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Developing In Plainview

With cell phones containing an 8-megapixel or better camera, everyone fancy themselves a photographer; however, as a wise man once said, “If it has a ring tone, it’s not really a camera.”

And many like-minded individuals meet regularly at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library.

Former Photographic Federation of Long Island (PFLI) president Karen Newman of Levittown has been a member of the Wantagh Camera Club for about five years; however, she’s had an interest in photography ever since she was in her teens.

“I more so got into it once digital started to hit,” she said. “It’s not that I like it better, but it definitely made the hobby easier, especially when it comes to the processing...sitting at your computer is a lot more fun than being in a dark room.”

The PFLI meets at the Plainview library monthly, where their members gather together to pit their photography skills against one another for the sheer competitive and artistic rush of it.

“We’re a federation of small photography clubs from all over Long Island...we even have clubs in the Bronx and in Queens, and I believe we even have a club in Brooklyn,” she said. “Every month, there’s a competition with each of our clubs, and those clubs chooses images to compete against all the clubs, which is what happens here once a month on Friday night.”

Current PFLI President Mike DiRenzo, and East Yaphank resident and member of the Huntington Camera Club, said that belonging to a club is a fantastic source of both inspiration and resources for both aspiring and experienced photographers.

“First of all, when you belong to a club like this where there’s a monthly competition, it forces you to go out and use your camera,” he said.

Richard Hunt of Levittown, considered the PFLI’s historian, said that the group was formed in 1970 by a gentleman named Leonard Victor, who was a prominent a newspaper reporter at the time. Over the years, Hunt said that technology has guided the evolution of the PFLI, which in turn maks photography more accessible and efficient for its members.  

“I was a black and white darkroom kinda guy for many, many years, and if I was in a dark room for three hours, mixing chemicals, and I turned out two or three really good photographs, that was a really great night,” said Hunt. “I can turn out a better black and white photograph now in 10 minutes. A lot of people were upset when film when away, but I wasn’t.”

In addition, the Federation holds a monthly photography lecture series, featuring guest speakers who discuss a variety of topics relating to the capturing and processing of still imagery, and come April they hold their Spring Spectacular at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood; this amounts to the Federation’s major fundraiser for the year, with a majority of the proceeds doing to a very good cause, according to Newman.

“We have members from Canon Explorers of Light, a group of some of the most influential photographers and cinematographers in the world, and they talk to us about how they take their photographs,” she said.

Hunt invites anyone look up information on one of their local town chapters, and experience the fun and beauty of photography first-hand.

“It’s a really good hobby, and you get a lot of exercise because it gets you out of the house, and it helps to motivate you if you’re a member of a club," he said.

To learn more about the Photographic Federation of Long Island, visit its website at www.pflionline.com.