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TikTok Inspires Photography Meetups

Models and photographers gathering together, photo courtesy of Lexi Brown

MARK GILCHRIST, HOST: The pandemic was hard on the photography industry. Photoshoots require meeting in person with strangers. Models were forced to rely on selfies. Now that people are getting out again, photographers and models are rebuilding their portfolios. And one organization is trying to help. Emily Schutz has the story.

EMILY SCHUTZ, BYLINE: It all started with TikTok.

LEXI BROWN: Uh hi. My name is Lexi, and I’m a photographer in New York City and we host photo meetups… FADE UNDER

SCHUTZ: That’s Lexi Brown. She’s the person behind “Dear Creators,” an organization that hosts weekly photography gatherings for models and photographers to work with one another. The goal is for each party to gain photos for their portfolios and network in the process.

BROWN: You should come. The link is in my bio.

SCHUTZ: Her TikTok promotional videos seem to work because the next few meetups are sold out. Every event costs $50 per ticket, for both photographers and models. That money goes towards renting unique and interesting spaces for the photoshoots. On social media, she posts videos showcasing the event, like one in a professional studio with a white background. A photographer is crouched down with a camera directed towards a model. She’s posing on a stool.

SCHUTZ: Badesim Kubak is a co-founder of the event.

BADESIM KUBAK: This benefits at the end both the model’s portfolio and the photographer even if they’re just trying to get photos for Tinder.

SCHUTZ: or Instagram. Karla Perez is a New York City-based photographer. She’s attended four of these meetups, each time as a model.

KARLA PEREZ: If you hire a photographer in New York you go and take pictures on the street unless you hire a studio as well or a place to shoot. I saw it as a way to get professional photos for cheap. I was like great. Works for me.

SCHUTZ: Perez and the other creatives get specific about the kinds of images they hope to achieve at each meetup. Co-Founder Badesim Kubak says the secret is to get attendees communicating long before the event.

KUBAK: Our meetups don’t necessarily start on location. The moment someone buys a ticket they are added to a group that is formed on our website where they can already start connecting with everyone else who is coming to these events.

SCHUTZ: Karla Perez says that from the moment she buys tickets, she begins planning who she’ll work with and the design that she’s going for.

PEREZ: So I’m like this is what I’m thinking and a lot of people will give you advice and so oh I think that’s great or photographers will be like oh this fits my mood board perfectly. Let’s work together.

SCHUTZ: Photographers and models sign up for an hour-long time slot in the space. About a week after the event, they’re required to upload final edited versions of each photo to a folder that models can then access. Regardless of their reasoning for attending, each person leaves with high-quality photos. In fact, Brown says that anyone can attend regardless of experience.

BROWN: A gigantic part of it is you can come to this meetup just to try one of those things.

SCHUTZ: As the demand for these events increases, Dear Creators scheduling new photoshoots with various themes. This weekend they’re hosting a beauty portrait session so get ready for your closeup.

Emily Schutz, Columbia Radio News.


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