“The annual exhibition is the highlight of our society calendar,” says Sheffield Photographic Society exhibition coordinator, John Scholey.
“Founded in 1864, our society is one of the oldest in the world, but we pride ourselves on keeping up to date, and our programme always covers a wide variety of photography.”
This year, 176 images from across the spectrum of photography – portrait, landscape, nature, sports, travel, and street photography - will be unveiled to the public when the annual exhibition opens its doors at Sheffield Cathedral on March 22, running until March 31. Hundreds of people are expected to attend the ten-day event, which will showcase the most recent work of the society’s members, and will be opened by artistic director of Sheffield Theatres, Rob Haste.
“Our main annual exhibition is always incredibly popular and has been held in Sheffield Cathedral for a good number of years,” says John, who is himself a keen amateur photographer, who has been involved with the society for over a decade.
“It aims to being together the very best images from all of our members, and is the most prestigious of our two annual exhibitions.
“It is a judged exhibition which means that we accept up to six images from each of our members and a judge - of national experience - comes in and chooses around 60 per cent of the images to be shown in exhibition.
“This year we had 278 images submitted from 46 members and we had two judges – Sue O’Connor and Peter Brisley - working as team. These judges are charged with, not only choosing the best images but also, putting together a balanced exhibition. They chose the final 176 images.”
The images that go on display will, in the main, be A3 in size and comprise everything from nature and sporting photos, to street photography, abstract, portrait and landscape. There are judging categories too, with awards for ‘record’ images – straight shots of buildings or pieces of equipment – ‘photo essays’ of multiple images, and even an ‘altered reality’ category, where people can manipulate images in Photoshop.
John adds: “Anything goes, and there are no themes, though we obviously have to be careful that images are in good taste, particularly being on display in the cathedral. We always get a good response from the public for this exhibition and we ask members of the public to choose their own favourite image on their visit.
“Our society members have achieved a high standard in this year’s exhibition, with our judges awarding 29 commended and 30 highly commended honours to the images chosen to go on view, in addition to 12 trophies.”
The photographic society holds two exhibitions a year; the other is a Perspectives exhibition, which is held in the Winter Garden in November.
“For that exhibition, 40 of our members each choose a panel of images,” says John.
Unlike many older clubs and societies, that have seen their popularity dip over the years, Sheffield Photographic Society has always retained a healthy membership, and currently has over 100 members, aged between 30 and 80, though all ages are welcome.
“Of course we do find many of our members come to us at retirement age, when they suddenly find themselves with more time to delve into their hobbies, but we do have quite a few younger members too.
“New members are always welcome too. We will have members at the exhibition throughout its ten day run – from 12pm-2pm in the week, and 11am-3pm at weekends – happy to chat to visitors, guide them through the images, and talk about the society. Anyone interested in joining our ranks can leave their information with them.
“We’re a good, friendly society and love bringing new people into our world of photography.
Entry to the exhibition is free, and light refreshments will be available in the cathedral’s 1554 coffee shop.