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A feature article about our club published in the local newspaper "The Davis Enterprise" on October 31, 2008
Through a Davis lens: New club gives sharp focus for photographers
By Shine-Ning Ni | Enterprise Correspondent | October 31, 2008
Samer Alassaad is a bright and eager man - he dresses immaculately and is freshly groomed. He greets everyone with a disarming smile accompanied by a firm handshake. At a first glance, one may discern that Alassaad is all about first impressions. This may be true - he is, after all, a dentist by trade. But when he isn't working at his practice, he spends his free time trying to build a community based on his passion for photography.
Alassaad is the president and co-founder of the new Photography Club of Davis, which launched in May. Alongside the other co-founders, David Jolkovsky and Ian Kennedy, Alassaad realized one day that the city of Davis, which is inherently community-oriented, had great potential for creative synergy. After promoting and laying out the groundwork for the club, Alassaad osted the first official open meeting on Oct. 21, at the Sudwerk Restaurant and Brewery.
The turnout was impressive. The rented room at Sudwerk was set up banquet style, with rows of tables dressed in white tablecloths. Every seat was occupied.
Scott Fischbein, a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Davis, remarked, 'I honestly thought there were going to just be like seven or eight people sitting together, exchanging a few tips - you know, just the hardcore photographers. I didn't think half the town would show up!'
Granted, some of the attendees came from the Woodland Camera Forum, which is an organization with similar goals and interests and has been around for more than 50 years.
Tiffany Stutzke, a longtime member of the forum, was happy to hear about a photography club in Davis, where she lives. 'There hasn't been an official club in Davis until now,' she said. 'It'll be interesting to see what the Davis club has to offer - I'll probably be active in both clubs.'
To avoid confusion, there is another group called The Davis Photography Club, which has an entry in the Davis Wiki and communicates via a Yahoo groups page. This group meets sporadically and organizes occasional photo-shoot trips. The Photography Club of Davis, however, will meet every month and often host guest speakers, Alassaad said.
The guests of the first Photography Club of Davis meeting were quite diverse in their backgrounds and with their knowledge of photography. Carlos Palacio immigrated from Columbia some time ago. He dabbled in amateur photography for three years and came to the club to improve his skills.
Deanna Hernandez is a dental assistant, studying photography at the San Francisco Academy of Arts. She has been actively practicing photography for more than six years.
Ian Kennedy, club co-founder and treasurer of the club, has a large portfolio dedicated to underwater photography.
Because Alassaad wants to emphasize the concepts of open forum and community, he encouraged all the members to submit their five best images to showcase on the club Web site, and an additional outdoor family photo.
'We have to appreciate our families because they let us photograph,' laughs Alassaad. He plans to invite different guest speakers focusing on different aspects of photography for the monthly club meetings. For the first meeting, he recruited Clyde Elmore, a retired UC Davis professor, specializing in botany. His lecture focused on wildlife photography, complete with visuals from a projected Power Point presentation.
In one portion of the lecture, called 'What's in the bag?' Elmore listed all the gear he totes along on his photography expeditions, which includes but isn't limited to: several cameras, lenses, polarization filters, detachable flash kits, and memory chips. All of this would add up to at least 35 pounds, not including a tripod.
'You definitely have to be prepared, and you definitely need a lot of patience for this sort of business,' Elmore said. While Elmore acknowledges that some shots require quick reflexes and good instincts, patience is the greater virtue. 'The best shot is most oftentimes the one you just left,' he said.
'I think that photography is the most accessible and most rewarding art form out there,' Alassaad said. 'In a way, it's kind of like instant gratification.'
He hopes the club will thrive and expand, serving the community while promoting the pleasure and knowledge of photography to anyone willing to give it a try.
While growth of the club is the current focus, Alassaad believes, in addition to the Web site and the monthly meetings, that photo exhibits and art festivals are other possible methods of bringing the community together.