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Art & Museums

Westmoreland Museum work clicks for photographer

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Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Charlene Bidula, manager of communications at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, sits for a portrait on Jan 29, 2016, in Greensburg.

As manager of communications at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art in Greensburg, Charlene Bidula handles social-media accounts, print and electronic newsletters, videos, photography — you name it.

“I do so many things that sometimes I forget all that I do,” she says.

The Penn Hills native earned a master’s of business administration from Point Park University in sports, arts and entertainment management. She lives in Munhall with her husband, Justin, and cats Kitten (“lame, I know”) and Buddy.

If you attend an event at the Westmoreland, you might encounter Bidula walking about with a camera around her neck. If you see her anywhere else, she’ll probably still be toting that camera, as photography is her passion — or at least one of them.

Question: When did you get your first camera, and what was your first subject?

Answer: I was probably about 10 when my parents got me a Polaroid camera. I got it for Christmas, so I probably snapped some family photos or pictures of my sisters. I’m sure I don’t have them anymore, though.

Q: How did your interest progress?

A: I worked at Ritz Camera for about 10 years, from when I was a senior in high school to 2009. Although I don’t have any degrees in photography, I learned a lot about photography and cameras there. I was a sales associate, lab associate, manager; I was all over the place. A lot of employees took photos all the time because we got discounts on printing. Everyone who worked there would compare photos, take all kinds of different shots. It was almost like a competition at times.

Q: What are you photographing these days?

A: A couple years ago, I was focusing on abandoned buildings and places that aren’t being used anymore but are still standing, like Carrie Furnace. That’s what I really love, because I’m into history — especially around Western Pennsylvania, because I grew up here.

It’s hard with abandoned places, because technically you’re not supposed to be in there; but it’s really cool to see the history and what people have left behind.

The other thing I’m getting into is sports photography, which is like the complete opposite of my artistic stuff. I’m one of the photographers for the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds professional ultimate frisbee team. A lot of what I’m focusing on now is doing better with my sports photography.

Q: Have you shot any exotic locations?

A: During our honeymoon, we went to eight European countries. There are some photos of it on my website (charlenebidula.com). In Europe, the most interesting place was near Lisbon, Portugal — a 13th-century monastery. The architecture was amazing to me because, obviously, we don’t have anything that old here.

Q: Do you have a dream location on your bucket list?

A: It would probably be somewhere that I haven’t been in Europe or maybe even Iceland. A few of my friends have been there, and some of the photos I’ve seen are awesome.

Q: What’s one thing that people would be surprised to know about you?

A: I play ice hockey for the Pittsburgh Puffins women’s hockey team, which I’ve been doing for the past six years. Most of us are women who have started playing hockey later in life. Most of us are in our 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s — we even had a woman in her 60s. I started when I was 29. It’s nice that we’re all just starting out, and we play teams of equal skill level, so we’re not intimidated. I can play any position, but I mostly play wing.

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750 or [email protected].

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