At its core, Inverness Camera Club is about bringing photography to Inverness and the surrounding areas; it is about giving the opportunity for those interested in photography to show their work; to interact with others to share and gain knowledge and expertise; and to foster an environment for learning.
A good photograph is able to be understood by people who speak a different language. It is also a record of a moment in time so can be seen as a historical marker. It might make you happy or sad. It could even inspire you.
10 years ago, the then President, Derek McGinn, wrote about the advent of digital photography and how it differed from film. The quality of cameras on smartphones surpasses that of a 10 year old digital camera.
As the photographic saying goes “The best camera you can have, is the one you have with you.” Today we are taking more photos than mankind ever has, and these are seen all over the Internet and Social Media.
But how many ever get printed and displayed? Not very many. Conversely film is making a comeback. Partially because of the quality of the finished photograph it gives, but also because it requires you to slow down and think about what you are doing. So perhaps the timelessness of photography will endure.
Over the next 10 years, I hope Inverness Camera Club will continue to expand its ideas and thoughts; to encourage, train and mentor those interested in photography; to be seen as a camera club for all abilities and styles.
My hope is that we do this as a club; side-by-side; in an open and welcoming way.
Inverness Camera Club 1949 to 2018
The objectives of the club have remained the same since the founding members.
“The objects of the Club shall be:
(1) to promote the science and art of photography in any of its forms;
(2) to provide facilities for its members including opportunities for education, recreation and competition; and
(3) to promote the Club within local, national and international communities.”
With full reviews of our history in the 50th and then the 60th anniversary booklets how much is to be recollected of that past in the 70th in an update? Details of these booklets have been loaded on to our web site. A copy of the text from each is included at the end of this booklet.
So here is a short resume followed by an update for the last ten years.
Brief Review to 60.
Mr G.M. Tyrrell, a WWI naval photographer, was in 1946 owner of the renowned D Whyte’s Studio Inverness and recruited a Mr Fred Hardley as an apprentice. Two years later Fred started an evening class ‘Art Photography’ at the Inverness Royal Academy his mission being to educate Invernessians to produce artistic photographs. Despite the authorities’ disdain of the subject name the class proved very popular and well supported. Here the seed of a club was laid, and it was noted that the rector’s private WC converted into a darkroom on those sessions. The formation of Inverness Camera Club “became inevitable and urgent”, the official date of formation being 25 November 1948.
The official opening of the Club took place on the 20 January 1949, in the Club Rooms at Fourth Street, Dempster Gardens leased from British Rail with many local luminaries present or sending their apologies. The lease ended in 1957 but the club was able to occupy the premises on a short-term basis until 1962. That year the club moved to a new home at 121 Church Street then for a short spell, 1971 to 1974, members used the old billiard room of the Highland Club in High Street. There followed a period of itinerant sites including a derelict house in Innes Street serving as a darkroom, with meetings in the Clansman Hotel and Spectrum Centre to 1978.
It is noted in these earlier documents that membership fluctuated and looking at the records there were a couple of years where the presidency position was vacant. Also having members willing to maintain various club activities proved difficult; an example being the demise of the inter club magazine “Zoom”. The award of some trophies was not made on several occasions. These types of issues still arise now and again in current times.
The club was offered the opportunity to purchase the disused Mission Hall on Stephens Brae. After much communication with various local bodies, fund raising and hard work the club had its own premises in 1979. Although refurbished a few times over the next 27 years the costs of maintenance became too much, and the premises were sold in 2006. With the tax man making a tidy profit, it left the club in a very sound financial condition.
Since 2007 the club has been using rooms at the premises of the Culduthel Christian Centre.
Where and How we are now in 2018.
The location and parking at Culduthel are good and with the use of the church’s main hall for major events has been well received. The events held have been the Highland Challenge meetings 2011 and 2018, then a talk by Colin Prior, an international Scottish photographer, at the start of the 2017-2018 session.
The main rooms we use are upstairs with no wheelchair access. The ceiling height limits the full use of our projector’s capabilities, and also affects viewings by members at the back of the room. There is a floor limit maximum of 50 in our main room, Leys Suite. We have been looking at other sites over the years, but no alternatives are available at present.
The membership has fluctuated over the last 10 years not much different from the previous 60 years. The “Signing In” and more importantly “Signing Out Early” attendance sheet for Fire Regulations has given us some useful data to analyse over the past few years. Our maximum membership has been 79 for 2009-2010 with last year 2017-2018 figure of 46 the lowest. The average membership over the ten years has been has been 68 members. Overall the club membership is doing OK.
On the 30 Wednesday nights available during the year our average attendance has been 30 members. There are usually 21 Monday sessions with an averaged 21 attendees. The club is about people, so attendance is what makes the club. The Monday session frequently offers two different sessions for different levels of experience within the club, so we offer about 60 internal events over the year.
The analysis also shows a regular turnover of about 25% each year. The committee, usually, have heard over the years why members have not returned. In the main, domestic circumstance, health and moving have been the reasons. The committee is also aware that other local clubs have been experiencing numbers dropping over the years. Meanwhile, the online photographic communities have grown considerably since 2008. This also coincides with the boom in the growth of digital photography.
The club has established and maintained its web presence. This needs to be kept that up to date. The club’s own internal Communications Policy is that our web site be the main means of communications with members, the use of e-mail being much quicker and less expensive than postal services.
The Club’s Facebook, an online web-based community, has attracted over 200 members. It is disappointing that only about 30 of them are full members. Many members also contribute to the Highland Photographers Facebook site. It must be noted that not all members use or wish to use such systems at present.
The club has also clearly stated its Data Protection policy complying with the General Data Protection Regulation 2018. This is displayed on our web site.
There has also been considerable soul searching within our club over the recent years which has also happened in the past. Especially near the end of the operational year, members have been asked what they want from the club for the next session. Then over the summer and the next planning session the committee have tried to accommodate these requests. However, obtaining people to undertake some of the activities sought does not attract takers. So, some things do not happen or fall through due to lack of support. The club’s core business marches on delivering sessions to help educate, recreate and offers opportunities to compete locally and on occasion externally. These all promote the art and science of photography.
I am sure the club membership will continue with these objectives for the next ten years and more.
The sale of Stephens Brae premises has put the club on a sound financial footing with a healthy savings account. In those early days the bank interest was substantial. However, that did not last long with the Bank of England base rate around 0.05% for many years. The interest for many years is much much less than what it was in 2009.
The committee each year, with the AGMs’ approval, have sought to try and cover the club’s yearly costs being met from annual revenue. They have committed to only using the savings for major capital purchases. However, most years the club has run up a deficit. These have accumulated, and the savings are reducing which includes some capital expenditure against those funds.
Four laptops and photographic software for training sessions, a new projector and a laptop, large foldaway screen then display boards have been purchased and remain assets for the club used over many years. Against these purchases, there is depreciation as they are used and become dated.
The savings have also help cover the losses from events such as the Highland Challenge events and the Colin Prior talk which was agreed at AGMs, although these events were planned with them meeting their own costs.
A yearly fee with an evening attendance charge was in operation for most of the last 10 years. The evening fees did not meet the actual attendance fees obtained, for most years, even with close monitoring but now full policing. The maximum attendance over the ten years has been 55 against 79 members. With an average attendance of 30 against the average membership 68, the premises and other overheads must be paid for whether members attend or not. It was also felt by many regulars that they bore the greater charge.
It was agreed at the 2017 AGM to have fixed fee with the usual current concessions of (£5) for partners, seniors and a new price of £ 25 for under 25s. The new fee was set as the previous yearly charge (£ 40) plus the average attendance for 20 nights charged at £1.50p, so £ 70 was set.
As to whether this caused the reduced membership is not determined since the various reasons for non-renewal have been varied as usual. Payment by two instalments was available. Where else could one have access to 50 evenings for £1.40 per night? The treasurer’s annual report for that year commented that another six members would have balanced the year’s normal expenditure.
This 70th year, 2018-2019, the committee have agreed, with the AGM’s approval a fee of £50 hoping to increase membership and is willing to incur a loss if that does not transpire. Also agreed was an introductory fee of £25 for members new to the camera club.
As one of the club’s objects, opportunities to compete for trophies have been there for the winning from the start. Over the 10 years four new cups have been added to that list bringing the total to seventeen trophies within the club.
Having feedback on your photographic work is a primary feature of members gathering together. Entering competitions is one method to obtain external views of one’s work in a club. There are online communities awash with opportunities, but meeting people is what clubs are about.
Along with the new additions to the trophy cupboard there have been changes to the conditions for awards. Details of all winners are given later but some explanation is given here of the changes.
The “Photographer of the Year” (PoTY)
This top club award, Ernest Cooke Cup started in 2003 with the top scorer from a “play-off” of the ten highest scorers over the five monthly competitions. Since 2008, in many years the “best 10” did not all participate. Nor were their scores on the night doing well, scoring between 82% and 90%. Members became un-easy with this method and an analysis of scoring over the sessions 2005 to 2012 was undertaken.
This revealed that over those 7 years only one of highest scorer over the five-monthly periods won the much sought after PoTY in the “play off”. The other 6 highest scorers in the monthly competitions ranging from 88% to 96% had scored a higher percentage over the year than the “play off winner” by a considerable margin. The 2012-2013 AGM agreed this major change.
From the 2013-2014 session the PoTY has been awarded to the member with the highest score in the best of 4 monthly out of the 5 monthly competitions. The 5 monthly competitions were reduced to 4 monthlies in the 2017-2018 session with only one entry in the now four monthly categories; a total of 16 images with 4 monochrome PIs, 4 monochrome Prints, 4 colour PIs and 4 colour prints. The PoTY would be awarded to the cumulative total from each of the four categories over all four monthly competitions.
To win PoTY, a member needs to present material demonstrating a wide range of continuous high standard of photographic activity over the period in colour and monochrome, print and digital. This change means a Beginner could win this trophy and in 2017-2018 a Beginner was joint runner up for this award!
Monthly Competition Awards
Recently reduced to 4 monthly presentations with one image in the now four categories each having a trophy award to the member with the highest accumulated score over the year.
These are open to all members:
Awarded to the member with the highest accumulated score over the 4 monthly Colour Prints.
Stephens Brae Cup
Awarded to the member with the highest accumulated score over the 4 monthly Mono Prints.
Awarded to the member with the highest accumulated score over the 4 monthly Colour PIs (digital and/or slide).
Awarded to the member with the highest accumulated score over the 4 monthly Mono PIs
(digital and/or slide). A new trophy.
The only change in rules of in this section is that the prints are current limited to a maximum of A4 in size for the Elena Mae Cup. This is reviewed annually.
The new additions to the trophy shelves are:
Is awarded for the best Annual Set Subject Mono Print.
Is awarded for the best Annual Set Subject Mono PI.
(digital and/or slide).
Is awarded for the best Annual Open Mono PI.
(digital and/or slide).
Members are encouraged to present images to competitions. Over the past three years we also offer “critiques” evening once a month on Monday evenings providing an opportunity to review their material in the last competition and another material before the next hand-in night.
These evenings are given over to practical, hands on sessions including outdoor shoots. Over the last ten years there have been several 10 weeks Beginners’ Courses along with the Monday evenings. These have been well received and attendance has covered the extra hire and overall costs. Frequently these have resulted in new members the following year.
As digital photography has expanded the club has offered more digital processing classes each year. These too have been well received.
These nights tend to be more formal with guest speakers, judges and visitors from other clubs albeit the president has to raise their voice to get the proceedings started. There have been many outstanding speakers and judges from near and far. We have many friends gained from these meetings over the years. These folks have kindly returned, and they have been welcomed back again and again.
Recent surveys of members have shown that members really like seeing the work of fellow members. Each year two or three evenings are given over to several different members to display their photography. There is a large range of different genres displayed at these events.
The club gives a big thank you to all our judges, guest speakers and the membership themselves for the wonderful presentations given over the years.
The club has also continued to enter and host the annual inter-club Highland Challenge doing well some years and not so well in others. We have also on occasion enters SPF events and other competitions.
Members have also arranged outings to favourites haunts e.g. Elgol, Applecross and other sites. The Facebook group have added ad hoc outings among both actual paid up members and members of that virtual group.
Development and Recognition
Over the recent years several members have achieved various photographic societies awards. The Royal Photographic Society licentiate has been awarded to at least 6 members with two following that up to obtain their Associate Membership. Alastair Cochrane one of our members for many years has achieved the RPS’s highest award as a Fellow of the RPS. Well done Alastair.
Other members have obtained SPF awards while some of these members and others have done well with their photographs in national and international competitions.
Ross Martin, one of our Honorary Member’s, was award a top award by the Photographic Society of America for his many years of contribution to that group.
An important objective of our club is personal development. One method is the gaining of society awards acknowledging high standards of photographic activity. This for most of us mortals maybe too much. The learning from each other at club meetings should not be underestimated. We are in a continuous improvement of our knowledge and skills in photography.
The greatest award is one’s own recognition by oneself that your own photography has improved along with you enjoying it and having a better appreciation of your own artistic photographic creativity. Keep up the clicking.
Former Members and Remembrance
As the club ages so do each one of us. Members come and go and come and go but in the end we all shall stop attending. We do not have a role of honour within the club other than names on minutes of meetings and engravings on trophies from donors and winners. The new trophies have been named after local places since if we were to name them after former members there would eventually more trophies than members. As the years go by members pass away and their names and images are with us still in memory.
Local winning images are displayed on our web site however that is usually for a maximum of two years as agreed with membership. Our club’s digital life could hold many more images for a long, very long time, only with owners’ or their families’ permission. This may be a method of honouring all our members over the years. One from each over their years? This would be quite an undertaking but something that I think should be considered as the club enters it eight decade and nearing a century!
Well this is up to the current and future members. How will photography progress in the next 10 or 20 years? There is a considerable revival in film medium, where will that go? Technology is not going to stop. 3D photography? More video type imaging? Goodness alone knows. It is up to us to keep up with what comes along.
The committee, as I type this, are looking seriously at new premises, near our former home for many years, at the top of Stephens Brae.
The next chapter will tell that tale.
This update for our 70th anniversary was authorised by the committee in 6th August 2018.
Written by Anthony Grady by the end of October 2018, assisted by Iain Gibson.
Approved by the committee 5th November 2018.