The Cowichan Camera Club is celebrating its 40th birthday with a show at Portals Gallery in the Cowichan Community Centre in March. (Carl Erland photo)

Cowichan Valley Camera Club celebrating 40 years

One of the club’s highlights for 2020 is a photographer’s show from March 3 to 27

By Lois DeEll

How does a camera club start and remain active after 40 years?

In 1980, several people including Charles Worsley, John Sargeant, Patricia Rankin, and Denny Wagg, had a vision to promote photography in the Cowichan Valley for professionals, semi-professionals, amateurs, and hobbyists. The vision started at the 1979 Cowichan Exhibition Photography section, asking people if they were interested in forming a camera club. The journey started with the first meeting held on Oct. 16, 1980, at the Cowichan Community Centre. The annual membership was $12 for adults and $6 for juniors. Today the annual membership is $40 for individuals, $55 for families, and $20 for students.

By January 1981, with 14 members, Nancy Robertson was the club’s first president. The first field trip was on Sunday, March 8, 1981, to photograph Fort Rodd Hill, Esquimalt Lagoon, and the Victoria Inner Harbour. Advertising circulated via the Cowichan Pictorial, and Cablevision Channel 3. The club’s Constitution was adopted on March 19, 1981. At the May 17, 1981 executive meeting, the club took out membership with the National Association for Photographic Art (NAPA), now the Canadian Association for Photographic Art (CAPA), and became a member on June 1, 1981, and continues to be a member. At the May 21, 1981 meeting the club decided to meet twice a month. Today the club meets three nights a month.

September 1981 also saw involvement with the local fall fair. In 1982, there were 88 entries in the Cowichan Exhibition, with the Pictorial newspaper requesting the winners to submit their images for publication. Today there are approximately 280 entries in the Cowichan Exhibition. The club is still actively involved with the Photography Division.

In November 1981, the club entered their first photography competition in NAPA. They received an Honour Award Ribbon in February 1982 for the theme competition “Pals”. November 1983 saw a huge win for the club — first place out of 49 clubs in a NAPA slide competition. The club has been active throughout the years in judging many photography competitions, with the first one in 1987. The club continues to enter CAPA competitions and won a Gold Medal in November 2017 for Photojournalism.

In February 1983 the club started to meet at Queen Margaret’s School, and in March 1983 they joined the Cowichan Valley Arts Council and participated in the Spring Arts Festival.

Print exhibitions and shows were held throughout the years at the Ecomuseum, Cowichan Theatre Lobby, The Loft, Vancouver Island Regional Library, local hotels, restaurants, and wineries, and photography outlets.

The club has had many opportunities to promote their photography with various service and local interest groups, hospitals, businesses, seniors homes, the hospice society, Millennium 2000 Project, Cowichan Tourism, Chamber of Commerce, World Youth Organization, physical fitness groups, telephone book covers, local publications, 55+ BC Summer Games in 2005, political members, Summer Festival, Somenos Nature House, and Ballet Jorgen Canada.

The North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) was held in the Cowichan Valley in 2008, with many photographers highlighting the games for the participants. Another event in 2018 brought forth several photographers to capture the B.C. Summers Games.

One of the club’s highlights for 2020 is a photographer’s show with more than 80 photos will be on display from March 3 to 27 at the Portals Gallery, with a reception held on March 7.

In 2004 the club developed their website and a PBase database for digital images was created so images could be downloaded.

Has technology changed the way a photographer takes a photograph, processes the photograph, and prints the photograph? During the course of the club’s 40 years, technology has made photographers more portable. The little black box of a camera has become a sophisticated piece of electronic equipment. Welcome to the digital age. Photographers can shoot at the moment, edit and change settings to whatever their needs are, and transfer their photos from anywhere there is an internet connection.

Back in the day, processing was done in a darkroom with a roll of film, black and white or colour. Slides were popular. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, one hour photo finishing kiosks popped up throughout the country. Now, photographers can sit in a comfortable chair in front of their computers, download their images from a scan disk, and edit and develop their images in various available post processing software programs. From those software programs they can print their images on their home printer.

The Cowichan Valley Camera Club members have embraced this technological change, and to this date are still producing award winning images.

Lois DeEll is the vice president of the Cowichan Valley Camera Club.


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