John Krok, from Gary, Ind., came to South Carolina to work at Savannah River Site, and he still doesn’t miss those Indiana winters.
‘‘I remember one of my last winters in Indiana when I lived on the lower portion of Lake Michigan. When I left work one night the weather was below freezing and I had a flat tire,’’ he said. ‘‘I had to take my glove off to remove the lug nuts and when I got home my fingers were nearly frozen.”
Krok was affected when SRS conducted a large down-sizing after management changed. He was hired by SKF Bearing Manufacturing in Graniteville.
‘‘One of the requirements to work for SKF Bearing was the employee had to train two months at Aiken Technical College and spend three months training in northern Italy in the main plant. When I went to Italy for training, I shot 57 rolls of film, about half in black and white, and it cost me a fortune to develop the film when I returned,’’ he said. ‘‘The company sent us on two very memorable trips while I was in Italy – a weekend trip to Munich for the Oktoberfest and a weekend trip to Rome. Around 2008, the company moved operations outside the U.S. and I decided to retire.”
Krok’s interest in photography began in the 1960s, after the birth of his daughter.
“My wife and I had a professional take baby pictures and we were shocked at the price. That is when I started taking photographs and learning the skills required,’’ he said. ‘‘I was lucky to know Barbara Ray, who wrote a photography column for the Gary Post Tribune, and published many of my photographs in the paper. She taught me many of the basics of photography and helped me with composition. She was my mentor and the biggest boost to my path in photography.”
Krok’s preferred equipment is a 35mm manually operated camera.
About once a year, Krok travels to the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia to take photographs of animals. His most popular image is a tiger he shot with a 400mm lens with a tripod on a trip to the zoo several years ago.
One of his favorite spots for local photographs is the Brick Pond Park in North Augusta.
“Right now I’ve been shooting flowers like crazy …I have no clue of the botanical names,” he said.
Krok also likes experimenting with fiber optics and glass, and composing artful shots using everyday objects, such as bottles. He also likes figure studies with black and white film using creative lighting techniques.
Krok's work has been featured at Artistic Perceptions, Inc. in Augusta, Southside Gallery in Aiken, the Aiken Center for the Arts, the Etherredge Center at the University of South Carolina Aiken and in North Augusta at the Living History Park, Nancy Carson Library, the Arts & Heritage Center, and the Beveled Edge Art and Frame Gallery.
Krok has also volunteered at the Golden Harvest Food Bank in Augusta for three years. His experience with quality control and quality assurance has been helpful to the organization as he “pays attention to details,” he said.
Today, the lessons he learned from Ray have come full circle. He mentors several photographers with tips on composition, seeing through the lens of the camera and with critiques of their work.
Reach Krok at email@example.com.