Throughout the end of September, the will be featuring the work of some local shutterbugs in the library's downstairs gallery. The show is part of the library's rotating display of local artists' works.
The collection features the work of award-winning photographer Bob Briskey and 40 of his students, in a show that spans genres from landscapes to portraits to abstraction.
On Aug. 17, Briskey stood in the basement gallery space beaming widely and greeting students and attendees as they arrived. Briskey, who teaches photography courses at Morton College, for Cantata Adult Services in Brookfield and through his own private classes in the La Grange area, looked like he couldn't have been prouder.
"I love seeing their personal styles get developed," Briskey said at the show. "It's amazing to see them grow, take chances and come out feeling confident."
The ages of students whose work is presented in the show ranged from teenagers to older adults—all of whom cited Briskey as a fantastic teacher.
Carla Novak, of Riverside, IL, said that when she got her fancy new DSLR camera, just looking at it in the box was enough to her make her dizzy as she realized she didn't have a clue how to use it.
"It's taken me a long time to learn," Novak said. "Now, I'm the family photographer and I always bring my camera with me."
But not every student has gotten his or her start with a fancy, complicated camera.
"Some bring in a point-and-shoot," Briskey said. "I've even had some come in with disposable cameras."
It's not the camera that makes the photographer, Briskey said. Although SLR-style cameras help their users take more control over their photos, there's still plenty to learn about lighting and composition that anyone can get better at.
Patricia Wagner, also of Riverside, said that was the case with her. Wagner was interested mostly in just getting better at taking pictures when she enrolled in a class taught by Briskey at Cantata.
"I needed a support group," Wagner chuckled as she stood by her work at the exhibition.
Wagner just finished her third class with Briskey and was thrilled with the way her recent work has been turning out. Her photo in the show was a sepia-colored self-portrait lit by light from a window in her home. The image looks beautiful, as if it was shot on a much more expensive camera than her little digital point-and-shoot.
"I push it to the limit now," Wagner said. "You learn a lot just about how important the lighting is, which is how I got this."
Anna Weber, 15, who is headed into her sophomore year at l, agreed.
"I can take pictures I never thought I'd be able to take," Weber said.
She credited Briskey's classes with developing her eye while looking for pictures to take, and for class critique sessions, where students share and discuss their work in a small group.
But, what really seemed apparent at the show was the big boost of confidence the student's exhbited as they proudly showed off their pieces. Not only were students feeling in control of their photos and their cameras, they felt really good about the pictures they were taking too.
That's not uncommon, Briskey said.
"We give them the knowledge and then they go on their own," he said happily surrounded by their work. "95 percent of people shoot only in automatic [mode] when they start. It's a wonderful thing to see them develop their strengths."
For more information on Briskey's small group classes, visit his website at www.briskeyphotography.com. Group classes cost $175 for five weeks.
Editor's Note: This article originally indicated the exhibit would only last through the end of August. It now correctly states the exhibit can be seen through September as well.