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June 30, 2004

Photography a passion for deaf group

From: Baytown Sun, TX - Jun 30, 2004

By Lauren Rosenkranz
Baytown Sun

Published June 30, 2004

BAYTOWN Despite being hearing-impaired and having different opinions about art, a group of six men recently organized a club that combined their passion for photography.

The Texas Silent Photo Club stemmed from a hobby for six men who rely on their sight to capture the world around them.

Jack Pate Jr., a Lee College employee, is one of three friends who started taking pictures recreationally about six years ago. Three others joined the group shortly after to share experiences and travel in search of subjects.

They decided to name the group and later started a Web site to post pictures from their excursions.

Club members include Pate, Larry Whitworth, Larry Glasscock, John Rodenberg, Mickey McKenzie and Gary Pretzsch.

We try to educate each other on the new technology and how to make better pictures, Pate said through an interpreter. We share everything we have and everything we know. We are all deaf so we really have to use our eyes to know what is going on around us.

Club members take trips around the United States and snap pictures of the Grand Canyon and abandoned buildings, among other things. The club divides up the expenses of traveling around Texas, California, Utah and Arizona in a van. Pate said the group prefers to stay at state parks and take small excursions around the state about two or four times a month. Long trips are scheduled a year in advance so members have time to take off work for one or two weeks.

The members live in Pasadena, Seabrook, Irving and Round Rock, so meeting to catch up on the latest trends happens once a month either at a members house or at a restaurant.

Pate said each club member has a different style of photography, some taking mostly portraits and others focusing on landscapes. He said he wants his pictures to reflect an original style of art that reflects his outgoing personality.

The group has made the transition from 35 mm cameras to digital cameras with creative software.

With an empty concrete building and stair leading up to the front doorstep, Pate transposed a pink sky - from another picture - into the photograph he calls Heaven.

When I was growing up I was a pretty good artist, but I liked photography, so now Im combining both of those talents, he said.

Pate said he gets his inspiration from professional photographers who combine elements of both photography and artistic expression.

I want to have my own style so Im learning about that right now. I dont want to copy someone elses, Pate said.

Pate also combined his passion for photography into a career: he is the assistant printer and photography processor at Lee College in Baytown.

Jacqueline Whitaker, public information manager at Lee College, has worked with Pate for 10 years.

They...share a bond in not only being hearing-impaired but they share a bond in photography that seems to have formed a nice circle of friends, Whitaker said.

Whitaker said she enjoys taking part in Pates pursuit of photography by sharing books and magazines and watching him adjust artwork to suit color and black-and-white photographs.

He is really good at composition and being able to look at things in a different perspective Whitaker said, which has made him a unique person in his own right.

His motivation and his inspiration to learn photography and his perspective on photography, I find that inspirational, Whitaker said.

Although some of us make use of all five senses to gather life around us, Whitaker said Pate makes up for the lost sense by capturing animals or other objects in a different perspective through his camera lens.

We can hear a bird singing, he cant, but Im sure he could capture a photograph of a bird in a much different perspective from those of us who have our five senses, Whitaker said.

Pates photos, along with those of other club members is available on the groups Web site,

Copyright 2004 The Baytown Sun. All rights reserved.