BWPS Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why would I want to join a photo club?
A. Membership in a photography club may not be for everyone, but there are benefits, not all of which are obvious. Some of those benefits include: exposure to new ideas and techniques; inspiration from seeing what others are able to accomplish; learning through teaching programs, competition commentary, or discussions with other members; support and encouragement from other members; additional incentive and opportunities to go out and shoot new subject matter or try new techniques or gear. To see if club membership might be for you, we recommend you visit the club for a few meetings so you can "test drive" it before you decide to join.
Q. Why should I join Boston West rather than a different club?
A. We feel that membership in just about any photo club can be beneficial to most people, and there are many fine clubs in the area. However we believe Boston West provides not only a unique experience but also provides access to and fellowship with a group of people who are passionate about photography and are looking to build a club around that passion in an atmosphere of cooperation and acceptance. The club also has some of the most talented photographers in New England, all of whom are happy to share their knowledge, whether through mentoring, teaching programs, or discussions or simply through exposure to their photographic creations.
Q. What types of meetings does the club have in a typical month?
A. Boston West holds two formal meetings in most months. One is a competition where members can compare their work against others in the club and receive constructive feedback from an expert judge. The other meeting is a program night that is usually geared toward education. The club also has field trips, portrait shoots, and Photoshop classes in most months, but these meetings are held off-site from our regular meeting place.
Q. I see you have a competition every month. I'm not a competitive person, so should I skip these meetings?
A. Members may attend or skip any meeting they choose. However just because you may choose not to compete doesn't mean there isn't something for you at the competition meetings. The level of talent in the club usually means that there will be some awesome photos to see on competition nights (see here for some examples). Not only can the images be a pleasure to view, they may also be an inspiration to go out and shoot or to develop new ideas to experiment with. On top of that, Boston West prides itself on the level of judges we invite, and the commentary they provide is usually very educational just by itself.
Q. What if the judge doesn't like my photo?
A. Not all judges see what we see or feel what we felt at the time a photo was made. Or it may be the case that the judge likes your shot but has to rank it in relation to the other entries in the competition. Whatever the case may be, if you do not win a ribbon with the photo, you may enter it again and give it a try with another judge. But it is true. Anyone who enters their work into competition has to be willing to accept the fact that they may not do as well as they hoped. However, no matter how your work is judged, you should receive helpful comments on how to make even stronger images in the future.
Q. What is a Program night?
A. Program nights are devoted to any number of teaching or entertaining venues and may include teaching seminars, photo shoots, hosting of an interclub competition, or images set to music, whether for educational purposes or simply to inspire and entertain.
Q. How do I determine which competition class I should enter?
A. If you have never been in a camera club before, then you should talk to the competition chair for guidance. They will probably ask to see some of your recent images so that they will be able to place you in the class that you'll be most comfortable in for the season. Once your class is decided you must finish the year in the same class. If you have competed before in another club, that should help guide you, but you should be aware that, due to the talent level in the club, the competition at BWPS is stiffer than most other clubs and you should take that into consideration.
Q. Why is there a limit to the number of members?
A. This is our hardest question to answer and an issue that we struggled with at length when the club was being formed. Boston West Photographic Society was founded with the goal of bringing together people who share a passion for photography and who all work together to inspire and encourage one another in our joy of photography. That means we have a philosophy of inclusion, so limiting the membership really goes against our grain. However we feel very strongly that in order for us to provide the best experience possible for all members, we need to keep the club at a manageable size. There are several major reasons to keep the club smaller than it otherwise might be. First, we want to have a sense of community among the club members, and it's difficult to know everyone if the club gets too large or diffuse. The other reason is that our competition nights are very popular and are a great way for members to share their work with others and to get constructive criticism. If the club gets beyond a certain size, the competitions either run very late or we have to limit the comments or the number of entries each member can submit.
Q. Why are BWPS dues higher than most other photo clubs in the area?
A. Boston West is a very young club that had to make some major capital outlays in its early years which left us no choice at the time. We also anticipate having to upgrade our equipment in the future and want to be prepared for that time so we can provide the best viewing experience to the membership and visitors. Once we reach a stable financial position we expect to be able to underwrite some of the costs of club events such as photo shoots, the holiday dinner party, and cost of awards. We also expect to add to the club lending library giving members the opportunity to read books or view DVDs that they might not otherwise be able to afford. Boston West P. S. is made up of people passionate about photography, and we would like new members to share that passion. Prospective members who may not be so passionate may find the cost differential is not worth it and thus join another club. That's OK because the club will be stronger if it is composed of people who are devoted to the principles we stand for. We also fully expect to give members good value for their money.
Q. What if I want to join but the club is at full membership?
A. We plan to keep strict tabs on our membership each year and members who do not renew their membership at the start of the new season will be dropped from the rolls, and we will be able to add new members. We expect this to allow for new members each year so once we have reached the limit, we will maintain a waiting list for those who would like to be added at the first opportunity. The Board of Directors will also periodically review the limit based on the total club experience and adjust the limit as we can.
Q. I don't see anything about prints in the club information. Why not?
A. Boston West P.S. is a member run organization that must rent meeting space, and our current meeting place is only able to guarantee us a room two nights a month. We are therefore limited in the number of meetings we can offer, and choices had to be made on what things to concentrate on. Prints turned out to be lower on the priority list of members than other topics. However, any member can start a Print SIG, which would be a subgroup of members that meets off-site and encourages print making in whatever way the group best determines.
Q. What is NECCC?
A. NECCC is the acronym for the New England Camera Club Council, which is a confederation of camera clubs throughout New England. NECCC encourages photographers to expand their abilities through various teaching programs, interclub competitions, and networking. And it also hosts one of the world's largest photographic seminars every year at UMass Amherst. Boston West P.S. is a member of NECCC and actively participates on Council activities. See http://www.neccc.org for more details.
Q. What is PSA?
A. PSA is the acronym for the Photographic Society of America. PSA is similar to NECCC in that it makes available training materials, sponsors interclub competitions, and holds an annual conference. Boston West P.S. is a member of PSA and participates in its interclub competitions. See http://www.psa-photo.org/ for more details.
Q. How do the interclub contests work? Can anyone enter photos, or is there a committee that chooses just the best few photos to enter for the club as a whole?
A. Boston West competes with other clubs both locally (through NECCC) and internationally (through PSA).The competitions are limited in the number of photos each year and are designed to represent the best material that each club has to offer. The photos we enter into the interclubs are chosen by the NECCC and PSA representatives from the club. They are selected on the basis of technical quality, compositional strength, story-telling ability, and impact and are typically chosen from among the Class AA members, but any photo that meets the above criteria will be considered.
Next Club Event
See the Calendar for details.
How to Find Us
Meetings: 7:30 pm, 1st and 3rd Wednesdays, Sep - Jun, at the St Andrews Church, 3 Maple St, Framingham, MA.
Click here for directions.
Boston West Photographic Society is proud to be a member of the following organizations: