Photographers! Why You Should Buddy Up


Photography may be a solo activity for many photographers. That doesn't mean you aren't around people when you are busy shooting. Quite the contrary.

If you're a portrait, wedding, street photographer, you're engaging with people as subjects. If you're a nature or landscape photographer, a lot of our work is spent solo. We may however, rely on others for transportation, destination information, or as travel companions.

The photo below was taken on a photo trip to Arizona while my husband ‘patiently' hiked and bird watched.

We all have a variety of unique photography skills and experiences. Participating and sharing those with partners and vice versa can be mutually rewarding. We learn so much through conversation and seeing how others approach their subjects and their work.

We'll Highlight

  1. Where you might find partners and
  2. A few Advantages of photographing with others.

1. Where to Find a Partner…You Don't Need to Drag Someone By Their Neck


Workshops quickly come to mind when considering shooting with other photographers. Workshops bring photographers together for a period of time and promote concentrated learning, networking, collaboration and making new friendships. They can vary widely from being local, short sessions to an extended destination vacation.

For more information on photography workshops check out:
How to Select a Travel Photography Workshop
Photography Workshop Tips

If you're an Outdoor Photographer, you might already be looking into ideas for totally different photography projects? This Advanced Composition Guide will inspire you but also give your skills and confidence boost!

Camera Clubs

Camera/photography clubs are a great way to meet other photographers. Today I'm a member of two completely different types of photography clubs. One club offers judged monthly competitions and is affiliated with a larger network of camera clubs.

In addition to fun, spirited monthly competitions, there's opportunities to do local meet-ups at interesting locations. We would not always be able to access as a solo photographer.

The other club is a photography group for a local nature center. Collectively we meet to participate in activities that support the nature center. The nature center in turn provides a means for their photography members to share and promote their work.

Nature Walks

Check out the happenings your local city, state and metroparks. The nearby Nature Conservancy may offer docent-led nature walks that traverse interesting trails, foliage and wildlife. The participants are mostly hikers and nature enthusiasts but the information shared provides good insight to what you're photographing. The acorn woodpecker below was observed on a decent led photo walk in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

Hot Spots

I would be remiss not mentioning major events and times of the year where photographers congregate. A personal favorite is The Biggest Week in American Birding in Oregon, Ohio bringing thousands of people from around the country and from the globe to see migratory birds that stop at Magee Marsh on their way to their breeding location.

Many bird photographers line up at the wood's edge and also hike on the trails to photograph the many colorful and rare birds passing through.

Other events could include air shows, road races, county fairs and exhibits to name a few.

2. There Are Huge Advantages of Photographing with Other Photographers! Here's Proof

Hanging Out with People Who Love Talking About F/Stops…How Cool?

Seriously, if your partner isn't into photography, they may find the discussion of ISO, shutter speed, f/stops, focal length, which lens you used, etc. a bit monotonous. Hang out with another photographer and you can chat settings, features and functions to your heart's content.

Learn and Try Something New or From A Different Perspective

Cameras, lenses, post processing software, accessories change almost as frequently as the weather. There's always a tip, technique, idea that's exchanged in general conversation with other photographers.

Up until fairly recently, most of my photography has been nature – birds, flowers, landscapes, wildlife, etc. Rarely do I photograph people, architecture or street photography.

Additionally, I had not expanded my post processing into the color creative categories. As a result of participating in the camera club's monthly competitions, I started participating in photography subject and post processing assignments.

This level of digging has improved my overall photography creativity and post-processing skills in my core photographic interests.

If you're a Nature Photographer, you might already be looking into ideas for enhancing your wildlife compositions? How about taking it to the next level with this Advanced Composition Guide by Kent Dufault?

Chat About What You Know and Didn't Know

There is so much to learn and to remember. A friend and I were discussing our post processing techniques with a small group. I am a Lightroom and Photoshop user, he swears by Bridge and Photoshop. We both have similar plug-ins. The irony is that we both applied our processing workflow steps similarly using our respective tools.

IMPORTANT: Have Serious Fun & Eat Good Food

This year I took three other photographers to The Biggest Week in American Birding in Oregon, Ohio. From an early breakfast meetup to a morning filled with bird photography, we all had a great morning and worked up an appetite.

Not to worry, the picnic lunch we pulled together had many of the ‘other solo' photographers quite envious.

The day was further extended by members of our group finding other subjects of interest, such as the abandoned house below on the way home.

Share Gear – Try Before You Buy

By borrowing, exchanging and testing lenses, filters and other items while shooting with other photographers, I've made better, cost-effective decisions on purchasing gear.

Borrowing lenses and filters in particular, can give you nothing but good reason to go and try out a new style of photography outside of your comfort zone!

Motivation To Just Get Up And Out

It's 5:30 a.m. and the alarm clock started buzzing. If you were going solo, you may have been tempted to turn it off and delay the shoot. When you have a planned event with other photographers, that's not an option. The peer pressure of a scheduled meet up time works in our favor.

Some may counter that you may not get your best work done when out with other photographers. That may or may not be true. I would offer that the exchange of ideas, diverse perspectives and camaraderie will extend into your overall photography long term.

Don't forget to take a photo of your group too! Donna Ranek took the photo below of the three of us.

20160507-500swnaturephotomay15-Birding 2016-2097

Danuta Ranek

Further Resources

About Author

Sheen Watkins is a conservationist, wildlife photographer, instructor, author and photography writer. You can follow her photography on Facebook, Instagram and her website.

A wee bit o humour: When shooting wildlife, be sure that your part runs slower than you!
Like the ideas, be sure you watch where you put your feet, gopher hole hurt!

Bob – I went and read your article, it’s terrific and thanks for sharing! Partnering helps to strengthen others and ourselves. Have a great weekend.

Love the article! have to admit the buddy system has been great for me. The Foto-Flockers I met through our camera club have really challenged and inspired me. Thanks Sheen!

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