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Budding photographers take a picture of the world

August 10, 2000|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Budding photographers take a picture of the world



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Patrick Murphy's budding photographers are capturing the country, from Maine to Mexico, on film.

Murphy, 52, has taught photography for nearly 30 years at the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Boys and Girls Club, a nonprofit group.

He and his wife, Beverly, 50, for years have chaperoned field trips to campgrounds and the Washington, D.C. zoo. In the past year, though, the Murphys have taken boys and girls, usually one or two at a time, to distant destinations.

They went to Maine, near the Canadian border, in June. They visited Tijuana and San Diego in July.

Last August, they saw Seattle and the Pacific coast of Canada.

"We've been to three of the four corners (of the United States)," Murphy said.

On most trips, the students pay only for their room and meals; the Boys and Girls Club pays for the rest.

The club charges $3 for annual memberships. It is funded by the United Way, private donations and grants, but it's the bingo proceeds that help the kids travel, Murphy said.

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While they're in far-reaching places, the photography students practice their craft as often as they can. They look for the best lighting, even if it means waking up at 3 a.m.

"It's exhausting. They have to put forth some effort," Murphy said.

"We're there to shoot," said 16-year-old Liam Bowers of Middleway, W.Va., who went on the week-long Maine trip. "We were up most mornings for sunrise. We were at the port before the lobstermen."

Liam, who is entering 10th grade at Jefferson High School, said it was his third time at the Maine coast and his second time with the Murphys. For a sailing fan who's considering joining the U.S. Naval Academy or U.S. Coast Guard Academy, it's a perfect spot.

Murphy's students often use their travel pictures as portfolios for the Berkeley County Youth Fair photography contest.

On Sunday, the judges awarded Liam the first premium, best in this year's show. "I felt like I had a good portfolio," said Liam, whose previous best in five other contests was third place.

This week, Liam is at Camp Frame, a band camp outside Hedgesville, W.Va. He plays the tenor saxophone.

Right behind Liam at the Youth Fair competition, in second place, was Heather Jones, 13, of Falling Waters, W.Va.

Last year, her photograph of a pond on Scrabble Road, titled "Early Morning Mist," won her third prize. She was disappointed that her shots of Utah's canyons didn't earn her the top premium this year.

Heather, who is home-schooled, said she found Arches National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park "beautiful." She spent a week in Utah with the Murphys in April.

She went through a lot of film. "It's fun, but you feel like you need to shoot more," she said.

Claire Harless of Martinsburg, who went on the San Diego trip, placed third at the Youth Fair.

Murphy, a Berkeley County teacher, said he and his wife, a school librarian, visited Arizona two years ago, but the trip lacked something.

"I sit and grieve without a photographer," he said. "It seemed like a waste of a trip."

Now, the Murphys invite the most senior members of the club to explore the country.

"You definitely have to put in your time before you're allowed to go on big trips," Liam said.

In 1966, while in the Marine Corps, Murphy learned photography using a Petri range finder.

He teaches his students to shoot with a Bronica, a medium-format camera, although some use a 35-millimeter also. They do their own darkroom work for black and white prints. O'Roke Color Lab in Martinsburg prints the color photos.

Murphy said past students have gone on to work at a newspaper, a printer and Disney World, but many have veered into the engineering field.

Photography is one of several activities at the Boys and Girls Club.

Program Director Jennifer Bednarski said that club members make arts and crafts, get academic tutoring, learn about cooperation, play sports and games, swim and go on field trips.

The club also provides breakfast and lunch for its members, who are between 6 and 18 years old.

Bednarski said the year-round club has averaged 90 to 100 members in recent years, but had almost 130 members at one point this year.

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