Bangor and North Down Camera Club (BNDCC)

Bangor and North Down Camera Club, (BNDCC), Northern Ireland, UK.
"Promoting and developing all aspects of the art of photography through example, discussion and competition."

Bangor and North Down Camera Club

Bangor and North Down Camera Club

Bangor & North Down Camera Club has its 50th annual print exhibition currently on display in the Flagship Centre in Bangor. The first exhibition was held in Bangor Town Hall in 1962. Fifty years on the club is thriving and this year has a record membership of eighty. This includes photographers varying in experience from beginners, who are warmly welcomed, to experienced professionals.

Early Years

The first meeting of the club took place on the 5th May 1961, with the inaugural Annual General Meeting taking place just a few months later on the 4th August 1961. In its first year the annual cost of membership was one guinea- needless to say it has gone up a bit since then! Even in those early days the club quickly grew to a membership of 68 within the first few months. The numbers have varied throughout the club’s long history; the current membership is at an all time high of 80 active participants.

There are none of the founder members still involved given the time that has passed, however one of the founder members, the late Audrey Argue still features in the club’s annual programme. Audrey was well known in the area as a vice principal at Glenlola School; she was also a keen photographer and an animal lover and the club still runs the Audrey Argue Trophy every year, a competition for photographs of animals. 

Whilst we no longer have any founding members, there are a number with more than twenty five years membership of the club including Gerry Coe (our club President), Ray Magill, Ralph Bennett, Alastair Bell, Mandy Milliken, Laurance Henderson and David Best. They have obviously seen many changes in photography over those years. In the early years the work of the club would have been based on film photography, mainly still photographs (although also some cine).

There was a strong focus on black & white photography processed and printed by the members themselves, often in their own darkrooms. Nowadays that has all changed; there are a few die-hard film workers, but the vast majority of members work with digital photography.  The technology may have progressed, but the club has always sought to develop the skills of its members in all areas of photography and core skills such as good composition and lighting remain as important as ever.

Premises

The club has been based in many premises during its 50 year history. Beginning in the studio of a Mr Stevens at 98b Princetown Road, other premises followed in Princetown Road and Clifton Road before the club settled in a building then known as the Project Bangor Hall in Dufferin Avenue in 1981.

In August 1989 we moved to the top floor of the Naval Club building (Mountbatten House) on Princetown Terrace where we were to remain for 8 years, a stay which allowed the club to provide more permanent facilities such as a darkroom, studio lighting and print mounting facilities to members.

In 1997 this building was demolished and the club used a number of temporary premises such as the Good Templar Hall and the Marquis Hall for the next few years. In 2003 with the invaluable support of North Down Borough Council the club moved into its current premises at Ward Avenue.

Clubroom at Ward Avenue

The building was originally a toilet block, and was converted by the hard work of the members into the exemplary club rooms we enjoy today. These new club rooms were officially opened by Lady Mayoress Wilson on 31st October 2003.

Once again we have been able to build permanent facilities such as studio lighting and print mounting for the use of members. The club’s current premises are without doubt the best of any photographic club in Northern Ireland.

Reconstruction Work

Committee Meeting in the Rubble

Activities

The club has run a varied programme of events every year mostly on Friday nights. These evenings are a mixture of competition evenings, guest speakers, club speakers and some light entertainment such as quiz nights. The guest speakers over the years have covered very aspect of photography including landscape, portraiture, travel, wildlife, photo-journalism, astrophotography, audio visual shows and film making.

The club currently runs a programme of events on Friday evenings from Sept to May each year. There are also less formal evenings every Wednesday where members can come along and learn about cameras, digital processing, photographic composition and lighting techniques.

The club has also over the years facilitated or organised evenings and weekend workshops with established photographers from throughout the British Isles and even from the USA. The photographers giving these workshop events have included leading photographers such as John Blakemore, Barry Thornton and Dan Burkholder (USA). Most recently, in October 2012 we had a weekend workshop with leading English Landscape photographer Paul Gallagher. These events have often attracted photographers from all over Ireland and also from places as far afield as Holland.

Links

The club has always fostered links with other photographic and arts organizations and is an active member of NIPA (Northern Ireland Photographic Alliance), an umbrella organization linking photographic clubs and associations throughout Northern Ireland.

The club premises are used for NIPA events, meetings and competition judging, and the current president of NIPA is Ray Magill, a long time member of Bangor club. A number of individuals from within the club are also members of associations such as the Royal Photographic Society (RPS), with the club president Gerry Coe holding the highest distinction of Fellowship, not only of the RPS but of several other major professional bodies.

Gerry’s latest Fellowship from the British Institute of Professional Photographers (BIPP), his second from that particular body, was awarded for a unique panel of photographs which were all taken on an iPhone, thus proving that successful photography is not all about fancy photographic equipment.

Some members are also involved in Firsty, a local arts group, bringing a photographic influence to this more widely based arts group.
Fifty years on the club continues to thrive and grow and the work of the club is currently on display in the Flagship Centre. Please take the time to visit this,  our 50th Annual Club Exhibition and see for yourself. For more information on the club and its activities visit our web site at www.bangor-camera-club.co.uk.