In June Creative Camera Club (CCC) celebrated their 20th birthday with bubbly and other suitable drinks, as well as an amusing walk down memory lane by one of their founding members, Riaz Ismail. Lt Col (Dr) Ismail – to give him his full titles – is still a club member after joining in June 2002, when the club was founded.

CCC club chair Jane Bursey, founding member Riaz Ismail, and long-term active member Doug Young.

He is not only a medical doctor but earned his military rank as manager of the 2 Military Hospital in Cape Town, where the first members of the Creative Camera Club met. As the club’s strapline – Where imagination becomes art – and name indicates, the founding members discussed forming a club catering for more artistic photographers when they met during a black and white darkroom course. Doug Young, who joined in 2009, and Chris Kinross, who joined a few years later, are the two longest-term currently active members.

They originally met in the Military Hospital’s Officer’s Mess as a “small informal group to get together to teach people how to shoot and get the most out of their equipment,” recounts Riaz, who was one of the photographers who presented beginner’s courses for new club members. “We chose the name Creative Camera Club because we wanted people to develop their creative side and create images from light and shadow.”

Club members Vanda and Chris Herselman with Shane Brennan (right), who is the Image Master and designer of their unique online newsletter.

Club structures were soon formalised, and members came together to look at the three print images they were allowed to enter in competitions – the club still have these three competition categories: from the Photoshoot, Open and Creative.

Top club photographer Michele-Ann Nel multitasks behind the pub bar during the break.

They eventually moved to the Wynberg High School and nowadays meet in the Wynberg Underwater Club – where the refreshments the club pub offer is a sure drawcard.

Riaz shared many anecdotes from the club’s history – for example, memorable outings like the model shoot when they showed several judges the same image … which was given a score from 14 to 25,  a visit to Butterfly World when the photographers were allowed to enter early while the butterflies were still too cold to fly around, and how the youngest member was chosen as the librarian who had to carry the big black box with books and materials from meeting to meeting.

Club members Stan Cohen and Kembo Sithole share a joke.

Among the many stalwarts he mentioned, were portrait photographer Susan Crichton-Stuart, Zakariya, who wrote software to show images when the digital era arrived, Brian Barci who went on outings in an old Beetle, Alan Marlowe, Angus Rule, who served as chairman, and Rachel, now a blogger known as Tipsygypsey, who started the club website.

“One evening a member from CTPS came to show us AVs,” Riaz recounts. Those days slides were shown on a complicated system that involved as many as two projectors and sound systems. “It took about two hours to set up the show that was over in ten minutes!”

Over the years the club cultivated many talented photographers. In June this year Michele-Ann Nel became the club’s first member to be promoted to Master Bronze level. Chris Kinross’ image Backyard brawl, depicting two black-backed jackals squabbling at Polentswa waterhole was selected as one of the Africa Geographic Top 101 Images. This year Creative was the Western Cape Club that this year gained the highest cumulative score in the monthly PSSA Junior Club Competition – the third highest score in the country.

Which bodes well for the next twenty years in the club’s history!