Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Photography club lends snapshots of local life to Lakewood Ranch Library

  • By
  • | 8:00 a.m. May 15, 2024
“Mom How Do I Work These Wings”
“Mom How Do I Work These Wings”
Photo by Gunilla Imshaug
  • East County
  • Neighbors
  • Share

A two-year collaboration between the Lakewood Ranch Digital Photography Club and the new Lakewood Ranch Library has resulted in an exhibit of 17 large-scale digital photographs depicting area culture and activities, on display throughout the library. The partnership supports the strategic objectives of both organizations by promoting community engagement, education and local artistry.

Jim Eiken, who is a member of both the photography club and Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library — a nonprofit that helped launch and continues to support the library — was the first to envision this win/win relationship.

“I learned early on about plans to build a library in Lakewood Ranch, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for our club to contribute to the library while also supporting our charter: educating the community about photography,” says Eiken.

The now-completed library was still in a conceptual stage when Eiken presented the idea of a collaboration to Friends president, Sue Ann Miller. She embraced the idea and put him in touch with Lyn Begraft, assistant library services manager at the Manatee County Library, to further explore possibilities.

Eiken, former club president Bill Mills and Begraft first met in 2022. Eiken notes that Begraft was enthusiastic about the collaboration from the start because the project synced with the library’s goal of expanding its patrons’ knowledge of the region. 

“Charlie Flies” is one of 17 photographs selected to be on display at the new Lakewood Ranch Library.
Photo by Joe Nuzzo

However, Begraft did warn that the library had no budget for artwork, nor could the collaboration be used as just a gallery space for the work of the photography club’s  members, Eiken explains. 

Not a problem.

Springing into action, the club created a five-member committee to spearhead the project. The committee’s job was to develop criteria with which to solicit photos from club membership and, eventually, to make decisions about photo selection to present to library staff.  

They knew the photos needed to line up with the project’s larger purpose and vision, and also represent broad participation across the club’s membership. “We decided that no more than two photos could come from one photographer. Then, if we had two fabulous water shots — say sailing and rowing — library objectives would compel us to pick the one that was taken locally at (Nathan) Benderson Park, rather than elsewhere,” explains Eiken.

Complementing the space and matching context for different areas of the library were primary concerns. For example, the committee opted for black and white photography for the blue walls of the library’s conference room. So, while they chose three different subjects, all the selections had architectural lines that complemented each other.

In considering different library sections, the committee wanted to use dynamic photos for teens, whimsical images for younger children and, for general library spaces, photos that would capture the eye and depict local wildlife and area activities.

Eventually, the committee selected 50 photographs from the 200 that were collected and made a slideshow presentation of the images for library staff. The library team then chose the final 17 photos.

Eiken notes that much of the photo collection from club members happened before the library building was completed. Then, a tour of the actual building, “dramatically changed what we were thinking,” says Eiken.

“Fierce Competitor”
Photo by Jennifer Walker

“We were envisioning smaller pictures in groupings on the walls. But once we saw how large, light and bright some areas were, we realized those pictures would just have gotten lost,” he says. 

Having club members’ work displayed in such a public setting was important to get right for the club, which is why it also paid for the project. 

“The funds came 100% from club members, and were separate from membership dues,” says Eiken. “This is our first real push doing something for the community. We felt it was the right time and right venue because we could reach many people who were likely interested in education and learning.”

Although there is no set end date for the current display, Eiken expects it to be on display for the foreseeable future. Additionally, the public will have the opportunity to view all 50 of the originally presented photos in a slideshow on the library’s large digital monitors. These photos will be showcased alongside library information, news, events and other notices.

Both organizations are open to future collaborations, says Eiken. “We expect the partnership to evolve.”


Latest News