Other than being a platform to share your narcissistic selfies and pointless food photos, Instagram is also a valuable platform for talented photographers from all over the world to share their amazing work. These artists bend the Instagram rules a bit, using legit cameras rather than their smartphones, but ultimately, it’s all about sharing perspective and life through photography. Instagrammers and photo enthusiasts occasionally convene in their locales for meets, or instameets, where they roam around taking photos and building community.I recently attended an instameet in Bushwick, Brookyln with my friend Annie (who has a 60K followers on Instagram).
Annie and I took an elongated L train ride to Jefferson St, where we ultimately found ourselves confused on where to go from there. Luckily there were some other confused patrons who got off the same train and who also looked like they, too, were heading to an instameet. Assuming that’s where they were heading, we trusted our gut and followed. If you haven’t been to Bushwick, there’s a ton of street art and graffiti, making it an ideal location for a casual day of shooting. Street art is cool, but it gets played out after a while, so hopefully the instameet incorporated more points of interests. We eventually reached an intersection where a sizable crowd strapped with some very professional looking cameras was accumulating. I think we found it. Annie and I felt under equipped as I only brought my point and shoot and she just had her iPhone. Everyone seemed really nice and non-judgmental, which is the opposite of what I had expected. I feel like people are always trying to prove something on social media, and when you throw creatives in the mix, you’re kinda fueling a fire of people trying to prove they’re the better photographer, which totally wasn’t the case. A good amount of folks already knew each other and everyone was down to help with photos. I guess there were a bunch of prominent Instagram users because Annie is major groupie and she pointed out those she followed.
The crowd eventually grew to over 100 people, but we were still soliciting the same intersection, which made me a bit antsy to see if we were actually going to do anything interesting. Eventually the instameet’s organizers corralled everyone like cattle and announced that we’ll be moving to some abandoned train tracks. Hearing the words “train tracks” only brought back memories of my brush with the law in the Freedom Tunnels, which coincidentally was Annie’s idea, so I just hoped we encounter any repeat outcomes. Along the journey into deep Bushwick, we stopped a couple times to shoot certain areas. It was pretty cool to see some uncharted areas of the neighborhood, as I’ve only been out there a couple times for Roberta’s Pizza and a few dive bars.
We finally reached train tracks that seemed to be open to the public, so no trespassing was required (thank god). Everyone then dispersed to take photos, which were later probably used as new profile pics. Since the tracks were out of commission, they didn’t stretch that long. The coolest part of it was that it ran over this little basin of water, which seemed like a serene, yet urban, escape. People showed a lot of creativity, using props like smoke bombs and other items to get some pretty cool shots. There were also some “models” on hand (if you’re only work is found on Instagram, you’re not a model) who posed for the photographers. It was pretty funny watching these girls act super model-like and have all these cameras snap away. I’m sure it’s a good self-esteem booster. Overall, it was a pretty cool event that allowed me to see parts of Bushwick that I’ve never been it. It was also fun to be around some pretty lighthearted and creative people who just enjoyed photography. I encourage you to find an instameet in your area.