Walking off the Q train at 8am on Coney Island isn’t as funny a scene as you might expect. People are meandering to work. Some are certainly still coming home from the nights’ activities before. But generally, it’s quiet. Peaceful.
Turn a corner and there were 200 odd photographers and models gathered for a photo meetup. I’d never been to one. My own fear of being exposed as a fraud coupled with my dislike of meeting strangers in large groups meant this group looked twice as large as it was. But yea, it really was 200 people.
But once the initial ‘holy shit I’m here’ wore off, I began to wander around, get my bearings. I didn’t even know there would be models at this thing so I did what felt more comfortable - found a few ‘real’ strangers to chat with and photograph. See, my fear isn’t of taking strong photographs of people or talking to strangers. The latter part is still hard, but I do it. The former part I know I have so much work to do, but yea, I’ve got some chops. My fear is of showing up and not having the creative juices to impress other creative people. Everyone seemed just so on point. They said things like ‘Fire’ (and I wondered if that’s some new version of lit) and "whats your IG” (the new gram?).
I hadn’t gotten up at 6 and trekked out to Coney Island just to question myself though, so I joined the fray. Initially I was hesitant - crowding around the dozen or so other photographers all going paparazzi with the few models (the ratio wasn’t great). But then when the initial buzz died down, I found a few models kinda hanging on their own. I found my in. I didn’t have poses but asked them to tell me stories about the beach, the water, being at a theme park. I was grateful for every minute we had together and I learned so much in just a few hours working with these talented folks. I had never worked with models before and it was a good lesson in shared-space, creative collaboration, and humility. Knowing when to direct and when to back off.
I’ll be on the lookout for more.