Andrew Benolkin and Chelsea Montes go over the assignment with Taylor Montes
Andrew Benolkin and Chelsea Montes go over the assignment with Taylor Montes
Lots of people take selfies, but have you ever photographed your shoes? Maybe you’ve taken a photo of something you want, cannot live without or someone you love. Last Tuesday night, Chelsea Montes and Andrew Benolkin gave the 4-H photography club a 20-day challenge. They’ll be photographing each of the topics listed above and more.

The club members will also shoot silhouettes, sunsets and two self-portraits, one at the beginning of the challenge and one at the end. They won’t forget the family dog or the flowers in their back yards. They’ll take 20 pictures in 20 days.

On Tuesday, March 9, they’ll meet again to share their favorite photos in a supportive and fun atmosphere. Both instructors are accomplished photographers. Chelsea Montes specializes in portrait photography, while Benolkin gravitates toward nature and wildlife.

Last Tuesday, he explained the fundamentals of capturing light, the essence of photography. 

“A good photographer uses aperture, shutter speed and ISO to craft pictures,” he told the group. “If you know those three things, that gets you through a freshman class in photography, college level.”

Benolkin displayed his work on a screen to illustrate each concept. Lichen grew on the north side of a rock. Wild birds soared, seemingly stopped in mid-flight. He adjusted his settings accordingly for each shot. There was even a photo of Mars. 

The instructors kept the presentation light and humorous.

When they were talking about ISO, Chelsea Montes piped up with an acronym.

“I call it ‘Is the Sun Out?’” she said. “Because if it’s not, you bump up the ISO.”

The membership listened attentively in a spacious room in the community center. They wore masks and socially distanced, but also practiced hands-on learning. 

Benolkin passed around a WWI era camera built between 1912 and 1922. He pointed out the leaf shutter, a pair of blades that still open and close at the touch of a button. It needed no batteries or electronics but produced black and white photos mechanically. 

The instructors displayed student work on the screen. The club members have been active since their opening meeting last month.

Emma Blondheim’s dog looked perplexed by a recent snowfall. Bella Zelaya captured pogonip, fine ice crystals suspended from tree branches in her yard. 

Eric Blondheim took a picture of his baby brother gazing through a window. Taylor Montes shot an action photo at the skateboard park.

“Don’t be shy to get creative,” said Chelsea Montes about the 20-day challenge. “If you think it’s weird, it’s probably going to be really cool. The number one rule of photography is to take a lot of pictures.”

Other business 

Colby Burke, the 4-H coordinator, taught the club the rudiments of parliamentary procedure. Photography club president Khloe Montes banged the gavel twice to call the meeting to order.

The group floated the idea of an online art gallery as a fundraiser. Someone spoke up in true parliamentarian spirit. “I move to have our fundraiser be an art gallery with the date to be determined later,” they said.

“I second that emotion,” said someone in the back of the room.

For more information about the 4-H photography club, contact Colby Burke at or call 273-2923.