Dozens of people walked through Oregon’s downtown Thursday, June 13, snapping photos — and learning about the building architecture and the history of landmarks like the Tin Man and Triangle Park.
The walk, titled “An Historic Photo Walk of Downtown,” was held in partnership with the Oregon Area Historical Society, one of the local organizations Oregon Wisconsin Photography Group has worked with since its beginning in April.
“One of the people at the historical walk didn’t even know there was a (historical) society in town,” founder Gilbert Helland said.
Attendees were led by historical society treasurer Mary Norwell for the first half of the walk, where she took them up and down North and South Main Streets to Grove Street and on Janesville Street. For the second half, village board trustee Randy Glysch educated attendees about the Tin Man, Pump House and Visitor Center, as well as the old bicycle shop next to it.
Helland said that’s what the group is all about – promoting Oregon, helping people discover their passion for photography and education.
“Let’s help one another build and grow this community,” he said. “It’s our group, not just my group.”
The group has met from 6-7:30 p.m. every first Tuesday of the month at the Oregon Public Library, 256 Brook St. since April. The first meeting had 23 attendees, Helland told the Observer, and the number has since doubled to around 50.
The April meeting was introductory, Helland said, meant to gather input from visitors about how they would like their photography group to function. Since then, its started a focus group, hosted classes and gone on outings around the Oregon area, like the recent historical walk.
He said the group works for its collective – not to serve one person, to make any money or to promote any business. Members don’t have to pay any dues or fees.
Another thing that makes the group different is how it accepts its members from all walks of life and varied photography levels. Helland said some members are beginners while others are advanced and technically savvy with their cameras.
The photography group website states that membership is open to anyone and that the group uses “digital, film, point and shoot, rangefinder, video, pinhole cameras and cell phones.” It states it’s not necessary to own a camera.
“I don’t want to leave people behind that don’t know much about photography,” Helland said.
He said the group also functions to help people build confidence about their photography skills. They might have been told that because they use their cell phone to take pictures, it doesn’t make them a photographer, Helland said. He’s there to show them they are no matter what type of camera they use, he said, as it’s all about capturing memories and having something timeless to cherish.
“The group fosters and encourages the growth of artistic vision and technical knowledge, exploring the connection between the eye, the camera and the spirit,” the website’s mission statement reads. “We share ideas and knowledge with each other and help to promote interest in photography in the community through exhibitions and other events.”
A June class at the library discussed how to capture vacation photography. An upcoming class to take place at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21, at the library will talk about post-processing – how to edit photos with various programs including Photoshop. The photography group also held its first focus group – P900 – for members who own or are interested in the Nikon Coolpix P900 camera. That meeting was held at Rome Corners Intermediate School.
More focus groups, the website states, will include travel and vacation, portrait photography, nature and wildlife.
Helland said the Oregon School District has been instrumental in helping the photography group come to fruition. The district has offered up space when the group has needed it for gatherings, he said.
For information on upcoming classes, focus groups, field trips, visit oregonwisconsin photographygroup.com. To view member galleries, visit the site and click on the “Gallery” tab.