Ireland's newest photography club, Boyne Valley Photographic Club, based in Drogheda, enjoyed some recent success at both the regional rounds and the final of two the Irish Photographic Federation (IPF) most prestigious competitions. The Photographer of the Year (POTY) and the Nature Photographer of the Year (NPOTY) were held in the Talbot Hotel in Carlow with entrants from all over Ireland and a panel of both Irish and international judges, and is the pinnacle of most photographer’s year.
It all began with a group of 10 friends who met up to take pictures and help each other learn and develop their photography skills while also heading to the Pheasant bar in Drogheda afterwards to discuss whether Nikon or Canon was the better camera. Everyone enjoyed these evenings so much that it was decided to take the next step and create a club that would hold the values of teaching each other how to become better photographers but also having fun along the way as its founding principles. Some have described the group a bunch of people who like to socialise and who also take pictures. And where better to base the club other than the venue for all those previous lively discussions on the superiority of one camera brand over another, the Pheasant Bar, on Duleek Street in Drogheda. From the use of their function room for club meetings to warm smiles and welcomes and cold beverages supplied by the owner and staff, The Pheasant Bar have played a vital role in the origins of this newest of photography clubs.
The club itself opened its doors to the public just last September with the initial 10 founding members doubling the club size to 20 on the first night. Since then they have had talented photographers from around the country come to their club to display their work such as Clodagh and Brendan Tumily and Eric O'Neill, completed workshops with the former president of the IPF, Michael O'Sullivan and also Paul Reidy the overall winner of the POTY 2017, gone on club outings to the Hill of Slane, to Drogheda and to Dublin for street photography as well as numerous hands on workshops put on by the club members for the club members.
The National Shield, held in November, is an annual inter club competition which is open for all clubs affiliated to the IPF for photographers at intermediate level. Each club compiles a colour image panel and a monochrome panel each consisting of 8 images. Boyne Valley Photographic Clubs turned heads on the day not only with their panels of images, or the fact that they had 14 of their club members work represented in the panels but also just by entering to begin with as most clubs prepare for this competition a year in advance. If that was not enough then their scoring certainly was, they came 10th overall but more significantly their colour panel scored higher than the colour panels of two very strong and well established clubs, Dundalk Photographic Society who won the 2016 National Club Championship and Catchlight who won the 2017 National Club Championship. Boyne Valley Photographic Club had certainly announced their arrival on a national level. After a well-deserved Christmas night out, followed by the Christmas break, they continued from where they had left off, this time at an individual level.
Early January saw the IPF POTY NE regional round held in The Workhouse, Carrickmacross and the majority of club members put huge time and effort into preparing, printing and mounting their images for the big day. It was Dini Gashi and Gary L'Estrange who brought home the honours. Dini took home two bronze medals in the intermediate section of the Mono Print Open section and the intermediate section of the Projected Image Open section while Gary won a gold medal in the intermediate section of the Mono Print Themed section. The following week, at the IPF NPOTY NE regional round held at the Mid-Louth Camera Club, it was the turn of Club Chairman, Darragh Collins, to add to the Boyne Valley Photographic Club's trophy cabinet. He collected a gold medal in the advanced section of the Colour Print Theme. These winning images along with a percentage of the highest scoring images from the two days were sent through to the national finals on 17th and 18th February in the Talbot Hotel, Carlow, meaning that Dini, Gary and Darragh were not the only club members to have entries in for the finals. In fact, for the finals, it was the turn of Jean Gillespie Johnston to take home the spoils. Jean received a Judges Medal in the Advanced Projected Section and a Gold Medal in the Advanced Colour Print Themed section. A Judges medal, two bronze medals and three gold medals across the regionals and finals is a fantastic achievement for such a new club and a testament to their talented photographers.
The club has an exciting programme laid out for the rest of the year with a great mixture of guest speakers, club outings, social nights, internal competitions and workshops, while also preparing their entry for the IPF National Club Championship. Anybody interested in joining them then can call into the function room of the Pheasant Bar in Drogheda on Thursday nights from 8.15pm, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out their Facebook page, Boyne Valley Photographic Club. All experience levels welcome.