February 8, 2022
Launceston Camera Club were runaway winners of APOY’s inaugural camera clubs award in 2021. Here, they explain the secrets behind their success
When was Launceston Camera Club founded?
Launceston Camera Club was founded in December 1976 with a membership of 12 and our honorary president, Dennis Madge, was a founder member of the club. Our membership averages between 35 and 40 and we try to cater for everyone from all walks of life, with a catchment area from north Cornwall to west Devon. As with many clubs, there is a shortage of younger members. We do have a few, but we would like to encourage more to come along and join us to gain experience from our more knowledgeable members – and they also have a great deal to teach us.
How would you describe yourself as a club?
We are a small but very friendly bunch of enthusiastic photographers, who are willing to share our experience and knowledge with any new or old member. We have monthly summer outings around the coast or the moors of Devon and Cornwall.
What form do your meetings take?
We try to cover and encourage all aspects of photography throughout the year, consisting of practical evenings, before-and-after workshops, quiz nights, and arranging for lecturers to come along to show us their work and to give encouragement and advice. A couple of highlights this year were The Lone Kayaker with Rupert Kirkwood and Personal Projects by Glyn Dewis.
We have eight competitions throughout the season, digital and print, set subjects and monochrome, and the finale is a grand slam at the end of the season. We have interclub battles with other clubs and we just have the joy of sharing one another’s images. We also compete in regional and national competitions, encouraging club members to enter our own Cornwall Photographic Alliance competitions, the Western Counties Photographic and the (PAGB) Photographic Alliance of Great Britain. We do also have summer outings throughout the summer at various locations and purely for the social side.
What are the most popular photographic genres among your members?
I think one of the reasons Launceston did so well in APOY’s camera club challenge is because we have members who specialise in a wide range of subjects, including landscape, portraiture, wildlife, astro, water drop and one member that does fine art using only black & white film. But the important thing is if any newer members want help, they know who to go to for help with that specific subject.
How did lockdown affect you?
Lockdown was a struggle to start with, then we noticed on Facebook that other clubs were using Zoom – so we purchased it and were able to carry on with digital competitions. The sad part was we couldn’t do print competitions. To keep us motivated, a member started fortnightly competitions on Facebook, where the winner of the previous subject chose the title for the next competition and was also the judge.
We thought it would give the members who were unsure about judging images a chance to practise. Since returning to meetings at the club house, a number of our members have chosen not to attend in person for the moment, although they are still sending in digital images for competitions.
As a club, were you already experienced in entering and doing well in competitions before APOY?
We have had a few competition successes in the past but nothing as big as this! When Chris Robbins decided to enter round one, he suggested to the members that it would be worth going for the camera club challenge even though he knew we were punching above our weight (being a small club). Then he managed to get club secretary Hugh Letheren on board, and as soon as we got a few shortlisted images
under our belts the whole club then started to get involved.
Which categories were you particularly confident about?
I think round 10 (Close-ups) was a good one, as we have several members doing macro, and because we were top of the leaderboard by this time, nearly everyone was having a go! And we secured no fewer than five shortlisted images in this round.
As with all shortlisted images in APOY, Chris Robbins received 10 points for his shortlisted images in round 2, Natural World
What was your strategy?
I think it was down to the teamwork. We are a friendly club, so if someone thought another member had an image that would be ideal for the next round, they would ring them up and persuade them to enter it.
At what point did you realise you had a pretty much unassailable lead?
I think as soon as we were top of the leaderboard, we realised it was possible to win. We knew we had to increase the pressure by encouraging more members to take part and by this time they were keen to be part of it.
Ian Smith came second with this portrait in round 7 – the highest position achieved by a member of Launceston Camera Club
What was the reaction of the club’s members when they found out they had won?
Overjoyed and amazed – we realise it was down to the sheer number of members entering that helped us to win. Since winning, we have had publications in several local newspapers and our secretary was interviewed on BBC Radio Cornwall.
How did you decide how to spend the MPB voucher and what did you buy with it?
A member gave the club £500 for the voucher, and the money will allow us to upgrade our sound system. Members who have difficulty hearing often miss out on the sessions with guest lecturers and judges, so improving the sound system will allow us to be more inclusive. The member intends to buy a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with the MPB voucher.
What effect has the club’s success had on members?
It has been a huge boost to the club. The best thing was those members who were reluctant to enter because they thought they weren’t good enough and to see their excitement when they were shortlisted, or even made the top ten.
What advice would you give to any camera club planning to enter this year?
I think that’s our secret (joke). I feel it’s a case of encouraging their members to take part, as that’s what photography is all about – have fun and enjoy pressing the shutter button.
The club had five images shortlisted in round 10, Close-ups, of which this shot by Mike Stickney is one
Do you plan to enter again this year?
Yes, we will enter again this year, and we are hoping that there will be some different subjects to make us think. I don’t think we need to change our strategy, except to encourage the members who didn’t take part last year to have a go.
What are Launceston Camera Club’s plans for the future?
To build on the club’s success and encourage more like-minded people to join us. As a club we are quite small and we need to keep the lifeblood, the enthusiasm, the encouragement and new ideas coming along. We do need and thrive on the interaction from others.
Round 3, Home, received a huge variety of entries, and Russ Moulding’s dog portrait received 10 points for being shortlisted
Launceston Camera Club
Launceston Camera Club meets every Tuesday evening from September to April at Tregadillett Community Hall, Prouts Way, Tregadillett, Launceston PL15 7PS, except for Christmas and New Year. For more information, visit www.launcestoncameraclub.co.uk.
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Amateur Photographer of the Year 2022
Are you a member of a camera club? Submit your images to Amateur Photographer of the Year 2022 for a chance to win points for yourself and your club – a fantastic opportunity to have your work seen by a wide audience and an experienced judging panel. Plus, some great prizes are available too!