Van Newland is the vice president of the West Chester Photo Club, a 73-member organization based out of The Church of the Nazarene in West Chester. The 60-year-old recent retiree has a background in chemistry and finance, but photography has given him an outlet for his creativity since his teen years.

Q How were you introduced to the West Chester Photo Club?

A Maybe two and a half years ago I put photos up here, at Starbucks, and a member of the West Chester Photo Club who was a friend of mine, said, “Hey, Van, you really ought to join.” I just joined back then and have been there ever since.

Q What kinds of programs does the West Chester Photo Club sponsor?

A We do a lot of different programs. We just did a travel program this year. One of our very good photographers just came back from an African safari and put on a wonderful show for about an hour. And then we went out to Forest Park Nature Center and had a presentation on nature photography. We went down into the fields and into the woods to take pictures, and we came back and reviewed the photos.

Q Do you have critique sessions?

A Yes. Every month we have a subject—we’ve done portraits, street photography, things like that—and everyone submits one photo. We try to get in some professional photographers to critique and offer advice.

Q What educational workshops do you offer?

A We’ve taught [members] how to use editing software, composition, HDR (high-dynamic-range) photography. And then we get into longer programs, which we usually do on a Saturday morning or an evening at a library where we would do more photo editing, and those might be a series of programs.

Q What are Scoot ‘n Shoots?

A Scoot ‘n Shoots are wonderful! We’ll go to a location and drive as carpools and get lunch together. It’s a great opportunity. We did a survey a couple of months ago and it came back that Scoot ‘n Shoots were very favorable for members in terms of improving technique and social interaction. They’re a lot of fun.

Q Do you keep track of why your members choose to join the club?

A We do. We get some members through someone they know in the club, but we also get a lot of members from exhibits that we do.

Q What exhibits do you have?

A The biggest one we do is held at the West Chester County Library, and it’s usually done in February, but this year, because of the snow, we had to cancel it. It’ll be in May. We have around 30 photographers that show up with 10 to 15 photos each. We may get 100 or more people that come in and start wandering around. We also exhibit up at Sinclair Community College and at some of the nursing homes in the area.

Q Personally, do you prefer Nikon or Canon?

A Nikon! Nikon was the premier camera in the ‘60s, and I got hooked into photography during the Vietnam War.

Meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at The Church of the Nazarene, 7951 Tylersville Road, West Chester. Membership forms are located on the website at The annual membership fee is $30 per person or $55 per couple.