Club Culture

January saw the final meeting of the FOTO-CLUB, previously known as THE CLUB, the little photography club I put together a decade or so ago.

The final meeting of FOTO-CLUB at the 1000 Trades bar in Birmingham Jewellery Quarter.

I’d been in a few “camera clubs” over the years and had promised myself that one day I’d start a club that was nothing like the club’s I’d previously been a member of.

I wanted to avoid dull “circuit” speakers, never-ending competitions, old-blokeyness, equipment snobbery, and narrow-minded rejection of anything vaguely associated with progress.

Yes, we had a few competitions and we had exhibitions – but not like ones I’d taken part in in other clubs. One competition that we ran a couple of times was the “Crap Camera Challenge”, where members were given a disposable 35mm film camera and a vague theme to shoot to – no “equipment snobbery” possible, just a level playing field and the photographer’s imagination.

Over the years, we’ve had LOTS of excellent guest speakers, covering most aspects of photography. Many, if not most, of these speakers had never spoken to an audience about their work before. Some took many months of hinting, cajoling and arm-twisting to persuade to appear but all added to our collective understanding of what this medium is all about.

My sincere thanks to all of the members of FOTO-CLUB, The Club, and F2, and obviously everyone who came along to talk to us (who have included photographers, film-makers, male and female models, software companies, artists and curators).

I’m especially proud that these were often people who would never have been asked to speak on the traditional club circuit.

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