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Online group captures fun of photography and lifts spirits

A fascinating collection of weekly photographic challenges has been created by a Shropshire-based online group.

An Autumn scene by Jody Wilson
An Autumn scene by Jody Wilson

PhotoSoup was set up by talented photographer Jon Morris from Cockshutt, in the midst of the Covid pandemic to help people enjoy their hobby while promoting mental health in lockdown.

At the beginning of 2021 he set a weekly challenge for the members of the group combining tips and advice on one section of photography with a theme for the members to submit two of their own photos.

While some have been involved when time pressures allowed, some have joined in every week.

And they say it has not only helped them to become better photographers it has given them new friends who enjoy the same hobby. Now the group is embarking on its second year and on the lookout for new members.

One of Brian Roberts' bee photos

"I wanted to help people learn all about their cameras and photography all in a safe and friendly environment," Jon said.

Although aimed primarily at beginners and amateurs, PhotoSoup has also welcomed seasoned photographers who want to join in the fun and spark some creativity.

"I wanted to remove any snobbery associated to photography, it shouldn’t matter what kit you have, or even what skill level you are at," Jon explained.

John Cooling's cormorant

"Photography as a hobby is meant to be enjoyed and by the person taking the photo, if someone else likes your work then that’s a complete bonus."

"The first quarter of the challenge is aimed at introducing the basics of your camera and simple principles of photography, such as composition, managing light and core features of your camera - including mobiles - moving into the middle half of the year where more specific topics use the skills learnt. The year is rounded off with some fun, recaps and retrospective work. I often throw in some random games to play in some weeks which result in some very amusing results."

One such week was reproducing famous album covers.

Norma Owen's take on a Diana Ross and the Supremes album cover

"The challenges are open enough that any skill level can still take part, after all it’s just as much fun seeing others work and being inspired from it. There is already a strong community presence with all levels of skill, and the best thing is everyone really encourages and supports each other – the positivity is brilliant."

While many of the members are from Shropshire, others are from as far afield as Cornwall - and even Florida.

Brian Roberts, from Wem, whose bee photos have received plaudits from members, said: "Before I joined the group I was 100 per cent mobile phone camera. I had a DSLR in the cupboard but was so confused with the settings, there it stayed.

"Over the months I have found my way around the settings and it is now my first choice for taking photos. This is down to the friendly way we are shown, through different tasks, how to use the settings."

A landscape by Juanita Lloyd

Jaunita Lloyd said she had spent a long time searching for a photography group that would help to expand her skills and knowledge.

"The groups I found always seemed highly competitive and rarely welcoming and I was too nervous to join.

"PhotoSoup is completely different, it is friendly, supportive, relaxed and fun. Mostly it is welcoming to all abilities."

Anyone interested in getting involved can find PhotoSoup on Facebook or on the website

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