Barry Bennett was about 10 years old when he first picked up his mother’s Box Brownie, and he’s been in love with photography ever since.
His passion for the craft lead to an invite to be a member of the Finley & District Camera Club 45 years ago on January 9, 1975.
An active member ever since, Mr Bennett was bestowed life membership of the group when it met to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the club’s formation this month.
‘‘It did come as a bit of a surprise,’’ Mr Bennett said.
‘‘I was taking photos of the celebrations and then I was told I had to sit down.
‘‘In 45 years they have never told me to do that, so I thought ‘something must be going on here’.
‘‘I started out just showing my photography at local shows, and then I was invited to come along to camera club.
‘‘It’s amazing just what you can pick up (from the other members).’’
In those early years as a member, sessions included making your own photography sitting backdrops from cardboard boxes, as well as developing your own photos.
‘‘Greg Sutton taught us how to print our own black and white pics in his dark room.
‘‘I then made my own lab in the wash house (at home) and would print colour.
‘‘When printing became more available at local shops I didn’t bother any more. It was simpler and more affordable — it would cost at least $20 a photo to do it myself, and now it was all automatic.’’
Mr Bennett’s desire to document the changes in his Southern Riverina community led to a number of great opportunities, which allowed him to upgrade his camera equipment when the latest models came along.
‘‘I started off with mum’s Braun camera. While it was an automatic camera, the photos could be quite dark.
‘‘I then had a Minolta SRT101 which had an interchangeable lens, but it did not seem to have the quality of other cameras.
‘‘I went through a range of other Minoltas because the lenses were all interchangeable, but then there was new technology coming out.
‘‘When I was asked to photograph anniversaries at the sports and golf clubs and they asked how much I would charge, I told each of them it would be half the price of a new Nikon.
‘‘When they asked me how much that was, I told them I didn’t know.’’
Today, Mr Bennett’s camera of choice is the Nikon D800.
Mr Bennett’s skills and inclination to be involved in various photography sessions and debates has led to some larger opportunities over the years, including meeting and being hired by the vice manager of Kraft in the USA to document their Australian factory expansion.
In 1986 he was invited to take a finishing line photo for the Cobram Harness Racing Club, which he continues to do today.
In 1984 his photo of Julie Buzza, an entrant in Moomba Queen, was printed as ‘Photo of the Month’ in the Southern Riverina News.
His biggest highlight, however, came in 1987 when Mr Bennett had a full-page colour photograph printed in the Australia Post magazine.
Over the years Mr Bennett has won many awards for his photography and is still actively involved in both the Finley and Cobram agricultural shows.
He also loves to hold a photography seminar at Thompson’s Beach in Cobram in January each year.
This is an opportunity for photographers to practice and learn how to use their cameras.
The 50th anniversary celebrations of the Finley & District Camera Club was held at the Tocumwal Golf Club, with 32 past and present members enjoying a meal before the cutting of the cake, made by club secretary Val Lee.
The night saw founding member Peter Mansell in attendance, with other long-time members Allan Matheson, John Hand and Leslie Wilson also among the crowd.
The camera club’s first meeting was held at Finley High School on October 9, 1969.
There were 13 people present at the meeting, where Charlie Limback was elected president and Pat Russell named vice president.
Membership was $2 per person, with meetings held on the second Thursday of the month, from 8pm to 10pm.
Quite often the meetings were at the members’ homes as well as the Finley RS Club, Finley High School and the Finley Masonic Hall.
In November 1983 the SRN started printing a ‘Photo of the Month’ from club members.
The club is still quite small with a committee of three people — president Maureen Arthur, secretary Val Lee and treasurer Bruce Kerr.
New members are always welcome, and can take advantage of fellowship with other camera clubs and photography trips.
Photos can be shared via the club’s Facebook page, where you can also keep up to date with club news.
The Finley & District Camera Club Inc meets on the second Thursday of the month, at the Barooga Public School library at 7.30pm.
For all enquiries phone Val Lee on 0407 357 471.