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In an awards ceremony Jan. 10 at the Magic Dragon in Santa Maria, Santa Maria Camera Club President Richard Russ thanked the many members whose volunteer work was integral to the club’s operations during the year. He gave one special award, the John Hidy Award, to the person he said contributed the most during the year -- Ramona Cashmore.

Top photographic awards for the year were given to Rosie Brancacio for her image “Shoes,” Large Color Print of the Year; Nyla James, “Abandoned Farm House,” Small Print of the Year; Richard, “Shell Beach,” Black and White Print of the Year; Dave Clary, “On Top of the World,” Digital Image of the Year; and Bob Ginn, “Birth of Man,” Color Slide of the Year.

People’s Choice Awards went to Elaine Calvert, “Some Time to Herself,” first place; Nyla, “The Post Horn Gallop,” second place; and Janice Darby, “The Wonder Years,” third place. High Points Photographer of the Year Award went to Elaine.

Richard handed over the gavel (figuratively, because he didn’t bring it) to Nyla, the incoming president. The other incoming board members are Dave, vice president; Janice Darby, secretary; Bill Hood, treasurer; Ron Calvert, Penni Powell, Alan Upshaw, Lynda Snodgrass, Ramona and Richard, past president.

Nyla reflected on years past before putting forward her hopes for the new year: “Seventy-six years ago, five men sat down at a table right here in Santa Maria, scribbled up some bylaws and put together a makeshift constitution and called themselves the Santa Maria Camera Club.”

Since the club’s inception in 1938, it has been a member of the Photographic Society of America. In 1965, it held potlucks, picnics, field trips and annual award dinners, she said. The club still does these things. In 1977, it had special competitions around Easter when the winners would receive a ham and Thanksgiving when the winners got a turkey.

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The club doesn’t do those things now, but it has added some others. Richard started a mentorship program for people who want help in various areas of photography. There are Saturday morning chats, subject matter competitions, “Show and Tell” challenges, and Bob is publishing a book with images from club members.

Women weren’t allowed to be members of the club until 1952, but that didn’t stop Doris Houghten from attending with her husband Vern, Nyla said: “She got to be so dependable, the men in the club decided they would let her be secretary-treasurer even though she couldn’t enter a competition. Later on, Doris moved on to be president of our club.”

“I'm very proud to be here tonight to be your president for 2015 and I'm really, really happy to see so many of you here celebrating our awards banquet,” Nyla said. “I'm looking forward to a year of enjoyment, camaraderie, learning and sharing, and I want to promote creativity and encourage fellowship in the cause of photography.”

The club is open to new members from beginners to advanced photographers. It meets on the first and third Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in Santa Maria. Anyone who is interested can contact Nyla at 704-5241. 

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Jeanne Sparks is a writer, photographer and graphic artist. Send story ideas to jeanne@jeannesparks.com.

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