I should start off by saying that this is a completely unbiased article, and also that PhotographyTalk has the best photography forum in the entire world. Okay...so maybe it's a little biased. But forums are a really great place for photographers to thrive. Whether it's posting your photos, receiving feedback, learning new techniques, or sharing your own knowledge, photography forums can inspire and improve your work. And the larger the forum, the more collected knowledge and potential friends there are. So here are nine reasons why you should start participating in a forum today.
Most forums, including our own, has a section where you can submit a photo and have other forum members give feedback. This can be helpful when trying to figure out what works and what doesn't work in a photograph. The great thing about having your photo critiqued on a photography forum is that you receive a multitude of responses. It's sometimes hard to judge whether the critique of one person represents what most people would think about your photograph. But having several people make the same comment can help you decipher what's generally good or bad about a photo. Just remember to take these critiques with a grain of salt as not all people will give constructive feedback. Look for the comments that say how you can improve your photography rather than just what's good or bad about it.
Answers to Specific Questions
Sometimes it's difficult to find an answer to a very specific question you have about photography. You probably won't find a whole article about “If I'm using focus stacking to create a macro image and I'm shooting at an aperture of f/2.8, how many photos would I need to get a depth of field equivalent to that of an f/11?” You might...but I doubt it. On a photo forum, you can ask any photo related questions you have, and chances are there will be several people who can help you out.
A Sense of Community
This is a big one. As with any activity, photography is more fun when you have others you can talk to and get inspiration and motivation from. That feeling you get when you capture a great image only increases when you add the anticipation of posting it online for all of your photo buddies to see.
Learn New Techniques
Photography forums contain a lot of knowledge. In just about any genre of photography, you can learn new techniques from old and new photographers alike. Whether you're shooting large format film or the newest DSLR, there are always new things to learn about making great images.
View Other Photographers' Work
A lot of inspiration comes from viewing the photographic work of others, and while you can glance through Google and fumble through Flickr, a forum is full of photographers who are dedicated to the art and who may not post their photos anywhere else.
Advice on Photography Business
Aside from all the technical and creative information you can find, you can also learn about the business of photography. How do you start freelancing? How much should you charge? How do you deal with difficult clients? Many forum members have been there, done that, and they're willing to help fellow photographers get their feet off the ground.
Discover New Camera Gear
With all the combined experience of all the members on a photography forum, it's always a good idea to ask around before investing in new camera gear. See what others think of the gear you're thinking about investing in. See if there's a cheaper or higher quality alternative. There's so much gear out there that no one person can keep track of it all. But with a whole community at hand, you can often find someone who has had experience with the gear you're after.
Find Deals on Photo Equipment
Forum members love to share deals with the community. When a hot camera goes on sale or a high quality line of lenses becomes discontinued and drops in price, there's always someone there to point it out to the rest of the members.
Participate in Contests
Contests can be one of the most fun things about a photography forum. Going out to create a certain image with the contest parameters in mind, posting your images, seeing and voting on others' images, waiting to see if you claim one of the top spots - the whole thing can be a rush, and at the end, you can see a collection of great images, and not only see who won, but why they won.
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- Photographer's Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age
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- Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer
Written by Spencer Seastrom
Image credit: cookelma / 123RF Stock Photo