By Crystal Harrell

Coachella Valley Meetups is a community-based organization founded with the belief that all are welcome, regardless of whether or not participants have had prior modeling/photography experience. It was founded by model and valley resident Dazy Smith last year as a way to network with local artists, businesses, photographers and models, so they can find an accessible outlet for their craft.

“The first shoot we ever held was actually in Venice Beach. I made sure to host the next meetup in the Coachella Valley, and ever since then, we’ve gotten a great response. People love coming to the meetups and my favorite part is seeing each person’s confidence grow with every shoot,” said Smith.

Through collaborations and social connections both personal and online, Smith’s team has created a social platform to help the meetups community members express their individuality and creativity through photoshoots. The general public is welcome to come to the open meetups to model for different valley photographers. Aspiring photographers can attend and gain experience and new skills with participants in each photo shoot. CV Meetups provides an easy, accessible platform for businesses to grow. Past business collaborations have included Westfield Mall, Holey Scoops Ice Cream, and Tahquitz Canyon.

Hair stylists, makeup artists and small business interested in participating can also reach out online to take part in future shoots. Smith hosts multiple open, closed, and private meet-ups at various Coachella Valley locations every month. With each meetup, she seeks to promote inclusivity, body positivity, and local businesses by collaborating with different desert stores, restaurants, and products.

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Smith sees a bright future for Coachella Valley Meetups with a prevalent online presence that supports networking and artistic collaboration. “My goal is to create my own studio providing multiple unique photography scenes that locals can rent for photo shoots. This will provide a physical place for local creatives to start growing their business. Especially with the heat, I’d like to make it an easy way of hosting shoots in a more comfortable environment for the models and photographers. Not only that, but a platform where anyone can see all the unique local businesses that the Coachella Valley has to offer,” explained Smith.

There are three types of meetups. Meetup event information is located on the Coachella Valley Meetups Instagram highlights, Twitter and Facebook. The first type of meetup is an open meetup, open to the general public and are hosted in a public location. Models and those participating in the shoot must come prepared wearing the outfits they plan to model in, and have their hair and makeup done prior to the shoot. Photographers are required to come with their own equipment and cameras ready to shoot as well. All parties agree the photos taken there belong to anyone in the frame, including the photographer. All participating parties must tag Coachella Valley Meetups and everyone involved in the photo frame if they post pictures online.

 A Closed Meetup is the kind of shoot where collaborations take place with local businesses and artists. The shoot admittance price ranges from $120-$200 depending on the content of the shoot. The session will focus on advertising what the business sells or does. Depending on the details, outfit, hair and makeup services will be provided. All participants of the shoot will receive pictures from the shoot, with the requirement that they must tag anyone who helped create each photo they post on social media. Coachella Valley Meetups will also write a review on Yelp for each business that collaborates and a general description of the business on their web page with a link connecting potential clients to the collaborating businesses page. The collaborators’ business cards will also be distributed throughout the Coachella Valley with the help of Smith’s ambassadors.

The third photoshoot is a Private Meetup, which consist of photo sessions hosted in a private location. This event includes hair, makeup, food, goodie bags, pictures for the models, constant light equipment, props and six to ten backdrops and scenes to pose against. It costs $45-$85 for a ticket. All ticket prices increase the closer they are purchased to the shoot date so it is best to secure them as early as possible for the best deal. All photographers are required to send in six edited photos to participants within two weeks after the event is held ensuring models and local businesses participating get photos.

“CV Meetups made me realize my true beauty. Everyone involved is so accepting of anyone who wants to participate and they gave me the confidence to want to be a model. I am grateful for what Dazy has created so that I can follow my dreams,” stated Haylee Joi Krachman, who has been attending the Coachella Valley Meetups shoots since March of this year.

Coachella Valley Meetups can be reached on Instagram @cvmeetups , Twitter @cvmeetupss , Facebook @Coachellavalleymeetups , and at the official website, www.cvmeetups.com. For further questions and business inquiries, emails can be sent to coachellavalleymeetups@gmail.com.