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Setting up a UPG in the UK


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#1 timing

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 07:23 AM

Hi Guys,

I hope that you don't mind me asking this here. A friend of mine is very keen to setup a group in the East Midlands and in initial conversations it seemed that we should follow an approach set-up by the NUPG.

So, any pointers on how to go about setting up a successful group? I know this is a big subject but any advice that you can give that will help us avoid some silly mistakes or help us on the way to getting members in the area would be most appreciated.

Thanks,

Tim

#2 KenByrne

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 01:01 PM

I think it needs someone who is willing to put in the effort to get the group up and running and is prepared to lead the group at the start.

When NUPG started up Steve Smithson who runs a dive shop and is a keen underwater photographer arranged a meeting venue and contacted dive clubs and other underwater photographers in the area to invite them to an inaugural meeting. A competition theme of fish was announced and started our regular centre piece of the meetings the image competition. After the meeting scans of the winning slide were sent to diver and dive with a short article about the club and meeting information.

When it first started it was all slides but now we also borrow a digital projector as there are probably more digital photographers than film now and it is important to support this.

At the first meeting people were sounded out about the interest in running a regional underwater photography group. There was plenty of interest and a committee was elected. Or more properly everyone who was prepared to stand was found a place on the committee.

Initially we had a lot of speakers from outside the club. BSOUP members have been very helpful and several have given talks. Also Steve Smithson, Alan James and Alan Mildren have given talks. We pay expenses for the guest speakers although some are prepared to give their time for free. In the last year we have had a lot more in house talks. This obviously saves us money and there is a lot of valuable experience in the club. Talks have varied from wildlife photography in general, location reports, photographic techniques and digital darkroom.

Another occasional item in our meetings is fave 5 where a member presents a short talk showing 5 of their favourite shots. This lets us see each others work and encourages members who might not feel prepared to give a longer talk.

One item we tried but which didn't seem to work was a print clinic. The idea was members would display prints and other members would comment but it never really took off. Occasionally members have shown slides that they wanted suggestions on how to improve or to ask what went wrong and this is quite educational.

You are not too far away and are always welcome to come to any of our meetings. I'm also sure there are NUPG members who would give a talk to your club when it starts up.

Good Luck.
Ken Byrne
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#3 timing

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Posted 04 December 2005 - 01:47 PM

Hi Ken,

Many thanks for your reply. This is clearly going to need a fair degree of thought and motivation. It's probably worth coming up to one or more of your meetings and seeing how they go and have a chat, when is your next one?

Tim

#4 KenByrne

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Posted 05 December 2005 - 08:47 AM

Tim, Our next meeting is on Monday 12th December.

You can find the location and dates of our meetings in the new year on our website

www.nupg.org.uk
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#5 Paul Kay

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 11:01 AM

Two points:

Firstly, there are a number of British Underwater Photography Groups - BSOUP in London (with many members from further afield), NUPG (Northern England and North Wales), Bristol Group, (South-West England and South Wales) and a Cornish Group. I would suspect that all suffer from a low density of underwater photographers within their viable catchment area - NUPG for example has members from 100 miles away from its meeting place. So you may find that it is more effective to travel than to set up a new group depending on the level of interest. I think that you will need a hard-core of at least a dozen people prepared to attend meetings with a preferable figure of 30+.

Secondly, running a group relies on a few enthusiastic members! If any group is to survive, it is essential that the burden of running it falls on more rather than less members or it will collapse when those running it can no longer commit sufficient time to doing so. This is an often underestimated problem if a gropu is to survive long-term.
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#6 timing

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Posted 06 December 2005 - 11:15 AM

Hi Paul,

Thanks for your input. I take your point about the number of groups already existing but TBH none are convenient for the East Midlands - clearly if there isn't sufficient interest then I guess the point is moot but before we try and see what we can do we need an honest assessement of the time and energy needed to get and keep one going and how that matches up to our desire to make it happen.

I'm intending to come up to the meeting on Monday so would be good to catch up then and discuss more.

Cheers,

Tim

#7 TonyG

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 07:37 AM

I tend to agree with Paul on this one. The catchment areas are usually "driveable" within an hour or 2, and it does take effort, usually on the committee as a whole to drive the club forward with meetings and keep the members interested and attending. NUPG has been running for 5 nearly 6 years and there is a reguler set who attend, and the current committee is pretty much the same as it has been for the last 3 years, but the owness falls on all club members (comittee or not) to ensure the club continues, and input is always needed, from all.

Membership does change over time - its a fact for any club. To set up your own club would take some effort, to maintain and run takes a lot more effort. Its like buying & running a car, the buying is easy, the running not so.

For more centrally based clubs like BSoUP, its probably a little easier because of photographer/population density is far greater than say Midlands or North West or Bristol.

Also, clubs as a whole need to adapt to the needs of the new diver-photographers, as the sport evolves, which means change.

#8 Alex_Mustard

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 09:03 AM

Hi Tim,

I spoke to the BSoUP committee for you and BSoUP are very keen to help regional groups get going. If you are a member of BSoUP you can write to them and they will put you in touch with any members in your area. Furthermore BSoUP is also a good source for speakers for your meetings.

Hope that this helps,

Alex

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#9 KenByrne

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 09:14 AM

I think Tony and Paul make good points although they seem a little negative. It is good not to underestimate the effort involved in setting up a new club and you should expect to need to keep on putting that effort in for a couple of years at least until others can gradually be convinced to take the reins.

The other side of the coin is that being a member of a group like NUPG is great fun. You get to know fellow photographers that you would probably never meet any other way, you get to share your photographs with other like minded souls and you learn from others while sharing your own experience.

I'm not sure where you would meet or what your catchment area would be. It's worth thinking about a suitable venue. I'd say firstly it needs to be accessible. That said NUPG originally met in Macclesfield which is not very accessible. It also needs to have blackout and seating suitable for showing slides. Again NUPGs second venue had a very poor seating layout. Finally it needs to be fairly cheap to keep your costs down. Again in NUPG our third venue was quite pricey. So I think we've done everything wrong but we're still thriving. Possibly because despite everything we've done wrong we've always had a bar.

If there is a suitable group in existance in your area then join that. If not then give it a go. At the worst you'll fail and just be in the same position you are now. Actually at the worst you'll thrive and poach some of our far flung members:-)

Ken.
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#10 timing

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Posted 07 December 2005 - 09:41 AM

Guys, thanks for all your comments - I'd good to know all the pit-falls and start off with a realistic expectation - although sometimes, blind optimism can work wonders.

As for catchment areas, yes most of the other groups are 1-2 hours away but that can be a long time during the week when most groups seem to meet especially during the dark wet winter nights. For me, all the groups in Bristol, London, Manchester are all about 2 hours away (at least) - that's 4 hours of driving so not really good for me personally.

Alex, thanks for your help. I joined recently and I do hope to get to the occasional meeting. Any help that they and other groups can give would be very gratefully received.

Keep the comments coming, it's all good learning. And don't worry, I have a rhino skin so no worries about tone of the post.

Tim

#11 tdpriest

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 05:32 AM

Guys, thanks for all your comments - I'd good to know all the pit-falls and start off with a realistic expectation - although sometimes, blind optimism can work wonders.

As for catchment areas, yes most of the other groups are 1-2 hours away but that can be a long time during the week when most groups seem to meet especially during the dark wet winter nights. For me, all the groups in Bristol, London, Manchester are all about 2 hours away (at least) - that's 4 hours of driving so not really good for me personally.

Alex, thanks for your help. I joined recently and I do hope to get to the occasional meeting. Any help that they and other groups can give would be very gratefully received.

Keep the comments coming, it's all good learning. And don't worry, I have a rhino skin so no worries about tone of the post.

Tim


Has your plan gone off the boil? I have all the same difficulties in the West Midlands, but haven't joined BSOUP. I rely on a bit of contact on diving trips, and try to get to Visions in London, if I'm not at work, once a year. Would be glad to help.

Tim

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#12 timing

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 11:24 AM

Has your plan gone off the boil? I have all the same difficulties in the West Midlands, but haven't joined BSOUP. I rely on a bit of contact on diving trips, and try to get to Visions in London, if I'm not at work, once a year. Would be glad to help.

Tim

B)


Hi Tim,

Yeah, things haven't really got moving on this. The guy that was keen to get this going has had to step back from diving for the time being and I seem to be travelling all the time so I haven't progressed it either.

The interest will recover but right now it's on the backburner. Thanks for the offer of help, if things pick up again I'll let you know.

Tim

#13 Cussy

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Posted 09 October 2007 - 12:24 AM

Sorry to the NUPG, but as Tim originally posted this here I thought I'd complete the thread.

The East Midlands Underwater Photographers has its first meeting next Tuesday (16th October) when Tony White will be coming along to tell us about his transition from topside to underwater photographer. The complete programme for this year isn't quite complete, but is far better than I thought I could achieve.

We decided in the end to base ourselves at Stoney Cove, as lets face it, who doesn't know where it is. It also opens up a very large catchment area. Evenings start at 7:30 with the talks beginning at 7:45. We should be downstairs in the pub.

For more info check out www.emup.org.uk

Apologies it's taken 2 years to get off the ground, but hopefully it will be worth the wait......

Cheers,
Rob

PS in reply to Paul's very good points, EMUP has been placed so that it does not "steal" any members from NUPG or BUPG. I'm sure if people are already making the trip to London to go to BSoUP they will continue to do so, but personally I find it extremely difficult to get to BSoUP meetings. EMUP has also been targeted heavily towards beginners too (not saying that the other groups haven't). Hopefully that way we pick up a few beginners and they can develop as EMUP develops. The number of compact digitals you see nowadays is incredible and hopefully EMUP helps these divers to get better results. I have already had 2 enquiries that I told to contact the NUPG as they weren't aware of them and Manchester was much closer to them, so hopefully all of the regional groups can benefit from one another.
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