The. Internet. Is. The. Best .... I can't even begin to figure out how to put into words how I feel about the weekend I spent with a bunch of crazies from the internet. (Ok that's not true; apparently I begin by talking about how I don't know how to begin ... that's how I begin .... ok but seriously let's begin.) Last month I had the absolute pleasure of hosting a photography meet up/gathering/photo-adventure-camp-for-adults with about a zillion unbelievably talented photographers, all of which I met on the internet. (Excluding my brother Daniel who also attended ... I met him in a hospital this one time before the internet was really a big thing.)
Here's how the 2015 Watkins Glen Flickr Gathering (#WGFG2015) came to be ... You see, over the last several years as I've been doing my best to infiltrate the interwebs with my photography/Photoshop artwork, I've accidentally made all of these stupendously wonderful internet-photo-friends. These lovely creatives all trying to do the very same thing slowly just seem to form bonds with each other. I've met a handful of them before because I went to one other meet up, several small one day gatherings, and of course went to hang out with The Wild Ones.
Last fall Valerie Kasinski hosted the Silver Lake Flickr Gathering, and it was one of my all time favorite ... times. Opportunities to create along side other photographers are super hard to pass up. They're basically the best times ever. (Scratch the "basically" - they ARE THE BEST TIMES EVER!) I hadn't seen many of the amazing photographers I met in Silver Lake and I was wondering to myself, "Hey self, when the heck is someone going to host another gathering so I can see my internet friends again!?" (and hopefully lots of new faces too).
Then it dawned on me that there was no reason not to just spearhead a gathering myself! If you build it, they will come. So on a whim, I built it. Really though I just invited a ton of spectacular artsy humans, and waited to see what would happen. Boy was I in for it. Suddenly there were people buying plane tickets to attend this thing. Photographers I've been long time fans of/beloved internet buddies with were actually going to fly their asses all the way to Watkins Glen, New York, just to hang out and make some art. I had people show up from as far as California, Florida, Canada, and even ... wait for it ...... London. WHAT!?!? ... yup. Not to mention all of those peeps who drove hours and hours to come together for one weekend. It just goes to show you that these meet ups are seriously one of the most joyous, incredibly soul-satisfying events one could hope to be a part of.
I'm so extremely blessed and thankful that SO MANY perfectly strange and wonderful people were willing to come to my meet up. Thanks you guys. Seriously. My love for all of you is unmeasurable. It's just stupid. I want nothing more than to be smooshed back in that staircase with you all. Present at this glorious occasion were none other than Aleah Michelle, Shelby Robinson, Chris Rivera, Steph Pez, Gillian Woods (aka GillyFace), her boyfriend Charles, Simon McCheung, Bairon Rivera, Vincent Minor, Tom Newforge, Marissa McPeak, Marisa White, Sarah Neiman, Julie Belton, Jeff Padgett, Kory Zuccarelli, Daniel Cornelius, Joey Solomon, Zara Zakrzewski, Valerie Kasinski, oh yeah and I went too! (but I'm not going to link to my website ... you're kind of on it right now....)
In order to not write the longest blog post ever written, I won't say a ton more about the meet up just yet. You will have to keep tuning back in as I churn out all the images I shot during the gathering and talk about the experience of shooting each of them. However, before I call it quits on this post, I would be doing the world a disservice if I didn't take a minute to talk about the astounding artist known as Shelby Robinson. (She is the stunning redhead in my new masterpiece at the top of this post, in case that went over your head. If scrolling up there is out of the question I've also conveniently placed a photo of her just below this. You're welcome.)
I've been following Shelby's work for quite some time now. I've always been so excited when she would release a new image so I could comment and tell her how fantastical she is. But it wasn't until we did a print swap a couple years ago that we really started talking and she could definitely be added to my list of solid internet photo friends. Her self portraiture work now hangs both on my fridge and in my living room. The fact that I finally got to meet her in person, a girl who I see literally every day around my house (not creepy you guys), was simply incredible. Not only is she in fact a tangible human being, but just the sweetest, kindest, most contagiously happy person to be in the presence of. (That description applies to everyone at the gathering, though.)
Not only is she a joy to be around but GOOD LORD CAN SHE MODEL!! I know I said how much I like shooting self portrait artists in this post about shooting Alex Currie, but seriously it really is so freakin' wonderful. As I mentioned before, a lot of Shelby's work is self portraiture, so she is no stranger to being on either side of a camera. Therefore, I have so many fantastic outtakes from our shoot it's ridiculous. I feel like I could have shot her on that tree alllll damn day. It was so much fun and stupid easy; I just wanted to shoot more and more! Every shot was perfection.
If there was a trophy/medal/award/girl scout badge for "executing the most perfect hair flip, while also holding the perfect facial expression, and having the most perfectly placed graceful hands all at the same time" and someone gave the award to Taylor Swift ... I would totally pull a Kanye, because Shelby deserves it. (But not really - I would never embarrass Tay Tay Swifty like that....or anyone really....) But guys seriously Shelby really does have "the hair flip" on lockdown. It always looks so perfectly flowy and windblown. Like, "Whoa it must have been really windy there, because I totally believe that her hair is in fact blowing majestically in the wind."
Ok I'll stop gushing now; I have to save some nice things to say about Shelby for when I eventually get to the OTHER image I shot of her at the gathering. ;) For now I hope this post will whet your appetite for more tales of my epic adventures with the most epic group of wonderful friends a guy could ask for. If you just can't get enough and are eager to see more NOW, please feel free to hop on over to our flickr group to see the images people have put online from the meet up so far. OR hop on over to Instagram and check out our hashtag #WGFG2015.