Rooney Dumler says the Harbour City Photography Club’s willingness to adapt to change is what has kept it going during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dumler, president and program director for the local photographers’ group, is also a member of an inter-provincial photography organization and said she’s seen other clubs shut down over the past year and a half.
“We’re still alive and well and I think that is a momentous thing because, unfortunately, a lot of clubs didn’t [survive],” she said. “A lot of clubs did not make it, they couldn’t do it. They didn’t have the revenue coming in, people just couldn’t meet, they didn’t work with Zoom. They’re gone.”
Dumler said a motivator was trying to figure out how to take the exhibition the club had planned for VIU’s View Gallery that was “dead in the water” and make it work virtually.
“That was the pivoting point because when we figured that out then we figured out the Zoom and we’ve had some talented people on our executive that are really tech savvy and they’ve made it work,” she said.
Dumler said she was surprised by how easily the HCPC made the switch to Zoom. She said the platform has also opened the group up to “a whole new realm of possibilities” when it comes to inviting speakers to give presentations, since they can now have guests from around the world give talks.
The club has also worked to improve its website and introduced a virtual gallery, and members have been familiarizing themselves with Instagram as a way to attract younger photographers.
“Someone said, ‘Facebook is only for grandparents and old people now,’ so we’re trying to get with the times,” Dumler said.
Despite their success in transitioning to the virtual realm, Dumler said the club’s goal is to return to physical shows. The HCPC already has an exhibition at the View Gallery “penciled in” for June 2022. Dumler said photographs are best when viewed in person.
“You see a digital picture and it’s great, wonderful. And then you see it in real print it’s a different experience,” she said. “And we really want to hold onto that because that is, to my mind, the epitome of the best work is when you see it in print.”