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Speaking in pictures

Photographers' online 'conversation' of nearly 1,000 images turns into an art show

When nine Bay Area professional photographers launched a blog three years ago, they didn't think it would last. They were wrong. Not only has their collaborative content gained followers, it has spawned a new art form now on display at Foothill College.

Since March 2013, the photographers have taken turns posting a digital image on their website, f8dontwait.com. A new photograph is posted each day, and each photo responds to or connects with the previous photo in a process the photographers see as a "conversation."

The photographers includes Rachel Phillips and David Hibbard of Menlo Park and Patricia McClung of Portola Valley.

"It works a lot like the game of telephone that kids play, whispering a message around a circle," McClung said. "Inevitably the message (in this case in the form of a photographic image) evolves."

Given the online format, the images were not intended to be displayed in print, but over time the group realized it was doing something "different" and wanted to share the blog beyond its email subscribers and the approximately 6,000 page views each month.

This summer the group organized a show at a gallery in Castro Valley, where photographer Susan Honda Eady works. When McClung's former professor saw the exhibition, she thought it would be ideal to use as a teaching tool at Foothill College's Krause Center for Innovation.

The exhibit, "The Conversation: F8 Don't Wait," is on display at the Los Altos Hills campus through Dec. 6.

Photographer Robert Kato is also a master printer and he devised a way to print out the group's images in rows on square sheets that are 44 inches by 44 inches. Each sheet carries 49 or 50 images, which McClung said make an impact as a new composite art form. "People get drawn in to figure out what the conversation is," she said.

Kato also created an 18-foot-long scroll that shows the total of more than 1,240 images.

Photographer Dorothy Gantebein designed QR codes for the exhibit so people can use smart phones to scan and find each image's place in the blog and associated photographer name and title.

Most of the photographers have been sharing their experiences since they met taking a photography class with Brigitte Carnochan in Portola Valley about 10 years ago.

The group gets together periodically to talk about their work and admits the blog has become an influential factor.

"Being a member of this talented group, it's important to me to maintain the quality and integrity of my posts. Each one is a unique challenge," said William Bishop of La Honda.

Katie Parquet said: "Something will catch my eye in my daily travels and I will think, hmmm ... I might be able to use that in the future. Or someone will post on our blog and I will think where can I take that image next? Or how did they do that? Or where were they when they took the image? Or what were they thinking?"

Maude Pervere, a retired Stanford professor who exhibits her photography regularly, said: "I feel challenged by the quality of the photographs that others post, and therefore both stretched in my imagination of what a photograph can express, and safe enough with this group to truly experiment."

"Besides, if someone else is going to post the very next day, how long will anyone be focused on a flop?"

The exhibit

The exhibit runs through Dec. 6 at the gallery located on the lower level of the Krause Center for Innovation at Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road in Los Altos Hills. The gallery opens Monday through Saturday at 9 a.m. each day and closes at 7:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday, at 6 p.m. on Fridays, and at 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Go to f8dontwait.com to see the photographers' "conversation" online.

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