|Around 1970, after a break of a few years, I decided to try to get back into photography in a more serious way, and joined my local club, Hertford & District Camera Club, in the hope that I might learn something. After all these years I'm still a member.
Did I learn anything? Well, you'll have to be the judge of that as you go through this site. The club is not a teaching organization in common with most other clubs it survives on a diet of lectures, competitions and occasional practical evenings. It provides an environment in which to discuss photography, and an incentive to produce and show new work. People learn by discussing their photography with others, and by listening to the comments of judges on other people's pictures as well as their own. At least, that's how it's been for me.
Most of the visiting lecturers and judges are volunteers, of course. They do it because they enjoy looking at pictures, and because they want to give out their knowledge and experience to others.
Many of these visitors are experienced and knowledgeable photographers, most of them amateurs at a very high level, some of them professionals. For me they've been the key to giving my photography some sort of direction. Later I learned to disagree with them, but this in itself is a very creative stimulus because you have to work out the reason why, not just feel hurt that they didn't like the picture!
I'm actually quite proud to have been the only President (in 1975) and probably the only member in the club's history of 50 years, to have scored zero in a competition; no-one ever gets less than 5 out of 10! The print was technically quite OK, but it upset the judge, a good photographer for whom I had great respect, so much that she gave it zero marks I felt I'd achieved something!
But all this came a bit later, after I'd learned about colour printing, and strictly belongs in The Seventies. Before that I had a little run-in with a judge (who shall remain nameless) who, it must be said, did not always achieve the highest standards of the judge's craft. I was in the Beginners section, and it was only my second or third competition...