Fred Shapiro is well known around Leisure World for his numerous contributions to the good of the community. He has served on boards, chaired committees, and led various groups. Fred has also taught for the Center for Lifelong Learning (www.cllmd.com), of which he is currently president. One of the things that Fred likes most to teach is about his long-time hobby, photography (see photo as an example of Fred’s work). So, in considering this article for LW News, I decided it would be of interest to find out how and why Fred got so involved with photography.
Fred’s interest started as a child (a few years ago!) when, while living in NYC, his aunt gave him a Kodak Jiffy camera (see http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Kodak_Jiffy). While Fred loved taking pictures, the ability to do so was limited due to having to spend money to purchase film and get it processed. This changed a bit when Fred visited another aunt whose neighbor was a professional photographer. Fred befriended the photographer’s son who taught Fred how to process film, use an enlarger, and print photographs.
While in high school Fred started using a 35mm camera which his cousin had “liberated” from the Nazis. By then, Fred has his own darkroom equipment, which meant closing up the kitchen to enlarge and print pictures. He worked mostly with 35 mm film. Later on, while serving in the US Army in Germany, Fred upgraded his cameras by adding a Kodak Retina and an Exakta single lens reflex camera.
Fred continued to do amateur photography during his whole working career. However, Fred never sold photos until the month before he and his wife moved to LW. Fred sent a photograph he had taken in New Zealand to Newsday, the LI paper, Travel section and it was accepted and printed.
Moving to LW opened a whole new world in photography for Fred. He became a member of the Camera Club, and this got him involved in competitions at LW and in the greater community. Early on, Fred sent a photo taken in the Ukraine to the Washington Post Travel competition and was awarded with a half page of his picture of people waiting in the train station. The judges said “you can read a story in every person’s face in the photo.” Over the years, Fred has won a number of awards for photography at LW and he has also served as the official photographer for the Democratic Club and other organizations in LW.
Of course, these days film is long gone and Fred is heavily involved in digital photography. Over the past several years he has taught courses on this medium at LW. When he teaches, Fred’s aim is help LW residents improve their vision of what makes a good photograph and how to use the advantages of the digital camera to make their vision a reality. Interestingly, Fred points out that “…the digital camera is no more than the box camera we all had as kids, only it has a brain that we have to learn how to use. The important thing to keep in mind when taking a picture is that it captures a moment that you want to remember. What you do to compose that picture is more critical than the technical aspects of the camera.”
Fred’s philosophy is not to teach how to win competitions, but how to capture memories in a way which emphasizes the experience the photographer has had in finding and patiently waiting to get the right shot. In his teaching, Fred works with his classes to look at digital cameras to understand the tools provided by technology. Then they talk about different aspects – people, landscapes, nature, animals, children, action such as sports, etc. to determine what features the digital camera has that will enable getting the right image. And most important the critical vision of both eye and mind that looks for the composition that makes the photo work.
Fred is going to be giving a course entitled “People in your pictures; taking your digital photographs to a new level.” The class will start Tuesday, May 19 and end Tuesday June 16. It will be at 2:00 pm in Clubhouse I and cost $15. While a complete description can be found under the class section of this issue of LWN, it is worth noting that the course will cover everything from how to select a digital camera, composing and taking pictures, making the best use of the software that comes with the camera, editing pictures, and presenting photos.