I had no idea what to expect, but I’m glad I took the chance.

As I left the NFC Divisional Round playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter on Sunday, I was checking my backpack.

Camera? Check. SD card? Check. Lenses? Check. Batteries? Check.

I was headed to the third annual Night Photography Meetup hosted by Megan Francis from Four Percent Photo. I had never met her and had only corresponded via Instagram for a brief moment.

Like I said, I had no idea what was going to transpire or for how long. I just knew the event began at 5 p.m. and there were going to be other photographers and models present.

As soon as I got there, I knew it was going to go well. Megan’s infectious smile and warm welcome put me at ease and over the next two and a half hours, lots of magic was created between more than a dozen photographers and models.

In my first column of 2021, I said one of my New Year’s resolutions was to become a better photographer. To put it simply, the night photography meetup was incredible.

We all met at the Hanford Fox Theatre and paired up with a model. Everyone had their own vibe with some gravitating towards the colorful lights, while others shot with the theater as a backdrop.

As night continued to creep and the darkness fully engulfed us, we made our way down Irwin Street to the corner of Irwin and Lacey Boulevard. There we used the lights on the trees for a creamy bokeh and Lush’s metal fence as an opportunity to try out different poses.

Models rotated between photographers as quick introductions gave way to individualistic glamor. When I wasn't shooting, I made sure to observe others with a keen eye — my eyesight is actually terrible.

You'll be amazed at how much you can learn by just watching. I've always been a visual learner, so that was a big thing for me, and it was also just a treat to watch other photographers work and get into their own element.

As a photographer for the Sentinel, I'm usually the only one shooting at events, so I don't always get to see the other side of photographers working and the little nuances and habits that each person has.

We ended in front of DJ’s Collectible Shoppe where luminous, colorful lights created the perfect reflection at night. Some of us also ventured into the street for a couple shots while exchanging witty banter.

Eventually, we all left. What remained was a successful learning experience. After working with multiple models and talking to various photographers, I came away with over 300 photos. I got to work on my portrait skills and learned a ton more about shooting at night, which is 100x times harder to do than during the day.

I’m still in the process of editing, but I’d love to do something of the sort again. A huge thank you goes out to Megan and all of the models and photographers that made the night enjoyable. I’m already looking forward to the next meetup.

Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or ngarcia@hanfordsentinel.com. Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.

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