Putting It All into Perspective

02 Dec 2020

The sure shots of the Sandhills Photography Club

By Crissy Neville

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the Sandhills Photography Club's prolific photographers are a chatty lot. Over 100-members strong, the circa 1983 club strives to enhance the photographic skills of participants — who range from beginners and advanced amateurs to semi-professionals and professionals — through knowledge-sharing and support. While fleshing out their mantra of "Enriching Our World Through Photography," these spirited shutterbugs likewise enrich themselves.

SPC President Neva Scheve of Pinehurst summed up the club's membership philosophy. "The thing we want is for people to do what they like to do in photography and can afford to do while learning to take good pictures. You don't have to have any certain skill level to join us or spend a lot of money on camera equipment; you only need to have an interest."

Monthly on the second Monday night, the club meets in the Theater of the Hannah Marie Bradshaw Activities Center of the O'Neal School in Southern Pines. Due to relocation and extended family interest, memberships cover not only Moore County but also several states and one foreign country ― South Africa. The overseas member is Darryll Benecke, who has family in Seven Lakes and enjoys he says, “the club camaraderie and friendship offered” through his online connections and periodic visits to the state.

Meetings feature guest speakers presenting instructional topics to keep members abreast of trends and new processes. During the pandemic, the SPC has met virtually via ZOOM, but according to Scheve, recorded the same or often higher attendance rates than during regular times.

"Engagement is always high," said Scheve. "Our competitions are a particularly popular club feature." With a chuckle, she added, "We are a fun and friendly group, too."

The fun kicked back off in late October with the first back-to-club live outing in many months. The event was a photo field trip to the Sandhills Horticultural Gardens, albeit with an attendance cap and social distancing guidelines in place.

The fall outing and other virtual excursions held through most of 2020 speak to another SCP goal ― fostering member participation and special interests. In past years, the club has offered bi-annual spring and fall photographic three-or-four-day field-trips and numerous day trips, too. Images have been shot in out-of-state destinations, including Richmond, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina, and in-state sites from Murphy to Manteo. A popular recurring winter trip has been to the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in the Outer Banks region to photograph tundra swan and snow geese. Nature and wildlife photography, according to Scheve, is a particular passion of many club members.

For those not into nature, street scenes, landscapes and macro photography are other photographic styles, among many others that further capture the camera lens. Optional competitions are held every other month to showcase the varied tastes and talents of members, with themes such as "Anything Old," "Dominant Yellow," "What's in the Kitchen" and the current December topic, "Less is More."

Professional judges score the contestants in tiered groups with winners accumulating points to advance levels as they grow in their skills. Camera usage runs the gamut, from professional-grade cameras and digital models to new mirrorless technology and even cell phones. Creative post-processing techniques like Photoshop and LightRoom digital formatting are now an accepted part of the competitions.

Themed-competition galleries showcase the winners virtually on the SPC's award-winning website. Member Ken Owens, a photographer for some 70 years, enjoys the club competitions as a way, he said, “of seeing the outstanding photos by
club members."

Younger member Joseph Hill with but a decade of experience, in comparison, agrees. “In the club,” he said, “I learn from other photographers and see their vision. This helps me to continue to do my best in being creative and becoming more professional.”

For continuing education, professional and member-led workshops punctuate the club calendar four-to-six times per year. Member Donna Ford appreciates these chances to learn from others that share her enthusiasm for photography. "Since becoming a member," she said, "My technical skills have grown, and as a direct result, I've had the good fortune to become a freelance sports photographer. Being part of such a talented group of photographers pushes you to become better yourself.”

Members can also elect to exhibit their work around the Sandhills at local galleries and governmental offices, most regularly at the Campbell House and Artist Guild of the Sandhills in Aberdeen. Club member Gary Magee values such artistic opportunities. “Creating a piece of art,” he explained, “rather than simply recording the moment presents a challenge which I am constantly trying to improve.”

The diverse membership and activities of the Sandhills Photography Club present a quick snapshot of who and what they are. To view the full picture, attend a meeting or connect with SPC yourself. Find out more on Facebook or at sandhillsphotoclub.org.

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