We all have that 6th sense that tells us when somethin’ is up. Well, let me tell you, the aspiring/hobbyist photographer community in Seattle is completely on fire. Given a few more pocket wizards, some strobes and a D40 or two and they might take over the world.
THE BACKSTORY: Not long ago my 6th sense started pinging me about the amateur/hobbyist photography scene in Seattle: it was everywhere I turned. These days, camera shops are jammed with people geeking out on pro-sumer dSLRs, photo classes are bursting at the seams, and there are flashes popping everywhere… Strangely, photography seems to be on everyone’s mind, not unlike grunge rock was in the early 90’s. Certainly, being a professional photographer, my perspective on this is tainted, however one thing is for sure: those aspiring photogs whose paths I do cross now and then are VERY focused (pun intended ;), driven, and genuinely passionate about the craft. It’s an amazing energy that I have been excited to watch from a distance – up till recently.
ENTER STAGE LEFT: my good friend, uber blogger and lighting wizard, Strobist. In December, all the way from the other coast, David put me in touch with the leaders of Seattle’s Flickr Meetup Community which numbers close to a thousand members. It’s a cool, quirky group of DIY’ers whose aim in life seems to take pictures. Engineers, designers, teachers, students, executives, coders, waiters, flight attendants, chefs, and construction workers by their 9-5 day, these people seem to eat and breathe photography at night and on the weekends. I think that only a few aspire to the pro levels, but that’s really part of the fun. There is a collaborative, group-learning mentality that I’ve rarely seen. That environment certainly doesn’t seem to exist at many (if any) photo schools where I’ve visited. The transparent, open source, 2.0 ethic is rampant here.
RECENTLY: After a brief meeting with a few of the head Flickrite/Strobist wranglers here in Seattle, and then inviting 50 group members (by first come, first serve basis) to my studio in December for a brainstorming session, things became clearer for me: what a great group to collaborate with, on a long term, ongoing basis, to help to grow, strengthen, elevate, and expand the local photography community.
So we immediately hatched a plan based on the group’s needs. The group was already quite well organized thanks to the ol’ innernets and Seattle’s Flickr shepherds, among them: Jeremy Center, Ted Leung, Kristel W., Paula Thomas, David Lindes, Kathleen Bennet, Henrik Brameus, group founder Eric Weaver, and head organizer Brenda Pederson. That said, however, generally the group lacked resource$. So, we prioritized their needs, and it went something like this:
1. Shooting space.
2. Inexpensive, good, collaborative photographic instruction.
3. Good, cheap gear.
4. Connections to help further the groups goal of becoming better shooters.
Between me, my amazing, hardworking CJinc staff (you guys rock!), and some well-connected friends, we put rubber to the road this month and created, to my knowledge, the first ever event of its kind on this scale. And Sunday’s event was just the first step; more are on the way this spring, summer, and fall if we can help it. Feedback is being collected and will be implemented. On reflection, we certainly took a big swipe at numbers one and two, above, but please know that I’ll do what I can for helping numbers three and four come to fruition as well. They’re already in the works.
THE WRAP-UP: I’m really excited about what this cool little community of local photographers is doing and I think you guys deserve a huge shout out. If you’re a pro, don’t fear for your job or knock what they’re doing. Don’t hate; congratulate. And become inspired. If you’re a hobbyist shooter and have an interest in this sort of thing – join the group! And if you’re not in Seattle, consider starting a group in your home town.
This may be wishful thinking, but it also might not: I’d love nothing more than to see this grow and see events of this quality and scale pop up all over the world.
Check out some of their photos in your spare time:
Also, if you need more video from the shoot, some other peeps were running around with video cameras too. Hilarious soundtrack. Check it here.
Lastly, depending on your RSS reader, you might want to check the Chase Jarvis RAW: Seattle Flickr Roundup vid here.