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A longtime member of EAA’s volunteer photography team during AirVenture, Craig Vander Kolk, EAA 467917, is part of a critical unit that captures the airplanes and events at Oshkosh for EAA’s social media accounts and various publications, EAA Sport Aviation included. He joined the photography team in 1997 as an inexperienced photographer but has seen his skills develop over the past two-plus decades.
“I started off just as an amateur,” Craig said. “I did have my own studio for three or four years. Mostly portrait, stuff like that. But I really liked aviation photography and nature photography.”
When asked what draws him to Oshkosh, Craig said there is a little bit of everything.
“You’ll see a lot of different experience levels,” he said. “And what I found refreshing in the last three or four years, we brought in a lot of new young photographers who haven’t been to Oshkosh that are excited about seeing what I’ve been looking at for 20 years.”
He said the younger photographers have given him a new perspective, even though he’s photographing some of the same things year after year.
“It was really refreshing to see young people come in and kind of take an excited new look at it,” he said. “And they’ve inspired me to look at things a little differently the last couple of years.”
Craig returns to Oshkosh year after year because he enjoys airplanes and aviation photography, but he admitted it is nice to see his name mentioned in different publications.
“It’s always fun to see your name on the credit on the photo,” he said. “It does give you a sense of fulfillment. It’s the warm fuzzy [feeling]. It’s not the goal that you come here for. It’s just the warm fuzzy byproduct of it. It’s nice to see your work used, appreciated. We all have a different style when we take images, and when I’m shooting, I shoot what catches my eye and I find that that is what a lot of times is ending up being published. That is a reward in itself. It’s a fun thing to do. But like I said, it’s not the goal. It’s a byproduct of contributing.”