Suffield Photo Café open to all

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Suffield - posted Wed., Mar. 20, 2013
Scott Vining and Rick Haesler are both members of the Suffield Photo Café. The group meets monthly at the Kent Memorial Library. Photo by Jennifer Coe.
Scott Vining and Rick Haesler are both members of the Suffield Photo Café. The group meets monthly at the Kent Memorial Library. Photo by Jennifer Coe.

The Suffield Photo Club, now the Suffield Photo Café, began in 2009 and is unlike most photo clubs in the area. While most clubs ascribe to the bylaws of the New England Camera Club Council, Suffield has decided to go a different route, steering clear of a competition and focusing on being more of a laid-back monthly photo discussion. The club began three years ago, thanks to the efforts of Kent Memorial Librarian Sue Mack.

The group has been offering an opportunity once a month for this diverse group of photographers to bring in prints for viewing and discussion. Members have spoken on a series of topics including using tripods, using the manual setting on your camera, and high dynamic range (HDR) photography.

Most of the members are not professional photographers, but at the meeting on March 19, there was about 12 decades of behind-the-camera experience between those present.

Maintaining membership has been a challenge. “It’s very tough,” said Rick Haeseler. “There are established photography clubs within 20 miles of here.” While the Suffield Photo Café has attempted to appeal to all types of photographers, bringing the needs of the beginners in with the more experienced has proven to be tricky. “You either lose one or the other,” said Haesler.

Not daunted by this particular challenge, these men and women are out there taking photos all the time and still continuing to meet once a month as their schedules permit.

Mark Ruggiero, for example, loves to shoot sports and action. Some of his crowning achievements were the 4,000-plus shots he took of the Daytona 500. “I have learned to get into the garage area and in between the cars,” he said. “I walk up and down taking pictures of the drivers.” One time, Ruggiero said he had Richard Petty on one side and Danica Patrick on the other. He started shooting the Daytona using 10 rolls of film, but the switch to digital has made it easier and less expensive for him.

Another photographer in the club, Joe Pasha, likes a little bit of danger in his photography. Lately, he has been flying side by side in small engine planes taking shots. “Air-to-air photography,” said Pasha. “It’s challenging, a little daring and scary,” he said with a smile on his face.

But there are others who are just beginning.

“I love photography,” said Kathleen Bernard, a new member. “This is how you learn,” she said, “from talking to other photographers.”

Often, the members choose a monthly theme for their photography and then share their shots at the meeting. The Suffield Photo Café meets at the Kent Memorial Library every third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m.

“Bring your pictures, bring ideas, share your ideas,” said Haesler.

“Bring a print, put your print on a stand, talk about your print,” added professional photographer Fred Gaylor. “Get constructive criticism,” he said. “People want to improve.”

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