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Photo by Amanda Sebastiano
Mary Nell Moore, Patricia Reed and Mindy Towns, members of the Lakewood Ranch Digital Photography Club, say they become friends with strangers through the pictures they post during the 52-Week Challenge.
East County Wednesday, Jul. 30, 2014 10 months ago

Photography challenge creates friendships

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by: Amanda Sebastiano Staff Writer

EAST COUNTY — As Mindy Towns stretched across a table with acupuncture needles protruding from her body, she had one thing on her mind.

Through suppressed laughter, she said to her friend Patricia Reed, who accompanied her to the appointment last month, “This has to be a theme.”

Towns, Reed and Mary Nell Moore, all members of the Lakewood Ranch Digital Photography Club, see doctor appointments, road trips and other life events as snapshots of their lives.

They view their world in pictures and themes.

“We get excited about taking pictures,” Moore said. “The themes get stuck in our heads to the point where when something happens, we think of how we can photograph it.”

To the women, a theme is a key element in an event they created three years ago — the 52-Week Photo Challenge.

It builds on the idea of sharing views of the world through camera lenses. From Aug. 1 through July 31, participants submit one picture a week. Each week corresponds with one of 52 themes.

All cameras and levels of expertise are welcome. Participants may also use Photoshop and other image editing software. Photos may not be offensive and may not have been taken prior to the challenge. The only other rule is to have fun.

Individuals post pictures on their free WordPress or other blog sites for others to see and comment.
Before the event starts this week, website addresses must be emailed to Moore, Reed or Towns, so the blog site can be shared with other participants.

Through the blog sites, the photography enthusiasts can give each other feedback on pictures, using the comment tool on each page.

The challenge features themes open to interpretation, such as “at a distance,” “below the knees,” “bright ideas,” “holiday spirit” and “right place at the right time.”

The women count on the creativity of the participants, who determine how their picture relates to the theme.

The challenge also requires individuals to accompany each photo with an explanation of the picture.
In the two previous years of the challenge, about 45 individuals participated.

This year, the women, who became friends through their photography club more than three years ago, expect to spread their reach even further.

Moore, Reed and Towns have been emailing and calling their friends in other cities, states and countries to spread the word about the event.

So far, participants from England, Panama and other states within the United States have committed to participate.

Reed, an England native who grew up in Hong Kong, has focused on gaining international attention from friends and relatives overseas.

“Now, we have our experience with the challenge to show people,” Towns said. “We have a few years behind us now, and we want to keep growing.”

To the challenge’s founders, each individual’s post is a passport into someone else’s life.

Last year, the women visited Abu Dhabi from their living rooms, as they looked at pictures of camels and desert landscapes, posted by a participant who lived there.

“This challenge turns into something much bigger,” Towns said. “You become friends with people through their pictures. This challenge forces you to be looking all the time.”

For more information on the challenge, email mindysp@hotmail.com, preed913@gmail.com or tnwaltz@comcast.net.

Contact Amanda Sebastiano at amandas@yourobserver.com.

 

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