It started with an idea by Eagle Finegan and came to fruition when I recently created a Facebook group page named “Gulfport, Florida in Photos.”
Both of us are local professional photographers based in Gulfport who are interested in getting others involved in taking local pictures for fun.
“You and I photograph this town from top to bottom,” Finegan told me. “It’s refreshing to see what others see.”
About a year ago, Finegan floated the idea of starting a local photo competition. I was slow to warm up to the concept because of the complexities of organizing it.
Enter social media and the magic of getting help from a village.
On the morning of July 25, 2019, Finegan and I became volunteer co-administrators. That’s how she found out she had been drafted!
While the two of us were still talking about how to configure the wall, Stone Handy of Gulfport became the first member to publish an image.
Next, more than 100 people joined during the first day. Now, as of Tuesday, September 24, there are 381 members.
The Facebook photo group, “is a way of shining a positive light on our town without all the static,” said Finegan. “And, it’s a way to bring a group of people together who might not otherwise cross paths.”
From July 28 to Sunday, August 25, we ran our inaugural “The One!” competition with the theme of pet or wild animal. Mayor Sam Henderson served as the guest judge.
Like the competition, Finegan and I emphasize that each post in the group should ideally contain a single image that tells one story.
The winner of each competition gets to have their photo featured for at least two weeks on the group’s cover or banner that is located at the top of the Facebook wall.
Suzie King of SIK Promotions, an event-organizing business based in Gulfport that serves the greater Tampa Bay area, stepped up with her team to sponsor deluxe certificate printing along with keepsake fames and mats for the winners for the first several competitions.
The second “The One!” competition is emphasizing the topic of “landmarks.” It began September 15 and will close at midnight on September 29. The guest judge will be Gulfport business owner and clothing designer Wendy Ohlendorf, also an accomplished photographer.
Anyone is welcome to join the group and participate in the competitions. Photos posted must be taken within the city limits of Gulfport, Florida. Most images are originals taken by the members but some are historical, showcasing key moments in the city’s history.
“My hope is to see the group grow especially for the beginners to learn more about composition and how to photograph cool or beautiful things in different ways,” said Finegan. “It’s all about the sharing of community.”