The former head of the Disabled Photographers’ Society (DPS) plans to set up a breakaway organisation following a row sparked by the controversial closure of its photographic studio.

As we reported last week the society shut down the Bristol-based studio telling us that it was used by a ‘disproportionately small’ number of its 500 members and did not justify its running costs.

But the move led to the departure of then chairman Shirley Britton who had campaigned to keep the studio open.

Acting chairman Tom Molloy said the studio brought in just £1,000 a year and claimed that keeping it open would have put the future of the society in jeopardy.

Since leaving the society, Britton claims she has received emails from 25 DPS members who also plan to leave. ‘It [the studio] was never supposed to be an income generator. It was supposed to be a fundraiser,’ she told Amateur Photographer.

Britton said she is setting up a separate organisation, called Photographers with Disabilities, and is in the process of registering a new website.

She hopes to raise £15,000 to set up a separate studio within the same building – at the Vassall Centre in Fishponds – raising funds by staging local photographic events and, nationally, via the new website.

Britton insists that the charity has a healthy bank balance boosted by donations of £1,000 from Tesco and £970 from Leica when the studio was set up two years ago.

She added that, because the studio was also open to outside users, it brought in additional cash donations, plus equipment from camera clubs worth £2,500.

Commenting on the closure she told us: ‘It was quick and very painful. But, if we’d sat around the table I am sure we could have sorted this out.’

The society was formed in 1968. Its first members were three ex-servicemen who had an interest in photography but, owing to their disabilities, were unable to use conventional cameras.


Disabled photographers close national studio