Tenney Mason's Instagram photo-a-day fills exhibit

When Tenney Mason retired from a career of photojournalism, he made a promise to himself to take a photo every day. After a few months, he realized he had a folder of photos on his computer that no one, including himself, ever saw. That was when his daughter introduced him to Instagram, a photo-sharing system based on the Internet.

“All of a sudden, it went from no one looking at them, to people in New Zealand,” Mason said. “It became my job.”

Mason, 74, who was photo editor for the former Patuxent Publishing Co., spends several hours a day, he said, posting photos, looking at photos and commenting on photos.

“It is a beautiful platform for viewing photographs,” Mason said. “I can’t believe the quality.”

He started printing one or two of his photos every week and framing them. As his walls filled up, Mason realized he had enough photos for a show.

“I had 78 prints,” Mason said. “It was time for a show.”

While he has had a few of his photographs in group shows, Mason had never had his own exhibit. His first one-man show, “Instavision: A Gallery of Instagram,” opened on Nov. 1 at Glenelg Country School.

For Mason, the location is a homecoming, as he, as well as his daughters, all attended Glenelg Country.

“I was here when the school opened in 1954. I was in the sixth grade,” Mason said, adding that his parents were one of the school’s founding families.

“Tenney has been a part of the Glenelg Country School for so long,” said Denise Rosson, Glenelg Country School’s director of development. “He is so talented. We are so lucky he is still involved.”

While the lower school is still in the original “big old manor house” that Mason attended, the art gallery where his work is exhibited is in the middle school. His photos are arranged in groups along a brightly lit hallway. His exhibit features shots of animals, people, sporting events, live concerts, buildings and more.

“The key to my photography is variety,” Mason said. “I’m a street photographer. When I take a picture, whether of a person, still life or whatever, I’m always looking for a little extra … either a moment or a detail.”

Though Mason says he is not a “technical person,” he said he’s amazed at what he can do. He takes photos both with his camera and his phone, and with his phone and iPad, he can dabble with different color screens and order prints.

“You see images almost instantly,” Mason said. “Having lived through the dark room, it is just amazing.”

Mason hopes to open another show some time in the future, though he admits he isn’t in a hurry.

“I’m slowing down,” Mason said. “This is it. Instagram. I’m going to keep going with that.”

“Instavision: A Gallery of Instagram Images” runs through Dec. 8 at Glenelg Country School Middle School Gallery, 12793 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City.

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