Why become a member of PSSL
By: Layananda Alles, a member since 2015
As a member of the PSSL, I must disclose that the following are my own views and are not necessarily that of the PSSL.
PSSL is the oldest association in Sri Lanka that has fostered the art of photography, in all its aspects. In the olden days, it did boast the dark room facilities at the Lionel Wendt premises. These facilities were available for the use of the membership. In those days, the primary reason for the membership might have been the facilities available for the aspiring photographers. Then periodically, it held competitions, which gave sufficient reasons for the aspiring photographers to better their craft. I am not sure whether the press photographers became members of the PSSL as the newspapers had their own dark room facilities.
Over the years, with the advent of the digital technologies, photography is now available to all. Selfies are the new norm! So since it is now possible to get very high quality photographs directly from the cameras and even from mobile phones, why would anyone wants to become a member of the PSSL?
I have been a photographer for decades. I consider myself to be a reasonably competent photographer, at least technically. But I always wanted to take good photographers that people generally would want to look at…meaning artistically and visually appealing images using my digital cameras. While I still use my film camera occasionally, most of the time digital media is the way to go. So I do not have much of a need for dark room facilities; in fact I dismantled my own dark room at home. It is too much work!!
Since I am a member, it got me thinking as to why would anyone want to pay and become a member of the PSSL. In my opinion, there are two types of people who would like to be associated with the PSSL.
The first type would be those who engage in photography as a hobby, and would like to improve their skill set by observing others, and by participating at various meetings to gather knowledge. PSSL host a wide variety of get togethers on many subjects associated to photography. The ability to interact with others with similar interests is a major factor.
The second type of person would be the one with the competitive edge, wishing to excel at competitions hosted by the PSSL, both nationally and internationally.
Then there are the professional photographers, while not specifically excluded in terms of membership, might not find much interest in obtaining the membership, as they have their own professional governing bodies. But then there are many members who use photography as an occupation for purposes of marketing, specializations such as archeology and architecture and of course wild life.
For those who wish to become better photographers, what are the avenues available at the PSSL.
Those who are starting photography, there are many courses available at the PSSL.The main objective of these courses are to provide an effective foundation to become good photographers. The various courses aim at ensuring technical proficiency, in terms of controlling light, exposures, depth of field etc. But many of these course also ensure that the images are correctly framed to improve the viewing appeal. These course issue certificates that documents the level of proficiency.
Then there are other courses that take the artistic expressions even further. This could include framing, subject positioning lighting etc to impart the artistic appeal to the images. These are often given by photographers, who have won awards at various competitions and who have the experience to judge images with such appeal. The ‘Capture This’ competition held each month forces the budding photographers to think, and take photographs with specific purpose, to communicate ideas, rather than just take thousands of photographs hoping that some of them might hit the jackpot! Such is the modus operandi for many photographers these days. There are practical courses for specialized areas such as fashion photography. Often there are critiquing session associated with the practical sessions. These are extremely important to those wanting to improve the craft.
With this specific attitude focussed at the PSSL, the hobby photographers soon learn to become more discriminating photographers. In place of just taking photographs, they learn to become very ‘purpose driven’ photographers; photography now becomes a medium for thinking. Developing the attributes of patience, to get that right moment. Meditative aspects to appreciate a situation before pressing that button becomes paramount.
This is a significant departure and a attitude of life to becoming an effective photographer. These are very good reasons to associate in an active manner with the PSSL and its activities. The PSSL thus allows one to improve the visual acuity that many of us with eyes have, but often fail to use. It is said that the good photographers ‘see things’ that the others often miss.
Of course, quite a few get into the next stage of developing material for competitions both local and international. PSSL is extremely active in this area. Many of the judges and the activities are geared for propelling those who have reached the second stage described above, to the ultimate goal of winning at the competitions. PSSL is an excellent platform for learning the tips and tricks to position photographs for winning at competitions.
Then of course, the PSSL also have specialist groups for those who wish to specialize in specific areas of photography. From Wild Life (a very popular group), fashion photography to street photography and creative photography are some such groups. Participating in these groups give opportunities to learn as well as practice.
Even during Covid pandemic days, many of these groups have been very active via the ZOOM technology. This technology not only allows those at close proximity to Colombo, where many of the face to face meetings are held at the Lionel Wendt premises, to participate, but also people from all across Sri Lanka and those living abroad to participate. In fact, face to face meetings could also be held at regional locations, if the will is there to organize such regional meetings from time to time.
So there are a multitude of reasons why it is profitable to become a member of the PSSL. The comraderie and the social interactions with others with similar mindsets and interests is definitely an added bonus!
It is a lot of fun.