Meeting - 23 July 2012

Our meeting on 23 July 2012 was devoted to looking at images for our Blurb book project. It was the first of two meetings we will use for this purpose. At our next, on 17 September, we will try to get close to a final selection, with each participant bringing along those images actually intended for the book, together with some ideas on layout and a draft of our explanatory text.

At this meeting, however, we adopted a broad brush approach. Eight members were present, all of us with some images; and two more – Andy and John – though not present physically (each being on holiday) had deputed me to present their images for them. So we had a lot to look at. The subject matter was very varied. Frank brought images of Cuba; Nick had his first showing of his photographs of discarded Shopping Lists found outside Booths; Mike is working on images of English eccentricity, our love of dressing up in period costume - in this case, the 1940s; Keith had a story to tell of an abandoned umbrella slowly consumed by nettles and weeds, for which his present work-situation (awaiting redundancy) gives him some fellow feeling; Derek L is fascinated by washing on washing lines, which he sees as an indicator of social status; Nigel likes contre jour and has images of people and shadows; Andy will use images from his series on the mediaeval Monks’ Route between Birkenhead and Furness Abbeys; John takes nicely seen photographs of photographers on holiday; and I will be chronicling the adventures of Rodolfo, an itinerant garden gnome. Arnie, though he brought with him a disc, was unfortunately unable to get it to play in Nigel’s computer, so we have yet to see his images, but many of us will be familiar with his past presentations and will have an idea of what to expect. We had an excellent evening looking at all this work. There was plenty of discussion and no shortage of suggestions. I hope everybody fond the evening as stimulating as I did.

This, of course, is only the beginning. It’s likely that one or two of us who were not able to get to this meeting will also want to take part, so we may in the end have as many as 12 participants, which is a considerable achievement. We have been thinking up to now of each of us having six pages to fill, in any way we choose, but in light of the enthusiasm that has been generated, we may be able to increase that number. For the moment we should assume just six, but perhaps select additional images in case we agree on more. We should also now consider the text that each of us will use. It was clear at the meeting, that one or two of us had thought to display their images with no text, and if you really want to do that, it is entirely permissible because we are each at liberty to fill our allotted space in our own way. However, most of us will want text, and for the sake of consistency I think it would be preferable if we all did. This book will be the voice of Contemporary-NorthWest: we have something to say, so let’s say it. Besides, I think people like to know what prompted certain images and where certain ideas came from. One caveat, though. There will almost certainly have to be some minor editing of text to ensure consistency in naming, to avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes and to clarify obscurities. We will keep this to a necessary minimum.

So the task for next meeting, please, is to make a final selection of the actual images we want to use, and to write a text, and to think about how we would lay them out: one per page, perhaps two or more on some pages, which images to go with which others, and so on. Andy must lay them out in prototype pages before we can go to print, so he will need from each of us instructions as to how our own images and text are to be displayed. Regrettably, that means written instructions, with your own rough diagrams where necessary, because there is no other practical way of dealing with it. So, please can you give thought to this before 17 September and bring something with you to the next meeting. If you have any questions between now and then, don’t hesitate to raise them with me.

Lastly, a word on the website. This has made good progress since its inception in May. We now have eight members represented on it. This is less than the number we have lined up for the Book so we have expectations of more. But the site looks good. (You can find it on ) We had a short discussion at the meeting as to whether we should add a ‘chat’ facility to it, assuming that is possible, so that those of us who feel so inclined can use the site to ask questions, suggest answers, provide news of our own photographic (or other) activities, and so on. Some of us, who disdain chat sites, were less than enthusiastic about this, but there would be no obligation to take part. It could just be a way of cementing relationships between meetings for those who might want to take advantage of it. It was agreed we will look into this, and of course I’ll let you know how we progress. The cost of the website has yet to be shared out. Andy and I have between us paid £100, which will keep the site going for three years. If we ultimately get ten members represented on it, the cost will be £10 each: more members, less cost. There’s no hurry to pay anything for the moment. We should wait to see if we get more members, and then we can think about a share-out after the summer.