From Awesome to Amazing! Global Meetup Barcelona 2016

See more: Team Flytographer - Barcelona

Dear Amazing Photographers:

I already feel pretty lucky, spending my workdays meeting your new colleagues around the world, reviewing portfolios, celebrating your amazing shoots, and connecting with you on FB, but our recent Global Meetup in Barcelona really helped magnify that gratitude for me. After the incredible time we had at our first Global Meetup in Paris last year, I didn't think it could get any better, but, to my great delight, I was proved wrong. To say that we had fun and forged amazing connections would be selling this meetup short; this was a game-changer on many levels for most of us.

Nicole, Tedi, Danica, Hayden, and I flew from HQ in Canada to Barcelona to meet with this year's crew: Francisco from Madrid; Marian from Lugano; Johnny from NYC; Gonçalo S and Krystal from Paris; Gonçalo B from Lisbon; Erin from Seattle & Maui; Mankica from Ljubljana; Roberta from Rome; Natalie from Atlanta; Serena from Venice; James from Nice; Vanessa from Dublin; Pono from Honolulu; and Barcelona locals Martina, Orlando & Natalia.

I hope that next year, even more of you will be able to come so that this event just keeps getting more and more amazing. In the meantime, make yourself a cup of tea and get stuck in with my recap of our fun meetup in Barcelona. (Warning: tons of photos ahead - maybe make that a pot of tea!)

xo Michelle


Lots of good chat at the wine bar. Captured by Vanessa


For our first planned event on Tuesday evening, we were hosted by the lovely Zona d’Ombra in the Gothic Quarter, where we sampled both white and red wines as well as an assortment of tapas. When photographers get together, there is no shortage of conversation, and it flowed as easily as the delicious wine. (Last year I had planned an icebreaker activity to get everyone talking, but this year, no such thing was needed!)

At wine bar. Captured by Vanessa

Roberta. Captured by Vanessa

Francisco and Krystal. Captured by Vanessa

Natalie in action. Captured by Vanessa

Serena, Roberta, Gonçalo S, Martina & Hayden. Captured by Vanessa

Erin, Johnny, Mankica & Gonçalo S posing for a selfie. Captured by Krystal

Danica, Hayden & Natalie sharing a laugh. Captured by Johnny (on film)

Group shot. Captured by Michelle

We talked and laughed until we closed the wine bar down; most of us kept things rolling by walking to a very chic bar for another glass of cava. Just as we were getting ready to leave, we discovered the best thing about the bar: its cavernous bathroom in the basement with bench seating and a photo booth inside! Of course, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take advantage of this space, and a group-wide bathroom dance party ensued. (Other bar patrons were a little confused when they came in to use the bathroom, but several joined in for a dance anyway!) We ended the evening with some great photo booth strips, fun memories, and a new Flytographer tradition - bathroom parties!

The infamous bathroom photobooth. Captured by Roberta

Bathroom party! Captured by Krystal

Dancing in the huge bar bathroom. Captured by Michelle

Photobooth fun! Captured by Krystal

Everyone had at least one turn in the photobooth. Captured by Krystal

The happy product of late-night photobooth sessions. Captured by Krystal

Wednesday, May 4

Our first full day kicked off with our partner, Context Tours, who generously gifted us private tours. We initially met for early morning coffee at Satan’s Coffee Corner, then split into three groups. The first group headed to La Boqueria, Barcelona’s famous public food market, for a specialized food tour. The second group was introduced to the historic Gothic Quarter, while my group discovered the Raval neighbourhood, touted as Gothic’s “cooler” cousin. We practiced taking photos of each other “on tour” so we have some experience if we get booked for a Flytographer shoot with customers on a tour. If you have not had the opportunity to go on a Context Tour yourself, I highly recommend one: they are led by experts in their field, so there is a lot of learning baked into the sightseeing. My group had a great time on our tour: lots of laughs, interesting sights and a friendly docent who was very patient in indulging our photo-taking antics.

Enjoying a Barcelona tradition on the Food Tour: Cacaolat. Captured by Marian

Shopping at La Boqueria. Captured by Johnny

Fresh strawberries for Mankica. Captured by Marian

Meat & egg for Pono. Captured by Marian

Soaking it in at La Boqueria. Captured by Marian

Erin's market stall photo-bomber. Captured by Krystal

Food tour docent giving the group a laugh. Captured by Marian

Mankica receiving the market vendor's approval. Captured by Marian

Krystal at the butcher's stall. Captured by Marian

Serena posing by a door on the Gothic Tour. Captured by Francisco

Francisco in shooting mode in the Gothic Quarter. Captured by Michelle

A glimpse of light in the Gothic Quarter. Captured by Roberta

A glimpse of light in the Gothic Quarter. Captured by Roberta

Docent giving us the low-down on the Raval tour. Captured by Michelle

Amazing 360 views of the city from up top of the Barceló Raval Hotel. Captured by Martina

Strolling past the Keith Haring AIDS mural in the Raval. Captured by Martina

Chocolates and cronuts and pastries, oh my! At Chök Kitchen in the Raval. Captured by Michelle

Beautiful morning light in the Raval. Captured by Martina

We all reconvened after the tours at Parc de la Ciutadella, where we found a grassy spot in the shade and enjoyed a gourmet picnic from Muy Mío. We then got down to business: we collaborated on a new Style Guide, then enjoyed workshops prepared by Marian and Johnny. 

The group reviewing the Style Guide. Captured by Michelle

Workshops. Captured by Marian

Marian demonstrating on James. Captured by Martina

Marian explaining the difference between a "cat" photographer and a "dog" photographer. Captured by Johnny

Natalia, Gonçalo B & Marian. Captured by Michelle

Marian & Orlando. Captured by Martina

Johnny discussing 30-minute shoots. Captured by Marian

Mankica getting some polaroids. Captured by Vanessa

Good food, good company, beautiful weather ... the best! Captured by Vanessa

Capturing notes and Mankica's stylish footwear fashion. Captured by Martina

After a short break in the late afternoon, the group met, cameras in hand, for a golden hour photowalk in the Born district. In the shade of the Arc de Triomf, Gonçalo B & Gonçalo S presented their workshops before we headed out on a route organized by Barcelona locals Orlando & Martina. Martina had brought a friend named Serena to be our model for the photowalk, and these two lovely ladies generously set themselves into different poses along the streets for us. 

Gonçalo S leading a workshop. Captured by Gonçalo B

Martina, her friend Serena, Serena, Francisco. Captured by Johnny

Marian & Erin having one of many laughs. Captured by Johnny

Gonçalo B discussing photographing kids. Captured by Marian

What better luck than being here in Barcelona? Captured by Marian

Mankica snapping some polaroids. Captured by Vanessa

Pono with Erin & Mankica. Captured by Marian

Marian getting the best angle. Captured by James

The always-cool Roberta. Captured by Vanessa

The power 3! Captured by Mankica

Mankica and her polaroids. Captured by Marian

Orlando sharing his local wisdom. Captured by Johnny

Roberta & Serena. Captured by Johnny

Marian & Mankica. Captured by Johnny

Johnny explaining a shoot idea on our photowalk. Captured by Michelle

James, Pono & Vanessa. Captured by Marian

Martina & her friend Serena setting up for a pose in the street. Captured by Johnny

Checking out the good stuff on Johnny's camera. Captured by Marian

Finding the best angle! Captured by Francisco

The very stylish James. Captured by Natalie

Serena and her beautiful smile. Captured by Johnny

The photography gods smiled down on us when we came upon a small, closed square that was bathed in perfect pink light and nearly devoid of people (aside from a few kids scootering around and a couple tourists). For nearly an hour, we played in that square, posing each other, practicing different angles and shots, and just generally having the time of our lives. Dinner reservations loomed, so we eventually tore ourselves away, but not before Mankica set us all up for an amazing group photo, which Martina’s friend Serena shot with Johnny’s camera.

The scene in the square - cameras, kids, and lots of fun! Captured by Michelle

Mankica & Erin. Captured by Marian

Marian's money shot!

Marian knows that dirty clothes are the price you pay for the perfect shot. Captured by Michelle

James and Vanessa clearly not having any fun. Captured by Johnny

Gonçalo S. Captured by Vanessa

Natalie. Captured by Vanessa

James created a fun project for which he asked each of us to stand against the wall, and then he gave us a unique situation which we had to immediately act out while he captured it. As you can see from Natalie in the photo above, we were all in stitches and (hint, hint James) cannot wait to see the results of this hilarious group activity!

Martina getting a sneak peek of her pose. Captured by Vanessa

We all couldn't help documenting the fun. Captured by Gonçalo B

Shooting each other and playing around the square. Captured by Michelle

Martina patiently posed while we all snapped away. Captured by Natalie

Serena and Martina in between poses. Captured by Michelle

Friendship. Captured by Natalie

Martina, still posing! Captured by Roberta

The light in the square was too perfect! Captured by Orlando

Impromptu group shot. Captured with Johnny's camera

Johnny & Mankica. Captured with Johnny's camera

Roberta checking out her poses on Gonçalo's camera. Captured by Michelle

Natalie in b&w. Captured by Orlando

Francisco can take care of that on his own! Captured by Vanessa

Captured by Serena with Johnny's camera

Good times enroute to dinner. Captured by James

The last of the evening light. Captured by James

Mankica showing Nicole some of the photowalk fun on her polaroids. Captured by Marian

Pono at dinner. Captured by Johnny

Discussing photos (what else?) on the camera phone roll. Captured by Michelle

Gonçalo S catching up with Nicole. Captured by Johnny

Erin and James. Captured by Marian

Marian, Gonçalo B & Vanessa. Captured on polaroid by Mankica


Our second and last full day saw us at Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I, a beautiful hotel with sweeping gardens all around. Fairmont is one of our global partners, and we are grateful that they offered to host us on Thursday. We did some morning brainstorming with Nicole, followed by a Lightroom workshop with Marian in one of the meeting rooms, then found a lovely outdoor café next to the hotel for a sandwich and coffee. The café happened to be in the middle of a pretty public park, where of course we had to stop for some more photo-taking of each other.

We love Roberta's style! In the Fairmont's renovated lobby. Captured by Francisco

Mankica overlooking the lobby. Captured by Martina

Roberta taking a break in the hotel. Captured by Martina

Who are these cool cats - a new hipster rock band? In the garden by the café, with (l to r) Roberta, Francisco, Gonçalo S, Johnny & Martina. Captured by Gonçalo B
(p.s. The light patterns on the concrete are coming through some translucent panels mounted above on the steel posts. How cool are these small details to make a pathway more beautiful and interesting? For me, that creative aesthetic sums up Barcelona!)

In our own private garden. Captured by Gonçalo B

After lunch, we returned to the Fairmont, but this time to one of their gardens, where we had the grounds to ourselves. I had printed up some favourite photos from each of our photographers, so everyone had the chance to present their work and talk about the photo and their process. We finished up with Gonçalo & Gonçalo discussing poses, and Johnny gave his seasoned tips on shooting proposals. 

Johnny setting up a favourite pose. Captured by Marian

Erin & Johnny. Captured by Roberta

He said "YES!" Serena & Gonçalo B modelling for a proposal shot. Captured by Francisco

Roberta in action. Captured by Marian

Really, it was too much fun! Captured by Gonçalo B

Mankica sharing her work. Captured by Michelle

Martina showing her photos. Captured by Marian

Johnny explaining his shot (of fellow Flytographer, Gusmank from Bali, who visited NYC recently). Captured by Marian

Gonçalo S sharing his work. Captured by Martina

Some of our group toured the grounds with Nicole and Pono to shoot video footage. Mankica and Francisco agreed to model as a couple for the video, and the group had access to the roof for stunning city views across to the water. 

Pono shooting video. Captured by Roberta

Climbing up to the roof of the Fairmont. Captured by Martina

City view from the roof. Captured by Martina

By the gorgeous Fairmont pool. Doesn't it look heavenly? Captured by Martina

We ended our time at Fairmont with a glass of cava in the garden and more group shots - this time with everyone lying on the ground, heads together, while James and Mankica took turns climbing a ladder to capture us from above.

Chatting with cava in the beautiful Barcelona sun. Captured by Michelle

Marian and Mankica snuggle up for a polaroid. Captured with Mankica's camera

This shot sums up the sentiment at the meetup - pure joy! Captured by Krystal

After a short break, everyone came back to the HQ townhouse for wine and tapas. Our spacious townhouse came complete with a pool table and rooftop patio, which made it the perfect place to celebrate with the group (such a good Airbnb find!). 

Francisco & Marian helping get food prepared. Captured by Gonçalo B

Getting the party started. Captured by Gonçalo B

Having a laugh on the rooftop patio. Captured by Johnny

Gonçalo B lining up a shot. Captured by Johnny

Pool shark Serena. Captured by Johnny

Roberta finding a comfy place to sit - the fridge! Captured by Michelle

Nothing but good times. Captured by Johnny

We did have a noise curfew, however, which forced us to seek out another place after 11pm - and that ended up being a nearby karaoke club. There was only a handful other patrons in this club, so with the exception of a few songs performed by the regulars, Flytographer became the entertainment for the night. (FYI: We have some talented performers in this group! Some of them could work weddings as both photog and cover band vocalist.) We closed the karaoke club down, then those at HQ stayed up until dawn talking and laughing. Many people flew out bright and early the next day, so this was unfortunately our final time together for the meetup.

Francisco kicks off the karaoke party. Captured by Michelle

Group effort. Captured by Michelle

Farewell song before we closed the bar down. Captured by Michelle

An end to the night and the meetup ... until next time! Captured by Krystal

Since returning home, one of the best products of this meetup has been witnessing the outpouring of love and support across the FB channel within this group. We connected on such a profound level - it was an easy, fun and meaningful meeting of like-minded professionals. As many photographers have said, this career can often be isolating and lonely, and it is therefore amazing to have a real community of people who understand each other’s professional joys and challenges so well. 

“I am proud to be a part of a team of selected photographers who are amazing people as well as brilliant photographers. It feels like I have friends all over the world and I feel more connected to them than to photographers in my country!” - Mankica

Group photo at Fairmont. Captured on polaroid by Mankica

Adios, Barcelona! Cannot wait until we all meet again...and hopefully we will see many new faces next year. This community of awesome photographers is simply the best!