What a fun time it was at the Birmingham Instameet #BrumMeetJan24! I’m already looking forward to the next :) Organised by Birmingham’s leisure tourism programme, Visit Birmingham, this was Birmingham’s first official Instameet which aimed to bring together Instagrammers from the city and beyond in order to capture and share photos of Birmingham’s well known landmarks.
I’ve been wanting to go to an Instameet for quite a while now as I’ve never been on a photo walk purely to take photos for Instagram, although I use the app to document life in general pretty much on a daily basis. For me, the appeal of an Instameet is to spend time with people who you can bounce ideas off, involve in your photos, and who just generally get the fun of finding interesting ways to photograph the everyday.
Instagram hit 300 million users in 2014 and it’s incredible to think of the creativity and communities that have developed and flourished through using the app. I was really happy to meet Hannah who works as a community manager for Instagram (we worked together on a 52 week photography project a few years ago so it was great to finally meet in person!) and it was interesting to chat about what an Instameet actually is. Whether it’s an officially organised meet up like Birmingham’s, or someone using Instagram Direct to invite followers to join them on a stroll wherever they are at that moment, it’s just a great opportunity to be creative with other people.
Visit Birmingham are running a series of Instameet events throughout 2015 with the aim of highlighting Birmingham’s ever changing landscape and giving Instagrammers the chance to show off the city in their own way. With themes and competitions along the way, the events will culminate in a pop up exhibition entitled ‘More Birmingham Instagram Showcase’ at the internationally acclaimed Ikon Gallery on 27th-29th November where 300 Instagram images will be on display.
“The More Birmingham Instagram Showcase is the first of its kind for Ikon and the first ever ‘Insta-gallery’ to be hosted in Birmingham – a new adventure! Public engagement and participation are the heart of Ikon, our gallery provides the ideal backdrop to showcase photography created by the public, for the public. This event will see passionate Instagrammers share the limelight alongside some of the world’s most prestigious artists – we hope this will inspire creativity amongst all those who that visit.” Ikon Director Jonathan Watkins
#BrumMeetJan24 was all about capturing a final look at the Old Library of Birmingham, Chamberlain Square, and Fletcher’s Walk before the upcoming demolition and redevelopment of the area. It’s known as Paradise Place, although it feels quite a long way from paradise when you’re stood in it’s depths looking up at the jagged brutalist concrete architecture (even if it is against a brilliant blue sky). Love it or hate it, it certainly makes for some interesting Instagrams.
The theme for this Instameet was ‘reflections’ which resulted in lots of gathering around puddles and standing close to windows. I’m sure it looked particularly odd to passers-by, but it seemed like a very normal thing to do when you’re surrounded by 40 others doing a similar thing – and I guess that’s the lovely thing about meeting up like this.
There were lots of things that I enjoyed about the meet up, although it’s a really funny thing being so sociable and unsociable at the same time. I found myself chatting away to people for a while, then taking a few shots, and then I’d spend ages staring at my phone oblivious to everything around me while I uploaded my photos. It was brilliant to finally meet people whose Instagram accounts I’ve been following for a long time, as well as meeting new people whose photos I can follow. It’s also great way to get to know the city a little better, because no matter how well you think you know it there’ll always be a new way of looking at it.