Awhile ago, I talked about how important it is to find a forum online to join in order to help you grow as a photographer. This was vital to my growth and connecting with peers in the industry. Another way to connect with others on a deeper, more personal level is to join one of the many Facebook groups that are available. Most have a very specific purpose, such as In Person Sales, Marketing, Photographing Newborns…there are so many to choose from. Some groups are public, where anyone can see the group, its members and their posts. The majority of groups are closed, which means anyone can find the group and see who’s in it, but only members can see posts. Secret groups mean that only members can find the group and see posts. In order to join a secret group, you pretty much have to be invited by someone else who is already in the group.
There are pros and cons to any of these groups and there is a certain etiquette that should be followed when you belong to a group.
-You have the ability to search for groups specific to what you need or what your interests are. This goes for anything in your life, not just photography. I do In Person Sales but wanted to see how other people did it and learn how to improve my sales, so I joined a group that talked about nothing but that. I adore Spanki Mills and Senior Photography is a passion of mine, so I joined her group to learn how to be a better senior photographer. Since I also have experience in both areas, I was also able to offer help to others.
-There is a wealth of knowledge in any group. Someone started the group because they wanted to connect with others on a particular topic and knew others out there would either have questions about the topic or be willing to give answers. I have found that it feels encouraging when I see that others have had the same struggles I have had or when I can help someone. I realize I’m not alone and I’m not the only one who has made “that” mistake.
- In each group, no matter how it is set up, there is a search box at the top right corner. So whether you are new or old, if you have something specific you are looking for, you can type it into that search box and see all threads that have come up before on that subject. I love this feature.
-One of the biggest drawbacks in many groups is that they have so many people, you get lost. There tends to be a dozen people that dominate the group. You can easily feel like your question doesn’t get the attention you were hoping it would or the answers you give don’t seem validated by anyone. That can hurt. I know because I’ve been there. I recently left a group because of that happening over and over again. I not only needed help but I also felt like I had some great advice. So my feelings got a bit hurt after this happened several times.
-Finding the right group for you. It can be hard to find the right group that fits what you want, the one that will offer what you need. Ask around. Ask people you know and trust what groups they are in and how they feel about the group. It doesn’t hurt to join a group and leave if you feel like it’s not for you. But at least give it a shot and try.
-Groups can sometimes be a time waster. This can be a pro and a con, depending on what is on your to do list for the day! I know if I want to avoid doing something, that can easily be done by going to one of the groups I’m in and getting lost in posts!
And remember, if a group doesn’t exist that you totally love, create your own! There is no reason that you can’t create your own group and set that privacy for public, closed or secret. I currently only belong to 2 groups. Both are secret. One is all about a specific genre. The other group has become like a sisterhood to me. We have secret sisters for the year, joke with each other, did little videos to show our homes and we genuinely care for one another.
A little etiquette to remember in any group setting:
-Don’t be a lurker. Don’t join a group and then just read everything without participating. You joined for a reason. Put yourself out there. Either ask questions or answer them, but don’t just lurk.
-Play nice. Most groups have some sort of rules or code they go by. If they do, it will be on the far right of the page. Read them. Let that be the first thing you read when you join.
-Ease into a group if it is small or if the group seems like they are a tight knit group of people. Introduce yourself to the group and get a feel for who they are.
-Don’t feel like you have to comment on every single post that is made just to let others know you have an opinion or that you are knowledgeable. That tends to backfire, especially if you are coming into a small group of people that already know each other very well.
-Be yourself. Above all else, be yourself. Be vulnerable, ask for help instead of always giving it, be sincere, think before you type and never type when you are feeling negative because there is no way to read a person’s tone through text.
I hope this post has encouraged you to find a group to interact with or to think about how you are currently interacting with groups you belong to!
Amy Phipps is the photographer behind On the Phippside Photography, located in Stockton, California. Amy has been married for 21 years and has 4 children. When she’s not trying to decide between which of her 43 black shirts to wear, you can probably find her sipping on a Dr. Pepper and walking around any day of the year in flip flops.
Visit her website.