How it all started!
In January 1986, George and Glenys Dawber went on their usual annual family holiday – normally taken in January since they are busy social photographers. This particular year they chose to visit Tenerife where they met no less than eight photographers, all familiar to them, and all wanting to talk about photography – during their holiday week. It was clear to George and Glenys that when photographers are together, all they discuss is photography! This led to a new idea: a more formalised combination of holiday, socialising, discussion and learning about photography.
The week long Photo Training Overseas takes place annually, normally at the end of January, and is completely organised, administered and promoted by George and Glenys from their Garden Studio in Stockport, Cheshire. Peter and Margaret Rogers act as equipment and transport coordinators and advisors during the build-up period and once in the resort they look after stage management.
The first overseas course held in Tunisia in 1986 was under the sole sponsorship of Fuji Film (UK) Ltd and equipment sourcing and transportation was in the capable hands of Peter Rogers. The popular and successful Fuji Professional School of Photography was George’s brainchild and was officially launched to the photographic press during this first-ever event, which was attended by approximately 80 people. For the next five years Fuji continued to be the sole sponsors of what was principally a social photography course. In 1989 it was again held in Tunisia followed by Cyprus in 1990. Even the intervention of the Gulf War in 1991 could not stop the march of this successful overseas event. The Foreign Office banned British flights in or out of Cyprus literally 2 days before the group were due to fly out. However, organisers George & Glenys Dawber quickly and dramatically arranged for the group to switch to Tenerife in less than 48 hours!
1993 saw the group visit Lanzarote another of the popular Canary Islands. It was after the 1993 event – when recession was hitting everyone quite hard – that Fuji decided to withdraw as sole sponsors. George and Glenys decided to continue the course and it was re-named and re-launched as Photo Training Overseas; a broader programme was introduced and other companies were invited to participate as sponsors. Joining Fuji – who remained as a sponsoring company and continue to do so to this day – for the 1994 return to Lanzarote were Colab; Hargreaves Photographic and Spicer Hallfield. In 1995 the group visited Cyprus, in 1996 and 1997 Tunisia was the destination, in 1998 Malta with Madeira in 1999. You will note the quality and quantity of manufacturing and service companies now supporting PTO, and the consistency in the number of people attending. For example in Cyprus during 2000 the group numbered 142; in 2001 in Fuerteventura 146 attended, in January 2002 in Marbella 143 and in Tunisia 2003, 172 attended. However, 2004 in Lanzarote was an all-time record with over 200 people attending. For Cyprus In 2005 the group reached over 150 but only 103 made the trip to Madeira in 2006. In 2007 PTO chose Agadir in Morocco as the venue where 142 people attended! The next venue saw a return to the previously popular Rubicon Palace Hotel in Lanzarote, however numbers were down to just over 100 but the atmosphere was electric and everyone who attended took many positives from a great bunch of speakers back to the UK from the sun blessed week. The formula appears to be right, with top speakers from a varied cross-section of photography sharing their skills and knowledge freely during a relaxing week, which always generates tremendous camaraderie amongst delegates, speakers and sponsors alike.
2009 saw the group venturing to Egypt for the first time to Taba Heights wonderful weather in an isolated area. In 2010 the group went for the first time to Turkey – fabulous hotel but awful weather! So in 2011 by popular demand meant a return to Egypt, this time to Hurghada at the Mamlouk Palace Hotel – a quite superb venue and event, despite the riots in Cairo and surrounding area! For the 25th anniversary event Tunisia was the destination, this was of course where it all started in 1988 and the course returned to its roots as it were. A great week of training with some superb tutors who helped to create a fantastic atmosphere for all to enjoy.
2013 took PTO to Lanzarote. As always there was a great selection of speakers and a fantastic week was had by all.
2014 Fuerteventura was the destination and over 90 people in the group had a week of intensive training and great camaraderie.
2015 saw the group in Tenerife, for a great week of training and networking.
2016 saw the group re-visit Lanzarote and the beautiful resort of Playa Blanca.
2017 was held in the the magical destination of CUBA.
2018 was held in Madeira.
2019 will be the final PTO after 33 wonderful years and will take place in Mexico.