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  • Simon Pugsley

My year with a Photography Club

It’s been a year since I joined Webheath Digital Photography Club, so I thought I’d share my experience, and give a little insight to those thinking of joining.

My photography background was predominately travel based (also known as holiday snaps!) and more recently wildlife/nature and astrophotography. I was happy pursuing my interest in mostly bird photography and following a few YouTubers to get some tips or just enjoying their content. Then one day I got a like for one of my photos on Instagram from webheathdpc.

The photo that led me to join a photo club

Intrigued by the name I clicked on the profile to reveal a photography club in Redditch, and it got me thinking. I had wanted to improve and even expand on the subjects I took, and maybe not sit in fields or hides for hours on my own waiting for wildlife! The website link showed a varied program; a mix of show and tell, location shoots, guest speakers and competitions. I decided to go along and see what it was about.

Location Shoot

I couldn’t make the first club night, but a location shoot at the Kingfisher Shopping centre was too good to refuse so this was my first night. There were a couple of others who had recently joined or looking to join. It was an enjoyable evening, I didn’t really engage once we started moving around the centre, not being used to photographing in company. I did chat to Gordon who had taken a couple of other newbies around. It was interesting to see other people’s photos at the club show and tell a couple of weeks later.

Kingfisher Shoot - Look both ways

Other location shoots throughout the year were all within a 40 min drive/ train and have included canals, churches, woodlands and Birmingham city centre. All well attended and a chance to wander around with a like-minded group discussing compositions etc. It’s well worth attending these even if you think it’s not for you. Gaining exposure to subjects and locations I would never have normally visited gave me a different perspective of what I could shoot.

Show and Tell

Each week has a specific theme e.g. macro, black and white, trees, motion etc. for club members to send in up to 6 images to show and give a brief description.  You can provide as much or as little detail about the photo you took, either technically, or why and where you took it. It’s a safe space to show your work, and a chance to see other photographer’s perspectives of the theme. I’ve learned a lot from this throughout the year, be it the thought process, compositions, or post process techniques. At half time there is tea/ coffee and biscuits and a chance to have a chat about photos seen or what people have been up to.

There are normally between 70 and 100 photos shown which is a great reflection on the club members participation. There are no right or wrong photos irrespective of the theme as its your interpretation of the theme. I mean we’ve never had a specific bench theme, but Mark always gets one in 😊.

Show and Tell Theme Emotion - Brooding
Show and Tell Theme Motion – Supersonic Scotsman

Skills Night

There were a couple of skills nights this year, I was only able to attend one which was themed for Astrophotography. Unfortunately, the weather had other ideas! So, we were inside with objects (flowers, pencils, candles etc) and lighting set up to practice photographic techniques. I struggled a little in this environment but still I managed to come away with a few shots using my phone, using it as an opportunity to see what my phone camera was capable of. It’s probably worth pointing out that you don’t have to have a top of the range mirrorless camera or DSLR. In fact, a lot of the photos I have submitted throughout the year were taken with a little compact camera or my phone.

Skills night – Spoon light


My first competition was an internal club DPI (Digital Print Image) one. I was both excited and nervous about having my images publicly reviewed by a judge. It got worse as the first image shown was one of mine and I realised I didn't know competition etiquette; do I declare its mine? do I ask questions? I went for the don't speak until spoken to approach. I was pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback with my first image scoring quite highly. The judge on the night was both informative and constructive and I picked up quite a few tips from the feedback given to other club member images. Yes, the photograph can be sharp and align to rules or guidelines e.g. rule of 3rds, but it's the story or the emotion that the judge feels when they see the photo that appears to be the most influential factor and therefore it is subjective. One of my photos was held back for the final, it was one I wasn’t even going to put in! Subjectivity was proven in another competition where a photo that had won an award in another competition received the lowest score in our battle with Solihull! There are a few competitions in the year, mostly DPI and a couple of Print ones. We’ve had different judges, all with their own style and some better than others in delivering constructive feedback. Competitions for me are about learning and receiving feedback, if my photo is held back then that’s a bonus. That said your scores in the competitions go toward the annual club photography awards.

Summer DPI Competition – Slobber Chops

Guest Speakers

The subjects covered by guest speakers have been varied; Underwater photography, Black and White, Improving Wildlife photography, Light and composition, to name a few. All speakers have been engaging and it’s a night where the “good biscuits” make an appearance, lol. The talks lead you to investigate further or give you things to think about with your photography or processing. The club usually follows up a guest speaker night with a club show and tell night, recently it was Light and Composition following a talk by Carl Wright on that subject.

Light and Composition – City Silhouettes

The Kingfisher Display

The club were invited to display images at the Kingfisher Shopping centre, and it was a great opportunity to promote the club and get images seen by a wide audience. Quite a few people I know outside of the club have commented on the display and the Kingfisher were so pleased they moved us to a bigger store front! A great success.

The Committee

Photo clubs aren’t possible without people giving their time as committee members/ volunteers, so I’m sure all club members would endorse my thanks to them.

Kate works tirelessly on the program for the year, booking guest speakers, gathering feedback, selecting a varied program, making sure we know what we are doing in the coming weeks and where we need to be, and of course collecting and distributing print competition images. Not to mention putting the Kingfisher display together.

Gordon shows our images on the night and cracks dad jokes (which I don’t think is a mandatory part of the role 😊), however a lot of effort is undertaken receiving our images, sorting them, often having to change incorrect file sizes, formats or file names, to prepare them for the presentation software we use to show a seamless display each week. After the show and tell selecting images to go out on social media and promote the club.

Netty does a cracking job making sure we pay all our subs and keeps us informed of the club’s finances. Its great the club has adopted contactless payment now as well.

Mark and Ron with the most important job on club night keep us refreshed with teas, coffees and biscuits, and clearing up after us all, in a quick turnaround. Tom often lends a hand as well to keep us in time.

Graeme T keeps the club website running, with updates showing the upcoming program of events and refreshing the members gallery. Graeme always welcomes content to update the site in terms of blogs, so if you are bored of astrophotography blogs, and fancy writing about a subject or experience you are passionate about, you know who to contact!

Graham B, of long exposure fame, provides valuable friendly critique of images in a constructive way in the Chairmans challenge. He’s not bad at quizzes and Christmas dos either!

Finally, a quick shout out to Dennis for organising the St. Leonards photoshoot and the social at the church. Both enjoyable evenings.


A couple of challenges during the year stood out.

My Project, where we had free reign to choose a theme and present a group of images as a portfolio of work. Thinking about a theme and taking images to work together within that theme was a great challenge. I chose Reflections of Redditch and was pleasantly surprised with the ad-hoc feedback I received from some members.

My Project - Reflections of Redditch

AV (Audio Visual) night. I’d never heard of AV and unfortunately, yet again, I missed the guest speaker on this topic! So, I researched how to create one. It is a lot of effort, but I really enjoyed the process and what I came up with. Having to find the music and timing with the photographs was a particular challenge.

Screenshot of my first AV – When Giants came to town

I’ve enjoyed my first year with the club and learned a lot about compositions, locations and subjects, as opposed to previously just taking my camera out and seeing what I can capture. I’ve taken fewer wildlife photos this year, but those I have taken I think have improved in composition, lighting and technique, and I even missed the wildlife guest speaker! 

It has been nice to experience this with other new joiners and see their progress. I’d say everyone has improved over the year. The club has a variety of experience and skill sets within its members, and this for me is what the club is about, supporting each other in a hobby we enjoy. The club has an active WhatsApp group with tips on upcoming events (the Northern Lights weekend was busy), and terrible jokes!

If anyone wanted to improve their photography, I’d recommend joining a photography club, and if you had to choose one make it WebheathDPC 😊.

Here’s to another great year of photography and learning!

Growing Up

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