Diamond Jubilee of Falkirk Camera Club

Not many clubs can trace their history and roots all the way back to 1889.

Falkirk Camera Club can though, albeit it has been operating under its current guise for just 60 years!

Birds Eye View, by the clubs general secretary Joan Clarke, shows how the digital photography process extends what had previously been possible on film.

Birds Eye View, by the clubs general secretary Joan Clarke, shows how the digital photography process extends what had previously been possible on film.

A special exhibition celebrating the club’s Diamond Jubilee has been unveiled at Falkirk Town Hall, aptly entitled Genesis to Jubilee.

Boasting 30 pictures, together they lead visitors on a tour of the club’s history, from its first incarnation in 1889, through April 17, 1958, when it became Falkirk Camera Club and on to the present day.

The exhibition charts some of the club’s best known photographers, from the 19th century to the present, with some never before seen prints.

It’s been a labour of love for publicity officer Allistair Kean and club historian and archivist Geoff Longstaff.

Thankfully though, Geoff already had a lot of the material at his fingertips.

Explaining how, he said: “Back in 2009, I started researching the club after I was given a photograph of the 1898 Falkirk Amateur Photographic Association office bearers.

“My aim was to find out the men’s names.

“I spent three years at Callendar House, trawling their own archives and the Falkirk Herald archives, researching the club’s history but I still only have the name of one man in that picture, Thomas Chalmers.

“But that’s a project for another day!”

Geoff’s efforts were not in vain, however, as he created two DVDs charting the club’s lengthy history.

His exploration means the club’s timeline is now well documented and it, too, features in the exhibition.

It also includes some fascinating works of art, which trace the origins of photography from its very earliest days at the end of the 19th century to the current digital age.

For Allistair, it’s difficult to focus on just one image.

However, he said: “Bird’s Eye View by our club’s general secretary Joan Clarke shows how the digital photography process extends what had previously been possible on film.”

It was an easier decision for Geoff, who selected an image he had to produce from a glass negative, Angelus by Malcolm Logie, who was a member of the club in the 1950s.

He said: “Malcolm’s daughter Susan Jane Clement had a collection of his glass negatives.

“She was very trusting and lent them to me.

“Angelus is a wonderful photo. I know the work that went into it and it’s beautifully presented and conceived as an idea – it’s serene, almost nun-like.”

There are many more stories to discover if you take the time to walk the newly-launched exhibition space at the Town Hall, run by Falkirk Community Trust.

One focuses on John P Munn, a member from Grangemouth whose work was exhibited in the USA, immediately before the States became embroiled in World War Two.

While the front of his picture is interesting, it was the back that told its well-travelled history.

Allistair said: “John had submitted his picture of fish merchants in Eyemouth Harbour to the Scottish Photography Federation and it was exhibited across the USA, including at the World Fair in New York in 1940.

“It toured the USA from 1939 to 1942 and eventually ended up in the Callendar House archive.

“We always turn pictures over as the back can be as interesting as the front!

“This one certainly was and both are shown in our exhibition.”

Also featured is a picture of the original camera club members at Callendar House in 1889 and the current members standing in exactly the same spot – some 128 years later.

Allistair added: “We’ve told the story of the club but also how photography has developed in that time.

“We’ve also included some archive reports from the Falkirk Herald.

“They are fascinating as they show that what they did all those years ago and what we do today is not really all that different.”

Falkirk Camera Club now has 68 members and their exploits are still reported in the Falkirk Herald today.

The exhibition is open to the public now and will run until April 28.

For Gillian Smith, Falkirk Community Trust exhibitions officer, it’s an ideal chance to showcase the newly-launched gallery.

She said: “We’re hoping other groups and organisations in the town will now approach us to host their own exhibitions in the gallery space.”