Extending the PSA family connections: expanding the boundaries of communications – Photographic Society of America – P-Essay

Extending the PSA family connections: expanding the boundaries of communications – Photographic Society of America – P-Essay – Column

Max Perchick

I Meet Dan of Hawaii

Several months ago I received a telephone call from Daniel Pang, a fellow PSAer from Hawaii. Dan said that he was interested in learning about a certain photographic technique and he would appreciate my help in this matter. I had never met Dan but I felt a keen sense of fulfillment that a fellow PSAer from far away Hawaii was calling me to ask for help. I was exhilarated! And I will tell you why. But first allow me to lead into my story with some thoughts which have been in my mind for some time.

The Importance of Communication

We are all well aware of the basic objective of the Photographic Society of America: to promote the arts and sciences of photography. PSA accomplishes this target in a wide variety of formal and informal ways: relationships with camera clubs, umbrella organizations such as councils and chapters, through regional and international conventions, and more. Such relationships provide much-needed communication regarding PSA and its promotion of photography.

PSA, through its various major organizational elements, communicates with its members via a wide variety of important programs, such as: instructional slide sets, international slide study circuits, various study groups, evaluation services, workshops, commenting services, etc. Another important vehicle of communication is the PSA International Exhibition which not only provides recognition for outstanding works of photography, but also acts as an educational activity–since many of us learn from each other, as well as from guest speakers and judges. We can thus see that communication is the basic ingredient towards achieving PSA’s basic objective.

How Valuable and Useful Are These Means of Communication?

I do not know whether the communications described above are useful because I do not know the extent to which PSA members avail themselves of the many educational services which PSA makes available. Although PSA makes such means of communication available, such services may have limited value if members remain passive–do not avail themselves of such valuable services. Communication, of course, is a two-way street and we may not know how well this circle is being completed.

The PSA Journal as a Prime Means of Communication

One of the most important means for promoting the arts and sciences of photography lies in PSA’s monthly Journal. This is because every member of PSA receives a copy–the mail overcomes any problems of distances (between PSAers and camera clubs, chapters, councils, regional and international conventions).

The Journal contains a wide variety of photographic subjects, with emphasis on “how-to-do-it” subjects, so much in demand by PSAers because such articles explain how members can further improve their photographic artistry, not only by presenting different techniques but by discussing artistic and philosophical photographic values, such as digital imaging versus “truth” in photography.

However, here again, as with the other PSA services described above, we have no way of knowing the effect or impact that PSA Journal articles have on our members.

Is There Anyone Out There?

One of my major interests lies in writing articles about photography and it is my way of communicating with my fellow PSAers. My first article was published in the PSA Journal in September 1980, 17 years ago! In these years, I have written hundreds of columns as editor of “New Products” (6 years), editor of the “Mid-Atlantic Zone News” (8 years), book reviews (over 50), more than 60 feature articles, many in the how-to area. I have also contributed three slide programs for issuance by PSA to those members who may be interested in the subjects.

I do not list these efforts in any attempt to solicit praise or plaudits, but to make a significant point about the PSA Journal as a means of communication. I must tell you that with all of those writings in 17 years, I have received a bare minimum of responses. If I counted them on my fingers, I would not need to use more than one hand.

What happened to the two-way street? Who out there agrees with what I have said? Who out there disagrees with me? I have often wondered if there was anyone out there because there was no feedback so that I could evaluate myself and my efforts to communicate with my fellow members. As in the other services offered by PSA, it may well represent member non-participation and noninvolvement.

Daniel Pang Comes to the Rescue

One day, something took place which prompted me to write about the importance and value of communication. I received a telephone call from Marla Mosley, Publication Coordinator (Editor) of the Journal in Oklahoma (PSA Headquarters). She told me that she had received a number of requests for an article on how to make slide montages (sandwiches), particularly from someone in Hawaii. She asked me whether I had any procedures and illustrations about this subject and would I be willing to submit such an article. I expressed surprise at this request because I knew that there had been many articles written about this subject and that PSA had slide sets available on this subject for use by any PSA member who asked for them.

Marla replied that Daniel Pang (our man in Hawaii) felt that he needed more detail and more illustrations. I had material about montages in several how-to programs, so I agreed to pull these together and to include lots of details and illustrations. Dan was anxious to get started and did not relish waiting for the normal lead time needed for publication of the PSA Journal. So I agreed that Marla could send Dan a copy of my draft and I also agreed to receive Dan’s telephone calls, should he decide that he needed such contact.

Dan received my draft. He also felt he wished to talk to me personally and we had an extended telephone conversation about montages. In addition, I wrote answers to his questions and also mailed him samples of Erie masks, Erie mask selector, Erie ordering forms and information brochures, samples of glass and binders, plus additional examples of each step involved in sandwich making.

Allow me to quote some statements from Dan’s letters: “This slide shows me by concrete example how to make a slide montage. Thank you for the sample masks and letter of instruction….I couldn’t have learned it better if you were here to give a personal workshop in this subject….I promise I will be a better color slide photographer from now on since I will keep my eyes open for sandwiching opportunities whenever I go photographing.”

Communication Spreads

Dan, in his last letter to me, requested information regarding crystal photography. I replied that I had no particular expertise in this field, but I provided him with the name, address and telephone member of a camera club colleague who did (after I had obtained permission to do so from Sol Snyder). Sol later told me that he had provided Dan with written instructions and had had telephone conversations with him, leading Dan in the right direction.

At last, I learned that there was, in deed, someone out there. And what a great joy it was to me to be of assistance to someone who was so enthused about learning a new photographic technique. And even when I could not help him I was in a position to provide him with information about someone who could. What a delight it was to Dan to make gratifying progress.

We Need More Communication to Reach PSA Goals

My final point is that there are many ways in which PSA can communicate with its members. All of the many ways I described in the earlier paragraphs are great, and there is also merit to personal contact by letter or phone. This, of course, is important to those members who do not have, for some reason, ready access to such contacts in their local geographic area. And this “Dan/PSA/ Max” approach reveals that PSA is, in reality, a much larger, and could be a much closer-knit, family.

I believe that this “Hawaii/Oklahoma/Philadelphia” contact (far wider than any coast to coast contact) would be readily accepted by those who write such wonderful articles for publication in the PSA Journal.

So, for those members out there who may have questions about photography, won’t you please ask? We know you are out there! We are more than willing to help. There is always someone within PSA who can answer your question, perhaps the author of an article, or one of the technical divisions within PSA. But it is you who must communicate–not only about Journal articles but about the excellent PSA services. Yes, ask and you will receive!

The article by Max on “How to Make Slide Montages ” appeared in the March 1997 issue of the PSA Journal–ed.

We should mention that many of our members are now also using computers and the internet for e-mail and other information, which is less expensive for some of those long distance and overseas contacts.

Byron Hindman, FPSA

Publications V.P.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Photographic Society of America, Inc.

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