If you’re interested in photography, you may be hard-pressed to find one that has as much to offer as the Tidewater Camera Club (TCC). Novice or seasoned photographer? They got you covered. Prefer portraiture, landscapes, or sports photography? There are plenty of others in the group with who you can collaborate. Want to learn how to print on canvas? You’re not alone. President of the club, Mark Nelson and former president Janet Kerr sat down with us to discuss the numerous available opportunities.
Kerr got involved in TCC over ten years ago because of her husband’s interest in photography. A quilter, she thought she’d tag along, taking pictures of nature and colors and then figure out how to incorporate that into her quilting. The quilting stopped a decade ago, but Kerr stayed with the group, mostly, she said because members “took an interest in the novices and mentored and gave them feedback and said, let’s work together.”
Nelson joined the group three years ago when he moved to the Eastern Shore. “I had my first camera in grade school as a prize for selling magazine subscriptions. But I’ve been inconsistent. Now I have more time to do it. It’s been a ball. Everyone helps each other, sharing ideas not only in the technique of taking a photograph but also in the printing, the post-processing, ‘you can crop it this way,’ ‘try lightning up this part.’ It’s a very, very engaged group.”
The club, founded in 1963, was initially partnered with the Academy of the Arts in Easton (now called the Academy Art Museum). Although TCC continues to work with the Academy, the two are no longer affiliated. From the beginning, there was tremendous interest in a photography club, which to this day, is committed to sharing knowledge on the use of camera, improving member skills in producing great pictures, and promoting interest and participation for all levels and ages.
To do so, the group observes a busy schedule with a membership that runs from September through May. There are generally two meetings a month. The first Monday is a skills workshop or features a visiting speaker. Note that the speaker meetings are free and open to the public.
The third Monday of the month is a “theme guided” photo competition, which often is associated with a previous month’s speaker meeting topic or a prior club workshop. Although Kerr prefers to call these sessions critiques, photographers are awarded points by a judge or panel of judges.
“We belong to the Maryland Photography Alliance, which is a group of 12-18 camera clubs across the state of Maryland,” says Nelson. “They develop the judge certification program. So, there’s a consistent approach.” The club believes that participating in these photography assignments is a good way of learning new techniques that one might otherwise have never tried.
But that’s not all the club does. There are additional special lectures and workshops which convene as needed. There are also Special Interest Groups (SIGs), which include Landscape Photography, Wildlife Photography, and the Post-Processing Group. These groups keep open the first Wednesday of the month for field trips, typically run by a SIG member/coordinator.
“These field trips start off with a little talk about camera setting,” says Kerr. “The more experienced members tend to stay with the less experienced ones to make sure that they get some mentoring. We meet on the fourth Monday in the evening and people will provide a print from the field trip. The print will be passed around like a round table discussion of the events. What happened during the field trip, how they captured that particular picture? And then we’ll critique it. So, you get feedback, which is the whole point of this is small group interaction, camaraderie, helping each other. That’s what we’re trying to achieve.”
Kerr also organizes additional field trips that revolve around the theme from that current month’s speaker or the theme for the competition. “We’ve been to the Botanic Gardens, Pea Patch Island, and Smith Island. We’ve been to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, the Zoo, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. We’ve done a Milky Way night shoot on Taylor’s Island. We’ve done an Easton walkabout.”
All of this common interest makes for an enjoyable social connection as well, say Nelson and Kerr, emphasizing that they do have a lot of fun experiences together. “We’ve had some good meals and good glasses of wine.”
In whatever way the inspiration has come about, the bottom line is that there is some exceptional talent coming from the group, and TCC’s efforts can be seen throughout the area. “Candleberry in St. Michaels has been one venue where we’ve been exhibiting pretty consistently,” says Nelson. “We’re at the Todd Performing Arts every year and the Dorchester Center for the Arts every other year. In 2020 we’re going down to Ocean City. So, we are growing both locally and regionally.”
To experience the group and meet the members, consider attending one of their free seminars.
Tidewater Photography Club meets at the Talbot County Community Center, Hog Neck Ice Skating Rink, usually in the Wye Oak Room. Membership Annual Dues: Individual–$50, Student (age 25 or under)–$15, Family–$65 Note: Dues are half price for members signing up after January 1 See their website for additional details and for upcoming speakers.
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