Sierra Photo NYC 40th Anniversary Celebration

From the Newsletters: The First 10 Years (1975–1985)

The first ten years provided the foundation for 30 more years of NYC Sierra Club Photography Committee activity. Many wonderful, active, cherished members, both past and present, have contributed to our group in that time. Today, we bring together nature photographers and enthusiasts who support the Sierra Club’s environmental goals. We welcome visitors to our monthly meetings so they can meet others who share their love of nature photography and the environment. We continue to strive for better Nature Photography! Below is a compendium of notes from our first decade of newsletters published by the Committee.

Susan Saltman wants to improve her nature and hiking photography. She does what any impassioned Sierra Club member would do: She forms a committee!


First meeting! 3/75 Susan and a handful of SC members, obsessed with nature photography, hold their first meeting at the NYC Sierra Club office, 50 West 40th St. Early members included: Don Young, David Lutz, Bob & Cathy Cresko.


The first newsletter published in 1976! Twenty members contribute photos to Walk in the Wild the committee’s first photo exhibit. It opens 9/14/76 at the National Art Museum of Sport, located at Madison Square Garden. (A few SCPC club meetings are later held there.) A slideshow NY City Spaces & Faces featuring members’ work is shown at the Museum of Natural History from 9/15/76–10/15/76. Members submit slides to Ted Schiffman for possible future exhibit: Abstracts in Nature. These submissions evolve into a traveling slideshow. Just send six self-addressed envelopes to Susan, the newsletter editor, and she will mail you the next six issues! $1 requested to cover printing.


Photography Committee “attempting to become more organized.” First Photo Committee Board is nominated and most likely accepted without objection: Susan Saltman, Chair; Bob Cresco, Design; Bernie Lieber, Programs; Jim Tomashower, Grants; Don Young, Photo File; Donna Swenson, Treasurer; Cathy Cresko, Newsletter Editor; Subcommittee Leaders: Carol Campbell, Photo Contest; Sol Gino, Local Exhibits.

Members’ photo exhibits: Gateway, Five Rivers, Ted Schiffman exhibits at Modernage and teaches workshops about Nature Photography and Color (Darkroom) Printing.

Committee meetings are also held at ICP, 94th St., Community Gallery, 28 E. 35 St., and the new NYC Sierra Club office, 800 Second Ave. at 42nd St. Meetings held the last Wednesday of the month at 6:30 pm. Invited speakers: Jay Borynsen who critiques members’ photos; Steve Gordon: Camera Repair; George Kalinsky from Madison Square Garden: Sports Photography; Arthur Swoger & Peter B. Kaplan: Wildlife Photography; Man Lee from Eastman Kodak discusses E-6 films! Gordon Parks, Life Magazine Photographer: Weapons of Gordon Parks. Jim Tomashower, Don Young and Brian Yarvin become very active!


From the Charter, only six articles long, of the NYCSCPC, printed in the 2/84 newsletter. “The function of the Committee is to further the purposes of the Sierra Club through the use of photography and to provide a milieu in which members may share their ideas and interest in photography”. The Board consists of just five members a year. In the early 1980s, they included: Jim Tomashower, Gretchen Sprague, Sara Jennings, J.S. Cartier, Don Young, Brian Yarvin, Tom Grill, Bob Smith, Daphne Prior and Marilyn Thypin.

Members now meet at the Nikon House, Rockefeller Center Plaza. Speakers include: Ruth Orkin, Norman Rothschild, Alan Rokach and Ann Guilfoyle. Member presenters include: Tom Grill: Photographic Composition; Peter B. Kaplan: Statue of Liberty; Gretchen & Elmer Sprague: Icelandscapes; Michael Warren: Appalachian Trial and Brian Yarvin: Wanaque Reservoir & Other Obsessions.

Workshops for Members: Presence of Winter; Critique of Members’ photos by Tom Grill; Flower Photography at Park West Camera Club by Brian Yarvin; The Sierra Club Anti-Westway Lobbying Effort: requests members’ photos. City Parks subcommittee member Charles Lyman also requests members’ photos of parks in Staten Island, Queens and Great Neck to promote their care and development. Traveling Members’ Photo Exhibits include Nature Observed, City in Nature and Waterfronts. Outings: Chinatown, Little Italy for City in Nature, Central Park lead by Charles Lyman, Old New York and Hoboken lead by Daphne Prior; Delaware Water Gap lead by Tom Grill.

Visit for archives of the first volume of Sierra Photo NYC newsletters.

2 thoughts on “Sierra Photo NYC 40th Anniversary Celebration

  1. Nice summation of the history of the Sierra Club Photography Committee, Jacqui! I’m glad that we decided to make you our historian! Thelma

  2. Glad you like it Thelma! Charles wrote the summary, I only sent him the archive of Vol 1 newsletters and put them on the website.

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