Hertford and District Camera Club was formed over 60 years ago – in 1951 – by a small group of enthusiasts whose photographic activities were severely limited by the trade restrictions and materials shortages of the early post-war years. Happily there are no such restrictions today; indeed we are now bombarded with a wide choice of techniques and encouraged to spend our money on ever more sophisticated digital toys!
Yet the original aims of the Club are unchanged: to provide a forum for local people with an interest in photography to meet, discuss and offer each other assistance, through a varied programme of weekly meetings, and so to stimulate and broaden their interest. Today our programme offers a broad mix of lectures, demonstrations and competitions – including photo 'battles' with other clubs. And if you have problems using your camera, or with any other aspect of your photography, our experienced members can almost certainly help.
Photography has changed dramatically over the last 60 years; in fact it may have evolved faster than at any other time since its invention in the early 19th century. Today the latest digital technologies offer creative opportunities that the early Club members could only dream about. But we recognise – as did the early members – that in making good pictures, composition, timing and presentation remain as important as ever.
In the wider world, the Club is affiliated to the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB) through the East Anglian Federation (EAF); we hosted the EAF Annual Exhibition in 1973, and again on our 50th anniversary in 2001. More details about the EAF and the PAGB are given below.
If you're interested in photography and live in or near Hertford, why not come along to a meeting?
You don't need to be an expert but you'll be very welcome if you are! No need to book, just come on the night.
‘Snapshots in Time’
In 2011 – in celebration of our sixtieth anniversary – we displayed some of the photographic changes and developments of the last 60-80 years in a major seven-week exhibition of cameras, darkroom equipment and images in the Hertford Museum. More details HERE.
The Early Years
The first step in forming the Club was taken in 1947 by a Mr W Kemp, who placed an advertisement in the local paper – the Hertfordshire Mercury – asking keen photographers to contact him. After a few meetings had been held as part of the Ware Evening Institute, the Club was established in its present form when the group moved to Durrant Hall in Hertford in 1951 (‘Durrant Hall’ was actually a Nissen hut that was later demolished to make way for the Old Cross development).
By the mid-1950s the Club was using Scott House in Hagsdell Road, not far from its present venue in St John’s Hall. In between it has met in what was the Geography Room at Richard Hale School, and from the mid-1970s at the Kingsmead Pre-School in Stanstead Road (originally known as the KMCA Hall).
Right from the start a varied programme of weekly meetings – from September to early Summer – has provided a stimulating mix of technical, competitive and entertaining evenings, all with the aim of improving the standard of members’ photography as well as adding to their enjoyment of it. In the early years, many of the talks were given or sponsored by the photographic manufacturers and dealers, eager to encourage the growing market for their products.
Soon, members of Hertford and other clubs were keen to share their own knowledge, photos and enthusiasm. Today that passion for photography is undimmed. Over the last 60 years the Club has embraced incredible developments in camera technology; it has witnessed the rise and fall of colour slides, and has seen the launch of photography’s digital age.
The International Exhibition
The Club has mounted an exhibition each year since its formation. The first was inspired by the 1951 Festival of Britain, and displayed pairs of prints of Hertford: copies of lantern slides up to 70 years old were matched by photos of the same scenes in 1951. Held in the Borough library the exhibition aroused much local interest, and the prints were later bound into a book by the Borough Council for preservation in the Museum. (The exercise was repeated in 2000, and we plan to do so again in 2050!).
The following year an invitation exhibition of Pictorial Photography was shown in Shire Hall. Many prominent national photographers lent panels of prints, and for the first time the public of Hertford could see examples of the best of British Photography. A small section of this exhibition showed Club members’ work.
In 1953 the Club decided to hold an open International Exhibition. Photographically it was a great success – with entries from 14 countries – and it even covered its cost! It remained an annual event until 1960, with a large Open section for national and international entries and a smaller section for members; both had categories for prints and colour slides. Today our Annual Exhibition remains a showcase for the Club’s photography; it accepts entries from members at all levels, with no selection process.
‘Colour in Camera’
For 14 years, Colour in Camera was our ‘annual’ audio visual show. It started in 1977 as a way of showing in public the slide/tape programmes that some of the members were producing at the time: sequences of slides were shown to a recorded soundtrack. The idea was prompted when Kodak decided to stop sponsoring the very professional two-projector shows produced by Alfred Gregory (photographer on the 1953 Everest expedition) and others, which the club had been booking and presenting in the Simon Balle school for several years. Why couldn’t we do our own show?
Colour in Camera soon became almost an annual event, moving to the more professional environment of Castle Hall (now the Hertford Theatre) as soon as it was built in 1979. The final show was produced in 1991. In its time Colour in Camera was an important part of the Club’s activities, not only financially but also because slides and AV were popular media for many of the members. There were about eight or nine shows over the 14 year period.
The first show used two Rollei projectors with a manual dissolve system built to a very high standard by a club member (a racing mechanic!). Soon the system was updated to twin Kodak Carousel projectors with a commercial ‘Diafade 2’ dissolve unit – also designed by a member.
EAF / East Anglian Federation
The East Anglian Federation of Photographic Societies, of which HDCC is a member, was founded in 1910. Part of the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain, it is the largest such federation in the UK, supporting around 120 clubs with more than 4,500 individual members. It covers Hertfordshire to the east of the M1, plus Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. The Federation supports clubs with lists of judges and lecturers, and organises courses, workshops and other events of interest to individual members. Each year it mounts an important exhibition of prints and projected images which is hosted by one of its clubs: Hertford hosted the EAF Exhibition in 1973 and again in 2001.
PAGB / Photographic Alliance of Great Britain
The Photographic Alliance of Great Britain co-ordinates activities for photographic clubs throughout the UK through 15 regional Federations. The PAGB organises national competitive photographic events for its Federations and their clubs – our members’ entries to the annual EAF Exhibition may be sent forward to the Alliance, and if accepted will represent the EAF in the national competition. It also offers services such as Recorded Lectures, as well as its own photographic Distinctions direct to qualifying club members. The PAGB has strong links with similar organisations in different countries throughout the world through its membership of FIAP (the International Federation of Photographic Art) which represents over a million photographers in 86 countries.