If it seems that all you’re doing during these days of social distancing and self-quarantine is eating and watching TV, a group of Bayshore Beach Club residents has an alternative you can pursue on your own.
Bayshore’s Fun with Photography Corner encourages getting outdoors while learning new skills and making new friends virtually. Residents can take photos for a monthly “challenge” theme, and see what their neighbors are photographing as well. And non-Bayshore residents are welcome to participate.
“People are truly looking for things to do right now,” said Fun with Photography organizer Kerry Terrel, who has lived at Bayshore for 10 years. “Photography is something you can do without being in a group. This is about trying to involve people who want to learn to take better photos with whatever camera they have.”
Terrel emphasized the all-inclusive nature of the group. There are no dues, no set activities, no meetings, no requirements. “We’re not elitist,” she said. “I have always vowed that if someone asked me a photography question, I would answer them. That’s how we get people to get out there and capture memories.”
Terrel started a Fun with Photography group long before the pandemic as a way to get Bayshore residents heading outdoors, taking pictures and going on photography outings.
“I wanted to get people involved in going out and taking photos, regardless of the type of camera they had,” Terrel said. “And I wanted the people who live in Bayshore to find out about all the hidden gems we have around here to take pictures of.”
She took group members to the Ghost Forest in Neskowin and the Cape Perpetua overlook after dark to see the Milky Way. “We also went to the Newport Bayfront after dark when there was no wind, to photograph the lights reflected in the water,” she said.
Discovering nature’s beauty
“I wanted people to notice the beauty around them,” she explained. “I was hoping a lot of people in our neighborhood would get involved, and people have responded well. I was trying to foster a sense of community in Bayshore.”
Once the pandemic hit, however, and in-person meetings were not possible, she shifted gears and started the virtual Bayshore’s Fun with Photography Corner Facebook page. It’s a closed group for Bayshore residents and is moderated by Bayshore’s Communications Committee. It features photo challenges, tips and techniques.
“How can we do something to engage our members” was the question Terrel wanted to answer. “Right now there are no Social Committee events, so we’re a stand-alone part of the Communications Committee,” with photo challenges and collages published in the Bayshore Breeze newsletter.
Also important to Terrel is that any camera can be used.
“I don’t want anyone to feel they need expensive equipment or a particular brand of camera,” she said. “I want a group everyone can be excited about. People can explore lots of things with the more modern cellphone cameras, so they do not have to have an expensive camera to take pictures they can be proud of.”
Monthly photography challenge
The group’s monthly photography challenge is posted on its Facebook page; Terrel will email the challenge to non-residents if they contact her at [email protected] Each month she makes a collage for the Facebook page from the photos submitted by Bayshore residents for the challenge.
The rules for photo submissions are simple — the posting member must be the photographer, and the photographer must have permission from any subject in the photo to post it online.
Photos are, of course, the focal point, but questions about photography are encouraged, with responses invited. “We want to teach others what we know so everybody becomes a better photographer,” Terrel said.
“People can start to look at things they see every day in a way they never have before,” she added. “It’s all about sharing. I want people to have something that engages them and gives them a sense of purpose in these days.
“By doing this virtually, we’re trying to get people excited about something during this year,” Terrel said. “And photography for a lot of the time is a solo thing. People can go outdoors by themselves to take pictures, and we’ve given them a forum to post their photos for others to see.”
Open to all ages
Images submitted are not limited to Bayshore. “People are sharing with us so we can see something they have experienced,” she explained. And it’s open to all ages.
Terrel did not start serious photography until she retired; she received her first camera in 2016. “I was taking pictures with my cellphone and posting them on Facebook,” she recalled. “Then people started telling me I needed a better camera because I had a good eye. I started learning how to compose things, and I got hooked.
“People gave me pointers that I filed away — I learned that way, rather than taking a photography class,” she added.
These days, Terrel uses a Sony Mirrorless a7riii camera but continues to take photos with her Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus cellphone, particularly if she’s on a hike or the weather is poor. “Having a camera in your hand is the best camera to capture a moment in time,” she said, echoing a message she took to heart years ago.
The group currently has 29 members, not all of whom post photos — “some just enjoy it,” Terrel said, noting she invites non-Bayshore residents to contact her to submit photos.
Group member Kent Jones, a retired programmer analyst who has lived full time at Bayshore since 2018, said he has always considered photography an art, but never pursued it.
When he inherited his father’s Canon PowerShot camera and moved to Bayshore, he began photographing the area. He joined the original in-person group and found it a good way to meet people and learn about using a camera.
One of the highlights of his involvement was the group trip to the Ghost Forest. “It was a lot of fun, and it got me out of the house,” he said. Then he was invited by Terrel to be the photographer for Bayshore’s winter holiday party.
“I’d never really done anything where I was ‘the’ photographer,” he said. “It was fun.
“Part of the reason I became involved was to meet people, so with the pandemic, it’s a little disappointing,” he said. But he plans to take part in the photo challenges and said he definitely will continue asking photography questions — “that’s the first reason I joined. It’s been really helpful to talk to people about how they get a certain shot. I always wanted to take a class but never did, so this is a good learning opportunity.”
And the bottom line for the virtual group? “We want to get people excited about the camera they have and encourage them to go out and create memories,” Terrel said. “Rather than sitting around eating and watching TV, they can do something with their mind and their emotional health. We need something positive these days to bring a smile to your face.”