50th Anniversary Press Review
Fifty Years Behind the Lens
A celebration of fifty years of Forest of Galtres Camera Club
A conversation between neighbours over the garden fence is rarely remembered the following week never mind fifty years later. But a conversation between neighbours, Allan Green FRPS and the late David Snowden in the mid-60s resulted in the founding of the Forest of Galtres Camera Club. About the same time, a sixteen year old from Leeds, Paul Berriff, was beginning his career in photography and film as a press photographer with the Yorkshire Evening Post. Paul went on to have a remarkable and eventful career becoming a BAFTA winning documentary film maker who also photographed the Beatles very early in their career and miraculously filmed and survived the catastrophic events of 9/11. The Forest of Galtres Camera Club is celebrating its landmark fiftieth year by hosting an evening with Paul at the Galtres Centre, Easingwold on 31st October.
The venue to celebrate the club’s twenty-fifth anniversary was provided by Easingwold School; Colin Garrett, well known among rail enthusiasts for his books, came prepared with a bank of eight projectors which provided a seamless transition between slides and cassettes.
Twenty five years later and the Galtres Centre will provide the perfect venue for modern technology to come to the fore in an evening of amazing images that Paul Berriff will present to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the club at the end of month. After working for the Yorkshire Post, Paul became the youngest camera man to work for the BBC before covering the whole of the north of England for television news in London. He later set up his own TV production company. Training was undertaken that meant he could accompany not only firemen but also lifeboat crews on callouts giving him the access to the dramas of life in real time that he wanted. He has survived a helicopter crash, leapt to safety from a sinking ship in a North Sea gale and escaped with his life from an erupting volcano in Nicaragua. He has also received the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.
His courage and dedication to capturing events as they happen was put fully to the test on that September day in 2001 when the World Trade Centre was attacked. He happened to be in New York filming a documentary called Animal Cops when news reached him of the first plane’s impact. He and his sound recordist ran towards the site as others were running away. Beneath the south tower, he was filming the deputy fire chief setting up a command post. Then came the first tower’s collapse! Paul kept his camera rolling even when the order was given to run as the oncoming deluge of dust and debris engulfed those in the area. Knocked unconscious, he lay for twenty minutes before coming round to an unbelievable site of devastation. His camera was smashed but the iconic sequence of the south tower collapsing survived and fortunately so did Paul.
The club’s history may not be quite so dramatic. The first ever meeting of the camera club was held in a room in the old Conservative Club that used to be on Long Street. Fortunately for this new venture that lacked funds at that stage, the room was provided free of charge and Allan Green would take along his own projector. At another early venue, a wall was painted white as a substitute screen. The unpredictability of the bulbs that provided the light source for the projections could prove hazardous – an explosion sending fine shards of glass everywhere was not unknown. The first year’s programme included cine films and slide shows interspersed with Kodak lectures, the company then providing talks on all aspects of photography. One such event was called ‘Looking at Flash’, an opportunity to prepare for taking those Christmas time indoor shots. During its early years, the club entered a competition run by one of the York camera clubs with an entry based on the hidden gems of our area. The prize, at this point was unknown. Forest of Galtres Camera Club was announced the winner and the reward was to host the following year’s Richard Wilson Kodak touring lecture.
Members in that first season visited York Camera Club to see the images taken by Alfred Gregory, the official still photographer for the 1953 ascent of Everest. Allan Green, who worked for Rowntree’s at the time as a graphic designer, organised a visit to Rowntree’s Photographic Section and one of the first outings planned was to Fountains Abbey for some night photography. One guinea provided a full season’s membership.
Meetings are still held with other clubs but usually on a competitive basis. One of the club’s intentions, then as now, was to inspire all photographers no matter what their level of ability to continue developing their skill base. One of the ways to do this is through guest speakers like John Potter who this week presented Creative Landscape Photography. In January, Richard Egan will also be a guest speaker sharing his insight into successful portrait photography. A representative from The Yorkshire Film Archive will bring footage relevant to our area and the wider region and no doubt, something of the swinging sixties fifty years ago. The club is indebted to Sheila Cornforth for the work she does organising each season’s programme.
Photographs from the Past:
1.1987 Committee Meeting From left to right: Ken Proudley, Mike Brookes, Sue Brookes, Basil Sheard, Peter Rushton, Eric Readman, Sheila Cornforth, Keith Roberts, Allan Green, Norman Darnely
2.1975 Nicholas Green receiving the Dr Gawthorpe trophy from Mrs Frost. Her husband was a well-known York based society photography who showcased his work in the Shambles and had judged at some of the club’s annual dinners
3.Kirk Eichwald, a founder member – local people may know the bar named after him in the Galtres Centre
4.Keith Roberts, the club’s current President who has been a pro-active member of the group almost since its foundation. Here, giving a vote of thanks at one of the early club dinners.
5.Club outing to Muker 1996
6.Club outing to Hull 2001
It seems fitting that the Forest of Galtres Camera Club should invite Paul Berriff to help celebrate its fiftieth year with an evening at the Galtres Centre on the 31st of this month. This is someone whose photography and documentary films have captured some of the extraordinary events and iconic moments that have occurred during the club’s own history. Paul will share his fifty years behind the lens at this uniquely special occasion for the area - one not to be missed.