H. P. Ellsan
In travelling about the country, one cannot fail to be impressed with the lack of merit in the methods and work of the many camera clubs or photographic societies that are to be found in nearly all the cities. Very often I have been shown the rooms of some photographic club. Nice rooms, with good appurtenences for developing, etc., but when I ask a few questions, I invariably receive the same reply. I might say, "This is a nice room; how often do you meet? " The answer usually is, "Why, we are supposed to meet once a month, but usually there are so few here that we can't hold the meeting." " Well," I woald say, "what do you plan to do when you do meet?" The answer usually is, "Why, we elect officers, discuss matters of interest, and collect fees."
That's just it. Officers, fees, new members, new business, old business, general discussion, and every one goes home, thoroughly decided never to attend another meeting. Is there any way to remedy this difficulty - alack of interest on the part of men in the camera club? I think I may say that the method I propose if carried out will be found practical and interesting to members of any club for the purpose of personal benefit in photographic work.
Officers. You will say you have just scorned officers, and yet you put them at the top of your list. very true; I do hate to see the election of officers the drawing card for meeting after meeting, but we must start with them. We must have a small executive committee, one of whose members shall be virtually president of the club, another secretary, another treasurer. Their chief duty will be however, to arrange for each meeting, as we shall see later.
Meetings. There should be regular monthly meetings on some convenient night, and it should be understood that anyone becoming a member of the society is expected to make a reasonable effort to attend each meeting.
3 - The activity. This is the important feature of the regime. The executive committee should choose a subject for discussion for each month, one of true photographic interest, and appoint some member of the club to prepare to discuss it or obtain the services of some outside authority on the subject.
In case the club be composed of persons having time and inclination to work out new processes it might be well to have a double subject for each meeting; the one practical, the other theoretical. The practical subject, let us say, has been chosen. It is "Gum-bichromate processes." The theoretical, let us say, is
"The action of light on the sensitive film. Both of these subjects are treated in one evening. During the month members will be expected to do work along the line of the practical subject. They will prepare in this case, let us say, three or more prints, adopting one of the processes which they have heard discussed in the meeting. They will take those prints to the next meeting, and will benefit there by the fellow workers and obtain help from them.
There are countless subjects, both practical and theoretical, which may be treated in this way, and a vast library to be drawn from to work up a lecture. Further, there are in every town many men who are by experience capable of giving valuable talks on special branches of work, and in many cases these men will be found very willing to give the club the benefit of their research.
In closing let me say to clubs that whether you adopt my suggestions literally or not, at least observe these maxims. Make the election of officers and other business of less importance. Do not have general discussion of the broad field " Photography." Confine your attention at each meeting to some special topic, preparation having been made beforehand so that an intelligent lecture may be given. Pay less attention to the number in your club; five is enough. Energy is what counts, not numbers. With this I close, with the sinceie hope that some people may follow at least in part the suggestions I have made, and that they may be aided thereby to bring the club to some degree of excellence.-" Western Camera Notes."