Nightly escapades

There is something interesting about photographing at night. Everything you consider so normal and not worth noticing can become interesting at night with different light.

Last week I mentioned that I stopped joining a local photography club. And this particular weekend my friend Jorge considered joining one. Maybe it is interesting to write down some of my reasoning to join it nearly three years ago and why I decided to stop my membership.

Good three years ago I saw a remarkably well curated exhibition by this photoclub in a nearby estate. The work was diverse, but of pretty high standards. After a couple of months thinking I took the opportunity to visit two gatherings early 2010. I wanted to experience personal face to face contacts with other photographers and wanted to learn how my photographs perceived by an audience when the photographs were actually printed. While the club was reasonably large (approximately 60 members), it didn’t feel too large. After I became a member I did notice that only a small group of photographers are actively sharing their work (at most 25% of all members) and even less contribute in the discussions. For what it is worth this seems like an internet forum.

I thought, and still think, that external speakers who present their own photography are the best gatherings. Then you get new ideas, interesting insights, and personal relating stories. The evenings where member’s work is displayed and discussed should be the most interesting, but I got the impression that the strength of such evenings depended on the speaker.

In my first year at the club I broke my back and missed many evenings. With the ongoing back problems in the following year I missed even more and I noticed a decline in my interest towards the club. Some of the evenings I visited I wasn’t really impressed by the work and the speakers. Motivation became a problem and I wasn’t really happy with the program that was too much out of sync with my own photography. Earlier this year a member made a bad remark concerning one of the mental problems of my son and I took that very personal.

When it comes to exploring my own photography I have to admit that the club didn’t contribute anything to that, although I never joined the club with the hope that this would actually happen. In fact, because I thought it is important to be an active member I printed quite some photographs that I displayed. But working on these and selecting them sort of slowed down my own projects I was working on. Stopping my membership now therefore feels like a relief.

During this time at the club I did see some outstanding work, and saw and heard some very interesting speakers. The club outings were the best and I met some wonderful people. I made a friend there and we share lot’s of our thoughts in our strolls, mail, twitter, and other means. That all was certainly worth it.

But there is a time to move on. I am refueling my photography, thanks to a great conversation with friend Fabian in Cologne recently. I am still actively working on a photobook and hope to finish it this year. Maybe this book will help me to edit my own exhibition too. Most importantly though I want to photograph again.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

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