"It's the best-kept secret in New York," said photographer Barbara Nitke, president of the Camera Club of New York, a nonprofit arts organization devoted to the art of photography. Photographers and photography aficionados braved the heavy downpour Saturday evening to attend the spring members' theme exhibition, which is open to the public through May 7.
The club, located on Broadway just south of Union Square, is primarily a place for photographers to come and do their work. There is also a Camera Club table where members swap techniques, ideas, and information about the photography world. The news around the club is that a color processor is being installed.
Founded in 1884 as the Society for Amateur Photographers of New York, it became the Camera Club of New York in 1897. Paul Strand, Alfred Stieglitz, and Gertrude Kasebier have been among its distinguished members over the years. Today it has roughly 100 members; admission is by portfolio review.
The current show is provocatively called "Voyeurisms: A Prying Observation of One's Environment." The head of the exhibition committee, John Sutera, said the Club intended a broad definition of "voyeur" in putting on the show. "We're all voyeurs looking through our cameras. That's our keyhole to the world."
Some photos do contain nudity. Mr. Sutera took a photo of a woman in Washington Square Park following a peace march in 2002. As he was changing his film, Mr. Sutera he caught a woman drawing attention of the crowd out of the corner of his eye. Naked to the waist, the protester had "Free the People" and "Shock and Awe" emblazoned on her upper torso.
The Knickerbocker spoke with Mr. Sutera, who grew up in Castleton Corners, Staten Island, and covers parades and other city events for Almanac Photo. "I love the Camera Club because you can really share ideas with a lot of people," he said. He described the volunteer-run Camera Club as a friendly, supportive environment that is run a little like "a cooperative."
Ed Lefkowitz, who said he photographs "unusual-looking people," studied with Lisette Model at the New School. His photo in the show was of a prostitute in a Long Island Railroad yard in Queens. Asked what he learned from the teacher of Diane Arbus, he said, "Not to be afraid of photographing people but to go right up to them and stick your camera in their face."
A resident of Baldwin, N.Y., David Doran photographed a nude woman whose head was moving, obscuring her identity. The rotting log and lush woods of this outdoors scene convey a sense of growing "entropy" or disorder. Bob Edelman's "Voyeuring (sic) the Voyeur, St. Moritz, Switz" drew the attention of attendees. It was a self-portrait in a vehicle safety mirror on the side of a snowy road.
Mr. Edelman enjoys traveling and in October 2004 went to Paris with two other Camera Club members, where he shot 35 rolls of film in 10 days. Of photography, he said, "Some do it as a business, some do it in lieu of a shrink or a bar."
Ann Giordano's photograph, "Bark No. 1," shows a close-up of two Weimaraner dogs wrestling playfully. Another dog photo by Ms. Giordano graced the cover of Paul Auster's "Timbuktu: A Novel" (Picador).
Another dog-related work was Jennifer Greenberg's triptych of photographs portraying a young boy running with dogs. Ms. Greenberg is a pet photographer and has photographed dogs, cats, turtles, snakes, birds, and even a tarantula. Asked if the dogs she photographs come close to the camera, she said her camera lens does get licked or touched by the dog's wet noses: "They're pretty curious."
Ms. Greenberg used to be a physical therapist, but switched to pet photography after studying in London. She credits her teacher, John Cole, who told her, "Photograph what you love and you'll get stronger images." She has a mini-poodle called Elvis that likes to strut around the club: "He kind of thinks he's the mayor."
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TIME FOR TAVIS
"Here's the man who discovered me," Tavis Smiley said, draping an arm over Geraldo Rivera, whose rose-tinted glasses reflected pride in his protege's success. Thirteen/WNET president William Baker hosted a cocktail party to celebrate the April 1 premiere of Mr. Smiley's new talk show on Thirteen/WNET New York. The show will be broadcast weeknights at midnight, directly following "The Charlie Rose Show."
Mr. Rivera said that back in the 1980s and early 1990s there were few black male commentators. "If you looked at shows, it would be four white men." He added, "Then I found this guy on the radio, amazingly articulate, with a full range of ideas on different levels."
Mr. Smiley said the pairing with Mr. Rose is heaven sent. "First, I'm Charlie's biggest fan. Then, it's a great marriage." He said that with Ted Koppel leaving ABC's "Nightline," the "block of substantive content at that important time of night" on Channel 13 will be very difficult to beat.
According to Channel 13, Mr. Smiley, who has interviewed guests from politicians to hip-hop artists, boasts one of the youngest audiences on public television, attracting more 18-to-24-year-olds than any other mature show - "though I can't compete with Big Bird and Barney."
How much does he fear debuting on April Fool's Day? "Peter Jennings asked me that question. He said, 'What is this, some kind of joke or something?' He'll see. We're the real thing."