By Kristen Miller
COKATO, DASSEL, MN Three times a year, the Enterprise Dispatch publishes winning photos from a contest hosted by the Viewfinders Camera Club.
The contest in October is open to the community, while the other two, in May and December, are amongst members of the club only.
So, what is the Viewfinders Camera Club?
The club was actually formed in 1983, after its charter members had taken a community education photography class with local professional photographer, Ron Kern. Kern suggested starting an amateur club for the community.
The charter members were Harvey Barberg, Lenore Brown, Betty Johnson, and the late Wilma Ahlgren.
“It started with just four of us, but grew rapidly,” Barberg said.
Currently, there are 25 members. The club meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month, except for January and summer months.
Most of the meetings are at the Centennial room of the Cokato Library/Museum building and include a short business meeting, a speaker or presentation, traveling trophy contest with a different theme each month, and treats.
Faye Kroeger, a member since 1997, said one doesn’t need to be a professional photographer in order to be in the club “as long as you’re interested in taking photos.”
“It’s just so much fun,” said long-time member Amy Harloff, who enjoys the companionship that the club provides because they all enjoy the same hobby.
In April, members give a slideshow for the club with photographs they took which tell a story.
In addition to the monthly meetings, the club will have field trips where they may tour an art gallery or embark on a photo shoot. Past photo shoots have included Munsinger Gardens in St. Cloud, Como Park, and Murphy’s Landing in Shakopee.
Jeff Peller of Dassel recently joined Viewfinders as a way to continue to grow in his photography skills and also to have his work evaluated by his peers and judges with artistic and photographic experience.
The club began hosting contests in 1985, in which members can enter their photos in any of the 10 categories, from architecture to zoology.
For categories like “special effects” and “anything goes,” members are free to alter their photos.
“We’ve gone from film to digital,” Heidi said, “but you can do both.”
The club brings in outside judges for the biannual photo contest one being a photographer and the other an artist, using their own criteria including color and the rule of thirds.
First and second place winners are chosen in each of the categories along with a club award, chosen by members; and a judges’ award.
The winners are then displayed in select area businesses and published in the newspaper.
For non-members, Viewfinders hosts a community contest in October which anyone can participate. Currently, the club is working with the Cokato Public Library on a Rainy Day photo contest where community members can submit photos depicting rain to the library by April 14.
Officers of the club are Kroeger, president; Bob Wilde, vice president; and Heidi Barberg, secretary/treasurer.
“Heidi and Harvey are the backbone for the organization and if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t exist,” Kroeger said.
A single membership is $5 and a family membership is $7.
For more information, contact Heidi at (320) 286-5823 or Wilde at (320) 275-3684.