Last night, I was lucky enough to be asked to attend the Woodford and Wanstead Camera Club for one of their regular meetings. They are one of the oldest photographic clubs in the country, dating back to late Victorian times, so I considered it quite a privilege to be invited.
I must say that as I arrived I felt the burden of more than a century of previous erudite discussions weighing heavily on my shoulders! Needless to say, the members rapidly made me feel at home, and although officially I was there as the “guest speaker”, as ever I learned as much or more from the discussions as any of the members will have learned from me.
I spoke about my experience of creating, implementing and then exhibiting photographic project work, using my project at St Clement Danes church last autumn on the subject of the Battle of Britain as an example. As well as showing some of the images I took during the project, I also shared what I had learned about the project process, and in particular the importance of picking a subject which stimulates and intrigues you.
After my presentation, we split into groups and talked about ideas which group members might like to explore as projects of their own, and for me this was the most fascinating part of the evening. In my group, which was only about ten in number, the sheer variety of ideas was astounding – council houses, car parks, and benches were amongst the many ideas debated. The group also shared with me a project they had undertaken in Woodford itself, recording the changing landscape and architecture as the 21st century began.
I do hope some of those projects come to fruition – having seen some of the work of the club members, I have no doubt that there will be some very creative and engaging images. And the fact is that it is often when we look at the most mundane things in a different way – like houses or car parks – that we start to notice things which are intriguing, hidden or even beautiful in them.
As I have said before, photography can be a fairly solitary pursuit, and one of the reasons I run my walking tours is to stop myself from becoming a hermit! When we do get together and talk, though, we can really help each other to look at the world around us with a fresh pair of eyes.
Come to think of it, whether we are photographers or not, helping each other to see the world afresh and maybe wonder at it just a little more is a pretty great gift to give. So let’s keep looking, and keep sharing.