In the Herald - Club has given me fresh focus

Date Published 
Mon 23 Nov 2020

Herald Edition - 18/11/2020 by Tracy Ross

I first went along to Irvine Camera Club on a dreich winter’s night in late January this year.  Having recently purchased a new camera, I was keen for photography to become my new hobby.  Little did I know then how much it would mean to me to be a member of this creative group over the coming months.

I had few expectations but I kept an open mind.  Despite living in the area for almost 15 years, I had no idea where Townend Community Centre was. Locating it in the pouring rain presented a bit of a challenge!  Eventually I found the cosy club room bustling with friendly banter.  I was warmly greeted and took a seat amongst the crowd.  There is a perception that camera clubs are full of old men who are set in their ways but I was pleased to see that there were several ladies of different ages in the room – and that not all of the men were old!

That night was an in-house knockout competition.  Images were shown on the projector screen, one at a time but in pairs.  A show of hands then determined which image would go through to the next round and which got ‘knocked-out’.   It was fun taking part in an interactive event and hearing comments on the pictures.

I enjoyed the night and decided that I would be sticking with it.  The following week I paid the very reasonable membership fee and became a fully-fledged member. 

Over the following weeks we had an interesting mix of talks from different specialised photographers on varied subjects from fashion to wildlife. 

In March I plucked up the courage to enter 3 images in the Club’s end of season knockout competition.  Having seen the quality of some member’s images, I knew that I didn’t stand any chance of progressing – but the fun for me was in the participating and having a go.

Then, it happened!  Lockdown!  We could no longer meet and no one knew how long it would last. 

Fortunately, our Club President, Clive Watkins, instigated the use of Zoom to keep the camera club meetings going.  Our first meeting was scheduled for 1st April, which also happened to be my birthday!

Having been recently widowed, and with all of my family and friends living over 5 miles away, I was faced with having to spend my first birthday alone.  For anyone who has grieved, they know that the ‘firsts’ are one of the hardest parts, without the added weight of lockdown restrictions.  However, I had a camera club meeting to look forward to, meaning I had some company, albeit virtual.

The number of people participating steadily increased over the coming weeks as more members got to grips with the technology and our new, adapted way of communicating, not just with Club members but family and friends too.  For me, the meetings became the highlight of my week as there was very little else going on.  I enjoyed the camaraderie between us all during a period that has been extremely difficult, for many. Having been furloughed from my work in professional sport, it meant I had plenty of time to indulge in my new hobby.

The club set weekly challenges to get the members out within their local area, or in the home, to create images that fitted a theme.   That period provided me with a great starting point to the different aspects of photography, for example, light and shade, patterns, textures, etc.  The Club also started a mentoring programme meaning less skilled photographers could buddy up with someone with more experience.  Clive became my mentor, assisting me with ideas and sharing his knowledge.

Once the restrictions were eased a little, we were able to continue with our summer programme which meant meeting in small, socially distanced, groups at a particular location to capture images of the subjects that had been set that week.  One particular highlight for me were our trips to Glasgow, where I discovered I had a passion for street photography. 

I was also fortunate enough to visit the Glencoe area with our Club Chair and landscape enthusiast, Kevin Thorne.  His mentoring and guidance within this field has developed my keen interest for landscape photography.

Our weekly online meetings are continuing to offer a highlight to my week and a lifeline during a personally challenging time. I’m grateful for the improvement in my photography that being a member has inspired, but also to have had the Club meetings along with the company and support of those members who I now consider to be friends.


Tracy, that's a beautifully written article that shows difficult it was for you to step over the threshold into the club, but also how much 'developing' your new hobby has helped you.

Enjoy looking at your images too. 

Thanks so much, Ross.

Submitted by tracy-ross on Wed 25 Nov 2020 10:29pm

Tracy, great article well put together and lovely images .Keep up the fantastic work you have done so far . You will only get better the more you get out with your camera.

Thanks very much, Kevin.  Roll on a road trip!

Submitted by tracy-ross on Wed 25 Nov 2020 10:30pm

Great article tracy. Yes we do have a friendly club.and its full af photographers willing to help with youre photography related issues etc.glad to see how you have improved . Keep enjoying youre photography.

Thank you very much Ian No 1.

Submitted by tracy-ross on Tue 8 Dec 2020 5:06pm