This past Saturday morning I got up early and drove to an obscure little public park in Mukilteo, WA to take pictures. There were two things that drew me to this park; 1) a “flying saucer” structure (about 10 feet tall and 10 feet around) and, 2) other photographers gathering to use this structure as a back-drop in a photo shoot.
While I generally enjoy the peace and quiet I experience when I go out shooting on my own, I’ve found the times I got together to shoot with other photographers to be great fun, and a good learning tool. It can be tough to find photo walks though. That is where www.meetup.com comes into the picture. Meetup.com is a Web site that allows you to search for groups of people that want to “meetup” in your area based upon general (or more specific) topic areas. In this case, I just gave my location, typed in “photography” and found the “Arlington Photography Meetup Group”.
I’ve been a member of this group since earlier this year, but because of scheduling conflicts I was never able to make any of the meetups until this past weekend. This Saturday was the “Sci-Fi Model Shoot” to take place at the Paine Field Community Park, site of the before mentioned flying saucer structure. The group planned to use the structure, shared lighting and wild ideas to create an “Area 51” model shoot. Unfortunately, the models that confirmed their attendance were no-shows. Still, we had fun visiting, comparing ideas and gear, and lighting and shooting the space ship. Above is my very cheesy and amateurish attempt at a photoshopped creation from one of my images. The glitch in the plans didn’t ruin the day though. The seven photographers that gathered decided to move the shoot to another beautiful area location and we had a great morning of shooting.
For me the day didn’t result in any great images, but it was still a success. I have never had the opportunity to shoot a model and I don’t own and haven’t had a chance to use much lighting equipment. This meetup gave me a chance to try a different type of photography, with different equipment and best of all I met several local photographers for the first time. I had a great time and I’m sure I will get together with this group again. While these people all have different backgrounds and interests from each other, we share a passion for photography. That shared passion made for a wonderful day.
When we finished our shoot we got together for brunch at Denny’s and planned out some future meeting ideas. Meetup.com charges a fee to keep a group running so we chipped in a few bucks to the group organizer so he can pay the annual fee. The connections I’ve made and hope to have in the future are totally worth it. The meetup page boasts 1,297 groups worldwide. I encourage you to see if there is a group in your area that shares an interest with you. It doesn’t have to be photography, you’d be amazed at the variety of groups that have organized.
Get out, meet up. What do you have to lose?