Join our club: Bromley Camera Club in the spotlight

PUBLISHED: 11:57 20 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:13 20 February 2013

Join our club: Bromley Camera Club in the spotlight

Join our club: Bromley Camera Club in the spotlight

Celebrating its annual exhibition this month, Bromley Camera Club provides a creative outlet for those whose love of photography pre-dates the digital era

Join our club: Bromley Camera Club in the spotlight

Celebrating its annual exhibition this month, Bromley Camera Club provides a creative outlet for those whose love of photography pre-dates the digital era

Photography has always been a passion for Steve Jones. He would immerse himself in the pursuit of finding the perfect shot, followed by the nervy anticipation when developing the image in his own dark room. But there was something missing. When it all came together perfectly, there was a sense of anti-climax.

"I would show the final print to my wife, and she would say, "very nice, dear" - and that was that." What Steve needed was the company of fellow enthusiasts, and the answer was to join his local camera club. That was about eight years ago, and Steve is now the President of the Bromley Camera Club.

Steve invited me to the club on an important night in the club's diary - the submission night for entries for the annual exhibition. The first thing you notice about a camera club is that no-one brings a camera. It is all about the photographs. Forget iphones or Facebook, this is the place to find proper prints; enlarged and lovingly framed on white card.

The format of the evening was simple. After a round-up of news and announcements, the lights were dimmed and the attention of the assembled members focused on the large illuminated white box at the front of the church meeting room.

To ensure each print was assessed impartially, a guest judge, Steve Carroll from Maidstone Camera Club, was invited to cast his eye over the photographs. Now if this all sounds a bit competitive and intimidating for the novice snapper, it couldn't be further from the truth.

Steve found constructive and positive points for all the submitted prints and attempted to find the story behind each picture.It reminded me of watching a slide show of someone's holiday, except the subject matter was constantly changing and the night was consistently interesting.

You don't even have to submit any photos yourself if you prefer not to. One of the club's more senior members, 81-year-old David Dulake, was on tea and coffee duties during the break for refreshments. He explained that he had rarely takes any photos anymore, especially with film being overtaken by digital photography, but he looked forward to Camera Club nights as he enjoys the companionship and friendship.

Although few members are in their eighties, the demographic of the club is largely male and not exactly youthful. It is a club that appeals to the hobbyists, and those with time to pursue their interest, so there probably aren't too many members who live in a house full of young, demanding kids.

It is apparent that many members developed the love of photography back when digital photography had yet to be invented. Loading a film into a camera is about as relevant in 2010 as doing the laundry with a washboard, but shooting with a limited number of frames (and no instant image to review) means you have to get the picture right.

The digital cameras being built today are so powerful and intelligent, it is easy to snap a good-quality image, but those skills honed from the days of film are just as valid today.

Of course, you don't have to fit into any gender or age bracket to enjoy appreciating good photography. Lydia Buttinger, for example, is young enough to be David's grand-daughter, but shares his interest in life through a lens.

"Since joining the club about a year ago, I have started to think about photography in a different way," says Lydia. "It is a very friendly club where you can share ideas, and I enjoy seeing all the photos that have been taken from all over the country."

Steve Jones is keen to stress that the club is open for everyone regardless of ability. For those wishing to learn more about photography there are possibilities for tuition and the club runs a very popular photography course.

At the other end of the spectrum, some members are Fellows of the Royal Photographic Society, which is recognition of their contribution to the craft. The club nights often have guest speakers on subjects ranging from pin-hole cameras to astral photography. The club also organises outings and walks, where members get their cameras out and get practical.

For those who like to compete, there are both internal and external competitions, with the club entered into leagues organised by the South London Federation. "The judging in external competitions can be a bit more brutal," laughs Steve, suggesting he may have been a victim of a judge's criticism.

On this occasion, the guest judge from Maidstone came without an axe to wield, but he still had the task of selecting the night's winners. He chose a candid portrait by Charles Hambleton and beautifully composed shot of the statues in the River Mersey by Pauline Shockley, a decision warmly applauded by the audience.

It isn't always as genteel as this, as Steve confirms: "We never like to lose to the Beckenham Camera Club." Perish the thought.

Get in touch

Bromley Camera Club was formed in 1896 and meets on Thursday evenings at the United Reformed Church, Widmore Road, Bromley from 8pm to 10pm. There are currently about 50 members, of which 30-35 regularly attend meetings. The joining fee is 5; annual fee is 60.

The objective of the club is to promote the enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of photography and the processs involved through interaction with other enthusiasts in a friendly and sociable club environment.

Bromley Camera Club is for everyone who wants to:

● create better pictures

● improve their technical skills

● develop their critical and aesthetic judgement

● find an outlet to show their work

● meet like-minded enthusiasts

● make new friends

The Annual Exhibition runs from 2-16 June at the Central Library, High Street, Bromley.

Free Admission.

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