When Chris completed his most recent term as president last year he wrote to all of us describing his views on what the club could be, what he’d like to see happen and in the course of getting there, what he’d managed to achieve.
Here, at something like half way through the club year, I thought it was high time I gave you an idea of my philosophy and what I’d like to see for the group. Jenny and I have been members since shortly after arriving in town around Christmas 1990. We knew nobody, had no relatives in the area and so set about finding people we could get along with and who thought like us. We were into taking photographs so the local camera club seemed a good place to start. We liked what we found. We’d not still be members over a quarter of a century later if that was not the case. Friends we met then are still friends now. So, what was so good and how can we build on it into the future for the benefit of all of us in BPC?
In my experience our club while taking part in competitions both intra and interclub events has not seen that as the be all and end all of club life. Indeed there have been times when our group has been criticised for not taking the subject seriously enough. There are clubs in SA where competition is so serious that, in my view, the social aspects of the group suffer. Competition is good for us. It encourages us to strive to produce better and better art. However, there are stories of instances around the traps where the occasional expert in a club jealously guards their tips and techniques afraid that sharing may diminish their competition success. Our club has always had an atmosphere of encouraging the less experienced and giving them all the possible tips and ideas to help them improve their art. I have been taking photographs for nearly 60 years now and my 5 year old entry level Canon SLR is still infinitely better than I am. Still, the most significant piece of equipment is the mass of grey cells just behind the camera. Given the right access to information and tips anyone can be a good photographer. Some will be outstanding and some of that is having the right ‘eye’. We need to create an environment where everyone can achieve.
So, I hope that the club continues to welcome all comers, old, young, novice and expert and provide them all with the friendship and environment to improve and excel. With that in mind and realising that entering competitions for the first time is scary, we have instated Peer Review nights. The idea was that newer photographers could easily be destroyed by highly critical and thoughtless comments by misguided judges in competition. Our intent was to provide a forum where those less experienced as well as longer standing members could bring their images for discussion without the pressure of being judged. We’ve made a few mistakes along the way but have continued to modify the Peer Review format. I’m confident this concept will pay dividends.
The other thing the club has striven to do over the last couple of years is to broaden the styles of images created by members. The club scene can tend to become hidebound in formulaic images some times. We rely heavily on the stock of judges provided by the South Australian Photographic Federation (SAPF) to judge our competitions. Many of these are long time members of clubs akin to our own. Since this is the case and they have all grown up in similar club environments there is the risk of them becoming formulaic in their tastes and not necessarily open to new ideas. I can’t pretend to be apart from this as I am an SAPF judge, I regularly judge at other clubs and certainly find many of the less conventional images I’m shown are the most refreshing. I really hope that the competition subjects this year’s committee have chosen will encourage us all to push the boundaries and create some exciting new art. We’ll continue to seek judges outside the club circuit as well; art teachers, uni lecturers, painters, professional photographer, in a determined effort to widen the views taken of our images.
So, my philosophy for the club is for it to be:-
- A friendly group that welcomes and actively encourages all genres and experience levels of photographers.
- A group where all the members are encouraged to and given the support to improve their images.
- A group open to the creation and appreciation of exciting and new images.
- A place where people have fun.