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Parkville man spends free time behind the camera at Oak Crest

Created date

March 19th, 2019
Amateur photographer  LeRoy Stoll, seen here with his camera, volunteers for Oak Crest’s resident-run newspaper The Observer.

Amateur photographer  LeRoy Stoll, seen here with his camera, volunteers for Oak Crest’s resident-run newspaper The Observer.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then LeRoy Stoll has plenty to say about Oak Crest, the Erickson Living community he and his wife Anna have called home since 2016. 

An amateur photographer who loves nature, LeRoy volunteers for The Observer, a free monthly publication produced by and for the residents of Oak Crest, where he photographs clubs, concerts, special events, wildlife, and even the recent renovations that took place on campus.

“I have always liked being behind the camera. I’ve been taking photos ever since I was a little kid,” says LeRoy, who has had no formal training. “My father had a movie camera, and we would take pictures at Christmas and on every trip we took. When my wife joined The Observer as a writer, I tagged along to the meeting to see if they needed any photographers. I’ve been doing it ever since. It keeps me pretty busy.”

With a staff of many writers and a handful of photographers, the paper produces 12 issues a year with a circulation of about 1,500 copies. LeRoy receives assignments by email from The Observer’s editor and then sets out with his Nikon Coolpix in hand.

Unique point of view

“One assignment I was given was to photograph the renovations that took place in Town Center,” says LeRoy. “I went up to a friend’s top-floor apartment that overlooked the construction, where I was able to shoot from multiple angles down below, which was kind of neat.”

Incidentally, the photos LeRoy took turned out so well that they were requested by the construction company to be used in PowerPoint presentations at other Erickson
Living communities.

As he’s out and about taking photos, LeRoy always has his eyes open for newsworthy items to pass along to the paper.

“Each apartment here at Oak Crest has a shelf right outside their front door. Many people decorate those shelves for the holidays or with things that are personal or meaningful to them, which reflect hobbies and interests they might have,” says LeRoy. “For example, there is one man who has all kinds of firefighter-related items on his shelf. It gives you a little snippet into their life. When I see something interesting, I will make a note of it and turn it over to the editor for a story idea.”

Early bird catches the worm

In between assignments, LeRoy never has a shortage of things to photograph. Just outside his front door are 87 park-like acres featuring walking paths, flower and vegetable gardens, and a one-acre lake that attracts various wildlife.

“Before we moved to Oak Crest, we lived on a half-acre. Half of it was woods, so we would see a lot of wildlife and I could take photos of squirrels and birds,” says LeRoy. “The campus here is so beautiful. I like to get up early in the morning and walk around with my camera to see what I can find.”

Because he is an early riser, while his friends and neighbors are still enjoying their morning coffee LeRoy has been able to capture some unique photographs of squirrels, deer, a blue heron, and a group of Canada geese inspecting the newly built bocce courts.

When he’s not taking photos, LeRoy films events in the community and helms one of three cameras in Oak Crest’s on-site TV studio, WOCV. He says one of the fascinating things about working at the television station is meeting the different people who come into the studio.

“The very first time I volunteered at WOCV, one of our state senators was a guest on one of the programs,” says LeRoy. “I became so interested in what they were talking about, it was hard to focus on operating the camera.”