Kevin Reeves has a habit of searching out abandoned furniture, whether it’s on the side of the road or in an alley or somewhere else.
He doesn’t use the furniture; he just takes photographs of it.
It helps Reeves hone his photography skills and put into practice what he’s learned as a member of the Goldsboro Area Photography Club.
The club has been around for more than 20 years, starting out as a small group of local photographers of varying skills and passions and growing to its current membership of 30.
There are presentations at each monthly meeting designed to help members become better photographers.
“We have people in the club who have just started out and got a camera for Christmas or their birthday and don’t really know how to use it, to professional photographers who do sporting events or freelance work and sell their work in galleries or online,” Reeves said. “We’re a very diverse crowd. We have several members who are active or retired Air Force. We have men and women of all ages.”
Reeves said members are more than willing to help each other, sharing knowledge and equipment.
In addition to monthly programs, the photography club’s members take trips to practice their craft — to Washington, D.C., Atlantic Beach, Duke Gardens, Shackleford Banks, Cape Lookout, Wilmington, the mountains and even Hyde or Beaufort county in January to photograph the tundra swans and snow geese in the national wildlife refuge.
Reeves joined the club to learn how to use his camera because he was interested in photography but didn’t really know what he was doing.
“I was in my 40s when I went on a trip to Europe with a good camera that I had never used much,” he said. “When I came back, I had taken lots and lots of pictures, but I had lots and lots of bad pictures. It pushed me to learn how to use my camera and become a better photographer.”
Reeves said his favorite photograph is of an old house and a huge oak tree in LaGrange out in the middle of a field.
“That’s the first picture that anybody ever took notice of,” he said. “I have it framed at my house.
“I also have some pictures I’ve taken of roads in the mountains, and you can’t see the end of the road. People call it the road to nowhere series. It bothers people. They want to know where the roads go. I never thought about that.”
Sue Sunderman is relatively new to the club, having joined just last year. She wanted to learn more about photography and be around people with similar interests.
She looks for photo opportunities wherever she goes. Sometimes she’ll be out and just see something that would make a good picture. But she always has her camera with her.
“I’m a little bit all over the place as far as photos,” Sunderman said. “I just really want to capture the beauty of God’s world, from people to flowers or a sunset. I look for ordinary things that are really quite extraordinary when you stop to look at them.”
She said her favorite photo is one of her mother’s hands.
“She had had some surgery and we went shopping and she got this special bracelet,” Sunderman said. “She was just sitting there. She said her hands were ugly and I told her no, her hands are beautiful. That moment is special to me.”
Cory Bean enjoyed dabbling in photography, but wanted to get better at it so he joined the photography club about nine years ago.
“I didn’t just want to take snapshots, but learn how to compose a photograph,” he said. “I wanted to take better, more meaningful photos of my newborn daughter.”
Bean likes taking portraits and especially pictures of children, who he said are challenging, but fun to work with.
When taking a photo, Bean gets in a zone.
“Sometimes, there’s that feeling of euphoria when you really think you’ve nailed a photography,” he said. “Most of the time, though, I have more technical things on my mind. That’s what I like about photography, it allows me to explore the more technical aspect, which is something I really love. It lets me exercise the artistic side as well. I find photography to be a beautiful marriage of those two things.”
Bean said behind every great photo is a stack of bad ones, but every photo has value.
“If somebody took the time out of their day to stop and photograph whatever it was for whatever reason was, it has value, whether it be a random truck stop snapshot or a random photo of a couple of rocks. There was something about it that made that person want to trip the shutter to preserve that.
“It’s a type of time travel. You can go back and relive these memories of the past. There’s this tangible thing you can hold in your hands that kind of cements that moment in time with a print.”
In addition to learning how to become better photographers, members of the club do a service project every year the first Saturday of December — Help-Portrait. It was started by a Nashville-based celebrity photographer who, while on a commercial shoot one day, saw a homeless man and asked to take his photograph. He returned and gave the homeless man a print. It moved the man so much that the photographer decided to make it a community service project.
The Goldsboro Area Photography Club has been doing Help-Portrait for the past eight years. Last year, members gave away 8 by 10 prints to close to 80 local people.
“We do it because it’s a way for us to utilize our talents to give to the community,” Bean said. “Maybe a family portrait that they can’t afford to get otherwise.”
The club meets the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Arts Council of Wayne County.
“We challenge each other to become better photographers and to learn new techniques,” Reeves said. “And we have fun while we’re doing it. We have a good time as a group.”