Juneau Photo group member Kenny Knapp has "experienced the most sightings of GOATZILLA!" Goatzilla also appears in a rainbow coat on top of mountains. He is friends with Sasquatch, whom Knapp has "photographed" in front of the Mendenhall Glacier.
Story last updated at 12/27/2013 - 2:41 pm
Rust, shadows, tradition, perspective: all are worthy of the Juneau Photo Group's attention.
The photo group, or the JPG, as its members call it, started about two years ago. Over the last year, on Facebook, it's grown to more than 700, with between 50 and 70 active members, both casual and commercial photographers. People post pictures of ice caves, of the aurora, of friends, family, and strangers. Many participate in the group's biweekly challenges, for which the above topics (and dozens more) have all been themes.
"We don't judge," said group founder Ron Gile. "It's all fun. Everybody has a niche - portrait, landscape. Anytime you push someone out of their comfort zone... a lot of time (results) are surprising."
Gile said several of the group's members, while taking pictures at the glacier, had the idea for the group a while ago.
"I tried starting a photo group several years ago," he said. "It was kind of hard to get anyone involved."
It worked almost "like a phone tree," in which people would share Romeo sightings, or let others know if the Northern Lights were out.
Now, the JPG is different things to different members. To some, it's a place to connect with friends. To some, it's a place to learn techniques and discuss ideas. To many, it's both.
"It's helped pretty immensely," said Frank Pierce, a two-year member of the group and long-time photographer who this year won Alaska Magazine's grand prize for photography. He also won first place in the wildlife category for a different entry.
The group discusses topics like editing techniques and flash photography in its meetings.
The meetings and challenges keep him pushing the boundaries of what he knows, Pierce said.
"I just really appreciate how open and sharing and friendly everyone is," he said. "We're good friends, and we learn a lot and share a lot together."
Member Karena Perry says her favorite part is the camaraderie.
"I try very hard not to be like anybody else," she said. "Probably just the friendship and being able to do outings with other artists is ... the main thing I like about the group."
The group has gone to look at abandoned mines with Brian Weed (about whom the Juneau Empire wrote a recent article) gone out during aurora displays, and taken a trip into Canada and the interior to look for images.
"It's really a fun group of photographers ... and the main thing is it doesn't matter what your skill level is," Perry said. "Some people are award-winning photographers and some people are just brand new."
Inspired by member and Bartlett employee Laveda Loose, several members of the group have donated photos for installation in bare hallways at Bartlett.
"We're real thrilled about it," said Jim Strader, Bartlett's Director of Community Relations and Marketing. "The group has done just a phenomenal job ... It's a tremendously generous donation."
About ten photos are currently up. But 68 have been approved for installation so far. All must have an "Alaska" theme, and most focus on Southeast.
"Being part of the group has allowed opportunities like this," Loose said. "When you do things as a group, you can do a lot more than as an individual."
Nurse Michelle Rochette, who joined about eight months ago, has eight photos going in the installation. She's French-Canadian, and said the group has allowed her to share her experience of Juneau and "the beauty of life" with family that's never been here.
"I can show them the beauty I see every day in my pictures," she said.