Local shutterbugs to show off photos in Small House exhibit

Lauren Williams Staff Writer

February 19, 2014

The Victor R. Small House was abuzz with activity Tuesday as local photographer and photography teacher Gloria Edwards and her students were hard at work organizing and hanging photographs in preparation for their upcoming Shutterbugs Photography Exhibit which kicks off tomorrow night with an artist reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

“I’m tickled to death, ” said Edwards in the middle of all the hustle and bustle. “The students are excited; they’ve really jumped into it. Roughly 25 of them from my Digital Do’s and Don’ts class, Shutterbugs II class, and the Shutterbugs Photography Club, which is former students, are participating.”

Although Edwards estimated that the exhibit would feature some 60 to 70 photographs that she and her students took, that number quickly grew; by late afternoon Edwards had counted 92 pieces that are to be included in the exhibit.

Five of those photographs were taken by Edwards’ student Sharon Roberts who couldn’t stop smiling, excitement evident in her words and her expression.

“I just never thought I had the ability to take photographs,” she said, looking at a photo she took of her dog Izzy and a nightscape photo she took at Sampson Community College. “Gloria’s teaching manner is so relaxed that you can actually learn something. She’s non-judgmental, and of course, it’s fun.”

Describing photography as a fun hobby is something all of Edwards’ students, who hail from Sampson, Bladen, Duplin, and Cumberland counties, could agree. They also noted that learning to take photographs has influenced the way they look at the world.

“It’s just fun. What else is there to say?” student Barbara Shook asked rhetorically while hanging a photograph of a flower. “It changes the way you look at magazines and newspaper pictures.”

“It’s really made me stop and look at nature,” interjected fellow student Eleanor Bradshaw.

“Through taking the class, I’ve learned that you have to stop and appreciate the moment. You have to take time to observe nature,” added photography student Kim Piercy, describing how she likes to take photos at different times of the day and during different seasons of the year as the light changes.

“And patience is key,” Piercy stressed. As she worked on hanging photographs for the exhibit, she stopped to share an example of that patience with a couple of other students who were admiring a photo she took of a bird. She described how she had to bait the bird with seed in order to keep him near her kitchen window and how she then had to wait for the right moment to get the shot she wanted.

While fun, taking photographs can also be a lot of work, and the community is invited to come and see the fruits of the photography students’ labor Thursday night at the artist reception and throughout all of March as their photographs will be displayed in the gallery at the Victor R. Small House through April 4. The photographs will also be available for purchase, ranging in price from $75 to $400.

“We want people to come out and support us, non-professional photographers. We’re kind of like kids; we want people to come and see our work,” said Piercy.

The students themselves are excited about attending the reception and viewing the variety of pictures. “I can’t wait to see all the photographs…This is the first time that the different classes have seen each other’s work,” shared Shook.”

“I didn’t know we had so much talent in Sampson County,” added Bradshaw as she looked around and noted that while many photographs are of Sampson County subjects the exhibit will also feature pictures students took while traveling to places like Paris. “They’re local and then all the way to Europe.”

“We do have a lot of variety,” agreed Edwards, naming landscapes, florals, barns, and students’ vacation spots, “and we appreciate the Arts Council for asking us to exhibit.”

And the Sampson Arts Council is happy to host a show featuring a group of all local amateur photographers, a first for the group.

“We’re so excited,” shared Kara Donatelli, executive director of the Sampson Arts Council. “They’re so talented. Gloria really brings out the best in them. I was amazed when I came in today (Tuesday). The quality of the photos and the framing is just excellent.”

“We really want people to come out to the reception Thursday night because that’s when the artists are here and you can talk to them about their artwork and their techniques,” she continued. “We’ll have food and someone playing the piano. It will be a good time.”

Donatelli also noted that two grassroots grants will be awarded — one to Old Bluff Theatre Co. and one to the Coharie People — during the reception at 6 p.m.

Those who attend the reception will likely be inspired by what Edwards’ students have captured. If one wishes to give photography a try as a result, Edwards shared that her next beginner’s class, Digital Do’s and Don’ts, is set to begin next week at SCC on Monday or Wednesday nights from 6 to 8 p.m. for 10 weeks.

“They’ll learn basic composition and how to use their camera,” said Edwards of the continuing education class. “Photography is something that anyone can learn and learn to do well.”

For more information about Edwards’ upcoming Digital Do’s and Don’ts photography classes, please contact Ann Butler, Dean of Continuing Education for Sampson Community College, at 910-592-8081.

For more information about the upcoming reception and photography exhibit, please contact Donatelli at at 910-596-2533 or send her an email at Also, please visit the Sampson Arts Council website at

The Sampson Arts Council is housed in the Victor R. Small House which is located at 709 College St. in Clinton. The art gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment.

Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at