Looking to share their interest in photography and its techniques, a few Port Washington residents in 1975 formed the Photography Club of Port Washington.
As the club grew with new members from around Long Island, it was renamed the Photography Club of Long Island and hosted new events, said David Wollin, a past president.
The club has about 30 members, ranging from beginners to experts, from high school students to retirees, Wollin said, each focusing on helping each other improve.
Aside from meeting three times a month to discuss photography and share photos, the club participates in community events, snapping photos for local organizations and town gatherings. It regularly exhibits photos around Long Island, filling the walls of libraries with a variety of shots from its members.
“It was a bunch of photographers who got together because they were interested in sharing photos and their techniques with one another,” said Wollin, the club’s current publicity chairman.
Many other Long Island-based photography clubs focus on competition, Wollin said, while the Photography Club of Long Island focuses on “encouraging learning for others and support.”
“We’re different in a sense as we do have critiques, but we are not internally competitive,” he said. “We are among about 30 other photo clubs on Long Island, and we’re a supportive organization.”
During the first of three monthly meetings, the club hosts a “members learning night,” where a member suggests a topic to discuss and the club has a session on it.
“It could be conducted by one of our members that is an expert in the areas or we’ll bring in an outside resource,” Wollin said. “The topic could be anything, too: the use of software equipment, how to do a slideshow, how to create a photo book. It depends on what the members have asked for. It’s a really positive thing and people come spend time and come away with new ideas.”
The club brings in a guest speaker for its second monthly meeting, which is held at the Port Washington Public Library and is open to the community.
“The guest speaker topics are always different,” Wollin said. “Once in a while we bring in a vendor who talks about products and how to use them.”
The club will meet on Feb. 8 at the library to listen to Alan Perlman, a professional photographer.
During the club’s third meeting, members submit up to five photos and receive advice on how to improve them.
“We go through them and the critique is about what the judges like, what can be improved and how it can be better, or if it’s outstanding, there’s nothing else I can do,” Wollin said.
Wollin, who said he had a darkroom in his basement when he was young, said his experience with photography was typical.
“I visualize things, whether it’s action or people,” he said. “It could be the lighting on someone’s face. The thrill of being able to capture that and taking it back and seeing if it’s good all by itself or if there is something I can do better is great.”
Wollin, who joined the club eight years ago, said the “experience of coming together with community members to discuss photography is wonderful.”
The photography club is involved in community events, too, taking pictures for PortFest and other events hosted by Helping Enrich the Arts.
“We went out, about five or six photographers and took photos of all the events and activities and people,” Wollin said. “It’s terrific stuff, because at the end of the day we had about 500 images to give them.”
The club has also photographed Port Washington’s annual Pride in Port celebration.
The club exhibits its photos in different venues around Long Island, including an annual exhibit at the Manhasset Public Library and the Port Washington Public Library.
In 2014, the club was contacted by the American Merchant Marine Museum in Kings Point to exhibit prints from November to June.
The club showed about 70 prints, Wollin said, and the exhibit drew a large crowd.
“People were coming from all over to see the exhibit,” he said. “They asked us to host it for five more months.”
Wollin said the club, which elects its leaders, has helped him and others improve as a photographer.
“I’ve learned to improve my photography knowledge and techniques,” he said. “We have been able to do more with our photos as a result of being in the club.”