Behind the scenes at the exhibition

SPS Annual Open Exhibition in the Wayfarers
Picture: Dave Noble

The Southport Photographic Society Annual Exhibition is now in it's 65th Year. Most people coming to Southport to view the exhibition will see the final accepted images nicely displayed in the Wayfarers Arcade in Lord Street. But few will appreciate the time and effort that the members of the Society commit each year to produce the exhibition.

Our club archivist, Tony Thompson, followed the preparations for the 2012 Exhibition to record how it is put together.

September to November

Preaparation begins in September when the Exhibition team meets to plan the next year's Exhibition. The Wayfarers Arcade and Christ Church are approached to confirm the dates that the exhibition can be staged, an application is made to the PAGB for patronage of the exhibition and the judges and local dignitaries are invited.

In November the Exhibition website is updated with the new details and opened for entries. Notification e-mails are sent out to the previous years entrants informing them that the webiste is open for entries.

December and January

Peter Pauwels loading DPI entries from CD's
Picture: Peter Pauwels

Website entries are downloaded and processed electronically and any paper entries are manually keyed into the Exhibition database. As the images are delivered they are checked against the entries. Once the entries have been checked, the prints and any DPI images received are passed to the Print and DPI teams to prepare for judging.

The prints are labelled with unique sequence numbers produced from the entry database, checked and collated ready for judging.

All DPI images uploaded on-line are downloaded from the website and CD entries processed and electronically labelled ready to be read into DiCentra, the judging software.

When all the entries have been processed a check is made to ensure that all images have been received and processed against the entries expected to ensure that none have been overlooked.

The exhibition can expect to receive and process over 5000 images for the exhibition.

February - Judging

Picture: Tony Thompson

Judging takes place over three days. Two days for the prints and Nature DPI at Holy Trinity Church, Southport and one day for the open digital classes at the West Lancashire Yacht Club.

Each session starts at 9.30am and can finish as late as 18:00 depending on the number of entries received.

The marks are recorded against each entry and totals checked after each stage to ensure that no errors have been made during the selection process. Finally the accepted images are reviewed by the judges and the awards are allocated.

Click here to view pictures taken during this year's selection process.

After a final check of the accepted images, the results are published and the entrants informed of their marks either by e-mail or by post.

Febuary - Preparing the Exhibition.

Mike Pollitt colour matches the prints for the Catalogue
Picture: Tony Thompson

Immediately after the judging phase has finished the final preprarations are started to preprare the exhibition. Image titles are checked and the labels (corners) are printed to identify each image in the catalogue.

A list of the entrants' names who have won trophies is produced and sent to the engravers so that the names can be engraved on the trophies.

A draft of the catalogue is produced and checked and then sent to the printers for printing.

Certificates are printed for each award winner.

The accepted DPI images are extracted, sequenced and then edited to produce the DVD for the accepted images.

Constructing the Exhibition in the Wayfarers

Moving the stands
Picture: Tony Thompson

The display stands have to be collected and inspected for signs of wear and repaired where necessary. They are then transferred to the Wayfarers Arcade ready for erection.

Hanging the images for the exhibition takes place in the Wayfarers over two days prior to the opening.

The short time lapse video below shows the exhibition being built over a 6 hour period by the Society members.

Time lapse video showing the erection of the exhibition in the Wayfarers 9th and 10th March 2012
Picture: Dave Noble

The Opening Ceremony

The Awards laid out ready to be presented
Picture: Tony Thompson

The opening ceremony is held in Christ Church on Lord Street, just across the road from the Wayfarers. 

Now (for some) comes the hard bit. The Exhibition has been hung, the DPI images presentation has been prepared and the catalogues printed. The award winners will have travelled from all over the country to receive their award personally. The club officers will have put on their best suits and ties to greet the dignatories.

One by one the award winners have their awards presented by The Worshipful the Mayor of Sefton.  For some young photographers this will be their first award, for others it will be one of many awards received over the years.

Once the awards have been presented, the Mayor of Sefton formally opens the Exhibition and after some well earned refreshments the dignitaries are invited to view the Exhibition.

Visitors to the arcade will stop and view the accepted images during the three weeks that the exhibition is displayed enjoying the wide variety of the images displayed.


The Society would like the following indviduals and organisations who helped to stage the exhibition.

  • The Wayfarers Arcade, Lord Street for allowing us to stage the exhibition.
  • The judges for travelling to Southport to select the images for the exhibition.
  • Christ Church, Lord Street for us to hold the opening ceremony
  • Holy Trinity Church and West Lancashire Yacht Club for the use of their facilities for judging the images
  • Sefton Borough Council, Lytham St Annes PS and Formby Parish Council for the use of the display stands and brackets.
  • Rotary Club of Southport Links for supporting the Young Photographers Competition.

We would particularly like to thank all the members of the Society for all the time and effort they have put in to help to stage the exhibition, with out whom none of this would be possible.


Staged with the Patronage of the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain and British Photographic Exhibitions, Crown Awards & Distinctions.
The Young Photographers Competition is supported by The Rotary Club of Southport Links.
Exhibition facilities courtesy of the Wayfarers Arcade,  Lord Street, Southport PR8 1NT