Thursday, 06 December 2012 10:28

Photographers improve their skills in Manyberries

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This photo was taken in Manyberries by Samantha Chrysanthou. She and her partner Darwin Wiggett, along with some friends, took on a "Manyberries Photography Challenge" in October, to try to improve their photography skills. This photo was taken in Manyberries by Samantha Chrysanthou. She and her partner Darwin Wiggett, along with some friends, took on a "Manyberries Photography Challenge" in October, to try to improve their photography skills.

A group of photographers converged on Manyberries earlier this fall, to capture images from the small community. The results of their photo challenge was then posted to a website owned by a couple who have made a career helping others improve their photography techniques.


Samantha Chrysanthou and Darwin Wiggett, who reside in Cochrane, are partners in life and business, operating a company called oopoomoo.
“We teach a lot of photography workshops,” says Chrysanthou.
The pair help Albertans, but also avid photographers from the United States and even Europe. Europeans are interested in photographing the beauty of the Rockies, while North Americans like to capture prairie landscapes.
“The prairies are really beautiful and underappreciated,” adds Chrysanthou.
She and Wiggett were informally spending some time in Elkwater in the Cypress Hills in October, along with some friends. They decided on the drive home to take the road that makes its way past Manyberries and “The Manyberries Challenge — Photographing an Albertan town” was born.
“It’s a really fascinating town,” says Chrysanthou. “Small towns are fascinating and it’s a disappearing culture.”
The friends decided to test their skills by having each person undertake a different photographic challenge in one hour. Chrysanthou, who leans toward taking time to set up each shot and really think before pushing the shutter release on her camera, was challenged to take one photo every minute. Wiggett had to take photos without a lot of contrast, unlike his usual habit.
Other challenges included not taking photos of machinery for one person, shooting with just one camera and one lens for the entire hour for another and taking only one photo through the whole 60 minutes.
The results of the challenge were placed on oopoomoo’s website at: http://oopoomoo.com/ 2012/10/the-manyberries-challenge-photographing-an-albertan-town/.
“It’s about learning how to be better photographers by challenging ourselves,” says Chrysanthou, about the impromptu exercise.
For Chrysanthou, it was also a realization about how small towns struggle financially.
“I was struck by how much it’s lost its vibrancy,” she adds about Manyberries.
The hotel was closed, the school no longer operates as a school and there were no people out and about the day they were there.
“I can totally see it as a tourist place,” adds Chrysanthou.
The fact it is now considered the sunniest place in Canada could be used to Manyberries’ advantage with some resources in place.
“It’s worth visiting. It had a great saloon and an iconic train station. It’s beautiful, but it’s vanishing in front of our eyes.”
Chrysanthou and Wiggett know all about diversification. In their business, they have had to diversify to be able to support themselves through their craft. They do a lot of photography instruction, some commercial work and sell photo guides and how-to-learn photography e-books on their website (http://oopoomoo.com). They are also members of a green business organization in Calgary and try to be more sustainable as photographers.
The idea of capturing small prairie towns through photos has expanded for the pair. They are planning a Prairie Toodle likely in June of 2013. They want to spend a few weeks travelling to various small communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan and meet people, while at the same time taking photographs.
“We want to showcase a little bit about the people, but also towns are struggling. People are leaving and changes are going on as we are becoming more urban,” says Chrysanthou.
The photographic results of that “toodle” will be placed on their website, and may also form a book.
Chrysanthou is looking forward to showcasing some places that aren’t as well known as small towns are near and dear to her heart. Although she was born in Lethbridge, growing up she lived in Brooks, Rosemary and Duchess.
“I moved around a lot growing up, but mostly (lived) in small towns.”
More information about oopoomoo is available online at: www.oopoomoo.com.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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