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The Norwich & District Photographic Society meets every Tuesday evening between 7.15pm - 9.30pm at Chapel Field Road Methodist Church Hall Norwich NR2 1SD.
Membership subscriptions for the year is just £40 and prospective members may attend up to three evenings free of charge as our guest (excluding 'Special Presentations').
Parking is available next door in the car park of Bignold School, at the end of Wessex Street, The cost of parking is £1 and is payable at the door before the start of the meeting.
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The Norwich and District Photographic Society is one of the oldest such organisations in the country.
It had its beginnings during the middle years of the 19th century. A number of local people with an interest in the science of photography formed the Norwich Photographic Society in June 1854.
This society existed for only seven years but during that time it had an influence on the development of photography far greater than its provincial origins merited; there are reports about its meetings in the archives of the Royal Photographic Society.
The present society was formed in 1903. A group of photographers from other organisations such as the YMCA and the Teachers' Field Club, together with a number of interested individuals, met under the guidance of Albert Edward Coe. Since then it has met regularly although during the two world wars activities were curtailed and the Annual Exhibitions were suspended.
The Early Years
In the early years of the nineteenth century the fusionbetween science and art that had been sought for so long was realised. For many years it had been known that images of objects and scenery could be thrown, through the lenses of a camera obsura, onto a plane surface. Artists had used this method toassist in the production of paintings but it had not been possible to make the images permanent. Now, everything was to change.
By 1837 in France, after a decade of experimentation Daguerre introduced his new photographic process, which, despite the quality of the finished picture, suffered from the drawback of being a one-off, incapable of being reproduced. By 1837, Daguerre’s process had been widely publicised and, because the French government had decreed that it should not be patented in France, was taken up enthusiastically by many keen workers there.
Meanwhile in this country, William Henry Fox-Talbot, working on completely different principles was elaborating the Talbotype, soon to be renamed Calotype, process. Introduced in 1840, this gave a negative on sensitised paper from which numerous, though inferior, positive prints could be made.
Both Daguerre, in this country, and Fox-Talbot hedged their processes about with patents that precluded their unrestricted use. These limitations delayed the active involvement of the wider public for several years.
In England, Daguerre had secretively patented his processand turned to the commercial side of photography by licensing its use to studio operators. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to open Daguerreotype studios by licensees in this country, John Beard, a London coal merchant, acquired a license and opened a flourishing studio in London in 1841. So successful was this business that in a short time he opened a number of provincial studios in Southampton, Manchester and Liverpool.
On 2nd December 1843, an advertisement appeared in the Norfolk Chronicle that announced that John Beard was about to open another studio in Norwich that would produce life-like likenesses in a few seconds taken by the action oflight. Photography had arrived in Norwich...!
During the following decade, a number of other entrepreneurs opened studios in the city. J R Sawyer was advertising his ‘Photographic Gallery’ at 42 London Street in January 1856,calling himself the ‘Resident Artist’ established for three years’. Sawyer was a key figure in the photographic life of the city and, in due course, formed one of the tangible links between photography in the 1850s and the Norwich and District Photographic Society.
Norwich Photographic Society
Under extreme pressure, Fox-Talbot relaxed the terms of his patents for amateurs and it was possible to obtain rights to use the process. Amateur photography in Norwich commences with the involvement of Thomas Damant Eaton in the mid-1840s.. Eaton was a cultured man, involved in the silk industry in the city, a musician, with a literary bent and an interest in everything artistic. Eaton took a great deal of pleasure in his immediate surroundings and early photographs, 1844-45, were taken in the vicinity of his home in Chapelfield. He retired from business in 1846 and for many years thereafter gave much time to his photographic work, enjoying the friendship of fellow workers.
Sometime in the early 1850s, Eaton gathered around him acircle of men who had also shown interest in the rapid development of photographic processes. It is intriguing to speculate to how this disparate group came together in the first place. One possibility is that some, at least, were fellow members of a larger body, the Literary and Scientific Institution, which met from time to time at the Museum in St. Andrews.
It is also likely that such men would have become readers of Notes and Queries a periodical first published in 1849 that set out ‘to bring together the ideas and the wants of men engaged in the same lines of action or enquiry’.
One common contributor to Notes and Queries was Dr Hugh Welch Drummond. Drummond had been educated in Norwich School, became an articled pupil at the Royal College of Surgeons in 1824 and a pupil at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 1828. After qualifying, he specialised in mental illness – a field in which he used early photography to record the physiognomy of some of his patients. Diamond had other interest, particularly in the collection of engravings and etchings. This interest led to his involvement in photography and in the late 1840s he met up with similarly minded men in a small group known as the Calotype Society. Amongst the other members was one of his patents, Frederick Scott Archer, who, in 1850, supplied Diamond with the necessary materials to process his own photographs using his newly discovered wet solution process.
Like Diamond, T D Eaton had been educated at Norwich School. Although he was nine years senior to Diamond, Eaton would have been aware of his activities. In any case, Diamond continued to have an arms-length connection with the city and is known to have returned on a number of occasions. It is probable that these visits would have provided an opportunity for the two men to meet and share their common pursuit.
Further, Diamond made major contributions to Notes and Chronicles at the time, that were so well received in Norwich that in 1853 the circle of photographers brought together by Eaton wrote to the magazine expressing their thanks and saying how much they had learnt from Diamond's contributions.
The common interest of this group led to the formation of the Norwich Photographic Society in 1854. The new society was only the sixth of its kind to be formed in this country. Eaton himself was elected President, and other members specifically mentioned in reports were Dr James Howes, G R Pitt, J R Sawyer, Dr W H Ranking, Charles Morse, W Bransby Francis, Henry Harrod, J Stewart, F T Keith, T Lound and Henry Pulley.
Unfortunately, by the end of the 1850s the Norwich Society was in decline. There had been no further dramatic developments in photographic processing in the previous ten years or so, and whilst it was still possible to tinker with the existing processes, there did not appear to be much more to learn.
Sometime in 1861 the Norwich Photographic Society was dissolved. It was not alone. The photographic societies in Leeds, Liverpool Glasgow, Birmingham, Brighton and probably others, all of which were of the same vintage, suffered the same fate. Only London (later the Royal), Manchester and Edinburgh Photographic Societies have survived.
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Strangely, the Norwich Society folded just as the great breakthrough in photography was about to take place. For years, photographers had struggled with all the inconveniences of the wet plate – in addition to the camera it was necessary to carry bottles of the liquid solutions, dishes in which to mix chemicals,heavy glass plates and some kind of darkroom covering in which to work. No wonder interest in the pursuit was beginning to wane..!
A new era was about to dawn. Throughout the 1850s and early 1860s chemists were struggling to find a ‘dry’ alternative and by the 1870s a number of firms, including the fledgling firm of Ilford were manufacturing their dry plates. However, another new product was at hand. Celluloid had been invented in 1861 but it took some time before it had been improved to the state in which it could be used instead of glass. Eastman Kodak was granted a patent for celluloid based film in 1889 and the age of film as we know it had arrived.
Mass production of cameras and photographic material led to a rapid increase in their use. Although most of the new generation of users were content to follow the instructions and leave the processing to the increasing number of firms offering developing and printing, there was also a mushrooming of clubs and societies catering for the more demanding amateur. This time Norwich was left behind. The number of such groups in this country grew more than six-fold in the ten years between 1885 and 1895 from 40 to 250. A brief, anonymous letter to the local press found in a scrap-book of the period shows that at least one person was not happy with the situation. However, the Norwich amateurs of photography were going to have to wait quite some time before the need was satisfied..!
Meanwhile, J R Sawyer, the last survivor of the now defunct Norwich Photographic Society was successfully building his photographic business in London Street, Norwich and was about to expand his business interests to London.
As Sawyer became more and more involved with his business in London and had moved his home to Ealing by the time of the 1881 census he was necessarily losing interest in his business in Norwich. By 1888 the business at London Street that had become a Mecca for the members of the earlier society had been acquired by Albert Edward Coe and was about to take on the same role for the members of its successor.
Through his early association with J R Sawyer, Albert Edward Coe provides a link with the original Norwich Photographic Society. By 1903, he had been in business for more than ten years and his son, Albert, had joined him. They had amassed a wealth of experience,which they were willing to share with their customers, and it is not difficult to assume that there would have been many discussions, on their premises, about matters of common interest in the photographic world. This rapport would have provided fertile ground in which to sow the concept of a new meeting place for people who shared a common interest in photography.
In March 1921, Edward Peake, the first Vice-President of Norwich and District Photographic Society, spoke to the members’ meeting about the origins of the Society and mentions exploratory meetings held in a room over the Castle Gateway. There are no other records concerning these meetings but the Eastern Daily Press report of the inaugural meeting on June 12th, 1903 refers to a meeting of interested parties, presided over by Mr E J Brown, held the previous month at the Technical Schools. It was this meeting that recommended that a new club should be formed and that the name should be the Norwich and District Photographic Society. Albert Edward Coe became the first President of the Society.
Source: When Found, Take a Note – the history of Norwich and District Photographic Society 1903-2003 written by David D Button LRPS and published by the Society to celebrate the centenary of its foundation.
Rules approved at the Annual General Meeting of the Society held on 01 March 1987 and amended on 21 March 1989, 26 March 1991, 13 April 1999, 11 April 2000, 11 October 2005, 03 April 2007, 16 March 2010 and 10 April 2012.
1. The Society shall be called the ‘Norwich and District Photographic Society’.
2. The object of the Society shall be the furtherance of the art and science of photography.
3. Membership of the Society shall be open to all who are interested in photography, whether as amateurs or professionals.
4. Application for membership shall be made to the Secretary and shall be accompanied by the appropriate subscription.
5. Subscriptions to the Society shall be due and payable on 01 September each year and any member whose subscription is unpaid on the following 01 November shall cease to be entitled to the benefits of membership. The annual subscription shall be fixed at a General Meeting of the Society on the recommendation of the committee. Any recommendation to change the rate of subscription shall be circulated to the members at least fourteen (14) days before the date of the General Meeting at which the change is to be considered. The rate of subscription shall be printed in the Society’s programme.
Members joining the Society between 01 January and 31 March in any year shall also pay two thirds of the normal subscription unless they wish to submit work for the Annual Exhibition in which case they will pay the full subscription. Anyone wishing to join after 31 March and before 01 September shall not be registered as members, but shall be allowed to attend the Society’s meetings and other functions without charge but those wishing to submit work for the Annual Exhibition shall pay the full subscription. The committee may, in special circumstances and at its discretion, waive or reduce the rate of subscription paid by any member or prospective member.
Honorary membership may be granted in recognition of outstanding services to the Society. Honorary Members shall be elected at a General Meeting of the Society.
6. Officers of the Society shall be as follows:
Secretary Assistant Secretary
Treasurer Assistant Treasurer
Programme Secretary Assistant Programme Secretary
Public Relations Officer
7. The President shall hold office for two years and shall be invited to attend all meetings ofthe Society. The Vice-President shall hold office for two years and shall succeed the President upon his/her retirement from office.
8. The Officers of the Committee, including the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, shall hold office for one year and shall be eligible for re-election.
9. The affairs of the Society shall be managed by a Committee comprising the following officers:
together with three members elected at the Annual General Meeting. Each elected member shall serve for two years. One of the elected members shall retire each year but shall be eligible for re-election. A quorum of the Committee shall be six (6) members. Casual vacancies on the Committee may be filled by the Committee, the persons so appointed holding office until the next Annual General Meeting. Other officers or members of the Society may be invited to attend meetings of the Committee at the discretion of the Committee.
10. The Secretary shall conduct the general business of the Society and keep minutes of the proceedings of the Annual General and Committee meetings of the Society. The Assistant Secretary shall assist the Secretary as may seem desirable and shall act for the Secretary when necessary.
11. The Treasurer shall keep an account of the receipts and payments of the Society and shall provide an audited summary thereof at the end of each financial year, which shall be presented to the Annual General Meeting. The accounts shall be audited by an Examiner who shall be a member of the Society.
12. The Programme Secretary shall be responsible for arranging the programme of meetings of the Society and all matters connected therewith. The Assistant Programme Secretary shall assist the Programme Secretary as may seem desirable and shall act for the Programme Secretary when necessary.
13. The Competition Secretary shall be responsible for arranging such competitions as are included in the programme of the Society both within the Society and between this Society and other clubs and societies and all matters connected therewith.
14. One or more exhibitions of the work of the members of the Society shall be arranged annually by the committee. For each Exhibition, an Exhibition Secretary shall be elected and a Sub-Committee may also be appointed. Each Exhibition Secretary shall be a voting member of the NDPS Committee. The Committee or Sub-Committee may make such arrangements as are necessary in connection with the selection and judging, if required, of work submitted by members and for its display. The appropriate Exhibition Secretary shall be responsible for making all the necessary arrangements in connection with the exhibition and shall co-ordinate the activities of a Sub-Committee and the Committee of the Society.
15. An Annual General Meeting shall be convened at the end of each year’s programme.
16. An Extraordinary General Meeting of the Society shall be convened within twenty-eight (28) days of the receipt of a requisition signed by twelve (12) members of the Society. Such requisitions shall state the purpose for which such a meeting is desired. The Committee may, at its discretion, convene an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Society.
17. An Agenda including the wording of resolutions to be considered at the meeting shall be circulated to members not less than fourteen (14) days prior to the date of a General Meeting.
18. Resolutions intended to be included in the agenda of a General Meeting shall be submitted to the Secretary in writing not less than twenty-eight (28) days prior to the date of the General Meeting at which they are to be considered. With the exception of resolutions submitted by the Committee, resolutions for consideration at a General Meeting shall be proposed and seconded.
19. At any General Meeting of the Society any decision arising out of a resolution submitted in accordance with rule 18, except a resolution relating to the changing of the rules of the Society or to a winding up of the Society, shall be by a simple majority of those members present and voting. Any Other Business shall be a permanent fixture of the Society’s Committee and Annual General Meetings.
20. In appropriate circumstances a General Meeting of the Society may consider a resolution in accordance with rule 18 that the affairs of the Society be wound up. In the event of such a resolution being submitted the President shall make arrangements for all members of the Society to vote on the resolution in person or by proxy or by post. Any decision arising out of such a resolution shall require the approval of two-thirds of the members voting. If such a resolution is carried the assets of the Society shall be vested in Trustees who shall be appointed by members present at a General Meeting at which the decision to wind up the affairs of the Society is taken. The Trustees so appointed shall, after settlement of any outstanding commitments of the Society, retain all the assets of the Society for a period of one (1) year. At the end of this period the Trustees shall transfer the remaining assets of the Society to any organisation which they consider to be a successor to the Society and, if this is not possible, to any other organisation having a similar object to the Society and if this is not possible, to any other charity or charities at their discretion.
21. Every member ofthe Society shall be entitled to a copy of these rules.
Keith Garnham Chairman
Hazel Davidson Vice-chairman
Tom Watson Secretary
Della Garnham Treasurer
Maurice Young Competition Secretary
Brian Brebbage Programme Secretary
Dennis Gardner Member
Steven Gosling Member
Norwich & District Photographic Society (NDPS) is affiliated to the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB) through the East Anglian Federation of Photographic Societies (EAF)
Methodist Church Hall