The avuncular soft-spoken George Zars had been a devoted member of the Simsbury Camera club since 1968. His interests were broad and included scouting and astronomy. His most abiding love was for photography and his many friends in the camera club. They sustained his passion for the creativity and challenge that serious photography offered. George, a retired math teacher, served two terms as president of the SCC and coordinated the club’s selection and submissions for outside competitions. George’s father owned several cameras back in the 1930s and these “photographic instruments” had a great influence on his photography hobby. One was a large format wood and cloth box that used glass plates. This became one of George’s favorite toys when he was a young man. In the 1950s George bought a 35mm Nikormat film camera and he set up a portable dark room over the bath tub where he where he developed his skill at making and printing black and white images. He then went on to using Kodachrome and making slides and color prints. When he first joined the Simsbury Camera Club George was using a Minolta 120 and he especially liked its fixed 135mm lens. This rugged implement served him well in club competitions. George noted that when the club gradually shifted from slides to digital, he witnessed club’s enhanced photographic sophistication. The size of the club also changed a number of times during his tenure and at one time the club had fewer than 30 members. The scoring systems for competitions changed as well, the top score being 15. As always, judging was an issue. A member rode to club meetings with him for many years and the conversation on the drive home was always centered around the poor scores that some member received and questioned some of the good scored that others got. Judging, than as now, was a thankless business. Still felt that the club managed to live up to its stated standards and goals helping everyone improve at what they enjoyed; capturing an image of what they found attractive and being able to share it with others — regardless of the judge’s score. Time and again he said that the club afforded everyone the opportunity to learn from each other as well as appreciate the small details that make up a great image. George was proud of that and we all benefitted from his hard work and wise counsel.
The Simsbury Camera Club thrives because of the dedicated volunteer spirit of our members. George Zars was one of our past members who exemplified that spirit. In looking to honor his memory, I was inspired to organize this column which will recognize members past and present who have, over time, exhibited participation and volunteerism above and beyond that of the average member. This “Member Recognition Column”, written by Lou Norton, (at times extrapolating information from previous issues of “Focal Point”, by Ben Skaught), will highlight a member about every two months and will be archived on our website for future reference. It seems only fitting that our first highlighted member be George Zars. Feel free to email me names of deserving honorees.