Imagine how many thousands – or millions – of photos Portland Camera Club members have taken, shared and critiqued since 1899. The club’s curatorial committee that made selections for the anniversary exhibit “125 Years of the Portland Camera Club: Seeking the Magic Light” had no small job in selecting what would be displayed in the Community Gallery on the lower level of the Portland Public Library.

At the March 1 opening reception, club president Dick Sawyer of Scarborough said, “We’ve got limited space, but we’re taking advantage of it.”

The 14 images chosen from the first century of the club include an 1899 photo taken on an outing to Sugarloaf Mountain, Edward T. Richardson Jr.’s 1977 photo of rows of laundry hung to dry downtown, and Ethel M. Wight’s 1927 photo of Charles Lindbergh and “The Spirit of St. Louis” on Old Orchard Beach. Wight was one of the first female members of the club.

“In the early days, it was just a few prominent men who could afford cameras, but it wasn’t too long before they put out a call to women,” said committee chairwoman Sue Sturtevant. “It was the only camera club at the time that encouraged – that allowed – women to join.”

In addition to historical images, the exhibit includes five photos selected from more than 50 submissions contributed by current club members: Linda Cullivan’s “Pleated Woodpecker Feeding Its Young,” Mary Powers’ “Toward the Hay Building,” Kevin Schochat’s “Ginkgo Cactus,” Michael Cullivan’s “Winter Fox” and Susan Partridge’s “Indivisible,” a composite of the face of a young man (her son-in-law’s nephew) partially obscured by an American flag.

The anniversary exhibit is in memory of David A. Kirkwood and gets its name from his book “Seeking the Magic Light: A Chronicle of the First Hundred Years of the Portland, Maine Camera Club.”


“He wrote for eight years with the goal of publishing before the 125th anniversary,” Sawyer said. “He finished in August and lived long enough to hold the book in his hands.”

The author’s widow, Lila Kirkwood, has been a club member for 47 years. “What pleases me is that we’re celebrating 125 years with 125 members,” she said. “The club brings people together. … Dave enjoyed these people very much.”

The exhibit runs until March 31.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at

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