Dave Wall and Soulla Petrou are also Photoshop devotees but for completely different reasons. For Dave, digital image manipulation has set free his wacky imagination way beyond the normal restrictions of commercial photography.
His highly inventive workshop encouraged delegates to 'think outside the box' in order to create stand-out images that dare to be different. Soulla, on the other hand, shoots flawless ('cleaned up' in Photoshop!) beauty and fashion images though she has been known to 'create' the odd bit of surrealism for image-conscious record labels.
Her workshops were a delightfully spontaneous mixture of professional confidence and creative hesitancy - rather like watching a chef making up and cooking a new recipe at the same time.
Finally, likeable Canadian Walt Malone gave a persuasive workshop on how to enter and win competitions and awards. A serial competitor himself, Walt explained why and what you should enter, what judges look for, how to stand out and, of course, how to give yourself the best chance of winning!
All of which segues neatly into PTO's own print competition. Once again as judges, the lecturers gave a masterly demonstration of criticism which managed to be constructive without being hurtful. But as always there could only be one overall winner: this year it was Irishman Paul Callaghan whose unusual take on wedding photography caught the judges' eye.
Paul was also onstage at one of the evening seminars when the 'Irish Five' entertained us with a rich variety of images and a fair bit of blarney from the Emerald Isle. In other evening sessions, Paul Mizzi talked us through and illustrated his impressive photo business in Malta, while Eileen Mason explained why her Midlands social studio is so successful. Finally, website creator Darren Hartas gave an information-packed talk on how to make sure your website appears at or near the top on search pages.
So now it only remains to thank the organisers, PTO team, trade exhibitors and sponsors, and models. As ever special mention goes to the tireless technical team of Pete and Margaret Rogers who toiled behind the scenes to ensure that all the lecturers had their requisite equipment and that the frequent digital AV's - often featuring Pete's own beguiling creations - ran like clockwork.
Considering that many now-famous photographers got their initial inspiration from past PTO's, perhaps the final word should go to Malcolm Cole, an amateur from Swindon Photographic Society. "PTO? I love it, I wouldn't miss it for the world," he declared. "Several of my friends are already semi-pro and I want to go part-time to start my career as a photographer, the inspiration and help you receive on a PTO is enormous." Good luck to him.
The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
You have 194 days until The Societies of Photographers Convention starting on Wednesday 20th January 2021