Naperville resident starts Meetup group with focus on photography

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On a cold winter morning, local shutterflies braved the elements to head to Knoch Knolls Nature Center to capture beauty shots during West Suburban Photography’s first photo walk of 2023.

Naperville resident launches photography Meetup group

The gathering was thanks to Naperville resident Rich Kolar. He started the local Meetup group with a focus on photography, after launching a similar one in Chicago.

“I had wanted to learn more about street photography, and I really didn’t see a group out there that concentrated on that. So I said I’m going to start a street photography group, invite people through Meetup dot com and learn a little bit as I go along,” said Kolar.

Any level of photographer welcome

Photographers of any level are invited to join in, meeting at various locations or heading out on day trips to work on getting that perfect shot.

“We’ll have not only our experienced photographers, but we’ll have new people and I try to pair them up where a new photographer will walk with somebody who’s been taking photos for a while,” said West Suburban Photography founder Rich Kolar.

And cameras of all kinds are welcome as well.

“Whatever camera you have, that’s the best camera to bring. There are a lot of people that are intimidated by photography groups because they think I can never be as good as they are. These people need to realize that they can also take some good photos and they learn as they do,” said Kolar.

Picture-perfect group for local photographers

It’s proved to be a picture-perfect group for some Naperville residents.

“It’s very helpful and I love meeting people. All the people that are more senior photographers are so free with their assistance and information and expertise. It’s amazing so it helps me tremendously,” said photographer Davina Simaitis.

“I like that I’ve been able to do things together with a group of interest. A lot of times it’s hard to motivate myself to go out but if you have a group with the same interest, it’s always good to go with the group and meet new people,” said photographer Albert Loo.

Expanding offerings

Thanks to the high level of interest in the group, Loo will soon be a teacher in upcoming photography classes as part of the activities. A new mentor/mentee program is also in the works. Kolar’s vision has widened, but his reward is still in the beauty found with the discoveries members make along the way.

“As they’re learning things, something new it’s usually what I call the ah ha moment, how do I take that photo? You show them how and ah is that how you did that? That’s what I hope to at least impart every time we do meet up,” said Kolar.

Naperville News 17 Patrick Codo and Kim Pirc report.