Monday, December 22, 2014

Photographers focus on new perspectives

By MEAGAN PATTON-PAULSON, Herald Connections Editor | 1/13/2014

Members of the Franklin County Shutterbugs said they rarely know what to expect from one of their excursions. The possibilities are limitless.

Ask 19-year-old Katy Runnells — the group’s youngest member — for example.

Members of the Franklin County Shutterbugs said they rarely know what to expect from one of their excursions. The possibilities are limitless.

Ask 19-year-old Katy Runnells — the group’s youngest member — for example.

She was on a shoot in Alaska with a few family members, photographing salmon in a stream, when something came sloshing down the river.

It was a grizzly bear.

Her first instinct? Pick up the camera, she said.

“We’re watching him, taking pictures, and then he gets on our side of the bank and looks at us, and we see the grass start moving real fast, and we took off running,” she said.

One other time, she was nearly taken out by a bald eagle.

“There’d be about 30 in a tree, and one of them was wounded and couldn’t quite get up in the air, and I literally felt the wind as he [flew] over me,” Runnells, Rantoul, said.

And none of the Shutterbugs will ever forget the “ticks” incident, Jeanne Hutchison said.

The group traveled to Lake Toronto for a shoot, she said, and Hutchison had everyone line up on a rock formation to get a group photo.

“I went down [in the brush] and got everybody’s shot, and they got mine,” she laughed. “On the way home, I started picking ticks off me, and before I’m done, I picked off, I don’t know, 15 ticks or something like that. … At our next meeting, we all compared, and it was, ‘Oh I had two.’ ‘I had five.’ But I think I had the highest number.”

Several members of the group exchanged memorable stories and laughs Friday night at the Franklin County Shutterbugs’ “Our Favorites” open house at the Carnegie Cultural Center, 501 S. Main St.

The show was the first of two back-to-back exhibits at the Carnegie. The next, which is expected to feature only photos taken in Franklin County, will start with a reception Feb. 7. That show also will highlight a new book the group recently finished, “The Beauty of Franklin County Through the Lenses of the Shutterbugs.”

“Right now we have a prototype,” Hutchison said. “I just ordered mine this morning.”

The book will include photos taken in the city, in the county and special sections on such local community events as the Franklin County Fair & Rodeo, the Ol’ Marais River Run car show and the Power of the Past tractor show.

The exhibits and release of the book are just two ways the 4-year-old group is trying to grow its membership and highlight existing members’ works, Hutchison, Shutterbugs president, said.

“You know how photographers are — we like everybody to see, and we like to talk about how we shot,” Hutchison said. “It’s our passion, so we like to share it with people.”

‘The big picture’

The Franklin County Shutterbugs meet at 6:30 p.m. the third Monday of each month at the Carnegie, which is followed by a group photography outing the following Saturday.

“We could all shoot in the same spot, and we’d all have different pictures,” member Brenda Walburn said.

“She looks at the details, and I’m more of the big picture,” Hutchison said. “It’s interesting, and at our next meeting, we try to have everybody bring a shot or two of what they took that day, and everybody has a different perspective. It’s fun.”

The Franklin County Shutterbugs was started by a small group of people interested in sharing their hobby, Anita Pierce, one of the founding members, said.

“It’s just local photographers who got together because we wanted to learn from each other and learn ideas,” she said.

The club has a “challenge” each month for members, Hutchison said.

“January’s was ‘snow,’” she said. “One month, it was ‘underneath’ and ‘looking out.’ Then we show them at the next meeting.”

The Shutterbugs also have a Facebook page, and their photos often can be seen hanging at Poncho’s, 429 S. Main St., as well as other art and craft shows throughout the year.

Although some members sell their photos, most wouldn’t classify themselves as “professional,” Pierce said.

‘Beautiful things everywhere’

For 19-year-old Runnells, photography started as a fun 4-H project, she said.

“I like trying things,” she said, “and I’ve been hooked ever since.”

Runnells has six photographs hanging in the January gallery at the Carnegie, which will be up until the end of the month. Most of her art is macro — or close-up — photography.

“Anything that has nice details, like my horse’s eyelashes,” she said.

Several of her photos were taken in Alaska.

“My godparents live in Alaska, so I went up to visit them for six weeks [last summer],” she said. “I think I took a total of like 7,000 pictures.”

In addition to macro shots, she takes high school seniors’ pictures, she said, and is working toward an associate’s degree at Neosho County Community College, though she’s not sure what she wants to do for a living.

“I haven’t the slightest  idea,” she laughed. “I’ve thought about photography, music or marine biology. All very different things.”

But she does hope to continue her photography throughout her life, she said, especially in Alaska.

“There’s so many beautiful things everywhere,” she said. “It’s so different from here. You can go out on the beach, and there’s otters and starfish.”

‘Something different’

Kevin Miller, 49, Ottawa, got into photography in his 20s, after a failed attempt at another art outlet.

“I tried painting. Took lessons even,” he said. “I was so bad even the teacher told me to try something different. So I gave my paints away, bought a used camera and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

His favorite things to shoot are animals and landscapes, he said.

One of his photos on display at the Carnegie, “Autumn in the Aspens,” portrays several tree trunks, one of which has his initials carved in it, which were there before he took the photo.

When photographing, he looks for anything that catches his attention, he said.

“My goal is I want you to feel what I felt when I was there,” he said. “That’s what kind of inspires me.”

For his day job, he works as a Realtor at Crown Realty in Louisburg.

“That affords me the luxury to spot things by the road every now and then,” he said.

‘Your vision’

Pierce’s favorite things to shoot are birds.

“I think I must have been a bird in my other life,” she laughed.

Pierce once came home from a trip — photographing nothing but birds — with 10,000 pictures.

Her love for photography started in high school, before she even had her own camera.

“A teacher loaned me one,” she said.

She took a few classes at a community college, before going on to work as a band photographer at a studio in Houston, she said, and for Houston Club and Restaurant magazine, also in Texas.

Pierce, who now lives in Ottawa and works as a housekeeper, enjoys the Shutterbugs’ group outings, because it keeps her motivated and her skills fresh.

“Sometimes you go to places you don’t really like, and that’s the whole point of it, so people will get out of their norm,” she said. “Once you get out of your norm and you start doing other things, then you just get better and better at it.”

Hutchison said she hates missing a Shutterbugs shooting outing.

“You never know where we’re going to end up,” Hutchison said.

Being a good photographer, Pierce said, is all about perspective.

“You don’t have to have a fancy camera, although I’m sure it helps,” she said. “It’s just your vision.”

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