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‘Picture Westfield’ volunteers strive to capture city in 2011

Date: 10/18/2011

Oct. 19, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD — More than 150 shutterbugs hit the streets of Westfield between Oct. 1 and 8 in an attempt to capture the spirit of the city and its people for posterity.

The project was called “Picture Westfield.” It’s purpose: create a photographic time capsule of what life is like in the city in 2011.

“We really had people all over the city all week,” said Eileen Doherty, who, with Athenaeum Archivist and Technology Librarian Kate Deviny, created and ran the community-wide project. “I was out with my camera every day from sunup to sundown.”

She said the project attracted photographers of all skill levels, from a second-grade class at Franklin Avenue Elementary School that took pictures of their classmates and building to a professional photographer who spent half of a day shadowing Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik.

Reminder Publications Account Manager and Westfield resident Elizabeth Koelle said a friend recommended she join the project.

“I’m always walking around Westfield taking pictures anyway,” Koelle, whose hobby is photography, said.

Doherty said volunteer photographers such as Koelle had the option of accepting an assignment from the “Picture Westfield” committee, or choosing their own subjects. The committee provided guidelines on how and what to shoot, and photography releases to ensure the project had permission to display the photos taken by its volunteers.

Koelle said she felt “we have so many great houses in Westfield, I want to capture where people live,” and chose to photograph houses, porches, signs and apartment buildings. In total, she snapped 278 pictures.

“I spent a few hours each day over the weekend, and took a day off from work to get more,” Koelle said.

Doherty said photographers have until Oct. 30 to turn their submissions in to the project.

“Our thought is that it will take several months to sort them out,” she said, adding that in addition to adding the photographic time capsule to the Athenaeum’s archives, she and Deviny are planning to present the photos in a public display.

“A lot of people were asking when [the photos would] be available,” Doherty said. “We’re going to create a slide show that will be presented at the Athenaeum [and] we hope it will be presented for a month at the Jasper Rand Gallery.”

Doherty said a computer teacher at Westfield High School has also offered to have one of her classes create a website that would showcase the photos online.

Debbie Gardner can be reached by e-mail at

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