Into the Lens of BU’s Photo Club

By Heather Vandenengel • January 31, 2011 at 12:00 am


At this year’s Splash, the BU Photography Club was sandwiched between an acapella group and the magic club. They had no sign and featured a lonely tripod on the table. But still, about 300 freshmen added their names to the interest list and about 50 showed up to the first meeting.

Amateur photography is erupting and this year’s BU Photo Club is capitalizing on the thirst of amateur photographers desperate to learn and ready to explore.

MIT's Stata Center | Photo taken by BU Photo Club member Scott Delisle

Starting Over

However, the BU Photo Club has not always been the active presence it is today.

Last year, most of the photo club’s executive board went abroad during the fall semester; they returned the club’s structure was unorganized and the meetings were infrequent.

“They would have random things going on but there wasn’t that cohesiveness of it that made it an enjoyable experience,” says Max Konig (ENG’11), a 22-year-old senior and current treasurer of the BU Photo Club studying manufacturing engineering.

When the e-board graduated, Almond Dhukka (ENG’12), a 20-year-old junior at Boston University studying mechanical engineering took over as president. Konig came on as the treasurer, his friend Sumner Lambert, (CAS ’12) became vice-president, and Patrick O’Toole (SAR ’13) is the secretary.

Since then, only the club’s e-mail address remains the same; they changed the club’s name (from the Photography Club to the Boston University Photography Club), lowered the dues from $70 to $20, rewrote the constitution, created a new Twitter and Flickr, and developed a fresh philosophy.

BU Photo Club and Boston Photo Mob members snap shots of MIT's Simmons Hall

BU Photo Club and Boston Photo Mob members snap shots of MIT's Simmons Hall | Photo by Heather Vandenengel

“This year we’re more like a teaching institution,” says Dhukka.

“We decided we wanted to involve members more and cater it more towards them than us,” Konig adds.

So when The Callbacks, a sketch improv group, asked the photo club to take group shots of the cast, Dhukka asked two experienced photographers to go as well as two or three members who wanted to learn.

The club also holds monthly workshops on everything from making pinhole cameras to stitching panoramas; the officers give basic photo lessons to anyone who asks for them. They also staff the darkroom in the College of Communication at least once a week and hold developing and printing workshops.

Expensive, sophisticated cameras are not a requisite for joining the club. The most dedicated member who has been to almost every meeting, 19-year-old freshman Alex Howton (ENG ’14) only has an Olympus point-and-shoot and many others use their parents’ old film cameras.

Photo Walking

Lessons learned on campus are put to use on photo walks around Greater Boston, where students explore and photograph the city.

On a 20-degrees-but-feels-like-11-degrees Saturday a few weeks ago, nine members of the BU Photo Club went on a photo walk of MIT’s campus.

As a small mob, they follow Dhukka’s 12-stop route, which includes chunky, jutting architecture designed by Frank Gehry and Steven Holl.

They pause at buildings and swarm them like paparazzi, capturing their every angle. Most had never been on a photo walk or had done architectural photography before, but they are undaunted.

“I feel like I’m more encouraged. I’m always the random one with the camera,” said Grace Donnelly (COM’14), an 18-year-old freshman photojournalism student.

The cold is permeating and some slight technological malfunctions ensue. “It’s so cold my polarizing ring won’t turn,” says Konig.

Window Panes in the MIT Chapel | Photo by BU Photo Club member Matt Serrano

But it’s worth it for the shots and the photo ops. “I’ve never come here. I’ve never seen this before,” says Charlotte Popper (COM’11), a 21-year-old senior studying advertising, as she admires Gehry’s Stata Center.

During the walk they also meet up with members of the Boston Photo Mob, a Flickr group that holds monthly meet ups and photo walks. Dhukka also helps run their Flickr site.

Diane Hanlon, a 30-year-old executive assistant from Quincy, is the Boston Photo Mob leader and she introduces herself to everyone, telling them her Flickr name and asking for theirs.

The mob has grown and they continue their campus rampage, through Eero Saarinen’s MIT Chapel. Two people sit silently in the back row while the horde of photographers invade the space, cameras clicking. Then it’s on to Holl’s Simmons Hall, where the brightly colored blocks make for brilliant shots.

Photographing with a group is easier than going it alone, says Scott Delise (CAS’13), a 19-year-old history education sophomore.

Scott Delisle's two camera's: a Canon 50D and a TLR Rolleiflex | Photo by Heather Vandenengel

“It’s just as easy to say you’re cold and tired and I’m going back to bed,” he says about photographing solo. Delisle brought two cameras with him – a Rolleiflex TLR that he got on eBay for $10 and repaired and a Canon 50D. “I’m very lazy usually but you get wrapped up in taking photos and you don’t even realize how long you’re walking,” he said.

By the time they wrap it up at the Harvard Bridge, they have been walking for about three hours. They are exhausted, freezing and, out of film, but thanks to the BU Photo Club, they have the shots.

To see more photos the BU Photo Club took on the photo walk go to the next page.

To get involved with the club e-mail contact them at foto@bu.edu. Visit their Flickr group, You Do page or follow them on Twitter. Visit Boston Photo Mob’s Flickr group here.

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