A snapshot of the newly-formed Photography Club
A student photographer from the New College days of old. Photo courtesy of the NCSA Archives.

A snapshot of the newly-formed Photography Club

With the large influx of students attending New College for the 2022-2023 academic year comes the pressure to add more flair to student life and the community. This year in particular has been abundant in the amount of new-found or re-emerging clubs that have entered the college’s already vast list of organizations—such as Forward Faith, The Mystics, the Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Alliance (AAPISA) and more! However, three students—first-year Madison Noud-Caroll and third-years Emma Halbisen and Celeste Kadzis—sought to bring more attention to the art of photography on campus. After sending out an interest form through email to the students list, there were many students that arrived at the organization’s first meeting on Oct. 24, and their first critique day of the academic year was held on Nov. 14 in the ACE lounge.

The Photography Club is focused on “promoting creativity through photography, sharing and critiquing the photographs of peers, educating and improving technical skills and spreading the love of photography throughout the New College community,” according to its Novoconnect page. The co-presidents emphasized wanting to increase the abundance of photographic art around campus through weekly meetings—sometimes with certain themes—for informative discussions as well as critique days.

“We want to cultivate a culture of photography art on and off campus,” Halbisen stated.

“We want to help people get out of their shell with their work,” Noud-Caroll added. 

As well as discussion-oriented meetings, the co-presidents intend to bring in guest speakers such as Associate Professor of Art Ryan Buyssens, host events regarding photography exhibits, and collaborate with The Darkroom: a room completely devoid of light where photographic film is developed. Additionally, plans to display posters around campus to advertise the organization are in the works.

“We’ve discussed doing a yearly magazine where students submit photos, and have more students engage in photography with the student newsletters,” Halbisen explained. “We also want to put up exhibits—like Caples would be really cool, and other popular student areas like the Nook. We’ll maybe even hang photos on the Banyan tree.”

The Photography Club meetings are meant to create a community of students with a range  of photography experience—whether a student has done photography for years or has never touched a camera before. Artistic prompts from these gatherings are not meant to be “work-heavy” but an opportunity for students to explore new types of photography and practice techniques they want to learn or explore further. 

“We’ll dive a little deeper into nature and street photography—definitely observational photography,” Kadzis stated.

These prompts delve into themes such as wildlife, self-portrait or night photography, and students are encouraged to give open-ended responses without pressure.

“We have some days where we’re learning about the techniques of photography, and other weeks we’re sitting down and talking about people’s photos,” Noud-Caroll elaborated. “It’s not every week where someone is talking at you. I think the critiques are a good idea because people can learn in a visual way.”

“We’re going to have themed critiques days where we give a theme—like self-portraits—and people submit photos and we pick the three best photos to submit on our Instagram,” Halbisen commented. “A lot of our themes are dependent on what our members want.”

Those who join the Photography Club learn everything ranging from how the buttons work on a camera to how to manipulate the exposure triangle; however, owning a high-quality camera is not required to be a part of the photography community created by the organization. 

“There’s no point in letting a good shot go away just because you don’t have a good camera,” Halbisen said. “Use whatever cameras you have on you.”

“We want to try to encourage iPhones too,” Kadzis added. 

A collaborative share drive is currently being formed by the Photography Club to share photography resources—both on and off campus—around the Sarasota community, and internship opportunities will be available for students who are interested.

“We’re also going to have a braindump form for if you have any questions, know any resources or have any motives you want to focus on,” Halbisen explained. “We’ll also start portfolios for consistent members.”

Noud-Caroll noted the benefits of the document that extend past the information aspect.

“People are scared to directly ask for help,” she explained. “Sometimes, if you don’t know the person, you’d be hesitant to send an email, but this document has everything.”

“If you miss a meeting, you can keep up with what we’re doing and get the resources you need without needing to contact us,” Halbisen added.

Although the Photography Club is off to a wonderful start, much more planning is currently underway. The co-presidents want to gather photographers for nature walks as well as additional guest speakers, and are incredibly eager to flesh out a more interactive schedule for their members; while only 10 students average in attendance per meeting, the co-presidents expect more students to become involved once the semester smooths out.

When prompted to give advice to a student with any level of photography experience, Kadzis answered: “Going back to the basics is always good with basic techniques. Use what influences you to inspire you.”

“The best shots are often unplanned,” Halbisen added.

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