The Big Introduction

Why might you want to join a camera club? What do people actually do there? Here are some frequently asked questions.

Do I need to be an expert photographer?

No, you don’t. You may never have taken a photo in your life, but maybe you want to?

Do I need my own camera?

Actually, no. We have time-served members we suspect of not owning one. It does make taking pictures simpler though. Some members use the camera on their smartphone to very good effect. (Others have trouble switching the things on.)

If you are thinking of buying a “good” camera, ask for opinions. The members own a wide range of equipment, from cheap to not cheap, of varied formats. Advice is free and you might even pick up a used bargain.

So should I bring my camera every week?

Only if you want to. Some folk go nowhere without one, but you don’t need one on most club nights. Nights when we will be doing something practical that requires a camera will be flagged in advance.

So what happens?

We have talks on photographic themes. We have competitions and challenges. We have practical sessions, where we discuss complex technical stuff like remembering to take the lens cap off. Actually, we do get techie sometimes. Some members are camera nerds. Some are only interested in the result – the photograph. Some are into the physics of it. There are lots of reasons for having an interest in photography.

There are lots of types of photography, lots of uses for cameras. A visual diary. A record. A creative experience. A work of art. Street photography. Commercial photography. Holiday photography. Glamour. Abstract. You name it. And there’s Camera Club Competition Photography.

Eek! Do I have to enter competitions? I’m not good enough!

Well, nobody has to enter, but the more the merrier. The important thing is to learn from what judges have to say- about your work and everyone else’s- while not taking criticism too much to heart. Competition photography is a tiny sub-genre of all photography. World class photo journalists and the best commercial photographers might score poorly in competitions, because it’s not their thing, but competitions do give a general idea of how to take “good” pictures. The idea is to learn and have fun.

I’ve got my dad’s box Brownie. Can I use that?

This could present a teensy problemette- because you have to put film in that. Very few photographers use film cameras any more and the club decided a couple of years ago to stop supporting “wet” photography. The Health & Safety considerations relating to chemicals were problematic and frankly, nobody was interested. So it’s 100% digital nowadays…

…which leads us onto computers. Whether you use a phone, a compact, a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you will need to save your photos – and probably to edit them- on a computer. The club has one, with a selection of software for displaying and editing images. One regular topic for talks is the use of photo-editing and cataloguing software.

Do you print your pictures?

Surprisingly rarely.

There are two views about printing. View one is that a photograph is not finished until it has been printed on paper. View two is that this is the 21st century, not the nineteenth. Most people these days are used to seeing images on a screen of some sort.

Most of what we see in the club are Digital Projected Images (DPI) – or what we used to call “slides”- ie pictures projected from a computer, via a digital projector. That’s one reason we meet in winter; it gets dark early.

If you would like to print, we do have a printer and we can explain how to mount prints for competitions, or for your own use. There’s a board cutting gadget for that. Printing is a whole world in itself.

Is it a “men only” thing?

Definitely not.

Is there an age limit?

If you are under 16, we would ask you to bring a parent or other “responsible adult”. The fact (which it would be good to change) is that club photography tends to attract mostly retired people. Partly, that’s because taking pictures takes time and younger folk never have any.

Also, historically, photography was an expensive hobby. Top end cameras are still pricy, but “entry level” cameras get cheaper and more capable every year , the second hand market is booming and the film is free, so cost really need not be a huge factor. The camera in a phone may be far more sophisticated than a top end DSLR of a decade ago.

What does it cost?

£30 membership for the season, (£20 for students and over 60s), plus £2 a week payable at the meeting . We could just double the membership charge and drop the weekly payment, but that would be unfair on those who can’t make it every week, so we divide the costs this way.

What’s a typical meeting like?

7:45-9:45, or a bit later on occasion. We used to start earlier, but parking can be scarce around the Poldrate building before 7:45. We do something photo related (see draft syllabus) for about 45 minutes, have a tea break and then a second half. The tea break is when all the gossip happens . A few members generally go on to the Tyneside Tavern for further nattering afterwards.

Poldrate is part of the Bridge Centre , down near the river in Haddington.

See this link for a map.

The draft syllabus is here