Texas Photography Club offers free photography services, draws large crowd in West Mall


Taylor Barron

The Texas Photography Club gains exposure for their organization by offering students the chance to take a free portraits in the West Mall.

Jordan Rudner

The Texas Photography Club, active for the first time in several years, is trying to gain notice in the public eye by getting behind the lens.

The club set up cameras and lighting equipment Thursday on the West Mall for a three-hour photography session, offering free portraits to members of the UT community.

“We’ve been growing largely through word of mouth, and we thought it was time to try and attract a wider audience,” club president Daniel Lucas said.

Lucas said since the club began hosting events in August, membership has skyrocketed from 15 people to just more than 230. Though the club doesn’t hold formal meetings, they host events including state park hikes, where older members teach nature photography, and seminars for novice photographers.

“We appeal to anyone who’s interested in photography,” Lucas said. “It’s something you can get into from any background.”

Over the course of the event, designated photographer Amyn Kassam took pictures of a little more than 100 people. Kassam said one girl asked for eight separate portraits, adjusting her clothes and taking her glasses on and off with each shot. Another student brought his pet dog, who was bestowed with honorary reindeer antlers before his portrait session. According to club members, the majority of the portrait subjects were people who came in pairs.

“Photography is a great way to show the personality of the photographer, but it’s also a great way to capture memories,” club member Kallie Nemunaitis said. “Friends love convincing each other to take pictures.”

Comparative literature graduate students Fatma Tarlaci and Somy Kim got their picture taken together to mark the end of their time serving as teaching assistants for undergraduate course “The Pursuit of Happiness.”

“Today is our last day as TAs together, and we wanted to commemorate that by taking a picture together,” Kim said.

Kassan, who took more than 300 shots over the course of the event, said he wasn’t surprised at the demand.

“No one’s going to say no to a free portrait,” Kassam said. “At the very least, you get a new profile picture.”

Member Reese Sun said she also wasn’t surprised at the club’s newfound popularity.

“In photography, you’re documenting life as it happens,” Sun said. “It’s a universal creative outlet. There’s no one who doesn’t like photography.”

Printed on Friday, November 30, 2012 as: Photo Club snaps free portraits