Thursday, February 14, 2008

Virtual community becoming real

olive swims upstream
"Web 2.0" is all about online community. But sometimes we want more. We want to meet the real people behind those avatars and icons. A small group of Ann Arbor photographers, first met on Flickr, has been meeting semi-regularly in person. Tonight, a small group of us got together for a "meetup": conversation and photo viewing at Sweetwaters cafe in downtown Ann Arbor.

We know each other online by our Flickr "handles", such as Boston Wolverine and Capntoo. In person, we become Sam and Dave. We have nothing in common, save our common interest in photography, and that's enough. We will discover other commonalities, and some will become friends while others remain merely acquaintances.

alley noir
After the official meetup, a smaller group of us went photo-walking — looking for possibly interesting subjects on the dark streets of Ann Arbor, and taking pictures of them. In one case, we fortuitously created a photo op. A fellow asked us if we knew where the Alley Bar was. "It's at the other end of that alley." As he walked into the cloud of steam, we snapped frame after frame, hoping that at least one would have a spark of greatness.

photo nuts
One thing I've learned is that most photographers don't mind being photographed. We are each others' willing models. The cliché photo of one photographer taking another's photo, or two taking each other's photos is hard to resist.

In the end, our online community becomes a personal community, which in turn strengthens the online community.


Kcjacoby said...

Isn't it cool though? I run a truck website, and even through that, our interest for driving the model of a truck keeps us bonded together. But I just think there is something completely different to the photographers... Its just, special :)

Sorry I missed last night too!

Anonymous said...

Great post, friend! I love the flicker meet ups and I am sad that I missed last night's get together.
The Internet has its bad points, but it does bring people together, bless it!

Jill - "daily pleasure" said...

Wonderfully captured. It was so much fun walking around trying to find a decent shot in the dark... hehe... literally. I'll let you know if I'm out walking the streets shooting, maybe we can shoot together.

Brian Auer said...

Awesome article on social photography! It's a pretty amazing thing when you can meet someone for the first time and instantly consider them a friend. I've hit a handful of photowalks throughout Southern California, and there seems to be a small group of us who constantly show up. These guys are truly friends of mine and our online relationships have greatly strengthened due to our real-life relationships.