Photography club captures hope during pandemic



As the world reopened, the club wanted to use photography to restore beauty and light, said board member Richard Phillips.

“We thought about the pandemic, what we went through and how everyone felt being cooped up inside, so we wanted something hopeful,” added club president Tracey Rice.

The exhibit showcases work from 30 artists from the Peachtree Corners area. Worldwide images of landscapes, buildings, people, animals and nature all capture light and express hopefulness.

Judge Amanda Gardner, a professional photographer and instructor, made the final selections out of 128 submissions. The HP Graphics Experience Center and Gilman Brothers Company provided the prints at no cost to the club – a savings of nearly $100 per photo.

While some photographers reached back through the years into their archives to pull up submissions, many others offered images reflecting the collective pandemic experience.

Phillips captured the joy of families finally able to travel once again. His selected silhouette photo, taken in October at Yellowstone National Park, shows visitors walking through the steam mist of a thermal pool.

“I just wanted to capture those people enjoying their life at this beautiful place,” said Phillips, a professional landscape photographer.

David Schilling, a retired photographer with more than 30 years of professional experience, shows the brilliant reds of a flower in full bloom during the early shutdown. Schilling was isolated at home but found this beauty in his backyard, illuminated by the sun.

Each image has its own backstory, and artists will discuss their photos at a free gathering at the library Saturday, Feb. 25, at 10:30 a.m.

The photography club is relatively new and is the only one in this high-tech community. It was founded in 2017 by two camera buffs who met over coffee and donuts to discuss their craft.

Now, it includes more than 80 dues-paying members and 280 active participants of all ages, including a few in their 90s. In addition, plans are in the works to offer membership scholarships to high school students with an interest in the medium.

The club’s mission is to educate, and monthly meetings and webinars, along with occasional workshops and field trips, benefit all levels of expertise, from beginners to seasoned professionals.

“We try to bring our skills together and help everyone improve.” said board member Brian Walton.

Most participants are serious hobbyists eager to learn, but even those whose only camera is a cellphone are welcome. The exhibit includes some cellphone shots.

“I tell people, don’t be ashamed of it; they take fantastic photos,” said Rice. “If you can understand composition and lighting, you can take some good photos. The camera is just a tool.”

One of Rice’s exhibit photos of a little girl playing dress-up shows light bouncing off a strand of pearls. Her composition caught one pearl right in the center of the eye.

Learning through classes and workshops and practicing helped Rice and Phillips turn their love of photography into a second career post-retirement.

Board member Jim Skurski always took his camera on business trips during his 30-year engineering career. He’s now making photos for money. Four of his landscape shots from the Canadian Rockies in 2007 are part of the exhibition.

Walton enjoys photography and video, and helping others view the world from a beautiful and different perspective. He recently used his photography to boost the self-image of his female subject, who admitted she had never liked her looks.

“I was able to take a portrait of her and show her how beautiful she was for the first time,” Walton said. “That inspires you to say, let’s show people how beautiful they are. Let’s use this art to be transformative in some way.”


Peachtree Corners Photography Club “Light is Hope” Juried Exhibition. 100 photos displayed through March at the Gwinnett County Peachtree Corners Branch Library, 5570 Spalding Drive, Peachtree Corners. For more about the photo club visit: