Democratic Camera

"I had this notion of what I call a democratic way of looking around. That nothing was more important or less important." Eggleston

Author: John Sumpter (page 1 of 3)

September Meeting ‘The Thing Itself’

The next meeting is at Stills on Thursday 7th September,  doors open 6.30pm for 7pm start.

The theme is ‘The Thing Itself’.  Briefing notes have been given in a previous post; but the idea is that your photographs should have a sub-text;  that they should require the viewer to unravel an intellectual puzzle.  The puzzle doesn’t have to have an answer, in fact it might be better if it doesn’t, but the mystery should at least appear to be there.

Bring along 1 or 2 images, or a linked sequence. These should be in the form of prints which can be stuck to the wall using BluTack.

The format of the meeting will be slightly different to normal. A person, who is not the originator, will be selected to interpret each set of  images. Interpretation will then be passed to the audience. Finally the originator will be asked for their interpretation  (if they have one). We might end with a vote on the ‘Thingiest’ image.

‘The Thing Itself’

The theme for September is ‘The Thing Itself’. I attach some advance briefing notes. Good luck. Don’t forget, August is ‘Happiness’.


Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Kant thought there was an external reality, but we may have a naive view of it. We use concepts like space and time; but if we had a different sense system we would see things differently. Kant thought we can not see ‘The Thing Itself’; only our version of it.


Science supports the idea that different animals may perceive the world differently. Bats navigate by sonar; dogs have a strong sense of smell. We think we are the ultimate life form, but maybe we only perceive a fraction of what is really going on. Does a snail have a theory of reality which includes the existence of humans? ‘The Thing Itself’ is out there, but we don’t recognise it.


Science fiction. It is easy to extrapolate the above thought train into science fiction. Maybe we are already surrounded by advanced life forms.  Maybe if we were cleverer we could gain access to telepathy, teleportation, and time travel. Maybe we could develop artificial intelligence to access ‘The Thing Itself.’


Photography. The reasoning here is a bit more prosaic but draws on the above to some extent. John Szarkowski used the term ‘The Thing Itself’ in relation to a 1964 exhibition ‘The Photographer’s Eye’.


The point here is that reality is one thing; the photograph is another. The photographer uses a number of tricks: composition, timing, framing, vantage point, detail, in order to make the image interesting to the viewer; to tease the viewer with an intellectual puzzle; to imply a narrative which may or may not be present in reality. The photographer invites the viewer to experience a reward by making their own discovery of ‘The Thing Itself’.


As an example I offer this famous photo by our patron saint, William Eggleston. It’s a photograph of two men and a car, right? Wrong, it’s a photograph of ‘The Thing Itself’.



August Meeting

The next meeting of the DCC will take place on Thursday August 3rd. Usual venue, downstairs at Stills, doors open 6.30 pm for 7 pm start,  £3 donation to Stills on the night.

The theme is Happiness. It’s a tough call I know, but if you can’t find anything to be happy about in Edinburgh in August it means there are an awful lot of people in the city not doing their job properly. So let’s have your best shot. One or more printed image to stick on the wall.

July Meeting -Thursday July 6th

The theme for the July meeting is ‘Lost and Found’. These two words can be taken separately or together, your choice. Thus the photograph could be be about something you’ve lost, like your youth; or something you’ve found, like a passion for attending Camera Club meetings; or something you’ve lost and found, like your car keys; plenty of options.

Meeting at Stills Gallery, 23 Cockburn Street; Thursday 6th of July; doors open 6.30pm for 7pm start.

Donation of £3 on the night.

Photobook Group

It is hoped to shift the Photobook Group Meeting to the evening to allow more people to attend.

Further details will be issued shortly.


June 2017 – Sculpture / Sculptural

The next meeting of the DCC will be at Stills on Thursday June 1st.

The theme is Sculpture / Sculptural.

Doors open 6.30pm for 7pm start.

£3 donation to Stills on the night.

May 2017 – Protest/Conflict

The next Camera Club meeting will take place on Thursday 4th May at Stills.

Doors open  6.30 pm  for 7 pm  start.

The theme is Protest / Conflict.

£3 donation to Stills on the night.

Photobook Group February 2017

The next meeting of the Photobook Group will be at the Checkpoint Cafe at 11am on Tuesday February 21st.

It’s a small, informal gathering.  Just bring one Photobook to discuss with the Group while you have a cup of coffee.

The meeting is usually over by 12 noon.

Feb Photobooks

March 2017 – Transformation

The next DCC meeting will be on March 2nd 2017 at Stills.

Doors open at 6.30pm for 7pm start.

The theme is Transformation.

 Possible interpretations could include:

transformation of yourself,

transformation of your neighbourhood;

or transformation of the world into a really scary place.

As usual you should bring one or more printed photographs, to be displayed on the wall.

You should be prepared to say a few words to explain the idea behind your image.

New attendees are very welcome. The DCC does not have a formal membership structure. Attendees are asked to make a £3 donation (to Stills) on the night.

Themes for 2017

List of Camera Club Themes. 2017


We thought it would be useful to set out a whole year’s themes in advance.

We’ll still send a reminder every month, but this way you can keep future themes in mind when you make your photographic excursions.


January 12th Open (No set theme)
February 2nd Night Life
March 2nd Transformation
April 6th Reflection
May 4th Conflict / Protest
June 1st Sculpture / Sculptural
July 6th Lost and Found
August 3rd Happiness
September 7th The Thing Itself
October 5th Escape
November 2nd Paradox
December 7th Open (No set theme)

Spare themes (suggested but not yet scheduled):




The themes in heavy type are agreed. Other themes are provisional, but will be confirmed two months in advance. For example the May theme will be confirmed at the March meeting.

In general, there will not be an introductory talk, just general chat, and discussion of the images you bring along. Some months we might have a guest speaker. If so we’ll let you know in advance.


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