In Focus with the Camera Club
The Fort Myers Beach Public Library’s April Artists of the Month are first-time presenters to the 3rd Floor Exhibit Area, with the emphasis on the plural, as 19 photographers from the Fort Myers Camera Club (FMCC) share center stage!
“Roughly one year ago, Dr. Leroy Hommerding, who so recently and tragically passed away, invited the Fort Myers Camera Club to present an exhibit in the FMB Public Library for April 2019,” explained FMCC exhibit spokesperson Rici Dudek. “When he first approached us about it, I was thrilled and for a selfish reason! I had only lived in Southwest Florida for less than a year back then, so a project like this gave me a way to get to know more people as well as finding my way around the region, as when you first move to a new community, you feel like you are out of touch with life, so it was exciting to learn his philosophy and what he expected from the FMB Library’s 3rd floor exhibits.”
The FMCC display will feature 35 photographs from 19 different FMCC members. “The exhibit will include a binder that we entitle ‘Libraries Are Not Just For Books,’” chuckled Rici, “with numbers to match up to the photographs, the names of each respective photographer, and contact information if you wish to communicate with them.” To interact with several Club members, there is a ‘Meet & Greet’ session on Wednesday, April 10, on the 3rd Floor from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
In recalling her initial interactions with Dr. Leroy, “he was so organized, he began to keep in touch with us way before last Christmas,” she said with a gentle laugh! “That communication gave us plenty of time to organize the exhibit, including things like the size of the photographs and frames. Our original idea was to have roughly 40 works in the show, but as we looked at the early submittals and compared them to the size of the three wall display areas, we cut that back to 35. Dr. Hommerding was so hands-on, and he would contact me every ten days or so as our exhibit drew nearer. As I am still so new to Southwest Florida, I found his expertise to be invaluable, and you could just tell by interacting with him that he had his thumbprints all over the place, and that he loved and was so proud of the FMB Public Library!”
As for the photographs, “Oh My God – they are gorgeous,” gushed Rici! “The members of our Club are so talented; some are multi-award winners, recognized by the National Photographers Association, so when you see our exhibit, you will be so impressed! I have had the opportunity to see them all when we put the exhibit binder together, and there is everything from wildlife to still lifes to some abstracts, and in every medium, from metal to acrylic to canvas; some with frames and some without, but the one thing they have in common is that they are all beautiful!”
Forty Years & Counting
“The Fort Myers Camera Club is roughly 40 years old, with from 80 to 100 members at any one time,” explained Rici. “We meet the first and third Fridays from November through the first Friday in April at 8210 College Parkway at 7 p.m. Like many Southwest Florida groups, our membership goes down quite a bit in the Summer, so we still meet but less regularly, however we absolutely have Summer programs for the approximately 35 people who stay here year-round. The first monthly meeting features a presentation, with the second one a digital imaging competition, where a judge from anywhere across the nation selects the Honorable Mentions, and 3rd, 2nd and 1st Place winners, with Award Ribbons. These are even more special because someone who is from outside the Club judges the winners, so it is never on any favoritism but pure ability. We welcome guests to our meetings and our membership is just $30 per year, so we are cheap in every respect but talent!”
She explained that the FMCC “welcomes new members of all skill levels and encourages active participation with various educational programs and presentations, often instructed by experts from outside the Club. Another fantastic aspect of the FMCC is we mentor each other, and that alone is invaluable. You receive professional critique, but not in a negative way but politely and positively, and that makes it really nice to grow as a photographer. The guest speakers are fantastic and the fact that the FMCC hosts two monthly meetings, along with its designated exhibits and activities, makes it twice as fun! We have one overnight trip each year, to capture a different aspect from the Fort Myers area, to sites like Fort De Soto and botanical gardens and places like that, and these ventures are terrific outings full of fun and education.”
Rici joined the FMCC because “I have always liked photography, and had this Nikon camera and equipment and a tripod that I kind-of inherited, with a couple of nice lenses. It seemed like it was all good stuff, so when I moved here from Annapolis a couple years back, I wanted to get hooked up with a new circle of people and began asking about photography clubs and through word-of-mouth, I learned about the FMCC. I have lived in five different states and know from experience that every time you move to a new area, you sacrifice a part of yourself and have to start all over again, and the best way to do that is with an open mind and by just asking people how to become involved, and pretty soon you find everything that you are looking for! When we have exhibits like at the FMB Public Library, I get to speak to other Southwest Florida professionals, and all those connections pull you out of your comfort zone.”
One aspect for Rici, however, outranks all the rest: “To me, the best part of the FMCC is not the talent in the club, though talented they are, but the warmth of the people, with how we mentor each other a close second, as I can’t say enough about the mentoring program!”
This particular FMCC exhibit will only be at the FMB Public Library for April, “so this is your one and only opportunity to see it,” encouraged Rici. “We worked hard to make it first-class, right from the beginning, so that Dr. Leroy, God Bless His Soul, would invite us back to do another exhibit at a future time.”
To see the magnificent photography of the Fort Myers Camera Club, visit the Fort Myers Beach Public Library’s 3rd Floor Exhibit Gallery through April 30 at 2755 Estero Boulevard. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and closed Sundays and holidays. For information on the FMCC, see Facebook, Meet-Up, or fortmyerscc.com; for the Library visit www.fmb.lib.fl.us or call 239-765-8162.
“Just come on down and view our exhibit at the FMB Public Library,” summed up Rici, “because I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!”
By Gary Mooney