A group of photographers caused a stir in Lichfield recently after they descended on the city to capture it on camera.
The event came about after the Birmingham Flickrmeet – a group formed by photographers on the photograph-sharing website Flickr – chose Lichfield as their destination.
One of their members, Lee Jordan, has told The Lichfield Blog about the pictures and the people behind the visit…
“It was an ordinary Sunday afternoon in sunny Lichfield, the newspapers read the date as 10th May 2009 and everything was pretty normal, until a swarm of photographers amassed at Lichfield City train station and gently ambled through the charming streets of the city. What was going on? A celebrity visit, royalty even?
Alas, sadly not, however it was equally as intriguing. A group of photographers, collectively known as the Birmingham Flickrmeet had chosen the city as their venue for a special away day, a break from their normal meet up place. Lichfield District Council had kindly offered to showcase on their website some of the photos taken from the day itself before the day itself. I was there as part of the group and would like to explain just what was going on and what happened on the day and what has happened since.
The local interest was typified by Chris Sinnett, who was part of the group who noted:
“A lady asked me who we were all waiting for, expecting Michael Jackson to turn up I guess. She didn’t really know what to say when I said we were taking pics of the city – ‘Oh, er, that’s nice…’!”
Emma Jones, a photographer in the group added:
“I went into Boots to find staff and customers crowding around the windows, saying ‘look at all the tourists! What’s going on?’”
You might be asking yourself, what exactly are flickrmeets? Well quite simply, they are a coming together in an informal setting, of people with an interest in photography who happen to be part of the hugely popular photo sharing website flickr.com, they are open to everyone at any skill level you just need a camera, any camera.
The Birmingham Flickrmeet group have been going for some considerable time, with an ever growing membership and meet every second Sunday of the month, in Birmingham city centre. They offer a very different take on the idea of photographic societies, which can be quite formal indeed the meets are all about having fun, meeting people and expressing creativity with different forms of photography. Flickrmeets are a global phenomenon and there are plenty of local groups, including flickrmeet local to Lichfield.
Having amassed around 25 people at the train station, we set out on a pre determined route, organised by Tim Ellis, to take in some of the most interesting parts of the city.
Cameras at the ready, all sorts of cameras from the latest Digital SLR’s and compacts down to Box Brownies (or magic picture boxes), the first camera to bring photography to the masses and TtV’s offering a wide range of types of photo effects of similar scenes.
The route took us through quaint narrow ally ways through to the main areas of the city including the Garrick, Corn Exchange and up to the Cathedral and herb gardens. Every so often the group would stop just to take in some of the visual delights, homing in on specific close ups or getting wide angles of scenes, putting a different spin on images of Lichfield.
Lichfield is so scenic and is a joy to photograh and this came through on the day, considering the groups previous location was underneath Spaghetti Junction, the city offered a brilliant contrast. Even though it seemed pretty normal to us, we did manage to kick up quite a stir, everyone was interested this mass of people with all types of cameras, crouching down to take seemingly ordinary photos.
Michelle, another photographer in the group said:
“The ladies eating ice-cream were most bewildered, One asked if we were in some of competition. I told her all about the flickr meets and even gave one of them the link, be interesting to know if she ever looked!”
That’s one of the things I really do like about any flickr meet, there is quite an interest in what we do and when approached we engage with people on the street and explain what we are doing.
An important aspect I think as all too often photographers are told they simply cannot take photos of a subject for an increasingly number of silly reasons that aren’t worth mentioning other than peoples first reaction are to be threatened by a stills camera, despite the always on cluster of CCTV all around! If you are part of a group it removes that suspicion people have that you must be a threat, it’s almost like a college art class outing. In that respect too there is safety in numbers for people to open up and explore places that perhaps they wouldn’t have on their own. The places explored are diverse and the sun shining down on Lichfield brought out some great typically English street scenes.
After the route was walked, the only destination on the mind was a place to get a cool refreshing drink and a chance to discuss the day, and relax with new and long standing friends, before heading home to get the photos processed and uploaded.
Photos from the day can been seen on the flickr tag, bfm0509, clicking this will take you through to a slideshow (a flickr tag is a way of grouping content on the website) and of course the group have their own discussion forum where you can get involved too. Lichfield District Council are also kindly displaying a selection of submitted and filtered photos on their homepage, just refresh the page to see a new photo.
The Birmingham Flickr meet, who have in the past had exclusive access to various places and have attracted the attention of flickr’s own director of community, is part of a number of local active photography groups on the site, you’ll find flickrmeets all over the midlands, so why not dust off the lens cap and join in!”