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by Jamie Rose, Director of Momenta Workshops
When I began my career as a photographer many years ago, I signed up for National Press Photographers Association and first learned about their seminar and convention programs. Being strapped for cash, as most graduate students are, I was informed NPPA gave free tuition to attend the Northern Short Course to students who volunteered for the program. As a volunteer, I attended my first ever NSC in Providence and was hooked.
With free portfolio reviews by some of the industry’s best editors, seminars ranging from lighting to business skills, keynote speakers like Bill Eppridge, Joe McNally and social gatherings until the wee hours of the morning with titans like Sam Abell, I left with my batteries recharged, new photo story ideas and a fresh perspective on the industry.
I’ve attended numerous workshops, seminars and conventions ever since and have always felt it was money well spent. The PDN PhotoPlus Expo in New York is a great place to see seminars, get inspired by amazing speakers and shop for the latest gadgets and gear. Likewise, the Look3: Festival of the Photograph is a wonderful 3 day event held in Charlottesville which celebrates photography from all over the world with three photography legends presenting each day.
This year, I am a guest presenter at the NSC in Providence and will be teaching seminars on The Business of Nonprofits Photography and Photo Mechanic: In the Field. My fellow presenters and speakers are awe inspiring: Matt Eich, David Gilkey, Karen Kasmauski, Amy O’Leary and so many more. The workshops cover audio and multimedia, Final Cut software training, business skills for freelancers, a student’s guide to presenting your work and much more.
As any photographer who has attended one of these seminars will tell you, professional development and networking in person cannot compare to being Facebook friends with photographers or hitting a happy hour every once in a while with other pros. The skills learned and the people you meet at these weekend-, week- or even day-long seminars is invaluable for your professional growth. I’ve made some of my best friends in the industry at these conventions, reconnected with colleagues I’ve not seen in years and seen presentations that reminded me why I became a photographer.
Every year, NPPA and other organizations offer scholarships for students and working professionals. For example, the NSC offers full tuition opportunities for working pros and volunteering in exchange for the attendance fees and there are slots left for 2011. Many other groups offer members a discounted rate and reduced tuition for students. With prices under $500 for many seminars, you simply can’t pass these opportunities up.
Trust me when I tell you: you won’t be disappointed when you invest in your career in this way!
By Jamie Rose, Director of Momenta Workshops
Trust me when I say this: I know how busy you are! There just don’t seem to be enough hours in the week between client relations, editing, post production, invoicing and photographing. However, even the busiest photographers will agree, you still need to make time for professional development. The easiest and most fun way to accomplish this is to get involved with your professional community.
Be a Joiner
Joining a photographic organization can provide you with many professional resources you don’t get by working in isolation. You will have access to other photographers, editors and multimedia producers in your area. You can find mentors, editors, assistants and even job opportunities. Many professional groups have a vast array of educational and learning opportunities normally free or discounted for members. As a former board member of the WHNPA: White House News Photographers Association and the current President of WPOW: Women Photojournalists of Washington, joining a professional organization is a great way to develop your network, expand your leadership skills and meet other passionate photographers.
You can start by getting involved in large international organizations like NPPA, APA, ASMP, ASPP and PPA which provide regional groups, seminars, workshops and learning experiences for photographers from all parts of the country and the world. These groups are great for finding resources for projects you are working on, getting discounts on gear and insurance or even having access to job listings.
Think Globally, Act Locally
Local chapters of these organizations are also a great way to increase your business presence in your hometown. For example, ASPP DC-South is very active in Washington, DC and offers seminars, lectures and membership slideshow events. City- or region-based organizations in your region are another great asset. In many cases, the dues are smaller and the networks are easier to navigate for new photographers. WHNPA , for example, is open to regionally based photographers in Washington but offer wonderful networking opportunities, members-only contests and grants, and local event-based support like Inauguration resources.
Consider starting your own group or organization. You can create a LinkedIn or Facebook group, like the Maryland Photographer Ladies. Help it grow by offering opportunities to group members. WPOW started as a small group of local female photojournalists who wanted to gather quarterly to share their work, encourage young photojournalists and learn from each other’s experience. Today, the organization has grown into a nonprofit with over 200 members and offers exhibits, mentorship, workshops and educational opportunities for its members.
Take the Lead
After you’ve been a member for a while, consider joining a committee. If you are really ambitious, take the plunge by running for an officer position or heading a committee. You will expand your leadership skills and be seen as a leader by your peers. No matter whether you choose a large or small organization or to create your own, you won’t regret the free time spent on this part of your career. Once you start getting involved, you’ll be amazed at the great experiences, great friends and great connections you will make!
For more suggestions or questions about starting your own organization, please feel free to contact Jamie Rose directly at email@example.com.