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Ennis Camera Club shares its ‘collective vision’ in new exhibition

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WITH a shared love of photography, members of the Ennis Camera Club have brought their ‘collective vision’ together in a brand new exhibition of works currently on display in the Clare Museum.

The exhibition features 25 stunning images in varying styles taken by the club’s members, who range from beginners to experienced photographers, and regularly meet in Power’s Pub, Clarecastle.

In an era where images are more likely to be shared online, club chairman Mike Reen tells us members are delighted to be able to showcase their work to the public through this exhibition which runs in Ennis until September 16.

“We live almost exclusively in a digital world in terms of photography. It must be that 99% of photographs are now shared digitally through social media and online. We have a sort of standing mantra within the club, ‘A photograph isn’t a photograph until you print it’.

“That was something the late Gerry Ryan who founded the club always said and it’s repeated again and again here.

“These days it’s a rare opportunity to print photographs so with this exhibition we wanted to give the club members an opportunity to see their works in proper print, with proper framing, and to exhibit that work to the public.

“Seeing these on display in print makes a massive difference. I’m used to sharing images online myself on Instagram, Flickr or wherever but we are very fortunate to have one of the top printers in the country in the club, Gerald Dunne of pixelbrush.ie and the photographs look fantastic.”

Mike explains the club wanted to “put our best foot forward” when it came to choosing which images to include in this exhibition, highlighting the wide variety of styles and many interests within the club’s members, while also presenting photographs that would engage the public.

“The photographs showcase a wide spread of genres; we have wildlife, sport, portraits, landscapes, candid shots. Ones that are quirky, minimalist or abstract.

“There is a huge variety in the small amount of prints, we only have 25, but we wanted to try and represent broadly what the people in the club are trying to try to do. People have different interests, and the exhibition I think reflects those very varied interests within the club.”

He goes on, “Usually when we print it is for national and regional competitions, and certainly the club this year will try and submit to the national competitions.

“What was interesting doing this exhibition was we were able to select shots that we normally wouldn’t for competitions. This time we were looking for shots that might engage the public, and that is very different than engaging judges in a national photographic competition. We have shots that are evocative and provocative.

“There’s an image by John McDermott of three girls under the stairs waiting for a wedding with one holding a mobile phone. John just caught their reaction when the bride walked in. That’s the type of candid shot that wouldn’t be put in a competition but it’s one of the more striking shots in this exhibition.

“Then there’s a beautiful shot by Sean Kitson of his dad’s hand and his granddaughter’s hand. It’s just a lovely, meaningful shot.

‘Hands’ by Ennis Camera Club member Sean Kitson, part of an exhibition currently underway at Clare Museum

“Those two are the ones we have in the window which we’re hoping will draw people in to see the other fantastic works. With this exhibition we aimed to have photographs that are either emotionally evocative or visually interesting, presenting a wide range that might be interesting for someone to peruse as they are walking by.”

As well as showcasing the work of the photographers, it is hoped that the exhibition will also encourage others to consider joining the club.

Mike, who is a clinical psychologist by profession, is a firm believer that people need to develop a passion in their lives, whatever it may be. And he says joining a group like Ennis Camera Club is a great way to do this.

“I think like any passion, a club facilitates its development. You need to meet like-minded people and have the opportunity to share and develop your knowledge. Nurturing a passion is crucial.

“Typically we start things and then we give them up. But what a club does is it helps with your motivation for your passion. When your motivation drops, there are people around to drive you a little bit, bring you out, ring you and say, ‘Come on, we’re going’. I think it helps develop the passion and then it helps maintain it over time. That is difficult to do on your own and a little more likely with a club.

“I think it is more likely because if you get better at something, you will maintain it. The sharing of knowledge and skills. Just seeing people who are better than you, and how they got there, and the fact that every single one of them started exactly at the same point as you, is just one of the benefits of the club.”

The club returns to meetings after their summer break on September 20. Meetings are held fortnightly on Tuesdays and activities include group outings, guest speakers, workshops and competitions.

The group aims to be a social club as well as a forum for learning and after meetings formally end, they encourage members to stay around for a coffee or a drink and a chat.

The club also has an outdoor group who regularly meet for some outside photography sessions, learning from each other and sharing expertise. The club is affiliated to both the Southern Association of Camera Clubs (SACC), and the Irish Photographic Federation (IPF).

“Within the club you have everybody from beginners to people who are fellows of the Royal Photographic Society. There is a lot here for beginners and we would welcome new members. We have the capacity to nurture this interest and hopefully develop it into a passion. We encourage people to attend two meetings for free before making the decision whether to join the club for the year.”

Covid-19 saw the club start meeting online instead of in person, and with the lifting of restrictions they have continued to offer a hybrid model though new members are encouraged to attend in-person initially.

Mike says the pandemic had a “big impact” on the club, but access to technology meant they could continue their activities.

“We have a very good person in the club, David Keane, who has been our IT guru, so throughout Covid-19 we developed our online presence doing our meetings through Zoom, and that actually worked quite well. So well in fact, that when restrictions, moderated we now continue to offer hybrid meeting so you can attend our meetings, either online or in person.”

He concluded by encouraging people to come along and see the exhibition titled ‘A Collective Vision: Images by Members of Ennis Camera Club’ which has been organised with Clare Arts Office in conjunction with the Clare Museum. Those interested in joining the club can check www.enniscameraclub.com for more details.

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