If you have enjoyed a meal at the local Applebee’s in Riverbank then you probably sat right next to some works of art by longtime city resident Ric McGinnis. There are several photographs that have been framed, or set in collages that he has taken. The pictures on the walls at Applebee’s include pictures from Riverbank, Oakdale, Knights Ferry and Modesto.
If you have not seen the pictures at Applebee’s then maybe you have seen some of his work in the Riverbank News, at the Riverbank Museum, the City of Riverbank, or maybe even in the Riverbank High School yearbook.
McGinnis has a passion for photography and really enjoys capturing sports behind the lens.
The love for photography started in 1964 for McGinnis after someone loaned him a little brown Kodak camera with the little blue Sylvania bulb on it that popped out and burned your hand when you exchanged the flash out, he explained.
As a musician in high school, McGinnis would visit other bands at dances and would take pictures of them to make sure their band was not doing the same things like the staging or wearing the same attire.
Eventually, McGinnis had to give the loaner brownie camera back and started shooting snapshots with a 127 instamatic camera that came out in the late 1960s.
In 1969, he was drafted into the Navy and for his birthday his mother bought him a Canon for $100 at the Navy exchange which at the time was on the expensive side. He started his sports photography while in Japan on base where the Navy baseball team would play teams from other bases. After a few shots and developing the pictures in the dark room, McGinnis realized that he could not see the player’s faces and barely see their numbers. So he got a better lens, a telephoto 135.
“So you had to get a fixed focal length so I settled for that, it was better but not the best because it was still not that far,” added McGinnis. “So I did that for a while then I got out of the Navy and I kind of quit.”
Although he took some time off of photography, McGinnis picked it back up when color film was introduced and he could get his film developed at Thrifty Drug Store for a relatively inexpensive price.
His education started at San Francisco State and then he transferred to Chico State where he took a photography class which had a dark room.
After college, McGinnis went to work for a radio station, did a little television, and took pictures on the side. Then he started working for Butte College as their media specialist. Among many things, McGinnis took pictures at county fairs, campus events, and sporting events, as well as made slide shows. He started making enlargements of some of his sports shots and after that started going to all the sporting events.
McGinnis submitted some sports pictures to the Contra Costa Times which were used and eventually he was offered a position as a photographer for the paper.
Landing later in Riverbank, McGinnis continued dabbling with photography in one realm or another and after being elected for the Riverbank City Council he started taking pictures in the city.
For approximately 50 years now, McGinnis has had a camera in his hand and has been capturing moments and stopping time as only a picture can. The digital age has changed photography and McGinnis has adapted to the changes.
“Of course it is pretty cool to see my work on the walls at Applebee’s,” expressed McGinnis. “I was glad that I had the resources to provide the prints for them.”