There is one thing easy to notice, if you shoot after dark in Spokane. The first thing you notice is the absence of photographers shooting after dark. Next thing you notice, is that local photog groups tend to focus their efforts on daylight ventures such as photo walks, photo tours, and other daytime adventures. Any training, if offered or experienced may be good or bad, depending on the skill levels of the participants rather than a direct result of the skills of the project leader. As a result, marginal or worse photogs can develop other participants into marginal or worse participants.
My opinion? Certainly. Participating on group activities with photogs running helter skelter for their shots, can be problematic. How many times have I seen several photogs shots with two or three other photogs all lined up in the shot of the one wanting a photograph of something. How many times has one small subgroup of participants distracted other photogs from concentrating on what they intended to do, only to be looking at what this small subgroup is involved in.
Organizing small group activities is a challenge for the leaders, of that there is no doubt. If you are the leader, you need to focus most of you time on the group members, and not on what you think you might get in this photo shoot. Why? Some members of the group are just learning and they have questions. "How do you do this, how did you do that, why did you do that, where do I find that on my camera, how does it work, why should I do it that way?" In fairness to these members, they really need coaching. For a group leader interested in shooting, boy does that make it hard to do. So there is balance and there are sacrifices to be made on behalf of those who are learning. When I do small groups of night shooters, I shoot the scenes they will be taken to, days or even weeks BEFORE the group meets. I can concentrate on what I want, and when I take the group out, I leave my cameras in the office. Displaying some of your earlier results on a laptop or other such small display, can give the group members ideas on what you did, and how you did it. Then you take them out to the locations and walk them through their efforts. Some participants will succeed, some will not.
Many photogs simply enjoy the social aspects of the group shoot, and gaining technical skills is not their highest priority. Nonethleless, each member of the group can learn from each group leader, given the amount of time the leader can spend with each participant.
In my view, I wish there were more night shooters. In some communities there are night shooters, and they are formally organized into 501 C3 type organizations, and in other communities there are less formal structures. These groups shoot at night, although many of them begin their activities at sunset or slightly before. So, are there night shooters in Spokane? I have no clue, since in the past 5 years I have seen but a handful of photogs shooting after dark. It's too bad, since after dark, everything changes. By changes, I mean, REAL changes. Not just technical photography, but issues of safety. As a result, small groups of people together for an evening, is a very good thing...assuming that the leader spends time on what the group is doing, rather than what individual leaders are doing for themselves.
Night shooting is fun. It plainly is fun, and with a small group, it can be loads of fun. Yet, if there are few groups who have a particular night shooting interest, it can be very hard to find a learning experience. As a result, there seems to be an interest in beginning some type of night time shooters group. As done in San Francisco, and elsewhere, there are many groups who cater solely to night shooters. Since there has been some interest in a night shooters group of one kind or another, perhaps it is time for an assessment.
I would invite any photog interested in s night shooters group, to contact me. I can disseminate to interested parties, and perhaps, if the participant level seems adequate, we target a night shoot for the group members.
Keep up the good work everyone, and let me know if there is any interest in a night shooters group.
John D. Moore, CPP