When I finished paid employment a couple of years back I no longer had any excuse for not joining the Ipswich Institute. A good neighbour of mine had mentioned the organisation’s benefits to me for a few years. Well, she was right, and I should have joined years ago! Many readers will be members of this local institution which, like the Society, is a registered charity. It was founded in 1824 with the aim of ‘making knowledge available to the “artisans” of Ipswich and encouraging their general and vocational education’. It continues as an educational charity to this day and is open to all who choose to join. It has a well-stocked library, café and restaurant and provides a variety of courses covering many subjects including music, art, languages, leisure learning and organises education trips and lectures. Its two buildings are each an oasis of calm in our, usually, busy town centre.

Having joined, I met a former colleague and friend who recommended the photography courses to me. My first course was titled ‘Get to know your camera’. The course tutor, Keith Locke, takes you through all the basic principles of digital photography and gets you to move away from the ‘auto’ function on your camera dial. Indeed, by week two you realise the word ‘auto’ is a forbidden word!

Course students can then move on to ‘out and about’ courses. These again meet weekly over the duration of a ‘school term’ spending alternative sessions out on location with the following week back in the classroom where the students critique each other’s best photos using a screen and projector. Much is learned during these feedback sessions from the course tutor and each other. For myself, it has taught me to look at everyday views available in this great town and county of ours and try to capture something of interest. I have always owned a camera but previously used one for holiday and family snaps. I will never make a true photographer but I now have a hobby to pursue and a new group of friends with whom I enjoy that hobby. Your editor has been generous in publishing a few of my photographs. You can be the judge of my success or otherwise, I just enjoy being out in the fresh air taking them. Let’s hope we can all get out in our town and county again soon.

Graham Smith

All photographs by Graham Smith

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Above: our back cover for the extra mid-May issue, 2020.