EVERY time they head out and about in Cork, Miriam O’Mahony and Katie Coleman see opportunities for taking great pictures.
They are among a group of nine young adults supported by Cope Foundation who came together last November to form a beginner’s photography group.
Credit for their name — Photo Legends — goes to Miriam O’Mahony, of Bandon, and it’s proving apt as the group have already held a number of exhibitions and their work has been on sale at craft markets around the county.
The Cope Foundation is a non-profit organisation, supporting more than 2,300 children and adults with intellectual disabilities and\\or autism in 65 different locations around Cork city and county. The organisation is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2017 and is holding a special concert on November 14 at City Hall to mark that.
United by a passion for photography and a thirst for learning more about the medium, the Photo Legends are now inviting other budding photographers to join them.
The group plan to meet once a week to explore areas of interest around the city with their cameras. The Photo Legends are delighted to be collaborating with tutor, Jorge Villasante, an established photographer and teacher. Members will learn how to use digital photography techniques to enhance their photos at the Mayfield Community Development Project.
Involvement with the Photo Legends has confirmed Miriam’s ambition to study photography at college level with a view to becoming a full-time photographer. She attends the Quality Development Services (QDS) Hub on Vicar’s Road in Togher.
“I joined the group to boost my confidence and it showed me the way to go in terms of developing my photography skills,” she said.
“I have a disability with both my hands and I found it very hard to take photos with my iPad as I had to hold it with two hands.
On joining the group, she switched to a professional camera which she finds much easier to hold upright.
“At the start, the photos came out blurry but they’re getting better with time”, added Miriam, whose favourite photo was taken at sunrise in her garden in Bandon after a fall of snow.
Many of the nine young adults who formed the Photo Legends had never met before as they were from different Cope Foundation services.
“At the start, some of the group were very closed in because they usually keep to themselves,” said Miriam. “After a while they started coming out of themselves and began making friends which was good for their confidence. We all became very close.”
Being part of the Photo Legends has also given Miriam a boost and she is now getting practical help in relation to furthering her ambition to become a photographer.
“I would be delighted if there are any photographers out there looking for an intern. I’d love if I could shadow a photographer and then go out on my own,” said Miriam. She would particularly like to cover big sporting events.
Fellow ‘Photo Legend’, Katie Coleman, from Ballincollig, is passionate about art, drama and dance. One of the reasons she joined the group was to learn more about the technical aspects of how to take a good photo. Both she and Miriam were thrilled to get some great tips from the Echo’s photographer, Jim Coughlan, when he took their pictures last week.
“Everyone in the group is very different in what type of photos they are taking,” said Katie. “I’m all into vintage and architectural things while some of the group kept taking photos of people and others were obsessed with photographing dogs and animals.
“The type of photos people took told the stories of their lives. One of the photos Katie is proudest of is a black and white picture of Pope’s Quay overshadowed by Shandon, an area of the city she is very familiar with as she attends the Community Hub in Pope’s Quay.
Katie loves going to dance classes in the nearby Firkin Crane Centre.
Last April, the Photo Legends held an exhibition of their photography in St.Peter’s in North Main Street to mark the 14th Lifelong Learning Festival. Each was asked to pick out their favourite eight photos for it. The group had great fun choosing frames and deciding how best to exhibit their pictures.
The Legends went back to St Peter’s in September for a mini exhibition and presentation of their work as part of the UNESCO International Conference on Learning Cities.
It was a bit nerve-wracking for Katie and Miriam, having to stand up to give a little speech at the opening of the exhibition, but they both agree it helped build up their confidence. Katie now feels very much at home in St Peter’s and regularly drops in for a coffee and a look around the various exhibitions.
“The whole Photo Legends project has been extremely positive,” said Shirley Matthews, Supervisor ar Bonnington Training Centre.
“It’s like a jumping off point for people who all have their own needs and wants. Some want to do a digital photography course, others want to do an internship or work experience with photographers, and others just want to do it socially.
Sian Walsh, Supervisor, Midleton Community Hub, said: “We’re planning to hold an information meeting at the end of November for people interested in getting involved with the Photo Legends. We’re open to new ideas and new directions and all ages are welcome.”
Facebook: Photo Legends Cork