wheeling waterfront sunset

Try Something New with the Ohio Valley Photography Club

Over the past year, we’ve filled our days with new hobbies, like gardening and bread-making, but as more COVID vaccinations become available and life starts to look “normal” again, will we leave all of our pandemic hobbies behind? I sure hope not! In fact, with warmer weather finally making its return, now is a good time as ever to get outside and try something new. 

Photography is a great way to get outdoors and appreciate nature, and the Ohio Valley Photography Club is a helpful resource for those who are interested in learning something new. The group has been around for over 12 years and caters to folks of all skill levels, interests, and backgrounds. In fact, you don’t even need to have any fancy equipment to get started – a basic smartphone is capable of capturing some stunning photos.

Learning Together

spring flower
Photo by Anita Luellen

Perhaps the biggest benefit of being a part of a group such as the Ohio Valley Photography Club is the network of support and learning opportunities available to members. Whether you want to learn more about photo editing, printing, astrophotography, or taking better nature photos, there’s likely at least one member who can offer greater insight and tips. Club member Daniel Caron likes to think of this collaborative environment as a type of “photographic reconnaissance” – helping one another become better photographers by sharing information. 

The group also offers structured learning opportunities on a weekly basis to its members. Throughout the last year, they’ve hosted virtual meetings via Zoom to cover a variety of topics from photoshop editing workshops to the basics of using a DSLR camera. Most sessions are led by members of the group who each have their own area of expertise, but they also bring in outside speakers. “We try to focus not just on taking photos together, but members have information and expertise that they can teach other folks, so we always try to get people involved in that way too,” says Michelle Stevens, a club member. 

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In addition to learning new skills, the Ohio Vally Photography Club also provides helpful feedback that allows photographers to continue to improve their skills, regardless of how long they’ve been snapping photos. “We get together a couple of times a month to critique and offer feedback on our photos, and I’ve definitely noticed people’s skill develop over time and I think it’s related to the helpful feedback they receive,” says Michelle. Club member Sharon Slokan echoes this sentiment while also adding that “everyone really brings one another up and helps each other. It certainly is a special club.”

Circular Abstract Photography

One of the club’s latest projects was learning how to create circular abstract photography – a photo editing technique that inverts an image, turning it into a circular piece of abstract art.  “The intent is to make something beautiful out of something we’re used to seeing,” said Saron. “It makes you look at everyday objects differently.”

  • Diane Kulazenka

Len Smith, former club president, introduced the technique to the club, which turned into a larger project that everyone in the group took part in. Browse through the gallery below to see the before and afters of this technique created by club members:

What’s Next?

Looking ahead, the Ohio Valley Photography Club is eager to be able to host more in-person events at outdoor locations where folks can social distance themselves and find joy in trying something new. “Photography has certainly helped my mental health this past year, and with Spring on its way, I’m definitely happy and hopeful for what’s in store for us,” said Daniel.

To learn more about the Ohio Valley Photography Club, you can check them out on Facebook or send an email to ohiovalleyphotoclub@gmail.com.

• Alex Panas is the Program Manager for Wheeling Heritage, where she works with artists, small business owners, and community stakeholders to provide technical assistance and create meaningful programs that enhance Wheeling. She also serves as the managing editor for Weelunk. Alex lives in St. Clairsville with her husband where they raise four cats and four spunky backyard chickens.