Yesterday, I took a megabus for two hour from Philly to NYC to attend an instameet with one of my favorite photographers, Sean D (@seandshoots).
I'm not going to lie, I was beyond nervous. I've never been surrounded by so many photographers and the thought "am I good enough to even be here?" popped into my head more than once. Thankfully, I went with a group of friends and it made the whole experience so much more enjoyable. The organizers of the meet said 250+ people registered to attend and it definitely looked like that many people were ready at Madison Square Park ready to go explore. The whole mob moved through the NYC streets, shooting models and random people going about their day. It was pure chaos yet somehow it went smoothly. I only took a handful of photos during the first hour of the meet because I was just so overwhelmed. It was also such a great time to just soak in how other photographers shoot, especially Sean. While he was shooting a model in the middle of a sidewalk, I couldn't help but to stop and watch. Once we arrived at Union Square Park, small groups started breaking off and going to shoot on their own. It was hot and we were sweaty so we just hung out next to Sean in the shade. When he had a spare moment, Tiana (@xtianaelise) asked him to take a few portraits and everyone pounced on the opportunity to shoot him.
Everyone shortly wrapped up and made their way back to Fujifilm Wonder Photoshop where prizes would be raffled off to those who arrived on time. I ended up winning one of the gift bags filled with a hat, t-shirt, flashlight, and lanyard. After all the prizes were claimed, the store started clearing out but before I left I knew I had to introduce myself and say hello to Sean. He was so sweet! I told him that I fangirled a little when he commented on a recent IG post of mine and he remembered it! We got a photo together and it was actually so adorable. We left shortly after to catch our bus back to Philly. Thankfully it was a thirty minute walk which gave us plenty of time to take photos along the way.
Overall, it was such an incredible day and amazing experience. I learned I need to break out of my comfort zone more often and not let it hold me back. 99% of the time, I'm an introvert so going up to strangers and asking them to take their photo makes me extremely anxious. However, there have been so many times, yesterday included, where I wish I would have just asked because even if they said no, I still don't have the shot I wanted. One more thing I noticed at the Instameet was the ratio of male photographers to female photographers wasn't anywhere near equal. I didn't do a head count or anything but I would guess out of the couple hundred attendees, less than a quarter of them were women (and that's being generous). Photography, like most industries, is very male dominated. Women are typically the model while men take the photos and direct. It's slowly changing but women still aren't taken as seriously as men of equal or lesser talent. A man with a camera is seen as business man with a vision. When a woman has a camera, she's often seen as just playing around, or she only got to this point because she was given special treatment as a girl. Men can be assertive, overbearing and pushy while still being seen as a boss. Female photographers have to stand their ground and balance between being too nice or being bitchy. Fortunately, social media has allowed women to create spaces for themselves and they're making their voices heard. Hopefully, this will continue the growth of female photographers, professional or amateur. Everyone can prosper, and we must protect and support our fellow female artists.