Chat Lines with Tony Myers FRPS – Interviewing Martin Reece MBE ARPS

Article by Tony Myers FRPS

I first met Martin when we were both fire-fighters  in Liverpool Fire brigade  over  30 years  ago. While having a chat between shifts, we learned that we  both had a strong interest in  photography.  Shortly afterwards I mentioned  to Martin that I was a member of the  South Liverpool  Photographic  Society  and about  all the many activities, competitions, group field trips and the many lecturers that visited the  club that went towards giving the club the  very high  standard  of  photography in the  many competitions that were held,  shortly afterwards  Martin  signed  up and  got the competition  bug. The club then were meeting at the Electric Supply club in Wavetree.

Martin’s  first camera as a teenager was called a Ilford Sportsman but when he started work as a Firefighter he soon purchased a  very high  quality camera and  lenses made by  Contax , which had a Leica  look about it  .  Martin decided to go down the  slides route , which were then printed as very high quality and costly Cibachrome prints . Martin was  a very competitive  member and  often submitted  26 prints in the  Annual competition and regularly ended up often amongst the  prize winners .

He entered North West competitions  and  remembers winning the North Cheshire print challenge and also gaining  a  Associate Distinction with the Royal Photographic Society helped by myself and the great Reg Coleman FRPS .

Martin has  served in most  positions on the committee along with a number of other members who have  worked very hard  to keep the high standards that we have today including  President on a number of occasions .   During the  past few  years  the committee have brought some of the top photo journalists  namely  Eamon McCabe  top sports photographer , Dennis Thorpe 40 years a photo journalist with the  Guardian and local sports  journalist Steve Hale.

Martin  enjoys the  social  side of the club and mentioned the  year the members went to London for a weekend to see the History of Photography at the Royal Academy of Art , it had some of the  world’s best photographs from 100 years plus.  During the Saturday evening the  group ended up at a Turkish restaurant which we were pleasantly entertained  by the regular  belly dancers. The  next morning at breakfast  a few of our members  seemed a bit worse  for  wear , however the exhibition was excellent , a real one off.   There was also the great club trip to Venice which Martin arranged everyone had a great time. One memory from this trip he will not forget was seeing Eric Garnett and Ian Kemp sitting on chairs in the middle of a very misty St Marks Square at 2am in the morning. The only regret that he did not have his camera to record the event which was the end of a great evening where some alcohol had been taken.

Martin spoke of the loss of  some of our  past members no longer with us , Reg Coleman and especially Eric Garnett a really outstanding photographer who was  always  willing to help others.

Martin has for many years been living with the Medical condition M E , which has often impacted on his general well being and his subsequent  committee  duties and the  amount of travelling  he was  capable of carrying out . Following help from a German Doctor at the Walton Centre at Aintree Hospital Martin’s condition is now better managed and allowing him to catch up on travel and wanderlust.

Since standing down as President  he has  had a lot  more time to visit a number of his favourite countries on photographic expeditions including Italy,  Switzerland ,   America’s  Yosemite National park, Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, many members will have received his images that he sent out almost on a daily basis from his travels .

A recent visit to Iceland

A recent visit to Iceland

"Tree, Yosemite Valley" by Martin Reece

“Tree, Yosemite Valley” by Martin Reece

He is now very busy planning trips  with professional travel guide photographer  Paul Gallagher on a 1 to 1  situation ,  planning trips  next  year to  New York, Portland, San Francisco and meeting up with Paul for another Yosemite workshop .

Talking about his proudest moments  …….  “I was awarded the MBE (Member of the British Empire) in the Queens New Years Honours list in 2002, this is one of the levels of  The most excellent Order of the British Empire. This was awarded in recognition of my work both in the Fire Service and specifically for my role as a Trustee and Director of The Firefighters Charity. This was bestowed upon me by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace later that year.”

Martin Reece receiving MBE

Martin Reece receiving MBE

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Finally  I would  say  Martin  has continually  worked  to improve  and to keep up the  high  level  of photography at the  South Liverpool Photographic  Society  a club that is  recognised  across the North West.

Tony Myers