Photography can be a solitary passion. It is always more entertaining, interesting and informative when you have like minded people around you with their cameras at the ready! In my attempt to widen my photographic friendship group I stumbled upon Meet Up groups. My first experience was attending a Street Photography workshop in Cambridge with existing friends from my local Camera Club. A big thank you to Paula and Paul for inviting me. As I registered on the site to confirm my attendance so several different Meet Up group details emerged from the recesses of the internet. I enjoyed my first night at Cambridge, even though the speaker failed to turn up, the organisers used their initiative to invite the audience to participate. What struck me immediately was the friendly and sociable atmosphere. After attending the evening I thought I would search for more groups that met up during the daytime. I came across the Hertfordshire Photography Group and immediately confirmed my attendance at Rye Meads Nature Reserve.
I arrived early as always, but I wasn’t the first there. Richard, who had already begun to open his boot and assemble his camera immediately asked me the most common question in the photographic world, “Are you a Canon or Nikon lady?” As my camera emerged from the boot we both smiled! It was a good beginning. As others arrived it was clear that many had been part of the group for some time but they were so open and welcoming I felt included and welcome immediately. Tanith the organiser, is clearly an expert at developing and maintaining a cohesive and inclusive group atmosphere.
We set off to explore and take photographs. Some of us had our macro lenses but most carried big lenses in the hope of capturing some interesting bird shots or perhaps even the elusive Kingfisher. We walked, we talked, we took photographs, we laughed and learned from each other. It was a really fantastic day, the sun shone and we were amazed to see flowers still in bloom and dragonflies still mating and laying eggs in the water, almost unheard of in October! Even a crayfish came to the surface of one of the lakes to say hello! As we walked with eyes engaged in the hunt for the next photograph, I enjoyed chatting to Ray and learning about his photographic projects, his abstract architectural photography and his experiences with the group. Kathryn and I also exchanged stories about work, life and photography.
At the end of the day after walking for at least two miles we gathered around the Rye House Gatehouse to take a few more photographs whilst Brian made us laugh and Ray took shots of us all taking shots of the Gatehouse. Finally we said our goodbyes and promised to upload our photographs on to the group website and in my case to my website with a link.
It was a great way to spend a Sunday and I will definitely be going again. A public thanks to you all for being so welcoming, helpful and knowledgeable. I learned a lot!