Vitali Zhulkovsky, invisible mystery man, is one of our most significant members. He immigrated from Russia to the United States in the very late twentieth century. Vitali was trained as a male nurse and worked in that capacity in the Russian Federation before leaving the country of his birth. Now in America, he became a self-taught art director for a NY publishing company. He taught himself website management and continued using his extraordinary skills as a website developer. He and his family reside in Simsbury.
Vitali does not recollect when he joined the SCC, but he thinks it was in 2014, when Bill Latournes was the president. Former club president Danielle D’Ermo remembers that at one meeting there was a discussion about upgrading our website. Vitali mentioned that he had some skill in this area and volunteered to help us. His expertise allowed us to transform our club’s public view with so many enhancements to our website, our image submission process, etc. He designed the site with a great deal of sophistication bringing us to a whole new level leaving our members in awe of his talent.
Photography was not one of Vitali’s great interests, but like so many of us, would grab whatever camera was around to snap a few pictures or record videos at family gatherings. He remembers getting a great deal of pleasure from looking at old family photos and videos. He states that there was “something gravitating about capturing the moments in life that always seem to pass too fast,” perhaps a view shared by all of us.
When his daughters started to play hockey he wanted to capture images of them on the ice rink. His first camera was a “point and shoot” present from his sister-in-law, a 2megapixel Kodak DC280 camera that he supplemented by his phone camera. The resulting images were blurry with a lot of grain and not satisfying. Despite this, he thought photography was awesome. He became hooked, but like all photographers, he soon realized his limitations. To improve his photographic skills, Vitali learned about apertures and shutter speed and saw that there was more to this hobby than pointing the camera and pressing a button. He also recognized his hoarder tendencies and was running out of storage trying to save all those images. It was time to upgrade his equipment, but he needed advice. Vitali learned that Simsbury had a camera club with a good reputation. He attended a few meetings, watched a few excellent presentations, and was then recruited by Bill. This was the beginning of the expansion of his photographic creative horizon.
As he became more involved in the club’s activities, he volunteered to turn into the club’s “web monkey”, as he modestly says, “paste things onto the club’s website.” As a result, Vitali has made the SCC informational website smooth working and a spectacular work of art.
Vitali does not think the club has changed all that much over the years, noting that the interesting presentations, classes on post-processing techniques, and photo competitions continue as they did before. More recently there are fewer face-to-face opportunities to discuss problems or discoveries with other members This was a function of the COVID pandemic, but hopefully a temporary setback. He found the outings valuable, particularly going to Livingston Ripley Conservancy with Danielle D’Ermo. “She is an amazing photographer, and a super kind person, I loved riding to the conservancy and getting to talk with her, watching her take pictures and she taught and encouraged me how to do it. The hands-on classes were extremely helpful, going out to waterfalls, watching judges do their thing, and any time I get a chance to talk to other members I learned something new. But in the end, if I am honest, I do not think I improved that noticeably. Or likely I learned that I am not able to take the images I wanted to see — people up close, unposed and personal. I just don’t have the confidence, boldness, or courage to get this close to people. I guess I did learn what I like and [my limitations]. Everyone that I have met at the club is the nicest person I know. Over these years each has been nothing but kind, caring, and supportive . . . and not just with photography. My contribution simply started as just helping with the website and I still think that is my role.”
Vitali may not be a frequent competitor in our contests or a vocal commentator at our meetings, but our website administrator has been, as his first name translates to “vital, significant and important,” to the Simsbury Camera Club. We are incredibly grateful for his contribution.