From A Land Down Under


An esteemed visitor from Australia, Barry Whisson, was in our midst on this year’s opening night and Margaret Kay took the opportunity to talk to him.

Among the many new faces at the first night of the club on Monday September 6 were two visitors from Australia, Barry and Jill Whisson. On holiday in Dundee for a few weeks to stay with their son, a Senior Researcher at SCRI, they had been in touch with DPS to see if it would be possible to attend one of our meetings, as Barry is a keen photographer and president of their local club, the Toowoomba Photographic Society. Toowoomba is a city of over 120,000 inhabitants, about 80 miles west of Queensland’s capital, Brisbane. It’s Australia’s second largest inland city and is about 2000ft above sea level.

Toowoomba Photographic Society is one of the oldest clubs in Australia, founded on the 22nd May 1905. In the early 1900s when the Australian Photographic Society was being formed it needed 100 Foundation Members in order to come into existence. Ten of those came from the Toowoomba Society. Nowadays there are over 70 members, some of whom hold RPS distinctions. Meetings are held twice monthly – a general meeting and a digital group meeting alternately. Speakers and instruction evenings are an important part of the syllabus, and the club’s 12-month calendar runs from October-September.

Most months there’s a competition, either a set subject or open. It’s divided into three grades – novice, ‘B’ and ‘A’, with the most experienced photographers entered into the ‘A’ grade. Generally there are about 30 prints entered into competitions, but the majority of the entries – 60 to 70 – are entered as projected images, either digital or slides. Members of the Society also enjoy photographic outings – field days – which are held at weekends. The Carnival of Flowers, Toowoomba Show and Anzac Day are regular annual field days, and along with outings to other photographic locations they take place about once a month. And though there’s no formal tuition on these outings, it’s a useful way for beginners to learn by seeing the more experienced photographers in action.

The Society frequently plays host to State and National photographic conventions and members are encouraged to enter a wide range of external competitions, both locally and interstate. Such has been the quality of members’ work over the years that several have also entered International competitions. At the moment there are no less than three presidents attending the club – Barry Whisson himself (the present President of TPS), plus the President of the Australian Photographic Society, and the President of the Queensland Photographic Society.

You can see some of the work of the members on the Toowoomba Society’s website ( The president of the Australian Photographic Society, Graham Burstow AFIAP FRPS FAPS Hon FAPS, is renowned for his Social Documentary images, some of which can be seen on the APS website ( Another member, Keith Power, produces stunning macro images of insects (for more of his work Google his name).

It was fascinating to meet Barry and compare notes, but unfortunately he was only able to attend DPS once as the start of our season coincided with the end of his holiday. However, hopefully we’ll be able to welcome him and Jill back again sometime in the future.

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