Ally Duncan with photography project photos
PHOTO FUN: Camp Branch 4-H member Ally Duncan shows off a few of her pictures taken as part of her photography projects. She says landscapes and nature offer some of the most unique shots.

4-H’er sees life through her camera lens

4-H Week: Ally Duncan has participated in the 4-H photography program for four years.

Editor's note: Editor's note: Oct. 7-13 is National 4-H Week. This week we celebrate by introducing you to the Duncans, a first generation 4-H family in Warren County, who are taking projects ranging from poultry to scrapbooking and everything in between. Third in the series is Ally, a 4-H'er who wants to capture the world through the camera lens.

In 10 years, Ally Duncan may be traveling around the world shooting photographs. In just four years, the Camp Branch 4-H'er has already captured images of her farm, her club and her community.

"I want to be a photographer when I graduate," she says. "I either want to own my own business or work for National Geographic and travel taking pictures."

This is Ally's fourth year in the 4-H photography project. She enjoys finding scenes in nature. "I really like taking pictures of flowers and landscapes, especially with different lighting and angles."

Ally receives a little help in learning to train her eye for finding images from a local photographer. Rebecca Chapman-Alberternst volunteers to lead the Camp Branch 4-H photography projects. She's the owner of Rebecca Chapman Photography in Warrenton, Mo. "Having Rebecca, who is a professional, teaching us how to use a camera, how to set up shots and how to look for unique photo opportunities is fun," she says. "We learn a lot from her."

Training session
The group meets at the University of Missouri Extension Center in Warren County; however, it does not stay there. "We walk to places around downtown (Warrenton)," Chapman-Alberternst says. She gives them 5 to 10 minutes to capture a unique photo. Then they all gather to look at the photos, discuss what they did well and what they could've done differently.

However, it is the field trips to Chapman's rural family property that excite Ally. "She took us to a field and set up old cameras she had, and we took photos of those," Ally says. "It was fun to play with how the light hit them and just see the old cameras."

Chapman-Alberternst says it is all about fueling kids' passion at an early age. "Most in the group are in elementary school," she says. "I really did not have much help with photography until I was in high school."

 Still, she says it wasn't much. "I had to figure a lot out on my own," Chapman-Alberternst says. "I thought this would be a good way to give kids a jump start I never had."

Ally is putting her skills to practice as the Camp Branch 4-H Club historian. "I take pictures at our meetings and events," she says. "At the end of the year we put together a scrapbook of our photos."

CLOSE UP: Flowers are a favorite subject for Ally Duncan. She looks for bright colors and good lighting. It is still wrapped for safe keeping after being exhibited at the Warren County Fair.

She also exhibits her work at the Warren County Fair in July. It is where her project leader sees the progress. "Some start out not even known how to turn on the camera, but by the end they are shooting photos and are excited to show them to everyone," Chapman-Alberternst says. "I am pretty proud of them."

Making friends
Ally is comfortable behind the camera. Still, she is not shy about getting in front of it. Ally likes meeting and interacting with other 4-H members. And many times, that means taking a selfie.

One of her favorite 4-H events was the Teen Conference. "I was able to meet so many other 4-H members from across the state," she says. "We had fun learning about leadership and improving our line dance moves." And there was the occasional photo opportunity.

She hopes to bring that enthusiasm to her club, the Warren County Teen Leaders group, and to her school activities. The 8th grader at Black Hawk Middle School is involved in cross country, track, yearbook and choir. She also plays on a community soccer team and attends Fellowship Baptist Church Youth Group.

Last year, Ally took part in 4-H projects like archery, poultry, cake decorating, babysitting, pressure canning and of course, photography. She says 4-H offers a way to try new things. Perhaps one day it will be the jumpstart she needed to a world class photo career.

Did you miss one of the Duncans? We have you covered. Check below for more on how this first-generation 4-H family is getting the most out of the organization:

• Becoming a sharpshooter at age 8

• 4-H proves girls can weld

• 4-H'er makes tending animals top priority

• Mom urges parents to be present with kids through 4-H

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