Lens on Lake Minnetonka July Photo Contest Image

Al Whitaker’s photos take a specific look at a general store.

Al Whitaker is not new to photography, and he has participated in every Lens on Lake Minnetonka photo contest, mostly within the historical category. “[I] like the historical category because it forces me to seek out destinations in the area I might not otherwise visit,” Whitaker says. The quaint Cottagewood General Store is one of the oldest buildings in the area, making it an ideal subject for Whitaker to document with his trusty camera. He doesn't always have it with him, but, he says, “On the particular day I visited the store, my principal goal was to capture the wonderful detail inside.” The Lens on Lake Minnetonka veteran used this strategy, assuming other contestants planned to seize the iconic beauty of the building would approach it from outside instead. Whitaker has had a love for photography since the mid-1970s, when his wife bought him a Canon A1 SLR as an anniversary gift. Over the years, his interest in the medium has wavered, but the digital age has rekindled his passion. Now he gets out with his camera whenever he has the chance. For Whitaker, photography is a form of meditation, allowing for a small escape from life’s little issues. Like all worthy pursuits, photography requires extensive knowledge and practice.“I believe my skill comes from knowing the capabilities of the camera, understanding how various camera settings affect exposure and taking a lot—an awful lot of photos,” Whitaker says. A member of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Photography Society, he also enrolls in photography classes to hone his skills—skills that are on full display in this image.