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| p.1 #2 · New Life for an aging camera club |
Our club was suffering a similar decline. These things increased participation:
The club added "digital" competitions. Members submit jpegs via e-mail, maximum 3 images per session. Those are pre-judged and then all are displayed via projector at the meeting. Winners are announced. Cheap ribbons are awarded. We only have two "categories", color and B&W. No traditional breakdowns for people/portraits, landscapes, wildlife, marco, etc.
Previously, we only had print competitions. The cost of making and mounting prints discouraged many. Plus, the print competitions were judged "live". Each print was displayed one at a time, judges would vote, totals were tallied, then winners announced. It was a long and boring process. The digital, pre-judged competitions caused an explosion in interest.
For years we had two "classes" called "Regular" and "Novice". Points are awarded for winners (1st thru 3rd). When you accumulate enough points in Novice you move to Regular. That could take 2 or 3 years. The Regular class became dominated by 4 or 5 people, and Novice graduates were discouraged.
So "Regular" was broken into two classes, "Master" and "Advanced". That also helped increase participation. Or at least maintain the participation of novices when they graduated.
The club meets twice a month September through April. Competitions are only on about 10 of those meetings, but the competitions maintiain the interest and it spills over to other activities. The other meetings are lectures or demos, some by members, some by outside guests. Once a year there is a still life shoot. Plus a few photo walks, and a Christmas party. The club is in a metro area with 300,000 people. Last I knew, the club averaged 100 registered members, but about 20 to 30 would show up at any given meeting.
Unfortunately, these changes led to the loss of a few long-term members, including myself. For me, it's all about the print, and I don't care for the digital competitions. I can sit at home and view thousands of excellent digital images on my high-quality monitor. So I don't care to drive across town to see a lot of mediocre images and a few good ones on a low-quality projector screen in a dark church basement.
It's difficult to find places to see and talk about prints. Sadly, the club's digital competitions all but killed the print competitions.