Welcome to the September issue of the Club of the Month series for 2012 in Trilogy Life Magazine.  This month, we’re highlighting a group of passionate photographers from the Monarch Dunes community.  Read on to get to know September’s Club of the Month, the Monarch Shutterflies, through the following interview with one of the club’s founders, Linda Adams.  (Speaking of fabulous photos, don’t forget to sign up for the “Celebrate the Grands” Photo contest!  Click here to submit your favorite grandparent/grandchild photo for a chance to win a new camera and photo book package!)

Please note that you can click on any of the photos below to view larger images, all of which were taken by members of the Monarch Shutterflies Photography Club.

Thank you for taking the time to share your club’s story with us, Linda!  Can you tell us a bit about the background of the Monarch Shutterflies Photography Club?

Charles Davis, Tracy Tracy, and I were taking photography lessons, and we decided to create a club where we could share our hobby with others.  We started in Spring of 2011, with about 25 members expressing interest. We made the decision not to have a formal membership list or dues, but to invite all residents to be included in our activities and meetings.  I keep an email list of interested residents and inform them of club activities, and also advertise our meetings and activities on MTL.  Currently, we have 53 email addresses, or about 75 persons, who receive club news, though the number of residents who attend events averages around 20 at one time. We have many residents who attend outings, but are not photographers, (such as my husband – who often carries my photo equipment for me!).

What is the mission of the Shutterflies?

We emphasize the enjoyment of being creative, sharing experiences with our neighbors, exploring our beautiful Central Coast, learning new skills, and sharing our personal vision with others.  We also hope to improve the technical aspects of our photography by sharing ideas, techniques, and constructive suggestions.  Our more experienced and knowledgeable members are very helpful.  We have sponsored beginning photography classes in the past, and hope to have more in the future.  Some of us have attended photo expos and community classes, and have shared what we have learned.

The following statement is posted on our website:  “The Monarch Shutterflies is a club for photography enthusiasts of all skill levels, beginners to experts; using all types of camera equipment, ranging from point and shoot cameras to high end DSLRs; and with a variety of interests, including landscapes, portraits, artistic, etc.  We meet on the third Wednesday of the month at 7 PM in the Wine Library.  Everyone is welcome to attend, and to share photos if desired.  We also schedule outings most months, and friends and family are welcome to join us for these.”

What is the format of a typical Shutterflies gathering?

Each month, we choose 5 or 6 of our favorite photos, usually of the outing or theme we had for the previous month, upload them to our club Flickr account, then view them at our meeting.  We also discuss upcoming events, community classes, plan outings, etc.  We hope to have more workshops, and would love to have speakers – some of these things are in the works.  For example, we hope to have a local camera store do a presentation on what to look for when buying a camera, with examples of different cameras and equipment, and we are preparing a presentation on composition.

Outside of your regular meetings, how often do the Shutterflies get together for photo shoots or photography field trips?  How are these outings chosen? 

We encourage members to give us ideas for outings, which are held once a month, except in December.  We discuss these ideas at meetings, and choose based on common interests.  Sometimes members take on the responsibility of organizing the event.  At other times, members of the executive committee make arrangements. We coordinate many of our events with our club Activities Director. Our outings are open to all residents, but with active members (on the email list) getting first notification, if the number of attendees is limited.

Can you describe some of your favorite photography field trips for us?

We have had so many wonderful outings, as we live in a beautiful part of the world, with great year round weather!

We have visited two different lighthouses, Piedras Blancas, and the San Luis Lighthouse.  One of our residents is a docent at the San Luis Lighthouse, and he used our photos to print a large framed poster that is displayed at the lighthouse, as well as postcards sold in the gift shop.

We have visited both the La Purisma Mission and the San Luis Obispo Mission.  La Purisma was holding a Heritage Day, with costumed docents and recreations of common mission activities.  At the San Luis Obispo mission, we had a private tour of the mission and gardens, followed by an unexpected treat – the bell ringer invited us into the bell tower, usually closed to visitors, for a demonstration, and history lesson.

One of our most popular outings was to Lotusland, a fantastic garden set on a famous estate in Santa Barbara.  The gardens encompassed a variety of plantings, ranging from a collection of cactus, a Japanese garden, rose garden, bromeliads, ferns, and lotus ponds, including many rare plants.  The history of the estate, and the woman who developed the gardens, was fascinating.

We have visited wineries at different times of the year (and enjoyed wine tastings and picnics), and visited an olive oil farm.  We have hiked ocean trails, sand dunes, and through flower fields. Of course, on the Central coast, the ocean is a favorite subject. We photographed the Dana Adobe, and will next visit two historical structures in downtown San Luis Obispo, the Jack House and the Dallidet Adobe and gardens. In October, we will visit Hearst Castle.  We are as interested in the stories of the places we visit, as we are in the photographs we take.  Almost all of our outings culminate in a shared meal, as we love to socialize!

In addition to photographs taken on outings, we often are called upon to provide photos to document club events, such as our annual fashion show, bocce tournaments, dances, etc., and these photos are used to create an end of the year slideshow, or to be used in posters, flyers, or on MTL.

Are most of your members seasoned photographers, or do you have a mix of skilled and new photographers?

We have members who are professional or semiprofessional, but most of our members are interested amateurs.

Do members need to have certain equipment in order to participate in this club?

Many have DSLR cameras, but many also use subcompact, “point and shoot” cameras, often with excellent results.  Some of our friends and spouses take “mental pictures” only!

Are the Shutterflies open to all members of Trilogy at Monarch Dunes?  If new members are interested in joining, how can they do so?

We welcome all residents.  Some attend meetings and outings regularly, others join us just for outings, or meetings, as time allows.  We are a very active and social community with a busy schedule!  Anyone who wants to receive emails about club activities can just send an email to me, and I will include them on the list.  We also put notices on MTL for all activities.

Thank you again, Linda, for sharing the story of the Monarch Shutterflies!