The club sponsored an all-day photography seminar (9:00 - 4:00) featuring Steve Gettle, a successful nature photographer. About 50 people showed up, mostly club members but a few guests, like us, attended as well.
Steve began his presentation by taking a poll regarding digital vs. film camera users. After discovering that no one in the room still shot with film, he proceeded to discuss the pros and cons of digital. This was a weak beginning for a group that already all shot digitally, but he obviously did not want to divert from his program. He moved on into equipment, exposure, lighting, composition, and the different types of nature photography. Most of the information was very helpful and was interspersed with practical tips.
As we neared twelve o’clock, we were given a break for lunch - 1 hour & 15 minutes. With plenty of restaurants nearby, this was more than enough time. At 1:15 the group was reassembled - except for club board members and the presenter. Around 1:40, they strolled in. The Club President casually apologized but said it couldn’t be helped because the restaurant was jammed. A couple things here: besides being completely unprofessional, anyone running an organization and a seminar, who has any sense at all, would have picked a restaurant that was not jammed. Attendees, who paid money to attend this event, all managed to get back in time. And if this delay was somehow unavoidable, a more sincere apology should have been forthcoming, seeing as the club just stole 25 minutes of our time (Steve is not from Grand Rapids and was blameless).
From there, things went downhill. Steve continued to provide excellent instruction but as he went on, several club members decided they had to comment or pose a question whenever Steve paused for a breath. Questions were mostly irrelevant, e.g., “where can I find information about bird nesting boxes?” This is a photography seminar; perhaps you could research your question on your computer when you get home. Comments intended to be humorous were not, and the sounds of their own voices emboldened them to increase their frequency. We did not pay to hear what club members know and think. These interruptions bogged down the seminar so much that when combined with the tardy lunchers, found us at 4:00 with an entire module untouched on macro photography. At 4:10, I walked out. Not only because I had a six o’clock engagement but also because my anger at these people hijacking the seminar was giving me a headache.
It’s unlikely that I will attend any of this group’s activities again. Besides being rude and unprofessional, they also showed themselves inconsiderate and arrogant. One last example: during an afternoon break, people lined up to talk to or ask a question of Steve. A short line formed. Steve, always polite, answered any questions to the best of his ability and greeted the next person. Just in front of me were two club members who, although cognizant of the line behind them, monopolized Steve’s time until the break was over. Really, people?
P.S. I received a very thoughtful, considerate, and apologetic response from Steve Gettle to this post.