San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Top Area Photography Work Exhibited

MANY of Costa Rica’s PhotographyClub members are not even professionalphotographers, but judging from the strikingwork on display in San José’s Casa deCultura the photographers could easilyquit their day jobs.This is the last weekend to visit thePhotography Club’s 15th AnnualExhibition, which features about 60 of thebest photographs submitted last year tothe group’s contests.The club holds a contest about everytwo months and the photos are judged ona 15-point scale. Any photograph that hasscored at least an eight is eligible for displayat the annual exhibit, which endsJune 15.The variety of photographs and lack ofa unified theme make this event unique.“The exposition is very varied,” saidGilberto Bolaños, the club’s treasurer.“There are all sorts of themes. Someonecould very easily come to the show andnot find a unifying theme from one phototo another. Because of the nature of theexposition there is notheme.”FOUR “Photographsof the Year” are stationedat the entrance and arelarger in size.“These photos are thewinners of the winners,”Bolaño said, adding thatthere is no monetaryprize or plaque for winningthe contests.“The only prize is tohave the Photo of theYear and the pleasure oftaking the photo,” Bolaño said.One of the top photos, titled, “PaisajeHumano 1” (Human Landscape 1) byRoberto Pacheco looks like the visual representationof a Pablo Neruda poem payingtribute to the female body.Another winning photo, “Amaneceren Bocas” of an early morning oceanscene with interesting lines created by adock, was taken by the club’s president,Marco Vargas in Bocas del Toro, Panama.“EVERYONE works differently, butI don’t shoot unless I love the photo,”Vargas said. “When a photographer isworking, they always have the opportunityto say, ‘No, this is not what I’m lookingfor’ and not shoot. That’s the differencebetween someone who really knows whatthey’re doing and someone who doesn’t.”Some of the photographs on displayare humorous, like Johnny González’sdigitally altered portrait of a smilingelderly man with two reproductions of hismouth in place of his eyes.Other photos produce a surreal effect,like J. Federico Campos’ two photographsof museum patrons looking at paintingsby Goya and Velázquez. The viewer islooking at art which depicts other peoplelooking at art.SOME of the photographs have beenmanipulated, such as one that looks morelike a drawing of the Panamanian governmentbuilding, some are stunning portraits,such as two of Guatemalan indigenousand some are still lives, such as onephotograph of a barrel of glowing redapples.The first floor of the exhibition displaysblack-and-white photography, thesecond floor features color photos.The Photography Club was begun in1989 by a group of five friends whoshared an interest in photography, saysVargas. Now, the organization counts atleast 60 members.The group’s membership has grown,in part, because of the publicity the organizationhas received in the daily newspapersabout its exhibits.“I personally have had about 10-15people contact me wantingto know how to jointhe Photography Club,”said Bolaños, who alsohandles publicity andmembership.WITH such a largegroup and the pointrequirements to make itto the exhibition, only14 club members havephotographs on display(a few of them have severalphotos featured).To participate in theclub’s events (talks, trips, technique classesand photography competitions) onemust be a member. Membership is¢10,000 ($23) per year and members arerequired to attend at least two events peryear. The membership card entitlesFotoclub members to up to a 30% discountin Fuji, Kodak and Agfa stores.“Our members are not professionals –they are engineers, housewives and teachers,”Bolaños said. “They are people wholove photography and do it as a hobby oras a second job.”THE exhibition is free and open tothe public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It islocated in San José at Casa de Cultura delBanco Popular, in Barrio Escalante, 300meters north and 300 meters east of theSanta Teresita Church.For more info, call 224-4186 or sendan e-mail to toreceive updates (in Spanish) on the club’sactivities.

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