New president of Sheffield Photographic Society determined to combine the old and the new
When it comes to taking photographs, it’s not the usual landscapes and nature shots that Gareth Morgan is necessarily drawn to.
“I have a real a passion for street art and street photography; I’ve photographed it all over the world, which can definitely try my wife’s patience when we’re on holiday,” he laughs.
“And in the last few years, through my work with the Hawley Tool Collection at Kelham Island Museum, I have also developed a taste for 'heritage’ photography, such as old buildings and vintage vehicles.
And as the new president of Sheffield Photographic Society, Gareth is keen to bring some of his personal photography passions to the 150-year-old society – which is one of the oldest in the world.
“I was very honoured to be appointed president before the summer – particularly as an adopted ‘Sheffielder,’ although I have lived here for 40 years now,” says Gareth, aged 66, who lives with wife Pat in Oughtibridge, which he says reminds him of the valleys of South Wales where he was born.
“I would like the society to continue to focus on helping members to improve and expand their photography – whether they’re experienced practitioners or beginners – and to give as many members as possible the opportunity to have the experience of displaying their work in one way or another.
“We have an exciting programme this year with the largest number of visiting speakers that we have ever had, so it’s looking to be an exciting few months ahead.”
Gareth reveals he was still at school when he first picked up a camera, tinkering a little and learning the basics before getting seriously into photography at university.
“I was living in London for university, so I was exposed to a lot of street photography and urban landscapes,” he says.
“I was mainly self-taught, although I had some help with darkroom processing after I moved to Sheffield. My preferred medium was slides however, and I was a late – and reluctant - convert to digital, not getting my first serious digital camera until 2009.
“I joined Sheffield Photographic Society in 2013, which is a very friendly and sociable group. If you have a photographic problem, there is usually someone who can help with it and membership is currently very strong. We meet weekly from September to May, as well as running a variety of photographic outings in the summer months.”
Sheffield Photographic Society was inaugurated in 1864. Unlike many older clubs and societies, that have seen their popularity dip over the years, it has always retained a healthy membership, and currently has over 100 members, aged between 30 and 80, though all ages are welcome.
“One of our highlights of the year will be a visit on October 8 by award-winning and internationally-acclaimed artist and photographer, Ian Beesley,” says Gareth.
“Then in November we have our Perspectives Exhibition where around 40 of our members will show a panel of their own images at Sheffield Winter Garden, which is one of our most important events.”
And despite keeping busy with society matters, Gareth still gets out ‘shooting’ as often as he can.
“I am usually taking photos at Kelham Island Museum every week, and then get out taking personal photographs a couple of times a month – although I almost always have a camera with me, just in case.
"I manage to be quite ruthless with the images I take, usually expecting to keep around 10 per cent of anything I shoot, but I still have thousands of images on my computer, and backed up on hard drives.”
And when it comes to favourite photography spots in the city, Gareth isn’t short of locations.
“There is some super street art around Kelham Island and Neepsend – including the Kelham Art Trail,” he enthuses.
“London Road is another fertile area, as is the area around Wellington Street. However, street art can of course pop up literally anywhere and half the fun is tracking it down before it disappears.”
Among his favourite photographs he’s taken in Sheffield is an image of Hobnobs by Pete McKee in Neepsend, which he says ‘just makes me smile every time I see it,’ and a photo of a piece by the artist Pawski, taken at a local container park.
He adds: “Another favourite is a heritage image I took of a Lancaster Bomber at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, which won the People’s Choice award in our annual exhibition.”