The Photography Center of Cape Cod gives guidance to a congregation of camera clickers on Route 6A.
The days when photographers would expose, develop, process, stop-bath, and drip-dry paper just to see a single print are mostly gone. But while the techniques required to draw exposures from film are easing into antiquity, the craft of photography on Cape Cod is perhaps more popular than ever. “With the light and the scenes available, we have opportunities here on Cape Cod that you just can’t find anywhere else,” says Roberta Miller, president of the Cape Cod Art Association. “We are seeking to share that with a larger audience.”
Enter the Photography Center of Cape Cod, an auxiliary of the Cape Cod Art Association that opened inside its Route 6A headquarters in Barnstable last year. The center provides aspiring and veteran photographers with the exhibit space, galleries, organized activities, and workshops on a scale rarely seen in the camera clubs that came before. “We realized there are hundreds and hundreds of photographers on the Cape, and there weren’t too many courses being offered in the area,” says Miller.
Yet this critical mass of photographers in the region was already embracing the latest technology. Miller estimates that 90 percent of the photography they hang is digital. By not relying on messy emulsion films, photographers are able to shoot more freely. “It’s become a really adventurous medium,” Miller says.
John Tunney, an award-winning photographer who teaches classes at the center and sits on the association’s steering committee, says, “Today’s cameras and software give photographers the same freedom that painters have to control tone, color, composition, and all the other elements of an image.”
The Cape Cod Art Association has always represented artists in a variety of media, from watercolorists to sculptors. “We aim to be inclusive,” says Miller. Dr. Fritz Talbot, a pediatrician from Boston who summered in Osterville, founded the CCAA along with several local painters in 1948 with the hopes of using the space as a gallery for their work. Over the years, its membership swelled to a current tally of 1,100, most of whom are juried members. Each is allowed to submit two pieces annually for display, and everything hung is for sale.