PITTSFIELD - A lot has changed in the world of photography over the last 75 years. Ancient bulky cameras have been replaced with slim digital versions. Careful light and focus requirements can now be made with point-and-shoot accuracy. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the passionate affair many of us have with our cameras.
A love of photography is currently on display in "The Big Picture," an exhibit of the Berkshire Museum’s active Camera Club, now celebrating its 75th anniversary. The show closes Sunday, Sept 16.
"All the club members share an enthusiasm and passion for the medium of photography, and the long standing relationship with the museum is something alone worth celebrating," said Maria Mingalone, director of interpretation and co-curator of the exhibition. "That’s also why we felt it was important to support every member who submitted work."
The exhibition represents the work of 36 members of the club, taking viewers on journies through the four seasons, around the globe, through the deserts of the Sahara to the streets of Mumbai, as well locations closer to home, like Naumkeag and Hancock Shaker Village.
"In recognition of the Berkshire Museum Camera Club’s 75th anniversary, we wanted to acknowledge the great changes in photography that have taken place since 1937, when the Club was established," said co-curator John R.
"At that time, LIFE magazine had just become a hit, and there was great excitement for the kind of candid photography made possible by small cameras and roll film. Today, digital technology offers photographers the opportunity to create large-scale color prints that were unimaginable in 1937. The Big Picture celebrates a great milestone for the camera club and an exciting moment in the history of photography."
The Berkshire Museum Camera Club began in 1937 as a result of a popular snapshot contest hosted by The Berkshire Eagle. The club is dedicated to advancing the art of photography, first with black and white film, then to color, and now exploring the dimensions of digital photography. For 75 years, photographers ranging from novices to experts have participated in various workshops, tutorials, competitions, and exhibitions.
For some, like club member Steve Blanchard, whose work Duck Harbor is in the exhibit, photography was something fun to do.
"As I neared retirement, I wanted to get more involved with photography, which has been a hobby for most of my life," he said. "Someone told me about the Berkshire Museum Camera Club, so I went to a meeting. I was hooked. That was about 10 years ago."
His passion eventually drew his wife Shirley, also. "My husband had been president of the Berkshire Museum Camera Club and often encouraged me to attend," she said. "When Peter Cox, a photographer from Ireland, was teaching at Williams and gave a presentation at the museum, I realized how much I could learn about photography," she said. "My husband and I later attended his two-week tutorial in Ireland."
Open to everyone, the club meets twice a month to improve photographers’ knowledge and techniques, and provide opportunities for camera bugs to to meet their fellow photographers.
"Many members are technically sophisticated and are willing to share their expertise," Shirley said. "The lectures, competitions and workshops continue to contribute to the improvement of my photography."
"It’s fun being with a group of people interested in photography," Steve added. "You learn from those who are better than you, and you’re able to help anyone who needs your help."
In addition to the Blanchards, the work of the following photographers is included in the exhibit: Robert Behr, Bruce Carnevale, Denise Brazie Chandler, Craig Clemow, Rebecca L. Cornwell, Bea DaSilva, Nathan Doctrow, Henry R. Dondi, Jeanne B. Driscoll, Virginia K. Ford, Susan Geller, Art Gordon, Ian Grey, Susan Keiper, Abbey Keith, Adam M. Kozik, Sharon S. Lips, Arnold Mazurenko, John F. Messerschmitt, Bob Moncy, Diana Norton, David O’Brien, Stephen Radin, Alan Rubin, Al Sartori, Betty Sartori, Myron Schiffer, Cesar E. Silva, Jack Sprano, Doug Stalker, Bob Taylor, a.e.Voelker, Joel A. Wolk, and JoeZ (Joe Ziemlak).
The large-format exhibit remains on view through Sept. 16 at the museum, 39 South Street. The BMCC meets on the first and third Tuesdays of every month at 7 p.m. from Sept. to May. Info: berkshiremuseum.org.