Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Local Clubs – Toastmasters & Photography

Finding a local club in an area you are passionate about is a great way to meet local people who share your passions, make new friends and learn from each other.  Travelling gave me a chance to realise more fully the things I was passionate about – writing, public speaking, the great outdoors and photography were at the top of this list.  Before I left on my travels, I had pursued my love for bush walking by joining Trekfa, a bush walking club in Northern Sydney but now it was time to pursue other passions..

On my return to work I found that a corporate Toastmasters Club had been started at my office.  It was a young club and was having a hard time attracting and keeping members who were too distracted by their lives to dedicate time to developing a skill which would help in more areas than most people realised.  Toastmasters not only helps give you self confidence in public speaking  but develops leadership skills, impromptu speaking skills, enables you to listen and evaluate speeches and also helps develop your creative writing!  One of my favourite segments is Table Topics where you are given a topic of which you have no prior knowledge to which you speak for 2 minutes.  It was quite a surprise to enter my club competition for this segment and end up winning the competition and to then realise I would have to represent my club at the area competition!!  While I didn’t go any further in the competition, it gave me a taste for the competitive side of public speaking although my real passion is to eventually become an effective motivational and inspirational speaker!

While hanging up my photos for my exhibition at the Hornsby Library, I was fortunate to meet Sean Collins, the president of the Hornsby Heights Photographic Club.  He came along to my launch and invited me to the launch of their own exhibition, held at the library a month later.  Sean also invited me to join their club and after thinking about my time commitments, I decided to go along.  It has turned out to  be a really fun experience and in the short time I have been there, I have met new people and been introduced to many opportunities in Sydney to grow my love of photography.  The club has a competition each month to which you submit photos in 4 categories ranging from monochrome, to prints to digital.  The photos are judged by independent qualified photographers who award you a merit or a high commendation.  In my two visits, I have already collected my fair share of merits and commendations and feel I am already learning about how to go from taking a good photograph to a great one!  We had a professor of photography visit the last time and I was quite thrilled when he picked up one of my photographs and said – now here’s a photograph with punctum!  While the word is latin for puncture or wound, it was used by Roland Barthes in Camera Lucida (1980), to describe how he feels touched by certain photographs, because of incidental details which trigger emotionally charged personal associations, unrelated to the meaning of photographs as culturally determined.
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The judge kept reminding us of the importance of triggering a reaction in our audience and also that we should be trying to convey a story and that a photograph should have depth rather than being just a holiday snap.  I went home happy in the knowledge that I seem to be on the right track to capturing a bit of punctum…!

JPEGS  2010 12 28 Paulet Island-29

“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off… They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating.” - Pearl Buck

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