BEGIN­NINGS

The Day - Sound & Country - - FRONT PAGE -

While the group’s mem­ber­ship stands at 664 and ris­ing, it started with two like-minded Face­book friends. Philip Med­berry and Seth Bend­felt didn’t know each other per­son­ally, but had lived in the same house in Niantic, 20 years apart. They be­came fa­mil­iar with each other’s work online and be­gan chat­ting about form­ing their own page, solely de­voted to lo­cal pho­tog­ra­phy. Their goal from the start was to cre­ate and foster a fam­ily en­vi­ron­ment, where peo­ple would feel wel­comed and en­cour­aged. Mem­ber­ship is open to any­one who has some con­nec­tion to—or love for—the area.

The group’s pur­pose is clearly out­lined in a mis­sion state­ment on the page, and so far, Med­bery said, mem­bers have been over­whelm­ingly re­spect­ful. “We’ve had very few prob­lems,” Med­bery said. “And we get a lot of great photos be­cause we’re ver­sa­tile,” Bend­feldt said. “Peo­ple say it’s like a scrapbook.”

The group draws mem­bers from ev­ery level of abil­ity and ev­ery walk of life. Bend­feldt, a 50-year pho­tog­ra­phy vet­eran, has held nearly ev­ery job imag­in­able in his field, from string­ing for The Day to tak­ing year­book photos, fam­ily por­traits, to doc­u­ment­ing fires and ac­ci­dents for Montville po­lice and fire. He is a fix­ture at public hap­pen­ings, and his rep­u­ta­tion and friendly dis­po­si­tion have earned him welcome at a wide spec­trum of high-pro­file events, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s ad­dress at the Coast Guard Academy grad­u­a­tion in May.

Med­bery, a mu­nic­i­pal em­ployee, also leads tours of New Lon­don’s Ledge Light­house. An early riser by na­ture, about

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