Last Saturday in Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct I finally got to do something I have been intending for the last three months or so, My wife and I went on an instawalk. What is an instawalk you may ask? Allow me to explain.
We both recently got into Instagram, I more than her, and as social networking goes we started making connections with people who share our photographic interests. An instawalk or instameet is where instagrammers get together and tour an area taking, editing and posting photographs of what they see and do. This was our first instawalk & I have to say, it was quite an experience.
Imagine a first date with someone you’ve been corresponding with for a while but have never met, except it’s a whole lot of people and you’re not really sure what any of you look like. The day arrives and as you approach the venue you start looking out for sort of familiar faces as the reality dawns on you that you may actually have to talk to these people, AWKWARD! Then you’re there, everybody seems to know everybody else except you and you’re just happy you came with someone you know. You introduce yourself to the first person who’s eye you catch:
Me: Hi I’m Ricky and this is Nomhle.
Paula: Hi I’m Paula.
Me thinking: Now do I know you,have we chatted, what’s your handle?
Me: Hey, so Paula, how does this all work?
Paula: Go over to Alessio, he’s signing up people at the table there.
Me. Ok, thanks.
Me: Woah there’s a lot more people here than I expected.
We go to sign up but find the indemnity forms have run out but we like living dangerously & figure why the heck not, we doing this. A voice then calls out for attention, it’s Alessio giving instructions for the walk, first some housekeeping rules:
Stay with the group, this is Joburg remember?
Whilst we have security for the walk your safety should be your first concern & organisers are not liable for theft or injury whilst you’re walking these mean streets.
Celebrate Freedom is the theme for the instameet and First National Bank have somehow inserted themselves into this. Alessio suggests we mention them in our posts but stresses that it’s entirely optional, then we’re off. No name tags, no introductions just a mob of thirty or so people heading down Fox Street clicking away. I realise this is not a social but about getting the shot and i start looking for ideal ones. Once I start taking photos I settle and the initial awkwardness is forgotten, to my pleasant surprise Nomhle is getting into it too and now it starts to be fun.
I try to not follow the crowd too closely not taking the obvious shots, looking for what everyone else is missing. This is hard when you remember some people here have over one hundred thousand followers and are professional photographers. But then this is Instagram and it’s not about who shot it best but about how people relate to what you shoot, edit and post. As we wind through Maboneng this becomes more apparent and I start to appreciate various people’s techniques and even imitate one or two. I brought along my tripod and I’m looking for where I can set up a long exposure shot or a short video, no luck on the shot but I do shoot and post a video.
Time flies by and it starts getting dark so Alessio calls everyone in for a group shot and by then we all mostly friendly with each other so the smiles are genuine. After the group shot people slowly make their way back to their cars but some die-hards, me included, are still looking for that one great shot of the day.
When Nomhle and I get home that evening we start editing and posting a few shots waiting to see what everyone else is posting. I’m impressed by the multitude of views people can have of the same subject, Celebrate Freedom. If you would like to see for yourself and are on Instagram search for #celebratefreedom.
As fate would have it, one of Nomhle’s photos was featured the very next day on @cityofjohannesburg, a photo feature gallery, now we thinking she may have a previously unexplored talent. If you would like to participate in an instameet there may be one in your city this very weekend. Instagram celebrates its ninth global instameet this weekend in cities and towns around the world. If you’re in South Africa check out @igerssouthafrica or #WWIM9 for information on other countries and cities, for those in Johannesburg come out to FNB Stadium this Sunday afternoon at 3:30p.m.
If you’ve been wondering what an instameet involves consider yourself informed so go out there and have some fun, you might even make a few new friends. If you’re not on Instagram this might her a good way to get into it, also, people here are a lot friendlier than on twitter and you can follow me too on @rickyemarima.