how to meet up with people online (and not get kidnapped)

In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I'd do this somewhat spirited post! Because there are so many things that can go wrong when you meet people from online in person - and there are likely horror movies about this

On to the tips, story, and most importantly, the photos!

Your guide to making friends on the internet safely.
Thank you
A quick moment to thank everyone who left comments on my last post, it was really lovely to hear from people, and it makes me feel so warm to know that there are people online (on the Internet! Whom I've never met! Ever!) who care about my well being. Vice versa, if anyone is ever in need of someone to talk to, or just chat with, I'm always happy to get emails (!

A girl laying down in a cactus garden.

Finding people
I'm always looking for new people to take photos of, and outside of promoting my Instagram, Craigslist is something I use often as well. It's a site for ads and selling used products, and it's pretty easy to use. 

Alternatively, you can also see if there are any message boards geared towards connecting people who similar hobbies. I don't use many of these, simply because it's time consuming. 

I met Briana through Craigslist in response to an ad I put up looking for new people to shoot

Black on black - American Apparel top, BDG highwaisted jeans.

Figuring out the details
She sent me an email with her info and portfolio, and we started figuring out the preliminary details. Since she had linked to her website and Instagram, it already looked like she was a pretty legit person - she had tons of photos and contact information on her website, and her Instagram went back a few years

If a full name is known, I'd always recommend doing a quick search online beforehand. The steps I typically take are:

Usually when people are real, there's a decent amount of information on any social media platforms. Look for not only "likes", but comments as well that could be made by someone who genuinely knows the person - "Miss you tons" versus "Cute outfit!"

I've also found that often friends make more snarky or sarcastic comments than people who are simply commenting because they like the photo. 

Black American Apparel top in a cactus garden.

Video chat beforehand
I try and give out as little information as possible until I've decided that the person is trustworthy enough to know vague details about me, but often, they're trying to figure out if I'm a real person as well. It's a balance, and I try to stick with giving out only what I would be okay with posting on the internet - things like my general availability, the area I live in, and my portfolio.

A great way to exchange necessary information that can be difficult to give out when you don't have a face to the name is through video chat. I use FaceTime, since I have it connected to my email, and I have multiple emails that don't include my last name. I'm careful to sit against a plain background, so there isn't much information that can be figured out about me.

I also have a Google Voice number that I can receive texts and calls from.

Black Brandy Melville Jada dress in a cactus garden.

Meeting up
Once you've gone through the steps of ensuring their realness and non-creeperness, the time and date are next. It goes without saying to meet in a public, well lit place, but I think it's also a bonus if you've been there before, that way your surroundings will be more familiar.

Checking in the day before is a good idea as well, sometimes things can be easily forgotten.

Grey Topshop top and American Apparel mom jeans.

My experience
The actual meet up was tons of fun, and both Briana and her friend, Haley, were very lovely and easy to work with. They're both talented at what they do- an artist and a photographer!

It's always so nice to meet people who share your interests, and even more special when it's people from online. Sometimes, it's scary to think about who or what is out there, but it's good to know that there are amazing people who you can connect with easily - like everyone who I've been able to talk to through the blog.

Last time I met someone online, she ended up having me model for her clothing company, which is doing really well now! It's definitely worth checking out. I never would have thought I'd make connections through Instagram or Craigslist, but with most things, they pop up where they're least expected.

Minimalistic headshot in a cafe.

You can see more of my work on Flickr, VSCO, or on Instagram. Also, please feel free to contact me if you're in the SF Bay Area and want to meet up!

Have you ever met up with anyone from online? What are your tips for online safety or meeting new people? Any Halloween plans?




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