Saturday, May 17, 2014

Impressed - oh yeah!

For various reasons which I'm not going to go into, it's been a year since I posted here so this is as good a reason to start back on a positive note.  God knows most people regard me as a cynic.  Maybe I am or maybe it's a mixture of cynicism and "saying it like it is".  Either way there's something postive to be said for being a cynic - your day can only get better.  :-)

When you've been doing the same thing for a long time like your job, you can get to a point where all you can see are the negative aspects.  As an American friend of mine used to say: "One 'gotcha' is worth 40 'attaboys'" - please forgive the spellings.  And it's true.  News media wait for the bad stuff to happen and report it in a big way and gloss over all the good stuff.  Politicians and high profile executives are forced to resign over single faults while we ignore the years of good.

Anyway ..... I think my view of the camera club I'm in is tainted with that very cynicism and I thought maybe it was time to look around and see what else was available that might freshen up my tired brain and at the same time put my negative thoughts about my club in perspective.
I noticed the name Tiara Rad popping up quite frequently on my Facebook newsfeed.  The photographs looked amazing.  There are styles of photography that I will (probably) never duplicate but that I can admire.  This was one.  Then I started to notice the name "The Photography Mill" appearing on a frequent basis.  The name at first stuck in my mind because it didn't quite make sense. Pepper mill - yes.  Photography mill -???  Then one day it hit me - Paper mill / Photography mill.  Hmmmm.
Then I noticed a post from them that proposed to start a camera club.  This definitely intrigued me!  A commercial venture starting a camera club?  The cynic inside of me was banging on the door.

However cautious I may be and I also like to analyse and plan ahead I don't like to be considered a 'stick-in-the-mud' so I thought I'd poke my nose in the door and see what it was all about.  Nothing to lose - right?
So ..... Thursday 15th May 2014 I headed up to Harold's Cross and walked in the door of The Photography Mill (on the 3rd floor) and was met by Melissa Hayward who shrieked and hugged me within an inch of my life.  Melissa and I have had a 'relationship' for a few years but always online and never in person.  That's a good start eh?

Then I met Tiara Rad otherwise known as Shellly.  A very personable lady.  She showed me around the 3rd floor and it is impressive.  Two large studios with bags of space, lights and accessories.  There was even a little set in one corner, a place to have coffee and chat, a makeup room, etc., etc.  She sat me down at her computer and went through some of the shoots that have been done there and outlined the camera club's ethos.  Meanwhile, in the background there were three models getting ready for the club's introduction to low key photography by Gavin Monaghan.  No lightweights either - Scarlet Fro, Maggie Paige and Black Swan Persona all having their makeup done by Louise McMahon Kaiser who is also the manager.

So I asked the inevitable questions.  "How much is it going to cost me to join "The Next Generation Camera Club"?  €150 for the year.  Okay ..... And in addition I get a quite large discount if I hire either of the two studios.  I started my photographic life eons ago.  For those of you less knowledgeable an "eon" is even further in the past than a "yonk".  It was in the days of film and colour photography was mostly done on slide film (or transparencies as the posh folk called them) and most photographers did their own processing in black and white.  One advantage I had over others was that I joined the ESB Photographic Society and their meeting room doubled as a studio.  Very basic lighting but it worked.  One of my first serious shoots there produced this:

By today's standards it wouldn't rate very well but the use of the studio allowed me to learn by mistakes and read, and read and read ...
Following that I found a studio for hire at the bottom of Grafton Street that became a very regular place to be with people queueing up to have their picture 'done'.
Since then I have been looking for the (almost) ideal studio in Dublin.  I need a bit of space to get the lighting just right - inverse square law and all that - as well as to give some of my models a bit of space to leap around a bit.  Oh yes they are out there but they cost a bleedin' fortune!!!  So it came as a pleasant surprise to find that being a member of The Next Generation Camera Club comes with favourable rates on The Photography Milll's studios.

So back to my introduction to the club's agenda for the night.
Let me say at the outset that I am not a great fan of group photographer shoots.  Having given rein to my cynical side and got that out in the open I don't want to give the impression that they are a bad thing.  They're just not my thing.  Gavin Monaghan was our guide and mentor and worked tirelessly throughout the evening making sure we had all we needed in the way of equipment and advice.  The models were patient and friendly and also worked hard.  The rule is that you tip on the night.  You put your contribution for the models in a 'tip jar'.

I didn't get the low key shot I wanted - no matter.  I made mistakes - but I learned from them.  I made contacts - am I networking now?  There were 8 photographers, 3 models and 3 sets so not overcrowded.
Next week is high key with Melissa Hayward as the model.  Hmmmm (smacks lips).
My three shots from the night were:

Maggie Paige

Maggie Paige again in a lovely little set with Gavin giving a helping hand.

Another from that set with Scarlet Fro

Nope, they won't win medals but that wasn't the purpose.  I learned from the experience and met new people.

Worth a shot -
Photography Mill

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