Pensacola, Florida
Saturday October 20th 2018


A POP of Culture

By Jennifer Leigh

Whether it’s scrolling Instagram or wandering through an art exhibit, there’s one thing the Wide Angle Photo Club (WAPC) knows for sure: people love looking at pictures.

Every year when the local club of photography enthusiasts host the popular Power of Photography (POP) show they receive hundreds of submissions and even more viewers.

“This is our twenty-third show—that’s 23 years in a row,” said Timothy Brooks, publicity chair for WAPC. “There are not a lot of volunteer based efforts that last 23 years, so our club considers this a great achievement.”

The Power of Photography show, or POP, is the largest event of the year for the club. And it showcases the work of not only members but photographers of all skills from the community. A panel of professional photographers are chosen as judges who score submissions in five different variables—impact, creativity, composition, technical and presentation.

“The artists span the gamut of age, the vast majorities are amateurs, but we do have a couple of professionals who enter the show,” said Brooks. “We also have a youth category (for kids under 16) and all the youth entries are hung at the show.”

This year there were about 700 photo submissions from about 80 photographers. Inside the space at the Pensacola Cultural Center, where the show has been held for the past three years, there’s only room for about 300 photos. Brooks admits the number of submissions was actually down this year, but the quality of art is “the best we’ve seen,” he said.

Like the club itself, POP is a show that aims to educate and inspire, Brooks said. WAPC regularly hosts lectures and events where members share their best practices with new photography equipment or post-production tricks.

Beyond its cultural dynamic, POP is also about giving back to the community. For the past 11 years, The Arc Gateway has been the beneficiary of the event. At last year’s show, the club surpassed the $50,000 mark in total donations to the local nonprofit.

It can be difficult for nonprofits to stand out among other causes, which is why being chosen is a “great honor,” said Melanie Kormondy, public relations manager for The Arc Gateway.

“The show exposes The Arc Gateway to a diverse group of people within the community that we otherwise might not have a chance to encounter,” said Kormondy. “A lot of people are familiar with the general context of what we do, but they do not realize the many programs, services, support and training we offer to over 800 individuals with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities in the Pensacola area.”

Alongside the photography, there will be a silent auction and raffles prizes. The weekend schedule also includes lectures and photo walks as well a vendor area for photo equipment.
“If you love photography this is the event for you,” said Grier Ward, development and fundraising manager for The Arc Gateway. “I was amazed at the amount of creativity and diversity of so many wonderful photos. My favorite part was viewing the photos that received an award.”

The Power of Photography show is a huge collaborative effort among the club members from working with sponsors to even designing and constructing the panels for the show.

“There is a lot of work that goes into an event like POP, but opening night is very powerful when over a thousand guests come through,” Brooks added. “It is a great opportunity for the club to tell the community what we do and why.”

Brooks joined the club about six years ago. But his love of photography dates back a little further when he was given a 35mm film camera for his high school graduation. As a freshman at the University of Miami, he was taking pictures around the campus when he was asked to join the school newspaper.

“I had free access to a great darkroom,” he said.

He’s been taking pictures ever since, following all of the changes to its format. Brooks said he waited a little bit before transferring to digital.

“I waited for the quality to jump up… my first digital camera was 4 megapixels,” he said with a laugh.

Nearly all submissions for POP are now digital—and a good amount from smart phones. But that doesn’t mean the standards have fallen.

“With everything electronic, you think you have the perfect camera,” Brooks said. “The darkroom is now in the computer, but we have to be honest with our photographs. You want to take a great picture (before editing)… that’s the goal. That’s what we teach.”

Photography is more approachable than it’s ever been, which may be why the show is so popular. It’s also a chance for hobbyists or amateur photographers to exhibit their work—and a chance to give back.

“Everyone has something hanging on their wall,” Brooks said. “Anyone who is interested in two-dimensional art should come. In my opinion, the artistic aspect of photography is at a new high. We’d love for people to appreciate the art of photography… and it benefits a great group of people.”

WHEN: Friday, Aug. 19- Sunday, Aug. 21
WHERE: Pensacola Cultural Center, 400 S. Jefferson St.
COST: Free (donations benefit The Arc Gateway)

Schedule of Events
Friday, Aug. 19
5 p.m. Show opens; voting for People’s Choice & New Member Awards
7 p.m. PhotoWalk with Dick Weaver
9 p.m. Show closes for the night

Saturday, Aug. 20
8 a.m. PhotoWalk in Downtown Pensacola
10 a.m. Show opens; voting continues until 5 p.m.
10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tradeshow (Bring you camera)
5 p.m. Show closes for the day

10:30 a.m. How to Read a Photograph with Norm Haines
11:30 a.m. Macro Photography with Kelvin Espada
12:30 p.m. Lightroom with Dick Weaver
1:30 p.m. Black & White Photography with Kelvin Espada
2:30 p.m. Travel Photography with Dick Weaver

Sunday, Aug. 21
10 a.m. People’s Choice Award announced
Noon PhotoWalk with Charlie Crumpton
2 p.m. Silent auction & raffle ends
10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Tradeshow
3:30 p.m. Show Closes; Photo Pickup Begins (4:30 Photo Pickup Ends)