Camera Club's Liz Allan shares passion for photography with 'The Citizen'
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Readers of The Citizen since the COVID-19 pandemic struck may notice the occasional use of pictures from local photographer Liz Allan, a member of the Maitland Valley Camera Club.
In the early days of the pandemic, The Citizen reached out to the club in hopes of using pictures taken by budding local photographers, while at the same time hopefully raising the club’s profile in Huron County.
While The Citizen has received pictures from several members of the club over the course of the last 11 months, Allan has been, by far, the most prolific, submitting beautiful landscape and wildlife photography, often taken in her home community of Wroxeter.
After a successful career in education, which included 22 years as an educational assistant at Sacred Heart School in Wingham, Allan is now retired and goes for as many as two walks a day, always with her camera in hand.
During her working days, Allan was the designated photographer at the school, taking pictures of presentations, sporting events, etc. However, she would simply take those pictures on a pocket-sized point-and-shoot camera. It wasn’t until about 12 years ago that she began to get a bit more serious about her photography.
Allan was friends with a member of the Maitland Valley Camera Club, who had identified Allan’s love for photography and asked if she wanted to get better at her craft. He loaned her his digital SLR camera and let her use it for a few weeks in an effort to learn a bit more about the intimidating piece of technology.
While learning the complicated skill of photography was daunting, Allan says she was hooked instantly and soon she had bought her own camera and was attending meetings of the club. She is still one of the club’s members after all these years and says she owes so much to it – not just for the skills she’s learned, but for the friends she’s made along the way.
When Allan first began attending meetings of the club, she admits she felt, but those feelings quickly subsided when she began speaking with other members. They were so forthcoming and full of knowledge and willing to share it that she immediately felt at ease and comfortable as a member.
She has now gotten to the point that she only takes pictures on the manual focus setting, which has been a personal milestone for her since she became serious about photography.
The meetings were helpful from a number of aspects, she said. Not only was there a free-flowing exchange of ideas, advice, tips and tricks, but they would often set out together on photography excursions.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the club would meet in Brussels, so members would walk together throughout the village, photographing whatever and whomever they could find. As a photogenic community, Allan said Brussels was fantastic. Not only are there beautiful heritage structures and plenty of character, but the Maitland River, the dam and the now-closed structure by the dam all made for interesting subjects. They would even sometimes stop by the village’s baseball diamond if a game was being played to practise their action photography.
The work didn’t stop there, however, as Allan said the club would sometimes photograph items in their meeting space in Brussels, like flowers, or they would sometimes think bigger with road trips – one to Quebec for a weekend came to mind for Allan.
The club has also routinely brought in guest speakers who have been helpful over the years, she said.
Allan and other members of the club would often get together for photography trips locally, whether one member was heading out to Lake Huron or to another local spot, they would always put the word out, asking if other members wanted to join.
While in past years that would mean a road trip, now it means members driving themselves and meeting at a location, ensuring they are distanced and safe while enjoying one another’s company and taking pictures of Huron County. Even now, she says, some members are still making a point to get out and take pictures while seeing other members of the club.
As for Allan’s journey, she says she often finds inspiration in the nature around her. She is also lucky to have a number of bird feeders at her home, so she routinely catches some of the area’s most beautiful birds stopping in for a snack, all while Allan doesn’t even have to leave the comfort of her home.
Over the years, members of the club have exhibited their photographs throughout the county, including a show in recent years at the Brussels Library.