The Teton Photography Group was conceived in December 2012 after discussions with several local photographers. The simple question was asked, “With all of the great professional and amateur photographers in the Jackson Hole region, why is there no photography group?” The question was repeated frequently until someone suggested that the real question was, “Why don’t we start one?”
I am a newcomer to Jackson, moving here in September 2012 after two years of travel photographing national parks around the US and Canada. I had retired from my 65 hour/week job and was in pursuit of my passion for nature and wildlife photography. I was aware of many high quality photographic clubs and associations in most major cities and was surprised that there was none in Jackson. I spoke with photographers everywhere that I shot and began to sense there was interest in, if not enthusiasm for, some sort of networking and educational opportunity for local photographers. I met a number of locals in a series of great photography classes based in the Art Association of Jackson Hole. On the last night of the last class, a sign-up sheet was circulated for those interested in getting together to discuss and share photographic interests.
The sign-up sheet became an email list that quickly grew to about 40 names. In January and February of 2013 I had the chance to speak directly or through others with professional photographers David Brookover, Tom Mangelsen, Henry Holdsworth, Jason Williams, Mike Cavaroc, and Thomas Macker. All were encouraging and enthusiasm spread for getting an informal group together to discuss the issues that could insure the success or impede formation of a local or regional photo group. The first “pre-organizational” meeting was held at the Art Association on March 11. Only 6 attended that first meeting but we were able to flesh-out a number of issues and attain a means of approaching the issues. Homework was assigned and over the ensuing two weeks many answers were found and potential solutions to major impediments such as meeting venue and communications were investigated.
The second pre-organizational meeting was held on March 25. This meeting was attended by eleven enthusiastic members and addressed the difficult issues of organizational structure and charter, vision and mission statements were drafted and circulated to the email list. Thomas Macker proposed that the Art Association would be a natural partner and could provide a venue for meetings, programs, and exhibitions. Mike Cavaroc volunteered to head a Communications Committee and serve as Webmaster for the group. Mike established a social media presence on Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. It was clear that an organization was forming and that the next steps would be to formalize a partnership with the AAJH, define the group’s leadership, and codify the activities and programs that the group will support.
On April 8 the third and final pre-organizational meeting was a discussion with Dave Muskat and Thomas Macker about the details of a partnership with the Art Association of Jackson hole. A proposal was made to utilize the extensive resources of the AAJH for all organizational and logistical needs. The Group could define leaders to plan programs and presentations but would not be burdened by the need to develop an organizational infrastructure. All members of the AAJH could become members of the Group with no additional dues or fees. Members of the Photography Group would have full membership in the AAJH and all of the benefits. This was proposed to the interested members via email and was overwhelmingly supported.
We have solicited volunteers to serve on a steering/program committee and are in the process of compiling and prioritizing a list of programs for 2013. We hope to have a draft calendar of events for monthly programs throughout 2013 and a means of communicating with our growing membership.
The work of organizing the group has been a real team effort that I believe will provide a strong and enduring foundation. Time will tell if the initial enthusiasm will lead to a large membership base and high quality educational programs but seeing the superb images captured of this beautiful area by so many outstanding photographers, I cannot help but think the Teton Photography Group will have anything short of a long and stellar future. I hope you will be a part of it.