Take a deep breath. It’s not so bad.
Here’s my approach.
First I keep my images fairly well organized. Throughout the year, as I complete a shoot, I try to apply as many key words as I can think of. And I rate the images; is it a standout or just so-so? Here is where organization software really, really helps. I happen to like Lightroom for organizing and developing my image files. When it comes time to submit images for this or that, I can search my image library for my best work, based on my rating system, and the subject if that’s what’s needed. If I decide an image is worth printing I export it from Lightroom to a folder “to print” [I have many of my images printed by an outside print lab rather than doing it myself]. Then a few times a year I send in my order for prints. If I want to use images for a digital presentation, I export them to designated folders using appropriate file size and naming. These are all now readily available to send when needed.
Secondly, I reuse images for multiple events. You don’t need new images for each event. Images that you exhibit in a show can be then used for a competition or the next show. We only require that they not be used twice for the same event. Thus, an image at the Scranton Library this year can’t appear there next year but it can be used at another venue. I have a notebook in which I keep track of what images I use each time.
If you’re new or just unsure of the whole camera club process, start small. Pick out one or two activities that appeal to you. Maybe you don’t want the burden of printing, matting and framing. Though we’d like everyone to show off his or her work to the public, it’s understandable that some of you don’t wish to go this route. If the ‘competition’ aspect is what deters you, ignore it and just exhibit your favorite work. Images in exhibits do not have to be competitive. If it’s a print you like, show it off. The portfolio exhibit is a great place to get started. It’s all about what you like to shoot without the stress of categories and competition. Still, many members opt out of exhibits. The beauty of digital photography is the relative ease of sharing images via files and digital projection. Do try to send in a file for the 40-image review. Send a few for competition. What have you got to lose?! Feedback can sting but believe me it helps you in the long run. I think of it as competing with myself; if my scores are better this year than last year I know I’m improving. And best of all, work on the Members’ Project and share those when we announce the deadline. It’s fun and challenging and always interesting to see what other members have produced.