The Livingston Parish Photography League started unintentionally a few years ago, when Denham Springs residents Mike Carty and Adin Putnam began meeting every Friday for coffee at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
At one of these meetings in June 2011, Carty brought a collection of old film cameras with him. The Navy veteran of 28 years had dabbled in photography years before — when film was still the only option — and knew Putnam, a Marine Corps veteran, also had an interest in the subject.
While they examined the cameras, Miriam Tiritilli, seated nearby and also an amateur photographer, overheard, and came over to see for herself.
This was the day that the Whistle Stop Shutterbugs club, which later became the league, was born, according to a release from the group.
They’ve come a long way since then, using their meetings to discuss and critique photographs, to learn and teach each other, said Putnam, and now have their first photography exhibit on display at the Old City Hall in Denham Springs.
The group lost Carty to cancer on Feb. 9, 2012, having lived to see the group grow from three to 18 members.
His legacy lives on with the establishment of the league’s first public photography exhibit at the Old City Hall. The exhibit features the work of all the group’s members, and runs until May.
“It was really an accident that the organization was ever started. Nevertheless, the result has allowed me to work with and learn from some extremely talented photographers who consistently product tremendous, beautiful images,” Putnam said in a statement.
The group eventually began using social media accounts like Flickr to view and critique each others’ images, and as a place to post photographs from monthly photo challenges the group puts out to its members.
This week was black and white architectural photography, Putnman said. “The photos have to be taken during the actual week of the challenge, so it can be a good way to get people out of their comfort zones,” he said. Putnam’s own biggest challenge was the week they were required to photograph a stranger close up.
“It was uncomfortable,” he said, but every experience has made him better.
“And that has been to my benefit. I know Mike Carty would agree, and be proud of what we have accomplished as a group. The proof is hanging on the walls at the Denham Springs Old City Hall.”
LPPL member Greg Bunch said the group has challenged him, as well. He’s a longtime photographer who began scuba diving in 1988, and has paired that with his love of photography since then. Bunch said the league challenges him to think outside his normal parameters and look at the world around him in a new way, especially the current monthly LPPL challenge.
“My wife and I are real estate agents with our own brokerage, Triune Realty. I do all our photography, and even though I try to capture beautiful images for our listings, they’re still ‘work’ pictures,” Bunch said. “Shooting for fun, even the architectural shots, is something else entirely.”
Jackie Wilson started taking photos after joining the league about 41/2 years ago, she said, and has work hanging at the show, also. “Photography has allowed my husband and I the opportunity to explore different areas of Louisiana and appreciating the beautiful state we live in, as well as traveling in other states,” she said.
Jenny Bauer said she started from the beginning when she joined the group.
“I have always loved photography and finally got a ‘fancy camera,’ but just kept it on auto until I got involved with this group,” she said. “They have inspired me to study and practice and improve my skills.”