The office of the UBC Photo Society is tucked away on the bottom floor of the Life Building. Walking down the bright yellow staircase, passing the ARC fitness center, you might never realize that behind the plain white door lies an active photo developing lab and an even more active group of passionate student photographers.
I was greeted at the office by my friend Joe. He’s a talented photographer currently in his 4th year of a Human Geography Major and African Studies Minor. He also acts as the Darkroom Manager for the club.
He showed me around the place, introduced me to the smiling faces, and then handed me a camera. To document the occasion, I took a photograph of him that he’d later teach me how to develop.
A long history
The UBC Photo Society proudly advertises themselves as one of the oldest clubs on campus; however, they briefly disbanded a few years back. Since then, the new executive team has been working hard to rebuild the club and they’ve done a remarkable job.
As Joe says, “Interest is actually growing, more recently. People are starting to come to realize that it’s important to have a physical product that you can hold,” be that a camera model or a printed photo.
UBC President Santa Ono is also a supporter of the Photo Society. “He bought a membership a few weeks ago, actually, which was really cool,” Joe says. He even invited the members of the executive team to his house for dinner, a sign of support that they all greatly appreciated. Some of his photography can be found on his Instagram (maybe he’s been getting tips from some helpful PhotoSoc members).
A supportive environment
According to Joe, the best way to get involved with the Photo Society is to “come say hi and sign up for a membership.” There are several options for membership, but an all-inclusive pass costs $70 for the year. That provides access to all PhotoSoc events and workshops, gear rentals, and the darkroom.
Whether you’re the next Ansel Adams, or a total photography novice, there is a place for you at the Photo Society. “Anyone of any skill level can join. I’ve found that everyone is so welcoming. It’s really a space to learn,” said Joe, “I think that’s at the centre of what we’re trying to do here: to create a space where people can grow with photography and also start from the bottom and learn.
“Anything you really want to do, we try to support it.”
A place to capture your UBC memories
In an age where pictures can be snapped and deleted with the click of a button, the Photo Society encourages members to remember the craft and art of photography.
“For me, it’s about the whole process from composing my photo, taking my photo, and then coming into the darkroom, working with all the equipment here, and getting my final product,” Joe remarks.
After leaving Room 009, I realized precisely why the Photo Society has remained such a lasting presence on campus. Their welcoming attitude, patience, and expertise truly foster a community that offers something for everyone, be that buffing up your VSCO, or researching which camera to take on your semester abroad.
University is a fleeting experience full of incredible moments, and PhotoSoc teaches the skills to capture them.