I’ve struggled with how to actually type up this blog post because I feel that no matter what words I choose to write, they’ll never be able to sum up the magnitude of how awesome my time in Indiana was. I’m breaking my trip into two parts, the big meetup in Indiana and then my time spent with Ali and Rob in Michigan 🙂
On July 5th I set out from my little nest tucked in the Rocky Mountains and travelled to hot and humid Fort Wayne, Indiana. It may seem like an odd place to vacation but this was no ordinary vacation. I was travelling to join 30 immensely talented and inspirational photographers and friends who had travelled from all over the world (really! Estonia, Canada, USA!) to meet and work together.
When I first arrived, I could already feel the positive and creative charge in the air. I was welcomed right off the plane with open arms and upon reaching Ethan Coverstone’s family farm, I was swarmed with smiling silhouettes who made my heart feel so warm with goodness. Within a few minutes people were scrambling to put on costumes so we could entertain the friendly folks of a local Wal-Mart as we picked up some groceries. It was the perfect way to start this trip! I kept looking around at all these faces that I’ve only known through a computer screen and I couldn’t believe that I was actually there next to them, laughing at their jokes and getting spontaneous hugs. I had to pinch myself so many times during the trip because I just couldn’t believe that so many people who I look up to were sitting right next to me.
We awoke each morning at about 5:00am to catch the beautiful soft light that laid over the farm. We shot in beautiful green corn fields, empty plowed fields, a nice little cottage tucked in the trees, a swampy creek, and in the lush trees around the property, and this was just on the farm! Throughout the entire gathering, there was an absolute creative energy in the air. It was rare to look around and not see someone in the midst of a photo shoot or planning their next one. At sunset each night there would be half a dozen shoots going on at the same time all within a few steps of each other, it was impossible to not be filled with inspiration watching these talented photographers work.
The process was entirely collaborative. We all travelled to this place to be together, to work together and to learn from each other. Our mountain of props was a mixture of everyone’s odds and ends and it wasn’t unusual for someone to be borrowing clothes or hats or shoes from another. It was such an amazing feeling to have so many people ready and willing to help out, whether it was modelling, holding a reflector or just helping to carry a huge door into the middle of a field.
We were fortunate to travel to some really cool spots nearby as well, we enjoyed a refreshing dip in a local lake (flipping over a dock in the process) and twice we were lucky enough to have permission to shoot inside an abandoned ketchup factory.
The factory was one of my favourite parts of the weekend, it was huge but filled with all sorts of hide outs and you could stand in the open courtyard area and watch all the different photo shoots happening at the same time, it reminded me of watching a beehive, all the activity happening inside the walls. There were smoke bombs, costumes, beautiful windows in brick walls and even a live bird at one point. Even though the heat made it hard to feel 100% comfortable, we worked non-stop for hours each day, capturing each other again and again. We jumped at the chance to be involved in each other’s work and it was natural to move seamlessly from one shoot to the next, letting other photographers add to the scene, change to story and create their own version.
I loved being able to think of ideas and concepts that involved all of these talented people, being able to work alongside them and capture them with my camera was the most freeing and wonderful feeling I’ve ever had in this photography path I’ve been going down. I hope that they found working with me as enjoyable as I did!
Gradually, after spending the weekend together, people had to start leaving to go back to their ‘regular’ lives and it was difficult to watch each person drive down the long dusty driveway, waving through the kicked up dust. As tough as it was to be saying goodbye, we knew that not only did we all experience something amazing and life changing, we knew that it wouldn’t be the last time we’d see one another, there would be more chances to work together.
This trip for me was a much-needed break from my routine. Before leaving for the meetup, I had been feeling lost in regards to my photography and what I wanted to do with my life. During my time spent with these amazing friends, I felt a charge of passion fill every cell in my body and I knew that I wanted to push myself forward in photography and keep fostering this passion and push towards my dreams. I don’t think I can ever repay those that inspired me, worked with me, laughed with me, and made me feel so lucky to be alive and doing what I’m doing.
Thank you Midwest gang.
You can see all the posted shots, both behind the scenes and final images at our flickr group here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/2025191@N23/
And you can watch an amazing video put together by Chelsea Roden here:
Beautiful blog post, Joel. I do hope I can meet you and so many others one day.
Wow, really enjoyed reading that, glad you had such a great time! I wish I could go to a meetup like that, I suppose I’m not old enough or good enough yet haha.
All the photos were amazing! Can’t wait to see what comes out of the next meetup 🙂
Thank you for sharing such beautiful life event. It was also a reminder of the experiences in my life, where I was part of a group of people creating theatre, music, art, ecological food camp, building an urban gardening over night etc. Thank you for bringing them to life for a moment.
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