Kiawah photography club finds ways to serve

Members of the Kiawah Island Photography Club learn about the rich Gullah heritage in their area.

Shauneen Hutchinson

Members of the Kiawah Island Photography Club never imagined that their photographs would make such an impact on the Sea Island community.

“It never occurred to me that something we have a passion for could give back,” said newly elected club President Shauneen Hutchinson.

In 2011, the club produced a video on the history of Johns Island called “John’s Island: A Moment in Time” to capture life in the community.

Club member Tina Schell said most of the members travel around the world quite often, but creating the video made her realize how rich and valuable the community is in their own backyard.

“Johns Island became a whole new world,” Schell said.

Material from the video was used in a book, and last December the club donated its proceeds to the Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic on Johns Island. It also donated copies of the book to the John’s Island Library.

The club volunteers at area schools like Haut Gap Middle School and St. John’s High School by providing photographs of events and athletic teams. Hutchinson said the club donates pictures to the students, many of whom, she said, do not have photographs of themselves.

Outgoing club President Sylvia Bacon said the schools also have their photographs displayed around the halls, on their school websites and in their yearbooks.

Club member Dick Clapp said one of the most enjoyable service projects this year was taking pictures at the St. John’s prom. At first, the students seemed a bit apprehensive of them, but “after a while they didn’t want us to leave,” he said.

Clapp said these interactions with the Johns Island residents have taught him that it’s important to interact with the community and “get out of yourself.” He learned that despite your age or socioeconomic status you can find commonalities with the people around you.

“We share more than just a ZIP code with the people of Johns Island,” Hutchinson said.

In July, the club will partner with Kiawah Cares at the Charleston Police Department’s Camp Hope for at-risk students. The club will spend the day with the students teaching them the basics of photography.

“There is tremendous potential to impact the Sea Islands, to show our youngsters where they come from and re-energize our passion about our breathtaking and historical island,” Tammy McAdory of Kiawah Cares said about the club’s documentary on Johns Island. “The Kiawah Photography Club has given new eyes to us through their program.”

The club has about 100 members and accepts photographers from all skill levels. The monthly meetings include workshops, guest speakers and practice shoots. Members meet September-May.

For information on the Club, go to kiawahphoto

Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or