This brief history of the highlights of the Ridgewood Camera Club, starting from its first meeting on September 15, 1937 to the present was taken from the 60th anniversary pamphlet, the 50th anniversary book, and has been updated further in 2011.
Many special events occurred in celebration of our 50th anniversary back in 1987, but one that is very much visible today is the creation of the silhouette image of Club members in action. It is still being used as an RCC “visual signature” on Club tee-shirts and other apparel. For the 50th, we hosted an exhibit of antique photographic equipment and prints from past RCC members and produced a slide show entitled "50 Years in RCC: A Retrospective" which contained award-winning slides and prints from each decade since the Club’s founding.
In celebration of our 60th Anniversary in 1997, we had many special events not the least of which was a six-week rotating exhibit of framed prints from twenty-two RCC members that was hosted by Kodalux Labs. The Diamond anniversary year featured a year-end celebration "The Best of Ridgewood," a slide presentation containing winning images from the year’s Club competitions and a display of the season’s winning prints. This tradition is one that continues today at our annual year-end dinner held the last week of May.
CLUB COMPETITIONS THROUGH THE DECADES
Although color photography was introduced in 1942 the Club was mostly doing black and white prints until 1949 when we held our first color slide competition. The first Tri-Club event was held in 1960, with Teaneck, Englewood and Ridgewood competing (later changed to Teaneck, Tri County and Ridgewood.) In 1961 a new competition class, NATURE, was added to the calendar while ASSIGNED SUBJECT, yet another new competition class was added soon after. While interest in color slides increased, interest in prints among members waned, and print competitions were discontinued in 1968 for a decade, but were actively resumed in 1979. Each of these competition categories are still in use today with vigorous Club participation in all of them.
Initially Club members were divided into three categories based on expertise (Novice, Advanced, and Beginners.) In 1971 it was simplified to "Class A" advanced, and "Class B" beginners. The present scoring system for images and prints was adopted in 1978.
THE RIDGEWOOD INTERNATIONAL AND OUTSIDE COMPETITIONS
In January 1984, Ridgewood held its first International Salon which attracted entries from several countries. Ara Chakarian, APSA, NJFCC, was chairman for the first event, and he continued in this role through 2011 - nearly thirty years - with the help and support of many members of the Club. Today the Ridgewood International attracts photographers from dozens of countries to compete for PSA Acceptance in Pictorial, Nature and Wildlife categories. The resulting Exhibition slide show contains the Acceptances, Honorable Mentions and Medal winners and is a featured program by as many as seven Clubs in the area.
In 2007 digital images were first accepted in the International and by 2011 99% of the entries were digital with only seven people entering slides. The Exhibition slide show is now placed on the Club's website making the show available to all entrants the world over.
In addition to our own International, the Club participates in and hosts outside competitions such as NJFCC (New Jersey Federation of Camera Clubs), Tri-Club, PSA (Photographic Society of America) Inter-Club and PSA Internationals. Club members participate in PSA Salons and PSA sponsored Salons; many of them proudly hold Stars in several categories.
RIDGEWOOD GOES DIGITAL
The Club had its first exposure to Digital Imaging in 1991 through an exciting workshop presented by Vinnie Kempf and Keith Yagaloff. This was very much the early days of digital, and RCC was on the cutting edge of the new and promising technology. In 2004 we began holding digitally projected competitions as an adjunct to our slide (film) competitions and by 2008 slides were dropped from competition due to the overwhelming acceptance of digitally projected images. In 2010 we began to simultaneously project digital images during print competitions in order to give audience members a better view of the image while the judge evaluated the print.
The Club's website was launched in 2002 by Vinnie Kempf who remains the Club’s Webmaster today. Over the last decade the website has gone through several rewrites and upgrades including the latest developed by George Garbeck and Vinnie Kempf featuring integration of the Member database and on-line registration for workshops and field trips. The Club’s monthly newsletter, The Focal Plane, was retired in November 2009 as it became redundant since all relevant information, plus a whole lot more, was readily available on the Club’s website.
The evolution to digital technology has generated a surge and renewed appreciation in photography, and local camera clubs have benefitted from this trend. The 2009/2010 season saw RCC membership increase by almost 50% and the trend seems to continue in this our latest season 2010/2011. The 75th anniversary in 2012 will boast our largest membership ever.
RIDGEWOOD CAMERA CLUB VENUES AND THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
After many years at the McFaul Environmental Center, in 1990 the Club moved to new meeting space in the Woman's Club of Wyckoff affording us more space for our growing membership. Membership continued to grow and in 2010 the meeting place was again changed, this time to the VFW Hall #5702 in Franklin Lakes. This venue allows for upwards of 100 members to participate in programs and competitions.
The Club has been active in many community affairs through the years with members volunteering their services by presenting slide shows in nursing homes, libraries, senior citizen meetings and other community organizations. We have sponsored many exhibits of our members’ work including the Wyckoff Family YMCA in 2009 and participated in "PHOTOFEST 97" which was presented jointly with Hacker Photo, the Bergen County Zoo, and RCC with the proceeds benefiting the Bergen County Zoo.
THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
The Executive Committee represents the Club membership by providing compelling programs, informative workshops and exciting field trips that offer opportunities to learn, grow and hone their photography and post-processing skills. In the 2010/2011 season the Club hosted more than a dozen field trips and an equal number of workshops. We also introduced the idea of a “critique night” to give less experienced members the opportunity to have their images evaluated and commented upon by more seasoned Club photographers. This activity has been received enthusiastically. The Executive Committee encourages Club members to participate in and be involved in Club activities as well as serving on the EC.
THE ANNUAL CLUB CELEBRATION DINNER
The RCC Annual Dinner is held in May at which time awards are presented to the high-scoring winners in projected images and prints. Following the dinner it has become a tradition to present a slide show, "The Best of Ridgewood," to let us enjoy once more the winning images of the year.