Stacey Patton

The day Stacey Patton acquired her first camera, a 35mm Minolta XE-7, was the happiest day of her life.

Stacey learned to operate a Minolta 101 in her high school yearbook class during her junior year. And, in 1977 at sixteen years of age, she was ready to purchase her own camera.

That XE-7 saw her through a year and a half of high school yearbook and four years of college at California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC) where she earned a BFA in Photography in 1984.

Taking time out to earn a teaching degree from University of San Francisco in 1988 and pursuing a teaching career left her with little time for photography. However, she always had her camera on hand to photograph the children in her class and school events.

Stacey moved to Willits in 2000 and her first awareness of the Willits Photography Club was when she wandered into a photography exhibit at the Willits Center for the Arts. However her new job at Laytonville Elementary School and a move to that town, precluded her getting involved with the club. Two years later, she again stumbled upon the Willits Photoraphy Club’s exhibit at the Willits Center for the Arts. This time she was ready to join. She walked into her first meeting with president Art Butterfield and founding member Mike Coons in January of 2003 and never left.

In the beginning of 2008, Patton now residing back in Willits, became president of the Photography Club after then president Alan Kearney stepped down for health reasons. As president, she wanted to include more photographic challenges and fieldtrips. Her first challenge was organizing A Day in the Life of Willits May 10, 2008, where photographers were challenged to take extraordinary photographs of ordinary events.

“Today my XE-7, my trusty little work horse, sits idle collecting dust,” she says. “It has been replaced by the digital technology of an Olympus Camedia point and shoot and a Canon 20D.”

Stacey loves the immediacy of digital photography. The instant gratification of seeing her images helps her work for the best photograph she can possibly make.

However, she still misses black and white negative film and the amber lights of the darkroom. One day she vows to get back to her photographic roots because, she says, “There is nothing more beautiful than a silver gelatin black and white print.”

Willits Center For The Arts Winter Gallery hours are: Wednesday - Sunday 11-5pm