OCEANA - It's a safe bet to call Wyoming County native Jim Cook a storyteller.

However, Cook tells his stories not with words, but with pictures.

Photographs, stills in time that tell a story on their own.

As one of the county's leading advocates, Cook, from Oceana, illustrates life in Wyoming County in full color.

"They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words," Cook said. "If that is the case, I want to tell with 10,000 words why Wyoming County is a great place to live, and a great place to be."

Truth be known, if a picture is worth 1,000 words it is likely better than 10,000 that Cook is providing. He is always on the move through the county.

Cook has been taking pictures for years.

For over a decade, he has been capturing the memories and lives of most of the kids who come through the county's two high schools, Wyoming East and Westside.

Whether it's at a game, or an event, Cook can often be found taking pictures.

"If it moves, I'm taking a picture," Cook said.

He caught the camera bug when he was in high school when he received a Kodak Instamatic as a birthday gift.

"Since then, I have been interested in pictures," Cook said. "I guess I like capturing moments. I don't know why that is. I just like capturing moments."

Cook, also the elected recorder for his hometown, bought his first "real" camera over three decades ago.

"That was in 1986, right before my first daughter was born and I wanted to have a real camera for that," Cook said. "I bought an old Kodak f 50."

An Air Force veteran of 26 years, Cook continued to tinker with cameras throughout his military career, retiring several years ago and returning to the county he loves.

Cook said he really started to focus on photos when he went to football games and took pictures of his daughter, who was in the band.

"The longer you go the more you get to know the kids and these kids in the county are great kids," Cook said. "And let's face it, not everyone can make every game. A mom told me she could not be at a game and asked if I could take some pictures, and I did. And then somebody else asked and one thing led to another."

He has been shooting just about every home game or as many as he can get to since.

Cook, who reckons that he does not go more than two days without taking a picture, said he has never charged for a photo.

And he doesn't plan on ever doing so, at least from games and school events.

He has a theory that started during his days at Oceana.

"I played football for four years and I played baseball for two," Cook said. "There are exactly three pictures out there of me in a uniform. My parents couldn't always make it to games or take photos. I know there are a lot of people out there who can't make it to games. So I want to capture some moments for them."

Really in his element at sporting events, Cook said he uses as many as three different lenses, "depending on the sport."

Cook said he has two goals for his photos.

"To make a good photo for the kids and I want to present the county in the best way possible," Cook said. "If I don't take a good picture, I am not doing that."

That's why Cook labors tirelessly for hours editing his photos before releasing them on Facebook.

He said his pension from the military allows him the freedom to work on his photos, ranging from football to baseball, and all sports in between as well as county events like the recently-held Civil War Days.

Cook said the best thing that happened in the world of photography was the inception of computerized photo processing.

"I'll tell you what, I was happy when they came up with the photo booth with the one-hour processing," Cook said. "You used to have to send it away and it would take six weeks to get it back. And film used to be so expensive. Since everything has gone digital, it has really changed things up in the world of photography."

Cook and his wife Dawn live in Oceana and he has three daughters, Callie, Jamie and Erin.

The shutterbug knows he has the hobby of a lifetime. And he plans to do it as long as he can.

"I always joke that I'm going to put a Go-Pro in my casket and take pictures of everyone who comes to pay their respects," Cook said, laughing.

The people of the county he loves certainly hope that is a long way in the future.

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