100 photographers, 200 cameras, 400 lenses


Photocamp Bradford 2010 - Group Photo
Photo copyright Jon Davies

When Greg Hobson, Curator of Photographs at the National Media Museum in Bradford told 100 photographic kit-carrying Photocampers he didn’t possess a camera, there was a stunned silence, followed by multiple clicking, whirring, the odd clunk of a manual shutter and blinding light from multiple flashes. His reason was a good one, he said, as his role thrust him into the presence of such greatness and talent that he felt any efforts of his own would be totally inadequate.

There was no such modesty in Pictureville, the museum’s cinema-cum-lecture theatre as the Photocamp 100 started a weekend of complete indulgence in their, or should I say our, obsession. I helped my mate Jon organise the event, which has nothing to do with camping, but everything to do with photos. It’s billed as an unconference, which means it’s organic, random and cheap, with delegates taking on responsibility for running sessions ranging from the highly technical to the ethereal.


Photo copyright Jonathan Bliss

Jon and I did the Richard and Judy bit (I was Judy before you ask), introducing the weekend and our lovely keynote speakers, landscape photographer Joe Cornish and Tim Parkin. It felt weird standing in front of the screen at the Pictureville Cinema in the musuem, where we’d watched many films over the years, most of them obscure and incomprehensible, but that’s art for you.

As with all other Photocamps, everyone is fair game for being snapped. Pull a funny face, pick up a prop, or just be in the wrong place at the wrong time and before you know it, you’re Photoshopped and uploaded to the internet for the whole world to see.

There is always a preponderance of fancy and very expensive kit at Photocamp, with many carrying big, padded bags on their backs, a couple of cameras slung one over each shoulder and a tripod in hand – in silhouette they look like a scary Army of Snappers, as the headline says, 100 photographers, with an average of two cameras and four lenses each – and even Greg’s cameralessness couldn’t throw out the average!

My theory about photographers is that we score highly on the Geekometer, that’s the royal we, I am an honorary geek, lacking the technological know-how and inability to read a manual of any kind.  Now because this is my blog and I make the rules, I’m defining a geek as:

Someone who likes computers and stuff, reads the manuals and can string sentences together with numbers as well as words, making use of wiggly brakets and colons. It’s more a term of endearment than one causing offence

I’m a geek by association, I’m married to one, I associate with many others – and I celebrate their geekiness. A straw poll of the Photocampers confirmed my theory. Eight out of ten work in computers, or computer-related fields, the others were either in engineering, or science-based disciplines including academics, who all use wiggly brackets. The rest of us, the honorary geeks, aspire to geekiness.

Fortunately on the second day, there was chance to let imaginations run riot, with wide-open briefs to interpret Bradford’s urban landscape. I grasped the freedom, asking Vicky, a fellow Photocamper, to play dead to represent the city’s decaying landscape, she didn’t seem to mind at all – or maybe she was just humouring me! Roll on the next Photocamp!


Bradford RIP
Vicky and Bradford RIP


Talking heads (including a very-much-alive Vicky) reflected in the Telegraph and Argus building



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