The Big Picture Show
By Jennifer Leigh
Timothy Brooks was a teenager when his parents gifted him with his first camera. It shot black and white film, and it was the gateway to Brooks’ long passion for photography.
Today, he enjoys shooting wildlife on exotic trips across the globe. But he doesn’t forget his humble beginnings as an amateur photographer, winding film canisters back and shooting dozens of pictures until he could get “the one.”
“The only way to get better is to keep taking pictures,” he said.
Brooks is a longtime member of the Wide Angle Photo Club—a group of hobbyists and professional photographers alike who share their best images and offer tips on taking better photos. And this weekend, the club will present their 26th Annual Power of Photography Show.
Brooks said the show is easily one of the largest photography shows in Northwest Florida, with nearly 1,000 entries submitted for the show’s 300 available spots. The show is open to all photographers of all skill levels, whether they’re shooting with a large-format camera or a cell phone. A good photo can come from anywhere.
“Photography is a form of art,” said Brooks. “And you can be an artist with a cell phone … it’s about perspective. You don’t have to have high-end equipment.”
Like in past years, the show will feature 12 different categories from abstract and digital design to flowers and plants. For years, the show had a separate category for cell phone photos, but as smartphones advanced, they became more comparable to DSLR cameras.
Plus, Brooks said, the show is meant to be accessible for everyone. And now, nearly everyone has the capability to take a good photo. It doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have or where you are.
“Judges look at the image,” said Brooks. “An image doesn’t get extra scores because you went somewhere obscure or because it was a big effort.”
Brooks thinks to a previous Best in Show winner for an example. It was a photo of a dog—a simple image in theory, but the lighting and timing was just right, he said.
“It’s just a spectacular photo taken at the right time,” he said. “That’s where a basic understanding of photography forces you to look at things a little differently—even family photos.”
Like the club, the show is a diverse representation of talent. What’s new this year is the location—Voices of Pensacola. Brooks said it’s been a battle for years to find space big enough to hold hundreds of photos and people to look at them, and Voices provided just what they needed.
Hobby or not, the Power of Photography Show continues to be an impressive collection of pictures selected by judges with awards in various categories. There’s not a lot of gloating among the winners, but as member Dick Weaver said, “It’s nice to get a ribbon or two.”
Weaver is another longtime member of Wide Angle Photo Club, which now boasts about 200 members. He loves learning new techniques from other photographers, he said.
That’s much of what the club is about. Each monthly meeting is a chance for photographers to learn something new with guest speakers and topics such as underwater photography or photojournalism. Join the club’s Facebook group and you’ll see members share their latest photographs and discuss best practices for shooting the night sky or where to find large birds to photograph. It’s about camaraderie, not competition.
“I like seeing what other people can do and getting another perspective,” Weaver said.
The Power of Photography Show features a nighttime photo walk and seminars for anyone to attend so you can learn, too. Only Friday night’s Adobe Lightroom seminar has a cost and limited seating.
The art show is also a fundraiser for a local organization. For more than 10 years, the Power of Photography has been a fundraiser for Arc Gateway, which works to enrich the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Brooks said club members vote on various charities to support, and each year Arc Gateway wins.
“It’s an amazing organization,” he said. “And if you can have a hobby that benefits (Arc Gateway), it doesn’t get any better than that.”
POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW
WHAT: Wide Angle Photo Club’s 26th Annual Photography Show
WHEN: 5-9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18
WHERE: Voices of Pensacola, 117 E. Government St.