In this age of online communities like Facebook and Instagram, we forget how important having a good, close friend is nearby.

Many of us have people we look to and friendships we have developed around our favorite hobby of photography.

As people interact in these online platforms, friendships emerge as interactions increase and a real interest in each other’s lives and family are shared and friendships are made.

I tend to be more of an introvert in large groups. I took most of my online workshops as a study along because I didn’t have to interact directly with instructors and other classmates if I didn’t want to!

And, for a long time, I didn’t. My fear of rejection was causing me to be an outsider in all of these communities I wanted so much to be a part of.

In December 2014, I signed up to take a workshop as a full participant for the first time. I knew it was going to be good and life-changing and I would come out of these four weeks completely changed with a clear path to success.

The thing about setting your expectations so high – well, the class was great, but what came out of it was even better! A happy accident really, a group of my classmates randomly picked dates for our live meeting with the instructor and ended up in a small group together for the duration of the class.

When the class finished, our little group continued together to grow and push each other. But as happens in groups, we have all moved on to our own things and don’t meet as a group as much as we did. However, from this group, I have made one friend who is so important to me, Elise. We talk on a very regular basis about everything from our family to our photos.

Elise and I live about an hour apart and although our schedules don’t allow us to meet often, we do try to meet up! Our kids get along and that makes meeting up so much easier!

For us, these are some of my favorite reasons to find yourself a photog bestie!

In this age of online communities like Facebook and Instagram, we forget how important having a good, close friend is nearby.

1. You have someone who will honestly critique your photos

When you are unsure of the strength of a photograph it’s nice to be able to show it to someone else. It’s really a beautiful thing to have someone that you trust to give you an honest critique. Not the “oh, it’s good” and they’re afraid to tell you the honest truth. The person you go to that notices the things you don’t like tree branches sprouting from heads or a little camera shake.

2. You have someone in your corner, your own cheerleader

It’s nice to have someone who understands the importance of having an Instagram photo featured or the necessity of acquiring new equipment! My bestie will celebrate the big wins and the smaller wins and is always right there to support me! I totally appreciate that!

It’s also great to have a friend who is always there to point out that you don’t need that new toy. Elise is the saver and I’m the spender!

In this age of online communities like Facebook and Instagram, we forget how important having a good, close friend is nearby.

3. You have someone to share inspiration with

Elise and I try to keep learning new things. It’s so hard with family obligations and distractions but we are always trying to grow as photographers and we’re there to help motivate one another. I find that the honest critique helps me to push forward and become more conscientious of my frame. I’m much more deliberate in my documenting! We even take workshops and do mentoring together.

4. You have someone to help you hone in on your style

In the last few years, I have stressed over what my voice and my style is. I keep hearing everyone has one! My editing and photos seem to come back to the same principles: clean editing and casual, fun moments.

I have six kids, so for me, I really needed to let go of perfection. When I get all six in the frame, I call that a WIN! Letting go of perfection has been a challenge for me. Having my “person” to talk about my frustrations with has really helped me to realize that our busy, messy life is beautiful. Seeing the art in our everyday has taken time and made all of the difference in my love of photography.

In this age of online communities like Facebook and Instagram, we forget how important having a good, close friend is nearby.

5. You have someone to share your journey with

It is so nice to have someone who gets it. Everyone else just doesn’t care about the pretty light on the cabinet, why you love your new gear, or what skills you are working on. But your photography friend does.

She is there to cheer you on or share your excitement. That alone makes having a friend so important. Not only have my pictures improved, but my creativity as well. She has pushed me in ways that only a photography friend could. And for that I am so glad we have become friends.