The story of the North Austin Pfotographic Society begins at the public library in Pflugerville, Texas.
Since it’s renovation and expansion in 2013, the Pflugerville Public Library has been allowing individuals and artist groups to show off their work. That same year, Peter Shugart was asked by the Library’s director to come up with a group of artists to fill a gap in the library’s art show schedule.
The first round-up
Peter had recently studied photography at Austin City College and was able to call on his fellow students to participate, but he’d also reached out to local professional photographers, among them Josh Baker and Stephanie Sharif. It didn’t take long to assemble enough shooters to launch the library’s first photography show.
In 2014, Peter was told the photography show could happen again, and a few more people participated. He started asking if anyone was interested in forming a club. Whenever Peter heard about a photography group, they were usually meeting up in downtown or other parts of Austin proper, but couldn’t find anything happening in the Pflugerville or Round Rock area.
This is where Andrew Fritz enters the picture (no pun intended). Peter and Andrew met at the library as the 2014 show was being taken down. In the course of conversation, Andrew mentioned he’d been part of a large photography group back east, the Northern Virginia Photographic Society. Andrew shared his own vision of starting a photography club here in Texas.
Andrew’s idea of starting a local club was already in the works and he saw some success hosting social gatherings called “Cameras and Coffee” in early 2015. After talking with Peter about his plan during the hanging of the Library’s 2015 show, Andrew was given admin access to Peter’s the Pflugerville Pfotographers Facebook group.
It was at this point that Peter found a partner in crime in Andrew. Someone who shared his thoughts about an organized Photographic community, with regular meetings, scheduled speakers, digital and print competitions, field trips, public shows, all while serving to educate, inspire, and motivate its membership.
Andrew’s quest began. And while his efforts to find anything like this in North Austin weren’t all that successful, he continued to speak with local photographers about his desire to organize something similar to the club he experienced in Northern Virginia.
Andrew noticed that the groups he did discover incorporated some photography related activities, such as group shows, but they lacked the ongoing weekly social activity he was after nor did they provide the continual motivation to shoot and learn.
And so it begins
Andrew started to put together the website, securing a domain, and hosting. The club’s first official meeting was held at Andrew’s house in December 2015 and there were 7 or 8 people in attendance.
From that point, Andrew, with help from Josh Baker, managed the site, location arrangements for meetings, and speaker details while Charlotte Wright focused on finding monthly speakers.
In October 2016 Andrew introduced the idea of making the club a non-profit and at the November 2016 meeting asked for volunteers from the group to round out leadership. By the end of 2016 four of seven positions were filled.
Charlotte Wright stayed on to help with membership and programs until Hurricane Harvey’s damage hit close to home, effecting her daughters residence in Rockport.
Tani James was the club’s president until the end of 2017, helping to organize field trips, brainstorm speakers, and twice be a speaker herself. Her new job demanded more time than she could devote to the club.
After a lifetime of living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Russ Morris moved to Round Rock in 2015. He was looking to hang out with people who shared his passion for photography and his search landed him at his first NAPfS meeting in June, 2016.
Russ noticed a definite need for help with branding and marketing, approaching Andrew and Josh about developing a logo and helping with maintaining the website. In 2017 Russ also handled most of the Facebook group duties and established an Instagram presence. He had a hand in bringing club leadership into Slack to help the team to strengthen its ability to communicate.
Russ also handled the documentation side of membership during 2017, while Andrew assumed a larger role as President and handled financials.
Throughout 2017 Andrew, Tani, and Russ sought speakers, planned field trips, and enlisted members to participate in the monthly member print exhibit.
In late 2017 Andrew held the now annual election for club leadership. A number of members stepped up and by January the club had a fairly full roster of new folks to help keep the club going for 2018.
By March, leadership was down a few folks. Life-changes and the commitment required caused the departures and while Andrew continued as Club President and Treasurer, Russ stepped back in to help, assuming the role of Vice President/Brand Manager, Programs Coordinator, and Membership.
Clay Leben handled email marketing. Michele Johnson and Joshua Guenther were steady all year as Competition Coordinators, and Peter Livadas stepped in mid-year to help with the Instagram account.
All 2018 meetings were held at United Christian Church. Marsha Robinson and Veachel Dixon volunteered to be unofficial greeters at the monthly meetings.
Around the start of summer Andrew moved to to San Diego, CA. He stayed involved with the club – long distance – and made it to meetings when travel to Austin for business allowed.
Russ and Michele took over leading meetings for the remainder of the year.
There was one Club Photowalk in September, strolling the Heritage Loop Trail in Pflugerville. It was well attended with around 20 people, lead by Josh Baker.
The club held a number of 3rd Thursday Hands-on workshops, and the quarterly Member Spotlight kicked off in the spring. In May NAPƒS, Blanton Museum, Canon, and Precision Camera co-sponsored a talk by Rick Sammon at the museum auditorium.
October brought the annual leadership elections and with a fresh slate of new folks to run the club, Russ stepped down in November. Andrew stayed on until year’s end.
Exceeding a 100 member goal set in 2016, by the end of 2018 club membership reached 125.
Tragically, Andrew died in a boat accident on Labor Day, 2019.