Albuquerque creatives gathered at UNM in March for the seventh installment of the ABQ Street Meets. The pop-up gatherings consist of local photographers, models, makeup artists and videographers looking to collaborate with each other to add to their portfolios, meet people with similar interests, or to simply learn through experience.
Evan Pierce became involved with the event as he was beginning his photography career. He heard about it through a classmate and volunteered to help in an attempt to expand his skills.
“Albuquerque Street Meet is very based on Instagram and on building your following for business,” Pierce said. “The whole goal was to network and grow your following in order for you to professionalize yourself.”
On a sunny day during UNM’s spring break, photographers of varying ages and backgrounds gathered around the “Center of the Universe” sculpture near the campus duck pond. Three models climbed to the top of the structure and posed. Ten feet away, another photographer waited to take a photo, as a makeup artist fixed a strand of hair on cosplay model.
Inside the Center of the Universe, voices echoed as a photographer explained to new photographers about what lighting was most flattering for the model and why.
Megan Kamauoha is the driving force behind the event. The Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media student said that when she first began photography. She didn’t encounter many people in Albuquerque that were willing to educate her, apparently for fear of losing business.
“There’s no reason why there’s not enough jobs to go around. Maybe because we’re smaller and people are afraid of things getting overused. Honestly, the competitiveness here doesn’t quite make sense to me,” Kamauoha said.
Kamauoha decided that she wanted to create a safe environment for artists to learn and collaborate, and created the ABQ Street Meet with the help of her friends. (Listen here for more about the inception of the Meet and its purpose.)
The first of the meets was on June 1 last year, and drew some 100 attendees. Since then, there have been six other events with attendance spanning between 50 to 250 people. According to the page’s Instagram Insights, the main age demographic reached is 18-24 year olds in Albuquerque. The page itself currently has 1,651 followers, although that number is known to fluctuate often.
Because of the rapid growth in event attendance, the hosts have created a Patreon page to raise money and alleviate some of the costs to hold the event, predominantly insurance and printing promotional material.
“The funds go to us hosting,” said Kamauoha. “Because our events have too many attendants… they need us to carry insurance. A day of insurance casts about $180 for us.”
The events spotlight featured artists and rely on rotating hosts. A featured artist applicant will submit some of their photos for promotional content to be advertised in the days leading up to the Street Meet. A co-host of the event will help plan for the upcoming event, organize locations and helps hold workshops to educate newcomers.
Evan Pierce, who participated in the first ABQ Street Meet was a featured photographer and co-host. He said that one of the things that makes the event successful is because it benefits everyone involved.
“The networking was definitely interesting. With every Meet you meet a lot of people and get a ton of experience with working with different modes of photography because there’s such a wide range of people that comes to these meets.”
After the participants have had time to edit their photographs and videos, they are posted on the artist’s personal page using tags that link to the the ABQ Street Meet page. The administrators of the page (the co-hosts) pick their favorites and share the photos from the event on the Street Meet Instagram page.
Kamauoha said all ages are welcome to join the community.
“I got to talk to an 11 year old,” Kamauoha said. “His dad had messaged the page on Instagram and asked if it’s kid friendly. He said ‘My son’s 11 and has his own camera and is trying to shoot.’ And I’m like, bring him. He is not less-than anybody who’s there, he has as much of a right to be there as anyone else.”
Pierce said he is hopeful about the event’s impact on the local photography community.
“Albuquerque geographically is very spread out and there’s not necessarily a big culture of collaboration already, that I’ve seen. I think this event is definitely a step in the direction of getting people to work with each other,” said Pierce.
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