PCA Member Profile: The Charlottesville Photography Initiative

Founded in August 2009, The Charlottesville Photography Initiative (CPI) has undergone a name change and moved to a new space on West Main Street. We tracked down CPI Director Nick Strocchia to find out more about what’s going on within this exciting organization:

How did the organization get started?
I moved to Charlottesville in August 2009 from Washington, DC with my girlfriend Amy, who is pursing a PhD in Environmental Science at UVa. When I arrived, I immediately wanted to get involved with local photography, but wasn’t sure how to find others with similar interests. In DC there are a number of photography groups, but I had a hard time tracking down the right one for me in Charlottesville. I took a number of lessons learned from other groups I belonged to previously, and decided to start this organization on my own. Fortunately, I have had a lot of great people join our team and work to expand The CPI to what it is today.

Tell us more about what the organization does…
We provide a number of distinct, photography centric service offerings to the Charlottesville community. Our most popular and largest regular event is our Monthly Group Meetings, which are open to everyone. On a monthly basis, we host either guest speakers, group discussions or informative lectures on different aspects of photography. We also host a group critique, and invite members to submit recent images that they would like to receive feedback on. Monthly Group Meetings are a fantastic way to network and they are held the second Wednesday of each month.

Explain the name change (from Charlottesville Photography Meetup Group to The Charlottesville Photography Initiative)…
Over the last six months, we have gone through significant organizational change and restructuring. Initially, we began as a group of photography enthusiasts just getting together whenever the time seemed right. Motivated by the larger interests of professional education, community outreach and the acquisition of our new space, I felt that “group” did not adequately represent what we are trying to accomplish here in Charlottesville. Also, Meetup is a great site, but we do not want to be tied to their company. We know that the Charlottesville Photography Initiative represents the great strides we hope to accomplish. Namely, becoming an established organization for photographic enrichment and education here in Charlottesville.

How many people are involved in CPI? How can local photographers (both professionals and hobbyists) get involved?
Currently, we have 276 members with approximately 70 actively involved in our events. In the near future, we hope to engage more of our dormant member body by offering a number of new, and unique photography centric services to Charlottesville. A popular misconception is that we can appear to be “too serious,” and I would like to address that sentiment and say that we simply love to share our passion for photography! For anyone wanting to get involved, I enthusiastically invite them to check us out at Meetup.com/TheCPI.

What are some examples of the collaborative outreach projects that CPI members have participated in and initiated?
Non-profit and community work is essential in giving back to our Charlottesville community. Our Community Outreach program works to further our goal of becoming a recognizable, driving force of charitable and philanthropic photographers. We have had a number of successes this year, with the largest being Help Portrait.

Help Portrait is a global movement of photographers using their time, gear and expertise to give back to those in need. On December 4, 2010 volunteers gathered at The Haven, and provided over 140 portraits to Charlottesville families. The CPI brought together more than 30 local photographers and raised $500 in donations to be able to provide portrait sittings and photos at no cost to participants. These portraits provided many low-income Charlottesville families with something they may have never had before, a picture together.

What type of workshops does CPI offer? What are other workshops that are in the works for the future?
Presently, we offer two types of workshops: Professional and Member Workshops. Our Professional Workshops offer our photographers a chance to learn, and collaborate alongside professionals at an affordable price point. Our Member Workshops come from the “bottom up,” and are entirely supported by our own photographers. We are also expanding our Professional Workshop roster and are working diligently to bring in more professional photographers to share their experience with our ambitious members. I do not want to cite any names, but we hope to bring in some extremely talented professional photographers in the near future!

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