By Tom Morack
I’ve had a camera several years now. I sometimes haven’t touched it for several weeks at a time. Eventually, I realized my pictures all looked the same. I wanted to make my images look better, but I didn’t know how. What to do? I joined the Cookeville Camera Club earlier this year. The club meets monthly in Cookeville. The members have widely varied photography skills, from beginners to master photographers, so I fit right in. Everyone in the club is generous with their time and more than willing to answer questions from newcomers like me.
There were several reasons I joined the Cookeville Camera Club. I had always wanted to join a camera club, but there wasn’t one nearby until I moved to the Cookeville area. I was anxious to move beyond shooting in “auto” mode and learn the manual controls of my camera. I wanted to have more control over creation of my images. I wanted to find a place where I could get constructive feedback on the quality of my images, so I could learn from it and improve my results.
I have discovered new ideas and new methods from the club members, as well as from the guest speakers. All types of photography are open for discussion in the club. Variety is the spice of life. The club can help you to become a better photographer, whether you have a hundred dollar camera or one costing thousands. It’s not the camera that takes photographs, it’s the photographer.
At our club picnic held last month, we brought our cameras and got some lessons from several club members. There were three stations set up where we could learn new skills. One was light painting in almost total darkness. This consisted of lighting the subject to be photographed, with various colored flashlights, which created some amazing effects. The second station was set up to make “ghost” portraits, using long exposures to make the people in the portraits look almost see-through, or ghostly. The third station was a makeshift portrait “studio”, for lessons in portraiture. This consisted of the Club’s recently purchased portrait lighting system. It was the hit of the party!
The Club is involved with several events and photo opportunities every year. There are local photo opportunities, as well as trips to locations around the state. The annual exhibit at the Cumberland Art Society gallery is a popular show, where attendees can vote for their favorite images. The Club manages the photography competition at the Putnam County Fair. The Club also has a booth at Cookeville’s Fall Fun Fest, where we sell notecards made with member-donated photographs and run a photo booth. Getting out with fellow photographers can be a valuable learning experience and loads of fun. Coming in September, the Club will contribute recent images to the Cookeville History Museum’s “Then and Now” exhibit.
The Club holds bi-monthly photo contests in which members can compete with each other for recognition within the Club. The judges of these contests, as well as members, give valuable critiques of the submitted photos, which helps a photographer learn how to improve his or her images. At non-contest meetings, guest speakers share their expertise and experience several times a year.
Joining the Cookeville Camera Club has been a wonderful experience for me. I encourage everyone to come check us out! Our web site is loaded with information, and our meetings are open to the public.