Ten members of our Club arrived Saturday morning at Cochrane’s Bethany Seniors Residence with their camera gear ready to take portraits of the residents that volunteered to be our models. We carried in some of our less-used equipment: Speedlight flash guns, reflectors, electronic strobe lights, light meters and various tripods. Pat Johnston, our President, had arranged all this with the staff beforehand, and members Keith and Joan Fox not only donated their “on-site” photo printer to the cause, but also provided us with a tutorial and orientation explaining to us newbies how to make a good photograph!
We set up in three stations. Joan schooled us in the finer points of posing our subjects. Keith set up his computer and printer system and advised us on some technical issues regarding file type and camera settings. Many of us scrambled as we suddenly discovered what all those extra settings in our own cameras were meant for! Pat was our liaison with the staff and coordinated the volunteer photographers. We were either shooting or assisting each other. What began as somewhat chaotic turned into an incredible moment for all of us.
Our “models” (there were over 30 of them) were as excited as we were, and very patient as we sat them down and fiddled with camera and flash settings. They were quite cooperative as we posed them and showed them our work. The staff, who were very familiar with the people in their care, had arranged times for them and their family members to come and be photographed—they also asked residents that were around and about if they’d like to participate—many of them did.
As noon approached we had managed to make some really fun and excellent portrait photographs of quite a few residents. By this time Keith had been printing and framing many of the images from our jpeg files and the results were quite good, actually many of us were astounded at how well each of us and our camera gear had performed at our various stations! When most of the residents had been covered, some of us packed up but several members including Keith, Joan and Pat stayed on to handle some late arrivals.
One of the most rewarding moments was handing out the finished portraits to the residents and staff: they were most grateful. Another was the touching poses our “models” struck for us. Several of our members struggled with taking the pictures because they were fighting back tears in their eyes. It was a bonding moment with the residents and also among our club members. Several residents came back to thank our members a second time. I’m sure these portraits were shown all around the Residence!
This was a first time that the Cochrane Camera Club has done this kind of community service, but likely will not be the last! We had a great learning experience and many terrific models to practice our hobby with! The final outcome was a series of portraits and digital files left with the Centre that the residents can share this Christmas with their friends and family, now and forever. Special thanks to Keith & Joan Fox, who so generously shared their setup—and most importantly their expertise in making portraits with us.
Those of us that participated had a memorable day of learning, meeting our models and their staff, doing good work under the expert direction of Keith, Joan and Pat, and sharing our experience with each other as club members. We would invite others to join in!