There’s a big world out there

GUEST speaker at the February meeting of Morpeth Camera Club was Geoffrey Bradford of Alnwick and District Camera Club.

The Open College of Arts (OCA) is a parallel universe to the Open University in which artists and aspiring artists, through intensive study and practice, carry forward their knowledge and skills in their chosen medium. Geoffrey is one of its students.

His first discipline is sculpture, but for many years he has enjoyed his photography. Recently, he decided that the time had come for him to examine his approach to taking pictures and look at the breadth of practice and philosophy, which makes up what we call ‘photography’, so he enrolled on a four-year degree course with the OCA.

After explaining the structure of the course, Geoffrey treated members to a selection of images he had taken in response to his current module of work. Discussion ranged over photographic styles, contexts and intentions.

Not all pictures work in all situations. The least appreciated photograph in a camera club competition may well have great appeal to collectors or in a corporate environment or to someone who knew its provenance.

Real understanding of an image depends on viewers’ appreciation of the photographer’s intent. Geoffrey demonstrated this point with a photograph of his recently deceased father’s dustbin lid. Without listening to his story most people would have dismissed the image as, at the kindest, odd. The explanation produced immediate rapport.

This different camera club evening ended with everyone having an opportunity to browse many of Geoffrey’s workbooks of projects and assignments.

Perhaps one of his most important messages was that there is a great big world of photography on the other side of the camera club fence.