The rebirth of Photogenesis

By Hannah Tetzlaff

After more than a decade, the photography club, Photogenesis, is being reborn with the help of the Communication Consortium and students who are interested in photography.

According to Ric Damm, director of creative and social media and also the advisor of Photogenesis, the resurgence was spearheaded by Professor and Consortium Director Steve Martin.  

With the Communication Consortium realizing the lack of photography on campus and now with determined interest from students who want to reform the photography club, the process has begun for the rebirth of Photogenesis.

“Essentially I had several students come to me, three freshmen, who proposed the idea to reform Photogenesis and who showed a lot of interest,” Damm adds.

Kuhn Maung and Becky Bajt are two of the three freshmen students who approached Ric Damm and who will now be the student leaders for the photography club; they also work as photographers for the Ripon College newspaper, College Days.

Photogenesis started with a student who had a passion for photography in the late 1990s, and it survived for a few years after she graduated in 2000, says Damm.

With groups that start from the passion and drive of one person, it is possible that the group will disband after the said person graduates or leaves the organization, especially if there is no one else willing to take up the mantle and continue to lead the group or if there is no one else in the group with the same amount of passion for the club. This seems to be the case for the previous photography club and could possibly happen to the new reformed photography club.

“[Lack of interest] is always a concern with any student group,” says Damm. “Student organizations are typically formed by a student with a passion for something and who has drive. There is a cycle. It is not unusual; not the first time a group has been in existence and has disappeared for a while.”

Having enough people, and people who are interested and take time to take pictures, is a concern of Bajt’s as well.

She suggests the group must advertise more to prevent interest from waning: “Say, ‘Hey, Photogenesis is fun. Come join us,’ you know,” insists Bajt.

Not everyone is as concerned about the club’s chances, and for a good reason too.

“I have no concerns for Photogenesis,” says Professor of Communication and Consortium leader Jody Roy. “The group’s advisor, Ric Damm, is an amazing photographer and designer. He will be a wonderful mentor for students interested in developing skills in these areas.”

“The Consortium is the structure we have developed to organize a variety of student organizations, teams, and co-curricular programs that are related to media, writing, speaking, and some aspects of design, specifically photography and graphic design,” says Roy. “The Consortium started as a result of informal conversations among some of the groups’ advisors. We had been working in ‘silos,’ largely in isolation from each other, even though there is significant opportunity for collaboration between and among the groups. The Consortium was formed to take advantage of the opportunities in those overlaps…”

Such overlaps can be seen between Photogenesis and Parallax, the Ripon College student magazine, and between Photogenesis and College Days. Photographers from Photogenesis can take photos of events that can be supplied to the newspaper and they can help edit and supply beautiful, artistic photos to Parallax.

Beyond just helping with the startup and renewal of the photography club, the Communication Consortium also benefits Photogenesis in multiple ways. “First, it will connect the students in Photogenesis with other organizations, thus providing opportunities for Photogenesis students to use their expertise to undertake projects on behalf of other groups and build their portfolios in the process. The Consortium will also benefit Photogenesis students via providing access to special events, such as training workshops with professional photographers and designers.”

And, since there was a photography club more than a decade ago, the startup process is basically the same. “As you may know Photogenesis hasn’t been recognized as a regular student organization yet because we have to create a constitution,” says Damm. “The easy thing is a constitution already existed. I just looked it over with Kuhn [Maung] and Becky [Bajt] to go over what needs to change.”    

According to the group’s leadership, Photogenesis may host an exhibit at the 314 Project Space and create social media pages on Facebook and Instagram. “I’ll leave it up to the students,” explains Damm. “It should be a student club where the students are the driving force. Enabling them to be leaders is the way to secure the future of the club.”  

With all the help and benefits from the Communication Consortium, it seems that Photogenesis is well on it’s way to becoming a long-lasting, recognized club that will also benefit many other student clubs and organizations.  

For now, Bajt has one proclamation for the student body, “Join Us!”