I find that it can be a bit of a challenge to come up with a program for our photographic society. This is my third year of doing it, so I have developed a formula that seems to work okay. It will soon be time for me to hand over the task to some new talent, though!!
In order to have a coherent program, we have our activities organised around monthly themes. Set Topics for the monthly competitions are tied in to the themes. There are a few constraints in the program, such as the AGM on the first Tuesday in March, our portfolio competitions that currently don’t have Set Topics, and our end-of-year celebration.
We usually hold a Workshop in about August where members are invited to provide comment about the current program and suggestions for the upcoming program. Below is a summary of the workshop we have just held to review the 2015 program and to develop the 2016 program.
If you want to jump to the chase and have a look at the draft program, click on the link below. Please note that this program is a draft only and we welcome feedback and suggestions. Just reply to this blog post if you would like to make a comment.
This year there are a few innovations: – the main one being the introduction of the concept of “Open Studios”. For this to work, members volunteer to host a small group, either in their studios (hence the name) or in any other agreed venue, to teach a particular skill or to demonstrate a particular technique. This could be related to a camera (for example mirrorless camera users could get together to discuss the best ways to use their kit), post-processing or anything that comes to mind. I have put a few suggestions into the program that relate to the monthly themes.
If you would like to participate in “Open Studios”, please just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At this year’s workshop, held on 18th August, member input into the design of the monthly competitions was also sought.
Here is a summary of some of the issues that were raised. If you would like to add your input please respond by commenting on this blog or sending an email to email@example.com
There was general strong support for the “Monthly Theme” concept that forms the framework for the program.
When asked what aspects of the program people liked most, Excursions were mentioned by several and the Weekend Workshop at the coast was also mentioned as a popular and worthwhile activity. There were requests for more of this type of activity for the general membership (Weekend Workshops held so far have targeted new and less experienced members).
In response to previous requests for more educational activities regarding camera use and post-processing, the suggestion of “Open Studios,” where members volunteer to host small groups either in their homes or in public places, was supported.
Handling of the CPS Image Gallery.
Members would like to see images currently on the CPS Gallery on Coppermine retained for posterity, but it was agreed that they don’t need to be kept online and should be backed up on a suitable medium and retained.
Members supported maintaining Gallery 9 images and the Portfolio Competition Galleries in an online gallery.
There was strong support for retaining A and B grades and for having scoring on all images submitted. There was no support for allowing images to be submitted “not for scoring”. It was felt that the Workshops provided an opportunity for members to seek feedback on experimental work and for new members to “test the waters” before venturing into entering the competitions.
There was no support for allowing members to submit images taken by other photographers, such as scanned photographs from family archives. Members present felt that competition entries should be restricted to entrants’ own work (including scanned versions of the members’ own images).
There was support for relaxing the current restrictions on image size and support for specifically recognising multi-image entries. It was noted that there are practical constraints regarding what can be displayed so it was acknowledged that it would be up to the photographer to take into account the constraints of the viewing system. Constraints for competitions where a judge prejudged work (Hedda Morrison Portfolio Competition and Image of the Year competitions) would be retained for practical reasons. Again it was felt that the workshops provided an outlet for more outrageously exploratory work (such as really long panoramas or other large works).
There was support for reinstating viewing of the prints on the wall rather than on tables. It was recognised that any viewing system is a compromise and that lighting will become an issue that will need to be addressed for wall-displayed prints.
It was suggested that prints be displayed first on competition nights and this was supported.
There was recognition of the importance of prints, but some members expressed the view that the medium of the print was not accessible to them because of difficulty in accessing printing facilities, costs associated with both printing and matting and storage issues.
There was a suggestion that members who enter prints into competition be required to upload a digital version of their images to the CPS gallery before competition night. This would facilitate display of winning images in Gallery 9, on the website and in Capital Image and ensure that both digital and print entrants had to plan ahead. It would also make it easier to make digital versions of entries available for viewing on different devices during the competitions if this option were pursued. The requirement for concurrent entry of digital versions of both print and projected images was supported.
There was a suggestion that we consider a tablet for the judge to use when viewing images to overcome shortcomings of the digital projector. There was also some discussion around mechanisms for having images available for viewing on other devices during the competition judging.
There was a request, supported by others, that we reinstate having judge commentary on all images submitted for the Image of the Year competitions. It was recognised that this would have to be brief as the evening usually has a full program.
There was a suggestion that we introduce a Set Topic for the Portfolio competitions.
There was support for continuing with having one competition a year where the Set Topic is compulsory. It was felt that this Set Topic should feature a local environment or abstract theme.
There was a request for more abstract and thought-provoking Set Topics.
Program Coordinator and Review Workshop Convenor