Collective unites photographers

With summer a mere two months away, many Yalies are questioning how the academic year could have passed so quickly. The artists in one local organization, however, have devoted themselves to capturing each of life’s moments before they slip away, and preserving them on 4×6 glossy paper, 8×10 black and white portraits, or blown-up posters.

New Haven’s Photographic Arts Collective holds monthly meetings that provide local photographers the opportunity to share both their work and passion for an art form that often creates a lifestyle marked by “a bit of isolation,” founding member Terry Dagradi said.

Dagradi, along with three other photographers, founded the group in 1996 with the hope it would be an umbrella program. According to its mission statement, the organization’s goals are “to cultivate and support a community of individuals who share an interest in photography. To provide an on-going series of programs — To develop a forum for exchanging and encouraging ideas addressing issues raised from a common interest in photographic arts.”

The Arts Council of Greater New Haven oversaw the creation of the Collective, whose members have spent the past six years developing the group. Today, over thirty local artists attend monthly meetings. According to the organization’s Web site, members have “worked persistently in bringing quality photography-related events to New Haven.”

A few recent highlights include 8×10 Polaroid Portrait Sessions, multiple photo exhibitions, and a guest speaker who maintains one of the most extensive collections of daguerreotype photographs, which are products of the first viable method yielding permanent images.

Dagradi said the group was formed in response to photographers’ increasing frustration at seeing each other and each others’ work only at infrequent annual photography conferences.

“We would see each other just once or twice a year, and whenever we would get together we would learn so much and enjoy the exposure to other styles of photography,” she said. “Exchanging information is so powerful.”

Matthew Garrett, the organization’s webmaster, said it was sad to see a “bunch of photographers get along really well but then go their separate ways and not see each other for another year.” He added that the organization was created as an offshoot of Images, a large, juried annual photography show.

In the future, the group hopes to expand and increase interaction with the Yale community. Dagradi said the Collective would like to “keep in the loop” and take advantage of the excellent resources and speakers at Yale, while also opening the Collective to Yalies and other college students.

“We’re a very open group,” Dagradi said.

Garrett reaffirmed the Collective’s interest in Yale. He said a major goal for the group is expansion, but that the organization must maintain a balance between realistic goals and “pies in the sky.”

The organization has been successful in initial attempts to interact with Yale. Just recently, Richard Benson, the Dean of Yale’s School of Art, gave a lecture for the organization.

Local artist Matthew Feiner said he considers the Collective a success.

“I believe that they have done a great job,” he said.

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