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Guildford Photographic Society - Join the club

PUBLISHED: 12:20 02 November 2011 | UPDATED: 16:21 20 February 2013

One of Surrey's best-known photography groups, Guildford Photographic Society is over a hundred years old. Here, we speak to chairman Marilyn Taylor, ahead of their next big exhibition at Guildford House Gallery, to find out all about them

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2009

One of Surreys best-known photography groups, Guildford Photographic Society is over a hundred years old. Here, we speak to chairman Marilyn Taylor, ahead of their next big exhibition at Guildford House Gallery, to find out all about them

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When was the club set up?
Guildford Photographic Society was founded in 1892 with the object of advancing the art and craft of amateur photography, an object that we still keep in mind in our programme today.

How often do you meet?
We meet in Burpham Village Hall every Monday evening from the first week of September through to the first week in June at 7.45 for 8pm.

What is the best thing about being a member of the club?
Being a member is an excellent way of keeping up with your photography. It inspires you to go out and take pictures regularly, and makes you strive to become better at it and to develop a more practised eye for a picture.

Do you find being surrounded by like-minded individuals inspiring?
Working and socialising with like minded people enables you to really grow as a photographer. We learn from each other, particularly during our monthly workshops, which are generally run by members who have greater experience in the various different aspects of photography, and we also learn a lot from visiting speakers. These are usually well-respected photographers whose work is often very inspiring. We also have club evenings where our own members present their images, and several competitions, which give us all a motivation to go out and take photographs and to improve.

How many members do you have?
We currently have somewhere between 60 and 70. This season, we have had a number of new members join us and we often get enquiries through our website from people who are keen to come along to see what we get up to. Some of our members come from quite long distances. They do so because they have found us to be a very welcoming and friendly group!

Do you have links with other clubs?
Yes, we do. Along with 53 other clubs in Surrey (and a few in Sussex and Hampshire), we are affiliated to the Surrey Photographic Association (SPA), which is one of the 15 federations in the country that come under the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain. Every season, the SPA holds an inter-club competition, which is run in a league format, and we also have contact with several other clubs in Surrey and Hampshire who host their own smaller competitions, too. We ourselves host the Albany Cup, a print competition involving a few local clubs.

What is the most interesting story in the clubs history?
On one particular project, we worked with Guildford architects and the museum. They selected old pictures of different locations in and around Guildford, many dating back 100 years or so, where great changes in architecture have taken place, and we then photographed them. For example, on the road to Shalford, approaching the location of the 30mph speed limit sign, there was a toll gate with a house for the keeper (can you believe). There were many other instances of drastic changes so it became a record of the towns development.
In addition, for three years running, we have had a team of photographers taking pictures on specific architectural themes for the Guildford Society, who have then mounted an exhibition at Guildford House Gallery on behalf of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

and the funniest?
Walter Benzie, an ex-chairman of the club, was four metres up a ladder at Guildford Cathedral, taking a shot from above of a wonderful flower arrangement. It was part of the cathedrals flower festival and the arrangement represented May and incorporated a maypole. Anyway, much to his horror, he suddenly felt like he was losing his footing, and all he could think, as the maypole hurtled ever nearer, was that he was going to take it out with a dramatic fall. Just at the last moment, though, he realised to his enormous relief that as he was looking down through the lens, it had extended of its own accord, and that was why the floor was coming towards him.

When is your next event that is open to the public or potential new members?
We are always open to new members in that people are very welcome to come along to one or two of our meetings to get a feel for what we are about, after which they will be invited to join. Our next big event will be our exhibition at Guildford House Gallery from November 21 until January 2. There will be various themed panels of prints put together by members, and individual prints covering a wide variety of subjects.

Describe your club in five words:
Friendly, enthusiastic, inspirational, informative, sociable.

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