantastic.
So far I think I belong to about 15 groups. Some more active than others. Some with specific focus such as night shooting or street photography, glamour etc. Others which are more event specific where a group of photographers meet at an event at a certain location. Then there are groups which are workshop oriented with information and learning being the key objective.
The universal element seems to be the cameraderie amongst the photographers, their willingness to share and their enthusiam for their craft.
Whilst I still hunger to adventure further with more travel workshops I'm also happy with the varied opportunities to stretch and grow my picture taking abilities right around my front door and explore and do stuff that perhaps I might not think to do by myself.
So if you can play Meetup in your part of the world, I'd highly recommend it. Oh and it's not just for photographers, they do all sorts.......