Hampton Inn displays scenic photographs by Bainbridge artists

Published 9:55 am Thursday, December 24, 2015

Local photographers, some professional, others hobbyists, answered the call to submit photos representative of the Bainbridge-Decatur County scenery and life style to the owners and managers of the new Hampton Inn that opened October 15.

Twenty-seven of the over 350 entries were selected. Enlarged copies were made and framed, and they now grace the walls of residents’ rooms, suites, bathrooms, and common areas of the new Inn.

The Inn has over 71 rooms and suites, so the photos are repeated in random order on the two floors.

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On opening day, members of the press and special guests were invited to tour the facility, meet the artists and see their work.

Artists present were Lauren Turner, Debra Johnson, Eldon Eckard, and Jacquie Wingate. Others whose work is displayed are: Jessica Cannon, Joy Key, John Monroe and Frances Edmonds.

Jacquie Wingate was so excited to have six of her photos chosen. She said her name had been proposed by Johnette Weiss, who recommended to Inn Manager, Leslie Bernier, that she have a look at some of Wingate’s pictures.

They are of the turkey roost overlooking Booster Club landing at Lake Seminole, the Gazebo at Willis Park in Bainbridge, a big ole alligator, a baby green heron, dogwood blossoms, and the railroad trestle at Cheney Griffin Park.

Jacquie said she was both humbled, as well as proud, to have her work chosen. She only wished her dad, Jack Wingate, had lived to see it. She said he always urged her to pursue and promote her photography skills.

The railroad trestle has been a favorite topic for artists for many years and Eldon Eckard, a retired teacher of chemistry and physics at Bainbridge State College, was fortunate enough to snag a photo when there was a train on the bridge. He professes to have a fascination for trains, saying he always wanted to be a railroad engineer when he was a kid. He became interested in photography at the age of 8 when he was presented with an old Brownie camera. He began processing his own black and white photos in a dark room, before the days of digital photography. Eckard said he heard about the competition from another local photographer, Mills Brock.

Debra Johnson has been seriously working with a camera for only five years, but you would never know it from her work. Her husband Gary gave her a camera for Christmas and she immediately went to work to master it. She took a class from Jerry Miller, offered at the Firehouse. Now, she and her husband seek out subjects when on vacation or camping trips.

Two of her subjects, an old Coca Cola cooler and a peanut roaster, dominate a space in the hallway. Amazingly, they give the impression of being 3-D. The items were both found on the front porch of an old country store near Cuthbert. She also has a photo of the locomotive that has resided at the Boat Basin for many years. It is in the process of being moved to Corbin, Kentucky.

Lauren Turner also took classes from Jerry Miller about three years ago. She enjoys going around town with her Nikon camera, taking photos of landscapes, still life and people. She learned of the competition on Leslie Bernier’s Facebook page and submitted 12 or 15 shots, of which nine were chosen. She has three in the main lobby and one in the Ladies Room at the Hampton Inn.

“I was so excited to see my work here. It is just a hobby, but I love it.” Lauren is director of New Beginnings Learning School with the Decatur County Schools and said her first public showing of a photo is hanging in the new Jones Wheat Elementary school building lobby.

The Hampton Inn has made an effort to see that visitors to Bainbridge who stay in their inn will get a true flavor of the community.