The first time Chris Fisher approached photography seriously was when he and his wife, Diane, took the summer of 1972 to travel to Europe on $5/day. They purchased two Eurail Passes that allowed them to travel in first class comfort for 7 weeks for only $300. They traveled from the Italian Riviera up to the fjords of Norway, taking 700 to 800 slides. Chris became a member of the Simsbury Camera Club shortly after that. He felt that membership in the SCC provided many opportunities to share ideas and common interests with like-minded people.
Having joined the club, Chris needed more money to indulge his new hobby since the salary he received as a physics teacher did not provide any extra cash to spend. So, when a high school friend asked him to take pictures at his wedding, the results worked out so well that he decided to go into the wedding photography business on the side. He did that with Steve Underwood, a fellow teacher at Bloomfield High School and another member of SCC. That partnership continued for 15 years while they both continued being active in the club. Wedding photography provided Chris with quite a few memorable times, such as when no one remembered to arrange to take the bride to the church and it fell to Chris to drive her there!
His first camera was a Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic with a 55mm lens which most closely reproduced an image similar to what the human eye can see. He was thrilled with it because the camera had the light meter built in and as you adjusted the shutter speed and aperture all you had to do “was get the little needle in the middle!” It also had the Pentax Universal Screw mount that allowed for numerous different lenses which opened all kinds of possibilities for photography.
One of the many changes Chris has seen in the club since he joined is the ebb and flow in membership. At about the time he retired in 2000, the numbers had seriously declined, sometimes only 10 or 15 people would come to a meeting. It was clear that SCC needed a shot in the arm, or the club was going to fade away. Dave Royce was president, Larry Cassalino was VP, and because Helen Walker, the longtime editor of the Focal Point had just died, Chris agreed to take over the newsletter. They all agreed that to revive the club, they needed to get good speakers and then get the word out to bring people in, but the club would need money to do that. Chris contacted about 15 businesses that had advertised in the newsletter in the past, but were not currently, and convinced them to buy a year’s worth of ads. It raised enough to print and mail an expanded newsletter to anyone who might be interested. Even though this process brought in a few more new people, more presentations and better speakers were necessary which required a lot more money. Dave, Larry and the rest of the executive committee agreed with Chris’s suggestion that they go back to the Simsbury Bank and see if they wanted to do a calendar again, as we had many years before. The timing was perfect. The bank had been thinking about a similar project. The original collaboration had produced a sepia tone calendar, but the bank now wanted to go full color. With the additional funds from the bank calendar, the club was able to provide better speakers and the club continued to grow and become healthy.
One of Chris’s fondest photography memories is when he and Diane took a trip to Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies in 2004. He had his two Nikon SLR cameras, one with a 50-85 Zoom and the other with a 75-150 zoom. But Diane had a neat little Kodak digital camera that had a 10x zoom – the equivalent of a 40 – 400mm zoom. That camera let you see in the viewfinder what the picture would look like before you took it. Chris thought that little Kodak was really cool, and the results were better than the slides taken with his Nikons! Poor Diane didn’t really get to use her camera much that trip because Chris kept playing with it. Chris was hooked on digital photography right from the start and has thoroughly enjoyed it. As Chris pointed out, the advantage is that “you don’t have to change film or pay for the processing and printing. Wow, did that free you up to try a lot of different things!”
Chris found the club competitions to be real learning experiences. While he would sometimes get frustrated with the judges’ comments, he insists he still learned something – even if it were that he didn’t always agree with the judges and that was OK. But the biggest thing for him was just the opportunity to see the work of so many different people. He reflects back to the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s when there was no internet where you could see thousands of images from everywhere. “Before that you either looked at books and magazines, or went to camera club meetings, or places like NECCC where you could see shows put together by some of the best photographers in the world. And Kodak would put on a show with 15 different slide projectors merging images in such creative ways. Sometimes they would even include a movie. Of course, now all that can be done with a simple program on a computer.” Chris no longer enters club competitions in order to devote more time to creating presentations, which he gives to various organizations including SCC, Audubon, and local libraries. He also devotes time to creating print exhibitions of his photos, and to his website where you can see wonderful images, especially photo diaries of many of his amazing trips. See www.naturalexpressionsphotography.net
Because of extensive travel with his wife Diane, he is seldom able to get to regular monthly SCC meetings. Chris’s primary involvement now is through judging the online Nature competitions. Unlike regular judging, he enjoys being able to give more detailed write-ups about the entries in the hope that some of the ideas may be helpful to both the submitters and other members.
Chris has served the club as membership chair and commentator, but his major involvement was when he took over the newsletter for 5 or 6 years to try and get the club active again. During that time, he wrote many helpful articles, including one on the history of the club since its start in the 1950s. Chris applauds the club for its hardworking folks who have kept it going. He believes the club has never been stronger than it is right now, and goes on to comment “A lot of people are trying new ways of doing things and the leadership in the club over the last few years has been exceptionally strong and creative. Keep up the good work!”