Hilton Head Island Camera Club celebrates 25 years with new learning center

The art of photography has changed in the 25 years the Hilton Head Island Camera Club has been in existence. Now the club is evolving to meet the needs of the new-era photographer.

The club opened The LENS (Learning Experience Networking Source) earlier this year in Pineland Station. The space will serve as a gallery and a place to host classes for members and nonmembers.

Like many clubs on the island, the camera club and its 180 photographer members never really had a permanent home. But this gives them a place that serves as a focal point for club workshops and a way for the general public to become familiar with members and their work.

The space will be open three days a week for anyone to stop in to discuss photography (membership is $20 a year).

With advances in digital technology over the last decade, the club felt plenty of opportunity existed to provide hands-on instruction.

"We're looking to expand educational opportunities," club president Tony Topoleski said. "We look at the club as a place to learn."

Aside from being a place to host classes, LENS also serves as a gallery to display award-winning work from the club's many contests.

The space is the former home of the Art League of Hilton Head -- which moved into the Walter Greer Gallery in the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina -- meaning it's already set up for displaying art.

Framed photographs now line the walls. For members, LENS also serves as a niche for photography in a diverse arts community.

"We thought it was time for something just about photography on Hilton Head," vice president Bill Schmitt said.