A few hours after fourth of July fireworks, my parents drove me to Los Angeles International airport and showed me off on my journey to the other side of the country to meet 30 complete strangers, whom I've only connected with via internet. As I sat in my seat waiting for the plane to taxi, I was stunned that the the Midwest Flickr Gathering, a meetup a year in the making, was finally becoming a reality. I was enamored by the thought that I would finally be able to meet my internet friends in real life - something that seemed so far away and hard to reach just last summer.
When I arrived, I was picked up by my friend Ethan Coverstone (who I met through collaborations on flickr in the past) and we drove to his house, where we were to camp on his 79-acre farm. From the moment I stepped outside of his car and into the sweltering, humid, Indiana climate, and was so warmly greeted by friends who had already arrived, I could feel that this week was going to be one to remember. The simple fact that so many people were willing to shell out the time and money just to get together and take photos on a farm in the middle of nowhere is crazy. These kinds of things don't just happen - especially when there were people flying in all the way from California, Estonia, and Canada. So much planning went into this meetup, and now it was actually happening.
Once (almost) everyone had arrived, It didn't take long for us to lose our inhibitions towards each other. We spent the the first day walking for miles and miles around the farm (in the hot sun and humidity), exploring locations and planning shoots, and our first night dressed up walking around at a walmart, and almost getting kicked out for taking photos. ;)
|Joel, Sarah, Cameron B., Taylor, Molly, Grace, Gurbir.|
|Our lovely host, Ethan Coverstone.|
We didn't just come to the middle of nowhere to shoot, though. We stayed up until 2 or 3 am every night talking and making jokes, and were back up at 5 am just to shoot, running on little to no sleep the entire week. We spent time jumping off of docks on lakes, roasting marshmallows by a fire, riding in the back of a pickup truck to locations, having water balloon fights, making trips out to dinner and walmart dressed in the craziest of clothing, and stargazing. We roasted hot dogs and made pudgie pies, shoved cake in each others faces, played ukulele and rode a four wheeler through the forests and fields.
|Rob Woodcox & Casey Maxwell|
|Evan Walsh. Liisa Härmson, Shane Black|
|Gurbir Grewal, pimp.|
|Sarah Ann Loreth & Joel Robison|
|Pierceton, IN. Taken outside of the abandoned factory. The clouds were amazing!|
|Shane, Gurbir, Gillian and I shot photos of the stars on our last night together.|
It's funny how quickly we all became accustomed to each other, and even funnier at how quickly we all fell in love with each other. By the end of the gathering, so many jokes had been fostered, rituals created, and plans of the next meetup were in the works. I spent only a short amount of my summer with these people, but I can tell that they are going to be my lifelong friends. Being with them changed my life, and I feel completely different about myself and the world surrounding me. Having gone to this meetup, everything seems so much more accessible, and my dream of traveling the world and making art while I do so is much, much more real. I'm inspired once again to make art, after a long period of melancholy feelings towards photography, and I've decided to take a year off from school to work, travel, and make art.
Each person who attended the Midwest Gathering was not only a beautiful and talented individual, but also someone who genuinely touched my life. I can't wait until the next time I get to see them, because I couldn't imagine my life without them.
|Photo by Shane Black.|
To see the rest of the images that were taken during the meet up, you can visit the pool here!