CoMo Collabs 2

CoMo Collab photographers used a True/False art installation as the perfect backdrop for their art.

Among the crowd of 2019 True/False Film Fest-goers, a handful of young women dressed in crop tops, mini dresses and thigh-high boots paraded downtown, seemingly unaffected by the 30-degree weather. Behind them followed a group of photographers and videographers rushing to get the perfect shot. The models and their accompanying paparazzi, part of the local networking group CoMo Collabs, were doing what they proclaim to do best: creating.

The group — which includes models, photographers, videographers, makeup artists, fashion stylists, music producers and graphic designers — decided to use the buoyant atmosphere of True/False as the backdrop for one of its monthly “meetups.” The meetups serve as a chance for creatives to network and develop original content.

CoMo Collabs came to fruition after local photographers Kassidy Jones and Rachel Leigh realized other artists in the community might benefit from spending more time together. The pair met when Jones was searching for other fellow photographers to work with and, in the process, discovered Leigh. The two started doing photoshoots together for fun and soon sought others to bring into the circle. 

“We really loved having that creative atmosphere together, and we wanted more of that for the community,” Leigh says. 

The group grew organically and slowly, mainly through word of mouth, Jones says. At the first meetup in January 2018, about seven or eight people showed up. Two months later, 20 appeared. Now, with over 700 CoMo Collabs followers on Instagram and an average of 15-20 people at each meetup, Jones is surprised by the community’s reaction.

Although the group mainly consists of 18 to 30-year-olds, the members have hosted guests still in middle school and collaborators as old as 50. For Jones, the meetups are a way to provide resources and an experimental ground for entry-level artists launching their careers. 

“I almost feel like the desire to make a portfolio and improve your craft is something that a lot of people our age are wanting to do, but they feel like they’re stuck in doing that,” Jones says. “It’s nice to be able to come up with your own vision and then have people that are willing to make it happen.”

That’s exactly how photographer and Stephens College psychology student Anna Tripolitis uses each meetup.

“I use these meetups especially to try new techniques or try new angles or poses that I haven’t really worked on,” Tripolitis says. “It's like a collaborative event, and it’s not like a client. It’s less pressure, and no one’s gonna judge you when you are trying new things.”

As one of the few creatives studying science at her school, Tripolitis says her artistic mindset can get lonely.

“So being able to meet other creative people and to know that they’re just as wacky as you, it’s very cool,” Tripolitis says.

Tripolitis says that she believes creativity thrives on support, and Leigh agrees.

“I think that if you’re creative, you need inspiration, and it’s hard to do that on your own," Leigh says. "When you're around like-minded individuals, your creativity comes to life."

For vlogger Maya Angela, who started modeling with CoMo Collabs last year, the meetups forced her to step outside her comfort zone, and she says they've made her a better YouTuber.

“It’s a good skill to have, to be able to go to a place where you may not know everyone and meet new people and step outside your comfort zone,” Angela says.

After coming to meetups for about a year, Angela says she has grown to be extremely comfortable in front of the camera, but it’s not all about taking good photographs.

“I think meeting the people more so than taking pictures is awesome because you get to know other content creators, and then you just make new friends,” Angela says.

Leigh’s main goal in creating CoMo Collabs was to bring creative artists together to create original content, but it’s become so much more.

“Everybody came as strangers, and they left as best friends,” Leigh says. "Giving people that community that energizes them creatively, but also just good friends, has been the greatest thing that’s come out of it.”

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