Jem joined Banbury Camera Club in November 1995. He had been a camera club member in the Midlands for most of his adult life. He joined Banbury at what we can now see was the beginning of a revolution in photographic practice.
Oddly enough, a couple of years earlier someone in the Banbury club had spotted what might be coming and spoke out. It was a shocking thought for many members that “photographs” produced by a computer might find their way into the club’s competitions. It wouldn’t be fair to members who couldn’t afford a computer and, anyway, there was no merit when the computer did all the work. So, in a farsighted move, the club voted to ban such photos from competitions.
In November 1997, most members were forced to review this position when local photographer Colin Robinson gave a demonstration of Photoshop. While digital cameras were hardly competitive with film at this stage, the scanning of negatives and slides did provide a route into digital imaging. And Jem then led the way, giving his own demonstrations, producing superb photographs and getting Walford and Round, the Banbury opticians where he practised, to sponsor a competition for creative use of Photoshop and similar software. It was this leadership which saved the club from a steep decline and probable extinction.
During his spell as Chair, the club organised its first exhibition in The Heseltine Gallery. He co-ordinated a submission of members’ photographs to Amateur Photographer, resulting in an impressive three page spread and a boost for club funds. As a proud father, Jem didn’t forget that the AP staff in their selection had passed over his own photos but had chosen one from his son James.
Members were often Jem’s patients, and when he was ill last year I wrote: “You have helped both of us so much to improve our vision in different ways – Rosemary through Walford and Round and me through all the years in Banbury Camera Club.”