Meetups- An event where photographers and models 'meet' for the purposes of networking and portfolio building. Some people love them, other hate them. But the question is can they actually be useful to almost any professional?
Meetups often bring in a mixed group of people from the photography world from novice models and photographers to more experienced professionals. The 'meetup' can be highly organized, depending upon the sponsor, or the sponsor may do little more than provide a space and collect an admission fee. Some meetups feature educational sections that can be valuable for anyone who may attend as well as some may invite makeup artists and even provide lighting and special features at the venue not easily accessible otherwise at least for a reasonable price.
Is it really worth your time and expense? My advice is start with a plan, even before you click the 'interested' button.
Especially at a new venue, spend a few minutes walking around and exploring. Do you shoot in natural light? How many electrical outlets are there? Is a certain area of the venue noisy, hot, or cold? Is an area visable to the general public? Now is not the time to get too involved in networking for a reason to be discussed below.
Once your recon is done, start setting up any equipment as efficiently as you can at the prime location that you have chosen. If you wait too long, others may have 'set up shop' and you may be facing a small dark corner without an electrical plug that is either too hot or too cold! I personally recommend initially setting up with essentials to carve out your space. Bringing equipment with your is always a good idea but it should be as portable as possible, and in most cases setting up an expansive studio may not be practical. Other people will almost certainly intrude in your area, and it may take an long time to set things up. In the mean time others may be already developing contacts or making images.
If you have a model that you would like to work with, or if you are a model that would like to work with a certain photographer, contact them in advance so that they can be sure to catch up with you at a certain time. Discuss what concept that you both would like to work with in advance so that everyone can be ready.
For the model, it can be a little hectic to say the least. A model should bring several outfits and make sure that she speaks with the organizer where she can change well away from the traffic area. Depending upon how 'organized' the sponsor may be, a model's activities during the event can be carefully coordinated. In other cases, it can be many people pulling at the model so she barely has time for a break during the event. How is a model compensated or is the event purely a networking experience with hopes of making valuable contacts for future shoots? Most models should be prepared with her contact info readily available and in some cases, prepared to sign a model release. Certain states are strict, others not so much. A model should understand how many images that she may get from the event, and what she may (or may not) do with them.
In the end, what does the model or photographer hope to gain from the event? Networking contacts? Marketing material? Social media material? If one goes to a meeting without a plan in place, she/he may come out disappointed.
Bob Barford is a published photographer located in So. Pennsylvannia