Forming memories with special images

Afghan Hounds Racing by Philip Charnock.
Afghan Hounds Racing by Philip Charnock.

Morpeth Camera Club

Earlier this spring, Morpeth Camera Club hosted its Annual Event, with Phil and

Gwen Charnock, whose talk was entitled A Life In Photography.

Phil explained that it was a one-off talk, dedicated to their good friend and Lifetime President of Morpeth Camera Club Vince Rooker, who sadly passed away last year.

In the early days, Phil sold advertising and Gwen worked in a chemist’s, with photography as their hobby. At the onset of digital photography they gave tuition and wrote for magazines.

In 1984 Phil won a prize to spend a weekend with Patrick Lichfield, a turning point in their lives, which led to them leaving their jobs and pursuing photography professionally.

Converting their spare room, they approached record producers, album cover designers and travel magazines, which led them to be commissioned by Eurocamp to design its travel brochures. Luckily, 35 years on they are still doing it.

Taking photographs, leaving space for wording and keeping colours simple, but effective, was the key, and the audience enjoyed seeing holiday shots of children, camp surroundings, food and scenery.

Their perception of their surroundings became more acute, capturing the detail in a simple glass of sparkling wine, candid shots of diners, and approaching market traders to pose for a colourful shot; everything that highlighted the characteristics of the destination.

Travelling to find a perfect shot of poppy fields, photographing castles, visiting medieval towns, capturing flowers and lakes, Venetian coffee shops and alpine regions, together with learning about the history of places, they are happy to go the extra mile to get the shot they want.

We saw beautiful examples of combination photography, merging elements from several photographs; a swirling dervish against an old bank door, miniature ballet dancers dancing on giant hands, and a Pink Floyd tribute concert, with merged lighting and performers.

Poignant images followed of postcards and old photographs from Phil’s great uncle who died on the Titanic.

A cruise featured humorous images of deck life, stage shows and shore breaks in exotic placess.

Phil showed the photographs he submitted to gain his Master of the International Federation of Photographic Art (MPIAP) award. His theme was the Lancashire Police Force, a documentary of monochrome images taken when they both joined drug squads on raids. We saw gritty and raw images of dangerous operations. They agreed it was the best job they had been on.

Gwen’s MPIAP award pictures followed, her theme being Marrakesh, and we enjoyed colourful images of Moroccan life, with portraits of old and young, street life, rubbish-strewn alleyways, poverty, schools and markets.

Gwen explained how they had been invited into a home where they took shots of family members, only to find that before they could leave, their hosts demanded money for each of the very large family.

Gwen and Phil showed an audio visual on a Venetian Carnival. Silhouetted gondolas in glorious sunset, striking masked figures in hallways, alleys and against a golden spiral staircase made for a beautiful lead into the interval.

Part two continued with caravan holidays, where, with their Tibetan terrier Barney, the couple travel to scenic parts of Great Britain and Europe.

Beach scenes in Scotland, moody Dungeness huts and frosted woodland contrasted with dramatic waves at Whitley Bay and Tynemouth. Pub characters in Ireland, cottage interiors, horse groomers, pigs and railway tracks in Krakow followed.

From Auschwitz, with permission to take respectful photographs in restricted areas, we witnessed stark towers, signage, gas chambers and personal effects.

A project on Oradour sur Glane, the site of a World War II massacre, came next, which contrasted with scenes of London’s New Year fireworks, artistically blurred bridges and silhouetted buildings.

Then to sport; noisy scenes at darts championships, FA cup finals, boxing matches, action shots at Wimbledon and racing Afghan hounds.

Creative shots used mainly for competitions followed, with galloping white horses, a bride in snow and Dali-like characters. Observational photos came next, with straight black and white shots, which caught a moment in time, using light, movement and composition with great effect.

Phil and Gwen stressed that their photography is no longer about one-off images, but of forming memories. They no longer store photographs on computer, but save them in book form.

Their presentation concluded with a calming, thought-provoking audio visual, Through Seasons Of Tranquillity, set to Irish music with poetry. There were soothing sounds, pastel woodland, vibrant poppies, aqua blue seas and amazing sunsets, with words which conveyed the message to stop to smell the roses, appreciate all the beautiful things in life and to live life at a gentler pace.

With their seamless interactive commentary, together with excellent photography, the Charnocks provided a truly memorable evening.

Vice Chairman John Barnes thanked Phil and Gwen for a superb presentation.

Visit www.morpethcameraclub.co.uk