In the great space of app stores, there are countless apps designed to suit our every need, even those we didn’t know we had. Some we keep for a week, some become part of our daily lives, whilst others give us a completely new experience. For me, one such app was Meet Up.
The concept of Meet Up immediately drew me in. The app’s purpose is to connect people who share interests and live close to each other, allowing them to create groups and organise meet ups. The process is the following: you download the app, create an account, choose your interests and you’re ready to go. You can see groups matching your interests and if you wish, you’re free to join their next meet up.
Photographing every street in Rotterdam
Naturally, I was overwhelmed with the possibilities and suddenly I was interested in everything: sports, art, food, business, fashion, media and writing. After going through a couple of groups, I made my decision. I’m going to a photography meet up called Rockin’ Rotterdam, whose goal is to take a photo of every street in Rotterdam. Quite ambitious and interesting, I thought. The description said that even those with no experience and a phone camera were welcome to join. That suits me well because besides my fairly regularly updated Instagram profile and a short photography class, my experience in photography is limited.
The meet up was on a Sunday and I was quite impressed with myself for having a plan for Sunday morning. But as I was biking to the meeting point, I started getting nervous. What was I thinking, going to meet a bunch of strangers I’d never even spoken to? Do we just go in random directions? Am I going to get lost? But all my nerves disappeared when I joined the group of about fifteen people, prepared with their equipment. Dawn and Janet, two nice ladies from Rotterdam Photo Society, were happy to explain the project to all the participants. The goal is to gather one photo of every street in Rotterdam and ultimately organise an exhibition and create a photo album of Rotterdam.
To start with, we each received basic requirements of the photos, as well as instructions for submission once our photos were ready. Then we were divided into smaller groups and given a postcode that our group was to photograph. I was in a group led by Jeroen. We divided the postcode into sections for each of us and headed to our postcode on our bikes. We were assigned to an area close to Oostplein.
To be honest, the area was quite monotonous, so at first it took me a while to find shots that I considered interesting, without repeating myself. After all, there are only so many photos of rows of houses you can take. But as time went on, this systematic approach to a creative process proved to be rewarding. I learned to look for details and be inspired by ordinary things. I learned not to wait for inspiration, but to find it myself. And most importantly, I was able to see parts of Rotterdam that I normally wouldn’t visit, which is a great opportunity for any international student.
Initially, I felt like an outsider, because others knew each other from other photographic events. But that feeling disappeared as soon as I started showing an interest in the project. Organisers answered all my questions and other participants offered advice on taking better photos, assuring me that not having a professional camera was no problem. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I made actual friends, partly due to the age difference and partly because I only participated once, but it was an experience that I would do again.
Here are some of the photos I took during the Meet Up.