I belong to a local photography club. A local photography club which has existed for 75 years.
We meet in a local hall every Monday evening. Sometimes we compete in competitions with each other, sometimes we compete with other photography clubs, and sometimes a visitor will join us to inspire and entertain.
Last Monday I was definitely inspired and entertained by our visitor. Last Monday's visitor was the widow of the club chairman, who sadly passed away earlier this year. She also brought along her grandson, and photographs and slides from the chairman's vast collection.
I did not have the pleasure of meeting the chairman as he was ill for a long time and unable to join the club meetings. But I have now had the pleasure of viewing some of his outstanding and historical photography.
Apparently the couple met at the photography club, many years ago. Their first date was an outing to Southend-On-Sea, where it rained and they took photographs of reflections in puddles. The couple later married, had two children, who later had children of their own. Their story is quite a love story, and I couldn’t help feeling sentimental when I heard the pride in his widows voice whilst she displayed her late husband's work.
It was fascinating pouring over pictures taken of local churches, buildings and streets, some which have changed immensely and some which have not changed at all. There were shots of a building which was then a cinema, and is now a bingo hall. There were shots of a church, before it was vandalised, and shots of old fashioned streets with only a couple of old fashioned cars on the road and pedestrians wearing very dated clothing.
There were also pictures of other club members, dating back to the 1950’s. How smartly dressed they were. The men wore three piece suits and the women wore hats and fur coats. We were also told most of the members smoked back then, and there would be evenings where the photographs would be difficult to see through the haze of cigarette smoke.
How different things are now. I looked around the club at the members jeans and trainers, in a smoke free environment, where most of the members have digital cameras and are experts in digitally enhancing their work. Back in those days, as we were reminded on numerous occasions, everyone used a camera with film and spent hours in a dark room processing their master pieces.
But the one thing which hasn’t changed is the love of photography which the room still holds. I for one went home, buzzing with enthusiasm, and discussing my night, the history and the pictures, with my friend/new flat mate.
“Tomorrow I am going to start taking lots of pictures again,” said I, as I made my way to bed, head swimming with ideas and excitement.
I’m going to create a photography heaven in blog land.
I’m going to be observing, focusing and capturing.
And I thought it was only fair to warn you.