Detroit, MI.— How can you mash up networking and photography?” This is the question Matt Stackowicz answers with his photography meet-ups. On Saturday October 20, 2018, Bethel’s Career and Calling office put on an Instagram meet-up in Detroit, Michigan.
This trip was organized by Matt Stackowicz and his student manager, Grace Hilty. These Instagram meetups are used to highlight larger midwestern cities within a 3-hour radius of Bethel College. So far, Stackowicz has kept this tradition going for three years, with trips to Chicago twice, Indianapolis, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Toledo, South Bend, and Goshen.When picking specific locations, Stackowicz and Hilty look for places that will photograph nicely. This usually entails spending hours on Google looking at how other artists from the area work with the lighting and the atmosphere. Regarding picking a location, both Stackowicz and Hilty referred to the aesthetics as playing a huge role. Hilty said, “One aspect of the trip is aesthetic, which some people think is shallow, but from a creative standpoint its necessary.” For this specific trip the group went to Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters, the Detroit Riverwalk, Belle Isle’s Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, the Belt Z Lot, John K. King Books, and 2941 Midtown for lunch. According to Stackowicz, one thing that marks a successful trip is watching a new student grow. “If students have had a good time, have learned a new skill, have met some new people, have produced some cool images, those are some of the ways you can tell if a meet up was successful. Bringing new students who have never experienced something like this before is uncomfortable at first. Seeing people’s responses was helping them feel confident in themselves. Seeing such a community of support amongst those who had come on the trip...For me, that marks a successful experience.” One of the reasons these trips are planned is to teach students how to create a brand, whether it be for a business or for personal use. Another reason is to get students off campus and exploring the world. These photography meet-ups show students that it is possible to build up your own brand and possibly even make a future out of it. Hilty herself is a psychology major who is looking into grad school, but in the past year she has done photography for weddings, engagements, and individual sessions. The experiences she had on these Instagram meet ups grew her confidence and helped make a name for herself. Creativity is something most businesses look for in an employee these days, and Stackowicz is teaching students how to get a leg up on that. Stackowicz and Hilty both expressed that one of the best things about planning these trips was seeing the different types of people who are represented. This Detroit trip had the widest variety of students in the history of the trip. Only about two or three students were actual art majors. That is the beauty of these Instagram meetups, most people can learn new skills, and don’t feel pressured to be a professional. Most of the cameras the students use for these meetups are just the cameras on their phones. Good camera quality on most students’ phones allows them to do high quality work on a low budget. The next Bethel sponsored Instagram meet-up will be during the spring semester. There are no plans about where the next location will be, but rest assured, it will be bigger and better than ever. Stackowicz and Hilty hope to have an even more diverse turnout, and new students willing to learn. If you have any questions, please stop by the Career Development office in A.C. 346. You can contact Matt Stackowicz at firstname.lastname@example.org.