The FishHawk Photographers Facebook page has 186 members
By KEVIN BRADY
Less than a year old, a local photography group has taken off online.
Sharing tips and meeting up regularly, the FishHawk Photographers Facebook group has become a forum for some talented area shutterbugs, no surprise to Stan Smoczyk, an administrator for the group who was among the first members.
“When it started there were only about 15 in the group but it just grew and continues to do so. The last I checked we have over 180 members from all over the place,” said Smoczyk, the head photographer and programmer at Prism Light Studios of Lithia.
While most of the group’s members come from FishHawk and the surrounding area, photographers from Hawaii, Texas, New York and Chicago are also active on its pages.
“It’s open to anyone interested in photography. Most of us live in Fishhawk, but you can be anywhere and be part of the great discussions.”
Rowena Mateo-Sjovall, who, like Smoczyk, has been with the group since it was founded last July, believes the page provides a forum for learning in a relaxed environment.
“It’s become popular because it allows photographers of all levels to share their work with fellow photographers,” said Mateo-Sjovall, who runs her own studio, Rowena Sjovall Photography.
“Regardless of one’s level or whether one does photography for a living, the group fosters an environment where one not only shares their photographs but also receives and gives feedback. It is also a group where learning about and teaching photography is fostered and reinforced.”
The quality of the photos showcased in the group is also a testament to the depth of talent in the area, she believes.
“Does [the group] show that we have some talented photographers in our area? It sure does. It also shows that photography is an art, a means of self-expression and a way to tell stories. It also showcases the different types of photography out there and an individual’s artistic side.”
A newcomer to the group, Brandon’s Nathan Turner said his fellow hobbyists are helping him learn.
“As I go through others posts I can always find a new technique I may want to try or a location I hadn’t thought about shooting in before,” Turner said. “It is just a wonderful way to share information. I was glad to find such a great group of local talented photographers to share with.”
The accessibility of the members keeps Turner coming back.
“I would have to say the draw is the openness of this group. I have been to quite a few forums for photography and never got the welcome I have here,” said Turner, who has turned his hobby into a small business, T-n-T Photography. “It is great to speak with people who will share tips and who you can talk technique with.”
Smoczyk is also impressed by the quality of the work posted by local snappers.
“The photography is amazing. We have some really great photographers in the group. I have been very pleased with the quality of photos and discussions the group has shared.”
While there’s plenty of feedback from members, it’s advice offered in an encouraging, not critical, fashion, Smoczyk. “It’s a fun group and I also believe the fact that members can share it with their friends and family adds to the popularity.”