With the sun's cycle approaching solar maximum, displays of the Aurora Borealis should become more frequent in the skies over Mount Desert Island over the next few years. This photo was captured last week on a chilly evening at Jordan Pond. PHOTO BY ORAYA ZINDER/MDI PHOTO CLUB

Coming into focus: The vision behind the lens


MOUNT DESERT ISLAND — There are few places more beautiful than Mount Desert Island. Capturing that beauty is the focus of the MDI Photo Club. The club, which began in 2013, allows photographers at all different skill levels to share and grow their skill around common interests.  

Currently, MDI Photo Club stands at about 50 members. Some are novices and others are advanced, but all enjoy taking pictures and learning from one another. The club members use a variety of equipment, from cell phones to SLR lenses. It consists of people who are friendly, noncompetitive and somewhat serious about photography.  

On the second Tuesday of the month from September to May, the club meets at the Northeast Harbor Library for presentations and to share their photos. Club members also go on outings together to take pictures and socialize. In June, the club shows their photos in a public exhibition. 

Recently, the MDI Photo Club entered into a collaboration with the Mount Desert Islander to feature photos from club members in the newspaper. “It is a great collaboration,” said Islander Managing Editor Faith DeAmbrose. “Not only do we get to work with a group of talented, local photographers, but we get to show their great work to a wider audience while also giving our readers some of the best views of Mount Desert Island.” 


Kenn Chandler originally joined the photo club because of his interest to learn digital photography. “I did a lot of film photography back in the day and I was serious about photography before I started raising a family, working all the time and not having the time to put into it,” he said.  

After his kids grew up, he had more free time and decided to get back into photography. 

“About six or seven years ago, I actually read about the photo club in the Islander’s Arts Calendar,” said Chandler, which, he said, prompted him to purchase a digital camera and to join the club. He is mostly a landscape and nature photographer, but he dabbles in animal photography as well. 

Chandler served as president of the club for three years. “When we started going to Zoom, we found that our numbers plummeted, so I opted to stay on the board for one more year and hopefully lead us through the pandemic,” he said.  

Chandler announced in April that he would step down as president, which is when David Manski volunteered to step in. 

At each monthly meeting, members review each other’s work and participate in a workshop to focus on skill development. Members have the option to submit a photograph, which is then critiqued. “That’s how we grow as artists,” said Chandler, “but it’s not for the faint of heart to throw your photographs out there for other people to critique. 

Every month, the photographers are assigned different subjects to photograph. “Assignments take us out of our comfort zones. They make us try things that we wouldn’t otherwise try and doing something that you wouldn’t otherwise do is really valuable to grow as an artist,” Chandler said. 

The gardens at Asticou display their fall finery recently.

Twenty-five-year-old club member Oraya Zinder of Mount Desert joined the photo club late this summer. She said that the club’s monthly outings allow members to socialize and take photos together, something that Zinder has always wanted to do. “I didn’t want to do a photoshoot of the night sky at night by myself, so it was a way for me to find friends who would come with me on these crazy adventures,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like I’m the youngest person in the group, but I think that being friends with all sorts of people from different generations, and with different equipment, really allows me to learn and add to my experience progressing as a photographer.”  

Nature photographer and photo club member Dorothea Eiben of Mount Desert first heard about the club when Howie Motenko, her co-worker at The Jackson Laboratory and the founder of the photo club, recommended that she come speak about her photographs.  

Eiben has recently been taking more photos with subjects that focus on loss and memory. “One of the reasons I joined club was the ability to share my passions with other folks who tend to be working independently and also to be renewed creatively when challenged,” she said. 

After becoming a member, she was given the club curator position, a role in which she is responsible for putting together monthly slideshows and galleries for the club’s annual June exhibit.  

“Photography is an extremely meditative, holy, immersive experience, an ability to create something beautiful in a physical object. I print my photographs and it’s just a nice relief or something different to do than what I do for work, which tends to be more cerebral and doesn’t necessarily result in any completed physical kind of project,” she said. 

For more information about the club or to join, visit www.mdiphotoclub.org. 


Ninah Rein

Ninah Rein

Writer at Mount Desert Islander
Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.
Ninah Rein

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