A beginner’s guide to instameets

The IGers community is ever-growing with more and more people getting involved in our instameets. We therefore thought it would be useful to put together an instablog post covering all-things instameets based on how we do things here at IGers Birmingham and from the instameets we’ve attended that have been held by other IGers groups.

What is an instameet?

Essentially, it’s an event where people (IGers) get together to take photos which they then share on Instagram. Anyone is welcome to attend.

They can happen in a specific venue, like the ones we’ve held at Soho House Museum, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, the Hippodrome Theatre, the Steelhouse Lane Lock up, or Warwick Castle. Depending on the venue, those instameets may have a limited number of spaces. The number of spaces depends on the size of the venue or how many tickets an organisation is willing to give. Depending upon the venue we may run more than one slot so that we can accommodate as many IGers as possible.  Spaces are obtained on a first-come first-served basis.

The other type of instameet is one that is held in an area, like the ones we’ve held in the Jewellery Quarter, Deritend, Sutton Park or Spaghetti Junction. These instameets tend to be completely unlimited in capacity as there are not the same restrictions on size, however we do ask people to sign up so that we know how many IGers to expect.

Instameets are announced on our social media channels. For limited numbers instameets we try to post a warning notification in advance that we will be announcing an instameet that evening.

You can find out more about all our previous instameets (dating back to 2015) by heading here. Each one has a description of the event as well as a link to the hashtag so you can see all the images from the instameet.

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At the start of an instameet

What do you need to attend an instameet?

First and foremost, you need some form of camera and an Instagram account. You can use your phone, a beginner digital camera, a high-spec DSLR – or anything in between! There are people of all skill levels and at every instameet you will find people using a variety of equipment, even film cameras. Remember that even if you don’t intend to take photos on your phone, make sure you have it fully charged as no doubt you’ll want to look up and follow the accounts of all the other IGers that you will meet!

The second thing that you will need are sensible shoes – instameets can involve walking a particular distance, possibly mud, or being in areas where the ground / flooring is uneven. We try to include specific information on instameets where we think this will be a particular concern, but it is generally best to opt for sensible footwear.

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Instameet in progress

What DON’T you need to attend an instameet?

Things that you don’t need are:

  • a fancy camera,
  • a certain number of followers on Instagram,
  • a minimum standard of photography,
  • someone to come with you (many people come on their own to begin with, and then get to know others in the group)

Having an interest in taking photos with other people is the main thing!

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Instameet in progress

What happens at the start of an instameet?

We suggest you arrive a the meeting point about 15 minutes before the posted start time – exact info like this will be communicated to you via an email a couple of days beforehand, as well as any special information.

To find the instameet, look out for the organisers Beth & Martin:

 

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Beth (@bethastington) at an instameet
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Martin (@ocuk)

Depending upon the instameet we may have our IGers Birmingham flag with us, but you will probably spot the group as there will be lots of other people milling around, probably with visible camera equipment.

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The IGers Birmingham flag

Once you’ve arrived, check in with the organisers (Beth & Martin) who will be going around checking everyone in so we know that you are there and we may have a leaflet or a map to give you. 

At the start of the instameet Beth or Martin will make a short announcement, giving the attendees important information like:

  • The unique hashtag for the instameet,
  • The end time or end meeting point,
  • Whether there are any deadlines to post photos by for competitions or blogposts,
  • Information about the location.

And then there should be a customary group photo if Beth or Martin remember to do so (Spoiler alert – they often forget).

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A workshop-style instameet in 2017
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An instameet at the University of Birmingham in 2016
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An early IGers Birmingham instameet in May 2014
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Group shot from one of our biggest instameets with around 150 people at Birmingham Botanical Gardens in May 2017
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A group photo taken by drone at our instameet in the Jewellery Quarter in March 2017

What happens during the instameet itself?

The instameet then gets going. This could mean following a route, free-exploration of a location, or a partially-led tour. People tend to disperse in small groups, pairs or on their own, depending upon the instameet.

This is your chance to capture what you see around you. We always plan our instameets so that there is a mix of things to photograph, so you are bound to find something to capture and interpret in your style.

Once the photo-taking part of the instameet is over, it is time for the social part. Attendees are welcome to join us for a drink (this is communicated at the start) but this isn’t compulsory. Typically this is in a bar, pub or cafe.

This is the point at which everyone starts chatting about what they saw, what they photographed, what equipment they use – and then things go from there!

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It’s always good to explore every angle on an instameet…
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…and you never know what you might find through a gap in the wall!

What should I do after the instameet?

Once you’ve got home and looked at your shots, it’s time to start editing and posting! Everyone uses the same hashtag so it’s easy to see everyone’s shots from the instameet. You can post at any time of course, but as mentioned earlier, there may be deadlines for competitions or inclusion in a blogpost so if you want to be considered for those, make sure you post in good time.

If at all possible, when you are writing the comment alongside your posts we really like to see you include any information from the leaflet or from the venue (if appropriate) so that the information can be shared. If possible, tag the location and the venue – we know they appreciate it. Don’t forget to use #igersbirmingham as well! It’s also great if you are able to mention that the photo was taken at an IGers Birmingham instameet as it’s how a lot of people find out about our events.

In the days after an instameet ensure that you also scroll through the instameet hashtag and look at the photos other IGers have posted. As well as liking and commenting on people’s shots, we always find that it’s incredibly interesting to see what other people capture and how it varies from person to person. You’ll also find lots of people to follow as well.

The only other thing to do of course, is keep an eye on our account for the next instameet!

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Reviewing images at the post-instameet drinks

Anything else?

If you still want to know more, then drop us a message. Also, why not take a look at this video by Ross Jukes that was taken at an instameet last August.

The final thing to remember is that it was everyone’s first instameet once – we were all in the situation of turning up and not knowing what on earth was about to happen. Things that went through the minds of some of the IGers Birmingham community before their first instameet include:

  • Will anyone talk to me?
  • What if it’s a bunch of people talking about F stops and shutterspeeds when I use my phone?
  • What if I want to talk about F stops and shutterspeeds and Nikon V Canon but everyone else uses their phone?
  • What if everyone is of a completely different skill / experience level to me?
  • What if everyone is better than me?
  • What if everyone has more followers than me?
  • What if it is all an elaborate set up so I’m lured into a side street and be robbed of my camera?

 

Hopefully this instablogpost should have helped with those fears. Many people have come along to our events on their own and have found new friends who share their interest in taking photos and has resulted in them making connections both online and offline. We even see lots of small groups meeting up to go on their own photo adventures.

So what are you waiting for! We look forward to seeing you at an instameet soon!