(Top of the news: meetings now start at 6 PM and will end at 9 PM. Come before 6 if you want to socialize first.)
Let me begin with this, for the benefit of the newer members:
The ImageMakers has a Steering Committee (SC) comprised of volunteers. (Members are Jack Wasserbach, Brett Thomas, Chester Ng, Dixie Dixon, Jerry Ginsburg, Richard Cannon, Thomas Schleich and Tracy Valleau.) We get nothing for providing our time, and are just regular dues-paying members like everyone else. (OK, actually Jack gets a few rolls of film a month for his extra efforts on all our behalf.)
Our SC duties include organizing shows, admitting new members, and planning events. We collect dues (the only source of income for ImageMakers) from which we pay rent on the meeting room, buy lights and stands for those meetings, and snacks as well. We are, as they say, run on a shoestring, and there is never any money left at the end of the year to carry over.
One of our tasks is to try to schedule and run the monthly meetings to the benefit of one and all. It’s an interesting challenge, because we have several conflicting objectives:
1) get news and announcements out to everyone;
2) make sure everyone gets to show;
3) make sure there is time for a close inspection of the images;
4) make sure that there is time for meaningful discussion of the images;
5) provide time for socializing;
6) and make sure the meetings are kept short enough so people will want to stay, and not get fidgety.
As you can see, if time is money, we have $1 and we need to get $1.50 out of it.
Over the years, we’ve tried various things, which have had various levels of success. Finally, we decided to simply -ask- what is important to you, and base our meeting strategy on the replies to that survey.
Well, the survey results are in (and in the blog post below this one).
Here’s the upshot:
a) 2/3 of you think the meetings are too long (1/3 think they are fine as is), so the SC obviously needs to figure out how to shorten the meetings.
b) Half of those who find the meetings too long say the reason is that too many people are showing. About a quarter say that the reason is the walk-by takes too long.
Then we asked what was most important to you: why do you come to meetings? (more than one reason was acceptable)
c) 50% said it was for the social interaction
d) 2/3 said it was to improve their own work
e) virtually the same number said it was to see how others reacted to their work
f) and almost 80% said it was to see the work of other members.
So there we are: we want to see each other’s work; to improve and gauge our own and interact with fellow photographers. However we also want to do it all in less time, with less people showing, and (to a lesser degree) without actually inspecting the images on display.
As you can see, the long and short of it is “you can’t get there from here.”
However, that’s what your SC was given to work with. We are, therefore, making a few changes, because, according to the survey, most of you requested them. Our goal is to make ImageMakers meetings meaningful and useful and fun.
First, and as something you’ll want to remember: the meetings proper will begin at 6 PM now, and will end not later than 9 PM. If you want to socialize beforehand, come early: 5:15 or 5:30. But please be ready for the meeting to begin at 6 sharp.
We feel that members absolutely do need to be able to come up and see the images being presented. However, in the interest of speeding things up, please realize that you are not REQUIRED to come up. If you want to sit out a walk around, feel free to do so. And please DO keep the line moving. This is not the time to analyze an image, nor to discuss technique with the photographer. That’s what the discussion is for.
We would like the person showing to NOT stand at the end of the line, because that clogs things up with people stopping to talk about the images. Stand where the line enters, not where it exits, or just sit down until the parade ends.
Upshot: the walk-by’s will remain a feature of our meetings.
In an effort to fit $1.50 into $1.00, we will no longer be showing the work of prospective members to the membership as a whole. It’s the Steering Committee that ultimately makes the membership decision anyway, so we (the SC) will stay late to view prospect’s work and talk with them.
Equally, guests will be able to show ONLY if the regular membership is finished showing before 9 PM. If there are no guests, and the meeting ends early, you all get to go home !
With these few adjustments, we’re hoping to cut some significant time off the meetings and/or allow more meaningful discussion among the members during meeting hours.
Next, given that we’re 50 cents overdrawn, we’d like your help to see if this works:
– if you show one month, be prepared to NOT show the following month, and make room for one who didn’t show the previous month.
Here’s what we’re aiming at : about a dozen (but no more than 15) people showing at any given meeting. After we get announcements out of the way, that leaves 11-13 minutes per presenter, and still gets us out by 9 PM.
Once you’re up and showing, you can have a walk-by, of course. But it you don’t want one, just say so. If there’s something in particular you’d like the members to comment on, just ask. And there’s no rule that you must take your allotted time. If you’re done earlier, just say so, and open up that time for the rest of the presentations. That will make it easier to be flexible in subsequent discussions during the evening. Please be respectful of those yet to come, and try not to ramble and stretch your “time on stage.”
Please keep the number of images between 3 and 5 if at all possible.
On a larger scale, we have placed a temporary moratorium on accepting new members. This will obviously help keep the meeting shorter as well. There are some candidates “in the pipe” and they will be reviewed in April, at the next SC meeting. Then things go on hold.
Your feedback is important: ImageMakers belongs to all of us, and we’re simply trying to make sure it works for everyone. If you have ideas, please pass them along to a member of the Steering Committee.
Let’s see how this new approach works.