The start of something big

by Kendal McDonald

Reproduced from the Evening News. Weds. December 6th, 1967 and in focus 34 (September 1989)

I have just seen a society formed. Not a very impressive statement? Well, just how many societies have you seen formed – actually been there when the rules were drawn up, the subscription decided, and the very first chairman elected.

Can you stand outside some magnificant building in the heart of London and say proudly ‘Yes, attended the very first meeting y’know. Course we never thought that from that humble beginning would come all this…’?

Well I can’t actually do that yet either, but I can see it all coming in the future – the great sweeping marble staircase up to the main salon … the busts of past presidents lining the alcoves on either side … the queue of young hopefuls submitting their work in desparate attempts to gain admission to the ranks of the immortals.

Of course, one or two of us had this future state of things well in mind when we voted for the title of the new society. The British Society of Underwater Photographers. Sounds just right for such an august body.

Actually, our first meeting was in a nice house in North London and there is no sign of the Corinthian building that will be our final home. But it will come. Mind you, we’re not a pompous lot. We noted with glee for example that our initials spelt B SOUP. Well, that’s all right. Not only does it accurately describe the conditions that we and our cameras often meet beneath the surface of the seas around our coasts but a nickname is usually a good clue to popularity.

Basically the idea of the society is to get all those who are interested in photography underwater together and give them a central clearing house for their ideas. And there are more of these diving-photographers than you would think. Some 20 of us gathered in North London and some of those present had driven from Brighton. Most had won prizes for their photographs taken underwater. Together they present an array of experience and skill that it would be hard to beat.

They plan to put this combined knowledge at the disposal of anyone who wishes to join. For example: Anyone who wants to know about techniques of photographing the giant basking sharks that enter our seas should speak to Colin Doeg, our first chairman. He’s done it. Anyone who wants to know how to take super close-ups of a starfish should talk to Geoff Harwood, who was elected ‘Underwater Photographer of the Year’ at the Brighton conference of the British Sub-Aqua Club last year.

Anyone who wants to know about equipment, such as a housing to waterproof your own pet camera, should talk to another committee member, Tim Glover. Anyone who wants to know about colour printing of those fabulous underwater scenes should speak to the new secretary Peter Scoones. Ask him, too, about photographing the poisonous lion fish in the Red Sea and he’ll tell you. The experience of all those experts is not confined to British waters. They own, without doubt, the finest collection of underwater photographs shot in this country’s seas. But their collection probably has just as many showing the marine life of other countries in the world.