DENHAM SPRINGS -- Charles Stutts calls photography “a work of love.”
To him, there are few things in life sweeter than holding that camera in his hands, eyes looking directly into the lense, trying to capture that perfect moment in time.
The new member of the Arts Council of Livingston Parish has taken photographs for 12 years, sometimes as close as Lake Martin, Louisiana, and other times as far away as Germany, Poland or even Latvia.
But no matter where he stands or where his camera is pointed, the same thrill engulfs him every time.
“You can lose yourself from reality taking photographs,” Stutts said.
This weekend, Stutts enjoyed the company of others who live for that same feeling.
The Arts Council hosted it Photography Members Reception on Saturday, July 8, at the ACLP building in the Denham Springs Antique Village.
A dozen or so of the 18 featured photographers were present for the reception, which lasted from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and invited people of all ages to come check out the 48 displayed pieces that will be up until Aug. 26.
The front area of the ACLP building was full of people by around noon on Saturday, with photographers chatting amongst themselves or with admirers as they all looked at the artwork.
What everyone saw was a wide array of photographs, ranging from snapshots of nature, animals, historical monuments, churches, people and various objects.
There are hardly two alike photos in the exhibit, with a possible exception of Ken Wilson’s trio of wild — and running — horse photographs. There are pictures of a Grand Isle sunrise, Eagle Point in the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower, an abandoned church, a red-billed woodpecker and much more.
But no matter the photograph, they were all shot with the same intent.
“Whether it’s a landscape or a portrait,” said ACLP member Adin Putnam, “it’s all the same. The goal is to reach people and tell stories with your photographs.”
KC “Kitty” Kuhnert, who lives between Gonzales and Port Vincent, was one of the displayed photographers that made it to the reception.
She has three photos on display: two close-up shots of a purple iris and a sunflower, and a photograph of a “Weeping Angel” statue that she shot in memory of a friend who recently passed away.
At one point during the reception, Kuhnert walked up to “Perfection In Nature” — her photograph of a sunflower blossom just before it opens that she took at the Rural Life Museum in Baton Rouge — and explained a little of her process.
She pointed out the greenery that was blurred in the background, which helped highlight the features of the budding sunflower. It was so focused that Kuhnert said “you can even count the seeds” that lay behind the soon-to-blossom petals.
Kuhnert almost always has three cameras at her disposal, constantly swapping them out as she searches for the right one to capture that particular moment — which she always hopes will inspire peace and tranquility.
“I like pictures that draw you in, and to me, that’s a perfect picture,” Kuhnert said. “And what’s more perfect than what nature gives you?”
Kristine Stone feels much the same, though nature gives her something quite different to take photos of than flowers and animals.
Stone, who just started her second year as a member of the Arts Council, has specialized in food photography for the last handful of years, ever since a friend invited her to shoot the opening of a restaurant.
Before that, Stone spent seven years “shooting everything” from children’s birthday parties to weddings, but that all changed once the stay-at-home mom got her first taste of food photography.
However, she’s found that taking pictures of food can be nearly as difficult — if not more — as cooking it.
Telling a story with food is always a challenging task, but Stone nailed it with her photograph of a head of cabbage titled “Chou.”
Though it’s dark and shadowy in the backdrop, a ray of sunshine is beaming on the cabbage in the forefront, drawing out water from the vegetable.
In Stone’s photograph, you can clearly see the drips of water trailing down the cabbage — exactly how she always pictures cabbage.
“It has a refreshing feeling, and that’s how I imagine it, too,” said Stone, looking at the photograph of the cabbage. “When I have cole slaw and stuff like that, it’s usually during the summer, and it’s cool and refreshing.”
Stone said it took her “almost five years” to learn how to control lighting, which she manipulated to highlight the water drips on the cabbage.
But sometimes, the lighting just won’t cooperate — something Jackie Wilson can certainly attest to.
Wilson, who recently joined the Arts Council, has taken nature and landscapes photographs since 2012. For the ACLP’s summer exhibit, she hoped to submit a photo of a sunrise over the Baton Rouge State Capitol building along with two she already had from a trip to Thailand.
The shoot didn’t go as planned.
It was a cloudy and foggy morning when she drove to the Port Allen levee, quickly nixing her plans for a sunrise photograph.
But instead of fighting against the overcast morning, Wilson decided to use it to her advantage and wound getting an altogether different photograph.
The natural grayness of “Foggy Morning - Baton Rouge, Louisiana” gives the picture a murky feeling, especially with dead trees and brush poking in around the edges. The overcast sky is reflected in the Mississippi River, and the only light in picture comes from the far back, hardly visible.
“What I wanted to get was the sunrise coming up, but you don’t always get what you want,” Wilson said. “But sometimes, you come up with something just as good.”
Arts Council of Livingston Parish Art Classes
The ACLP will hold two basic photography classes over the next two months, one for children ages 10-18 and one for adults 18 and older. Both will be led by ACLP photography member Kristine Stone, whose work is also featured in the exhibit.
The children’s class, $10 per student, will be held Saturday, July 22, from 10:30-11:30 a.m., and the adult class, $35 per student, will be two weeks later on Saturday, Aug. 5, from 10:30 a.m. until noon. A maximum of 10 students is allowed per class.
The Arts Council of Livingston Parish (ACLP) is open to the public four days a week, Wednesday through Saturday. It is open from 10 a.m. until noon Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturdays.