In November 1979, Dankwart Koehler, a local photographer, acted on a desire to start a new camera club in the northern Monmouth County area. Along with the support of two other photographers, Gary Slawsky and Joanne Brody, and a list of people who might be interested, Dankwart sent an invitation to attend the first meeting of the new "Hazlet Camera Club." The initial meeting location for the new club was an attic space in the old Hazlet fire house on Holmdel Road next to the train station. A program for the first club year was generated, including lectures by club members and outside speakers and contests. Obviously, the structure of club programs has not changed much since those early dates--with time, however, field trips and club exhibits were added to the club's activities.
That original meeting room barely held 20 people but, since we only had 15 members, it worked. In time, our growing membership (up to about 25 within 2 years) required more space; we moved into a larger room on the main floor of the fire house. The challenges then were not color space or digital noise but, rather, how to keep the borrowed slide projector steady for contests when the punching bag that was suspended from the ceiling downstairs was being used. The train (about 150 feet away) and fire siren were always there to fill the silence when the punching bag wasn't in use. Our growing membership, and a decision by Hazlet Township to sell the firehouse for commercial office use, forced a move to Raritan High School for one year and then, in the fall of 1985, to the police training room in the Holmdel township hall until we outgrew that space a year later.
As the club had moved away from the Hazlet area, it changed its name to Monmouth Camera Club. Our next meeting location was the Holmdel Community United Church where we 'lived' for a few years, until our membership grew to 50. We then moved to our present location at the Reformed Church in Colts Neck. Fortunately, the large room in this church has accommodated our growing membership. Today (June 2011) we have nearly 150 members and still fit the space nicely.
In 2005 the club made the transition to digital photography by including images processed on the computer from both digital cameras and scans of film images. This has become an integral part of our contests - which now include projected digital image and print contests. Through countless hours devoted to the club by our many volunteers over the years, the commitment to teaching and learning that Dankwart established back in 1979 has helped us evolve into one of the largest and most active Camera Clubs in New Jersey.
Presidents through the years: