Barnsley Photographic Society in the picture for 100 years

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Barnsley Photographic Society, with an exhibition at Barnsley Civic set to capture the centenary celebrations.

When a group of artists first got together at Mr Roberts’ studio on Shambles Street, on 21st May 1924, the 35mm camera hadn’t yet been launched and photographs were still black and white.

But photography had become an increasingly powerful tool in the documentation of post-war society and culture. Members paid a subscription of five shillings for the year where they regularly met up to develop their photography styles and techniques.

Fast forward 100 years and the society is still going strong, with many members having been involved for decades.

Phil Edwards is on the committee and has been a member for the last 20 years. Like many members, he joined in retirement having finally had time to focus on a life-long hobby.

“I’ve always had an interest in photography. Like most older members, I’ve been dabbling in it for years and can remember setting up a dark room in the spare room or the bathroom,” Phil says.

Much has changed over the years, aided by improvements in technology, photography styles and post-production methods. Members now generally use DSLR cameras, learning how to use them to the best of their ability.

But technology also has its drawbacks. Many of us will have an exceptional camera on the phones in our pockets. One tap and it produces a good quality photo. Phil says this means the younger generation don’t feel they need to learn about photography, which may impact the future of photography societies.

However, joining a photography society is more than just learning the ins and outs of taking a good photo. It challenges you to try genres or styles you’re not used to. It’s also a chance to get feedback, advice and critique on your style of photography to keep improving.

But most of all it’s the exposure you’ll get. What’s the point in filling hard-drives or phone memory up with thousands of images that nobody will ever see?

From Saturday 11th May, Barnsley Photographic Society will be hosting a six-week exhibition at Barnsley Civic to mark 100 years of the society. The images on display will be a snapshot of members’ best work from the last few years.

This will run alongside the annual exhibition of the Yorkshire Photographic Union in the Civic’s main gallery which will have over 200 prints by members of the 40 affiliated clubs in Yorkshire.

How to get involved

Throughout the year, Barnsley Photographic Society meets every Monday between September and April at 7.30pm at Emmanuel Methodist Church on Huddersfield Road. Members are exposed to a mix of practical, hands-on sessions, guest speakers, monthly themes and competitions.

During the summer months, they organise out-in-the-field photoshoots around the local area.

Workshops are always different, with members leading sessions on things like long exposure, filters, lighting, and Photoshop. As well as troubleshooting tips from members, they also welcome professional photographers to speak about their specialisms. Recently, they have had talks from a retired teacher from Namibia about wildlife photography, and a Canadian photographer talking about capturing birds in America.

The monthly themes also vary, with members interpreting their own ideas of words like candid, frost, steam, and shows. There are winners each month for the different themes, plus an annual prize night that all members are encouraged to take part in.

You don’t need any formal training, qualifications or loads of experience to join. Just an interest in improving your photography skills and meeting like-minded people.

Annual membership is £20 plus £6 a month for the Monday meetings which covers room hire and refreshments.

For more information, visit their website.