Nestled in between two large shopping centers, the El Toro library of Lake Forest, California is a hidden gem. Tonight is the night that the Internet world meets the real world for the meetup.com group called, South Coast Photography. At 6:50pm, a few hours after the sun has set and the endless gridlock of the California highways has dissipated, members start to file in through the small doorway of the classroom adjoining the library to congregate with others who share their love for photography. The room is neatly arranged into orderly rows of plastic chairs in front of a projection screen. Tonight’s meeting is the first meeting of 2010 and Paul McElligott, the group organizer, calls it the 2010 kick off.
Several different groups of people are milling around the room trying to start conversations. At first glance, it seems as though these people know each other for quite some time. As the list of printed nametags goes around, a handful of members have to handwrite their names onto blank tags. “ Tonight’s my first meeting” is the favorite phrase of the night for the new members. The group consisted of a various shades of hair color, dark hair to graying hair. Do not let this mature group fool you! Along with many years of life experience and a handful of life stories, the older group is well educated about the in’s and the out’s of the Adobe Photoshop software. A few conversation starters began with, “Have you used Photoshop to do this…” The noise level inside the room grew a few decibels before the clock struck 7:00pm.
The chatter of the group was quickly silenced, as Paul stands patiently in front of the group fairly similar to a teacher attempting to grab attention of rowdy students. With a slight hush throughout the crowd of 40 members with ages ranging from the late 20s to early 80s, they became transfixed on the PowerPoint presentation shown on the back wall of the classroom. Paul takes his time to introduce himself to the crowd and other event organizers such as Andy St. Larent. According to Paul’s online description of the meeting, he states, “This meeting will be casual but very important. We (the organizers) have lots of ideas for the coming year, but we want your input, as well.”