When Howard Rachlin moved to Durango in 2001 after a career in marketing on Long Island, he immediately sought kindred spirits to share in his new pursuit of photography.
I was surprised, Rachlin said. As I kept meeting some very good photographers, I asked, How can I join the photography club here? They said theyd tried, and it cant be done. I said, You havent met the right person.
Moving swiftly, Rachlin joined Seniors Outdoors!, which had its own photography branch. That put him in touch with more photographers, but he wanted to open it to more people than only that group. In February 2003, Rachlin started the Durango Photography Club. The club will celebrate its 10th birthday Thursday night at La Plata County Fairgrounds. What began as a group of 30 local shutterbugs now numbers just fewer than 100.
Rachlin was the first and fourth club president. His successors have included John White, Joel White and Barry Durand. The current leader is Jerry Hanes.
The club meets monthly with different themes intended to broaden the interests and skills of the members. Rachlin said monthly speakers represent a range of photographic experience, knowledge and ability, and it is that diversity of topics and education that makes the club encompassing and inclusive.
I like to go there and have people to socialize with. The monthly presentations are usually very helpful, said Darel Crawford, a club member for eight years. The competition isnt so much, but I like seeing how different people interpret the theme for that month.
Members come to Durango to go to the monthly meetings. Speakers might be newbies who show off their point-and-shoot cameras or seasoned professionals such as Rachlin, Dean Conger, Branson Reynolds and Kathy Myrick.
Ive given talks on everything from the art of seeing and how to set up your camera to higher-end subjects like how ink jet printers actually work, Rachlin said.
The club takes field trips, hosts online forums and runs the photography contest for the La Plata County Fair.
The greatest thing I get out of the fair is the younger people, Rachlin said. The under-12 group has turned in photos that are better than the advanced. The fair gets a lot of people into photography and eventually into the club.