on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

A Click of Photographers?

Introducing The Galloway Photographic Collective

Tim Parkin

Tim Parkin

Amateur Photographer who plays with big cameras and film when in between digital photographs.

Flickr, Facebook, Twitter

We landscape photographers aren't well known as an overly social bunch and adding to that a hidden undercurrent of competitiveness (or possibly a gushing waterfall in some people's cases). However, there is a lot to be gained from cooperating for mutual gain. A few photographers from Galloway have done just that - combining their forces to create "The Galloway Photographic Collective" with a mission statement to..

  • increase our presence as professionals in the field of photography
  • highlight the attraction of Galloway as a place worthy of a visit
  • join forces to increase our strength as a marketing force
  • introduce the concept of a trail through the region to our galleries and studio spaces
  • advertise our work
  • improve the standing of photography as a valid and worthy art form in its own right.

I asked Phil McMenemy, one of the groups members, a few questions..

The idea of a collective of landscape photographers almost sounds like a herd of cats, how did you get to know each other in the first place and how did the idea come about? I presume things like this need some patience and hard work to kick off.

"I think we always had an awareness of each other and an awareness of the types of work each of us were trying to create. I think, historically professional photographers have tended to operate in splendid isolation – working terribly hard and carving a niche for themselves on their own. This sometimes works but sometimes leads to frustration and almost burnout. Some of us were closer to each other as natural friendships would occur but I think we all had a healthy respect for one another previously.

The journey, to date, has had its ups and downs I think this was inevitable as we all, in some ways, have had to sacrifice our complete/total independence for the mutual benefits of the group – this has been hard as previously we only had ourselves to answer to!!

However, having said that, we remain independent practitioners with total control over our own spaces and creative practices. The fun and games making apparent ‘easy‘ decisions like naming the group were, I feel, an understandable outcome of the group process and dynamic "

Galloway is the part of Scotland that everybody drives past on the way to Glencoe, discuss...

"Galloway has riches, undeniable riches. It has always historically been ignored, it was the last part of the UK to be completely controlled – it has a bloody and surprising history of feudal control and isolation. This won’t change overnight but along with other interested parties we are trying to bring the beauty of this special region to the attention of others. Try it, I think you’ll be surprised – the light has attracted artists for hundreds of years. I think we are just continuing this tradition."

You state that one of the goals is to improve the standing of photography as a valid and worth art form. How do you plan on making this happen?

"Good question – I think it’s about attitudes, prevailing attitudes. For some photography is seen as a somehow secondary art form and seems to fall in the shadow of other more ‘worthy’ art forms. This is not an attempt to decry other artists who work in different media but to be proud of the work and energy we expend in the hours, days, weeks, months and sometimes, in my experience, years, we spend creating those moments of almost magic. Other countries absolutely hold photography in the highest esteem....I think we need to be proud of our achievements and continue the fight to elevate photography to the same level in our country. Photography is our attempt at portraying our world in our terms."

I notice you have support from some local public bodies - how did that arise and what does it mean?

"When setting up the group we were aware of the possibility of support and mentoring from the Creative Clusters programme being rolled out in our region run by Dumfries and Galloway Council and funded by the European Union. So, we invited representation to our earliest meetings to ensure we were on track to meet their targets and philosophy of assisting the programme of creativity and collaboration. This help has been without parallel and without it I don’t think we would have go to where we are at this juncture. We are all extremely grateful for the guidance and support."

You mention promoting Galloway as a place to visit - can you tell me a little bit about a favourite part of it for you (or all of you)

"A favourite part of Galloway, hmmmmm? Too difficult – I think all of it. If one restricts oneself to a specific location it can limit possibilities – I think one needs to be as open as possible to all opportunities and all settings, the only restriction is one’s own imagination!"

Is this a sort of "do it yourself" camera club? and do you recommend it for other people - what would your advice be for someone trying to get one together?

"I think it’s up to other people to feel if its ‘right’ for them, it felt right for us but we’ve still a long, long way to go. I think the comparison to ‘Camera Clubs’ isn’t a fair one, Camera Clubs are an absolutely vital part in nurturing, encouraging and promoting photography for all enthusiasts – I respect them tremendously. We have to trust each other and trust each other’s creative practices – we don’t offer critiques of one and others work, for example. We have joined forces to promote our work, our Galleries and the region in these difficult financial times. We see our efforts as fighting back!

I think us giving advice would perhaps sound a bit arrogant – there is no quick-fix solution, it will be hard work and there will be bumps along the way – that’s the way it has to be, I guess. Its more about the journey than the arrival. However, having said all that these are early days and perhaps you could ask again in a year’s time!"

The group are having a launch party which opens on the 31st of March starting at 6pm with guest speaker Colin Prior, well worth seeing talk, talking at 7:30pm which includes around 45 images from the members. The exhibition will run until the end of May.


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