Family photos

Photos taken with equipment ranging from the bulky contraptions in use 70 years ago to today’s tiny digital models are currently on display at the Morro Bay Art Association’s Main Street gallery. The exhibit shows work by four generations of the Dibert family, two of whom are association members.

But don’t expect to see snapshots from a family album.

At age 14, Ken Dibert was snooping around the attic in the house where he grew up in Kenilworth, Ill. He hit pay dirt when he found a stash of photographs by his late grandfather, Louis De Saugus Dibert.

The photos — taken in the 1930s on a 5x7 view camera, the wooden type with bellows — are not snapshots but works of art with props, posed models and professional lighting.

The teenager recognized their value and has lovingly taken care of them in the ensuing years.

"I’ve been in charge of his portfolio since then," says Ken Dibert, now 62.

He used a process copy camera to create negatives from the antique images, then printed copies on silver gelatin, making these available for purchase along with other works in the show.

Growing up with chemical odors and the intrigue of his father’s home darkroom, next to where he discovered his grandfather’s treasure, Ken was exposed to photography early in his life.

His dad, George C. Dibert, worked in advertising, but photography was his passion.

"He was an advanced amateur and pretty well taught by his father," recalls Ken. George Dibert used a Hasselblad to create studies of Chicago’s architecture.

Dibert Senior passed away in 1974, but his photos — and his passion — were passed on to his son and grandson.

After running a color photo lab in Honolulu and a gallery in Carmel, Ken Dibert now makes his living as a photographer.

His large color photographs taken in Guatemala in the 1970s were awarded one of UNESCO’s international

Humanity Photo Awards in 2004. The collection toured Asia and Europe before becoming part of Unesco’s permanent collection in Paris. Those shots were taken

with a 35 mm Nikon using

Kodachrome film.

Currently a Templeton resident, Ken Dibert is watching his son, George W., follow in not only his own footsteps but those of the senior Diberts.

A junior at Templeton High School, where he’s taking a photography class, George W. says he isn’t aiming toward a career in photography unless he gets good enough. For now, the 17-year-old focuses on shooting local scenes with a digital camera and appreciates its relatively benign technology.

"I’m not liking the darkroom very much" because of the chemicals, he says.

Apparently some things are in the blood, others aren’t.

If you go ...

What: "Reflections — Four Generations of Dibert Photography" through Feb. 18.

When: Reception 1 to 3 p.m. today

Where: Morro Bay Art Association Gallery, 835 Main St., Morro Bay

Hours: Noon to 3:30 p.m. daily

More information: 772-2504