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Photographers working in the dark room and out in the open for decades have hosted Fleet Street journalists, famous artists like David Bailey and beautiful models for generations.

John Phillips opens an iconic photo album which has captured the spirit of Barking Photographic Society since the Forties.

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From humble beginnings at Barking Library in 1948, dedicated photographers have joined forces to become a leading club finding inspiration from high-profile professionals.

Appealing to the novice and the advanced, the Barking Photographic Society has provided a focus point to develop skills in black and white, colour, print photography and digital slide shows.

After the war, the club comprised a group of experimental snappers, almost “mad scientists” who tried their hand at flash photography by building their own flash guns.

Club vice chairman John David, 57, said: “Photography in the Forties was like a science. They experimented and came up with different types of flashes – then they became commercialised.

“They made their own flash guns and their own flash bulbs.

“They were mad scientists, they were all playing with flash guns.”

The photographers continued to thrive and in the Sixties moved from the old library in Ripple Road into their permanent home at Eastbury Manor House, Eastbury Square, Barking.

Like many camera clubs, the artists have staged “model nights” for decades, helping to launch the careers of young women vying to break into the fashion industry.

Mr David said: “We do work with a few of them. These nights are all very respectable.

“We have them two or three times a year. We do their portfolios. We take a few pictures and then they use them.”

Among the shots reproduced by the Post is a picture of the Thames with the London Eye taken by John David at Westminster Bridge in November 2011.

The collection also includes striking snaps taken by one of the club’s photographers, David Hall, who captured Canary Wharf while it was being built, went to Taos in New Mexico in the Nineties and photographed football star Trevor Brooking in 1979.

In the Seventies, the club invited celebrity snappers to give talks in Barking including children’s TV presenter Rolf Harris and David Bailey, who photographed the Krays and has been hailed for helping to capture the “Swinging Sixties”.

A collection of Fleet Street photographers including Monty Fresco of the Daily Mail and Eamonn McCabe of The Observer have also shared their expertise with the dedicated members in Barking.

The editor of Amateur Photographer magazine, Damien Demolder, addressed the group last month.

Mr David, of Hatfield Road, Dagenham, said: “A lot of these photographers came from camera clubs.

“They developed an interest. It was a learning process. A lot of technicians also come from camera clubs.”

Meanwhile, Julian Smith, an expert on street photography, will meet them on March 15 and Harry Tabeart, who has taken photos illustrating the BBC show Wainwright Walks: Coast to Coast, will be at Eastbury on March 22.

The club still uses prints but has fully embraced digital photography, with some members equipped with state-of-the-art 18 megapixel cameras.

The photographers submit shots for internal contests and competitions with other clubs affiliated to the East Anglian Federation of Photographic Societies, covering a vast swathe of England from Norwich to Essex.

The club currently has around 40 members who meet at Eastbury Manor House on Thursdays at 7.30pm.

Annual membership costs £32.50 and the first two visits are free.

n For more information, call the club’s entertainment officer Bryan Tester on 020 8591 1986 or email info@barkingphotographic society.co.uk.

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