The Drogheda Photographic Club celebrates 50 years of award-winning images

With a smart phone in every pocket or purse, everyone considers themselves a photographer these days, but there’s a huge gap between a good snapshot and a world-class capture.

Established in 1972, the Drogheda Photographic Club has just reached its 50th year and a number of founders are still active in the club today, winning awards and accolades for their superb photography, portraits and landscapes.

The club, which has its own premises in the Craft Quarter, part of the Millmount Fort complex, has been awarded the title of best club in Ireland an incredible 15 times and Drogheda was one of the founding members of the Irish Photographic Federation (IPF).

The founding members of the Drogheda Photographic Club were Paul Maher, Patsy Reilly, John Butler, Joe Dowdall, Joe Sarsfield and Pat Clarke.

One of their club members, Des Clinton FIPF FRPS MFIAP was the first president of the IPF, and the current president, John Butler FIPF ARPS, also a member of our club, explains more about their history, the club, their goals for the future, and a typical evening for the club.

“Typically, our president greets our speaker or judge at 8 p.m. on Thursday evenings. Our guest speakers are renowned photographers from across Ireland and the UK, but we also encourage club members of all abilities to talk about their images and their approach to photography.

We organize practical evenings such as model photo shoots, still life sessions or sessions focused on a particular subject such as lighting or printing. Our hands-on nights give new members the opportunity to take photos while learning from more experienced club members. Speakers usually answer questions during or at the end of their presentation, after which, at around 9:30 p.m., we will have tea or coffee in our own tea room. This provides a good opportunity for informal discussion and learning.

Our program ensures a comprehensive mix of all genres of photography and our guest lecturers are invited from the UK and beyond. Due to the pandemic, we held our meetings with great success via Zoom and this allowed us to invite many high quality international speakers who would not normally have been accessible to us.

Established 50 years ago this year, we held our first photographic exhibition in 1973 and, aside from a hiatus due to the pandemic, we have held one every year since, usually at the Drogheda Library.

We participate in national and international competitions, both as individuals and as a club. In the FIAP World Cup for Clubs in 2013 we won the bronze medal and in 2020 we finished 5th in the same competition.

We currently have 71 members. Many of our members have succeeded in obtaining IPF, FIAP and RPS distinctions. Several of our members have been or are Distinction Assessors for IPF and RPS.

We usually plan several outings per year, for example to photograph seabirds or places of historical and cultural interest, but this has been significantly reduced during the pandemic. We hope to have a release later this year though.

We offer a 10-week beginner photography course twice a season, open to members and non-members. Many participants subsequently join the club, and we encourage all members to participate in our weekly meetings and our six competitions per season (September-May) which are judged by external photographers.

Experienced club members are always eager to share their knowledge with new members who find their advice and encouragement very helpful. We have a fully equipped studio and high quality photo printer for use by club members. Additionally, we have a WhatsApp group for members and also a members only section of our website where members can post images for criticism/feedback/advice as well as a Q&A forum.

The club also offers Photoshop classes for members on a regular basis throughout the year. These are all tools that help members show off their work and improve their photography skills.

The main aim of the club has always been to promote and encourage photography in Ireland. Photography is now more accessible than it has ever been. A key goal is to encourage more people to explore photography and produce high quality prints and there is a place in our club for people with all levels of photographic skill.”

Michael E. Marquez