Thursday, October 21, 2021

DPI-SIG? Strange Name for a Professional Local Group

Sonny Saunders, one of the original founders of DPI-SIG, conducts photography classes at the Marco Island Center for the Arts, Rookery Bay and through the Collier County Adult Education classes held at Barron Collier High School. Submitted Photo

Sonny Saunders, one of the original founders of DPI-SIG, conducts photography classes at the Marco Island Center for the Arts, Rookery Bay and through the Collier County Adult Education classes held at Barron Collier High School. Submitted Photo

Avid or amateur photographers alike – attune to this information. DPI-SIG, founded on July 1, 2004 with less than 30 members, is the largest local Naples Digital Camera Club with 400 members and, is probably the largest camera club in Florida. The club hosts monthly, year-round meetings, informative classes, internationally known speakers, small group workshops, critique sessions, competitions and is liaison to the Florida Camera Club Council (FCCC or FC3). And that’s not all. If you ever take photos, you’ll want to keep reading.

DPI-SIG stands for Digital Photography Imaging – Special Interest Group, Naples Photography Club, Inc. A mouthful for sure, but wow, do they encompass a wealth of expertise and experiences for all levels of photographers. I’m going to briefly cover all the opportunities this club gives you for a yearly membership dues of $30 that, honestly, is ridiculously low for all the benefits you receive. ($20 for students under 18 years old.)

1. Monthly meetings are held at Florida SouthWestern State College (FSWSC, formerly Edison, off Rattlesnake Hammock Road) in Building J (The Business and Technology Center) on the second Thursday of every month at 7 PM. There are always informative presentations about interesting photography topics, a member contributed slide show based on a theme, award recognitions for those who earned recognition in recent competitions, laughter and fun. There are opportunities to sell your not needed equipment, buy someone else’s equipment or check out items from a vast Photography Training Library of instructive CDs and videos, pick the brains of award-winning photographers and meet new people.

2. Membership perks are amazing. Beyond the monthly meetings, there are internationally known photography experts who share their expertise to help others. Recent speakers include Parish Kohanim, sponsored by Canon, Robert O’Toole, sponsored by Sigma, and Alister Benn, sponsored by NISI filters, that conducted workshops at FSWSC on Saturdays from 9 AM-12 PM. The next speaker will be Maxis Gamez on June 10th. All lectures are held at FSWSC in the auditorium and are free to members. And, just in case you think you’ll get lost on the FSWSC campus, there are signs to direct you to where each of the meetings is held. (Whew, right?)

3. Workshops reach every level of expertise and area of interest. There are smaller, special interest groups that focus on Lightroom, Photoshop & Elements, Lighting Techniques and more. There are Roundtable discussion groups that meet to discuss photography questions in general and a Women’s Workshop that meets monthly, in a location on Pine Ridge Road to highlight new and innovative ideas to integrate into your photographic techniques. The Women’s Workshop is led by creative women, but men are also encouraged to attend, and they do!

4. Classes are offered by members at convenient locations, including Marco Island Center for the Arts, Rookery Bay, Collier County Schools Adult Education location at Baron Collier High School, The Renaissance Academy and studios of member/teachers. There’s a ton of information about these on the DPI-SIG web site. The teachers of these classes are well-known professional photographers with a wealth of information to reach any level. There are discounts for members to attend many of these classes.

5. Field Trips/Excursions are offered at all times of the year and members can sign up for one or many. They range from Corkscrew Swamp to Burrowing Owls on Marco Island to Lakeland rodeos and St. Augustine, and too many others to mention here. Check the website.

6. Vendor Discounts and Repair Services are available to members and again, there’s too much information to list here. There are 18 vendors who provide discounts for the club members. The purchase prices on some of the lenses, printers etc. will amaze you. Camera issues? Does it need to be cleaned? You can drop off your camera for repairs at a monthly meeting or a photography studio in Naples and it will be shipped to the Southern Photo Technical Service. Round trip costs are usually $25 depending on the repairs needed. Since there is no camera store in Naples and the closest is Miami, this might save you a long trip in the car.

7. Photo Opps are listed for members from now to weeks/months ahead so you can plan the best trips to get your prized photos. Some upcoming events include “Evening on Fifth” and “Great Dock Canoe Race” in May (Naples), and several scenic drives in Florida for the continued spring.

8. Volunteer Photographers are needed to document the activities of nonprofits. This is something DPI-SIG is called on to help with and members assist by attending and providing the non-profits with their photos at no cost. It’s a great way to give back to the community and help agencies that don’t have the capital to hire professionals. Watch for some of the DPI-SIG volunteers at the upcoming Pickleball Championships in Naples.

9. Competitions are offered at the local level for the DPI-SIG members and because the club is affiliated with FCCC, their statewide competitions are open to local members. Competition is steep because all the other camera clubs in Florida take the opportunity to enter. If you are a DPISIG member, you automatically become a member of FCCC; another perk. There are still entrance fees for submissions, but they are $10 for four entries in your designated categories. (Go to

10. Art Shows are held locally and submissions are encouraged by members. Some upcoming shows will be at the Naples Depot (Theme – Transportation, May 4 – July 31), the Collier County Library at Central Avenue (No theme, June 5 – July 31) and the Marco Island Historical Society (Theme – “What’s Old is Not Forgotten,” June 7 – August 26). Entries for the MIHS should be indicative of the events and happenings around Southwest Florida. More information can be found on the site.

Sold? This is a talented, friendly group of creative people who have one thing in mind; to develop their own expertise and the expertise of others and have fun.

I think that’s worth a whole lot more than $30 for a year’s membership and so did 399 others.

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