In this instablogpost we interview Phil Gonzalez to discover the story behind this global movement.
IGersBimingham: Hi Phil. Thanks for taking time out to answer our questions! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Phil: My user name is @philgonzalez on Instagram and Twitter. I was born in Paris. I was the second child of a humble worker Spanish family. My grandparents were immigrants, so do my parents. They moved to France to give their children a better life. I enjoyed my early years playing football in our Parisian suburbs streets then later in a football club. It´s probably where I learnt more about friendship and team building.
In late 90´s I started to travel a lot. I lived in London during a year or so!! I love U.K but I still have to visit Birmingham!! Then I travelled through Europe. I went to Africa, Australia, Asia, and I realized how important was to discover new countries, cultures and people.
I had a lot of fun at school involving in several students associations. I was named official university photographer for events and parties, and I was astonished by people smiling to me just because I was about to take a picture of them having fun. I felt how important and friendly photography was in our lives. Far before selfie era!!!
I moved to Spain when I finished my marketing studies and found quickly a job. I really felt my roots were here and I decided to establish my residence in Madrid. I love music concerts and sport on TV. I enjoy mainly watching Formula 1, MotoGp, Tennis, Rugby and Football.
I work as digital manager at AMC International Networks for Spain and Latino American markets. AMC is a well-known TV company for its serial successes with TV Hits like Breaking Bad, Mad Men or The Walking Dead. I´ve been myself quite successful with a new way to use apps around “Cooking” and “Lifestyle” TV channels. I’m in charge of Internet and it means, communication through more than 26 web, related social networks and more than 15 mobile applications.
IGersBirmingham: For those that don’t know, can you explain a bit what IGers is? How did it begin?
Phil: Six years ago, I discovered Instagram. It was a brand new app but I quickly understood it would be “the next big thing” in social media. I started to help new users of Instagram with my knowledge regarding social networks.
I first started with a blog www.Instagramers.com with “how to´s”, tutorials, apps reviews and interviews of highlighted users. Soon people started to write to me and asked me to launch local groups with my Instagramers brand. We launched as a hobby several hobbyist groups called IGERS or Instagramers. Instagramers Barcelona and Madrid first, and then few weeks after, other cities joined us like London, Milan, Manila, San Francisco.
Today, four years later there are 500 groups in the world so far in around 80 countries. Instagramers has a permanent exhibition at Telefonica´s foundation in Madrid. As far as I know, Instagramers Gallery is the only space in the world fully dedicated to Instagram and Mobile Photography. We aim to help unknown photographers to be featured and maybe we will discover future photography talents. Hundreds of mobile photographers have been exhibited these last two years.
Today Instagram is a new form of creativity, entertainment and social art that has its place in the digital world. Instagramers Gallery is a place where artists feel a real recognition.
We have also several Igers Academy in several countries (Colombia, France, Italy, Spain) teaching people and companies how to use Instagram the best way. We have an @igersmap in Spain… Hundreds of projects around the world!
(image: Instagramers Gallery event)
IGersBirmingham: Did you ever think it would go global?
Phil: A friend of mine always says “you have to take very personally your professional life” and it’s so true. For me there is no difference anymore between my work, my free time, my hobbies and my passions. I´m really a hardworking man, always connected and I can work for hours until very late. Mixing fun and rigor, my work and entertainment just because I love projects and things well done. But I was not aware this would come so big!! When I started with Instagramers Barcelona and Instagramers Madrid I thought I was done. I never thought this movement would become so strong and international. I discovered that a simple and good idea that makes sense and that is easily to replicate can be a blast with no investment at all!!
We have married people and we have several instababies. Others found a job or their best friend… It´s really thrilling.
Instagram is also a place where cool brands are doing great things to engage with their clients. Instagramers allowed me to participate in truly amazing experiences these last 4-6 years. Unique ones, like live a Formula 1 grand prix in Monza accompanying McLaren´s pilots, travel to Venezia Bienale with Instagramers Italia association, speak in conference with worldwide best photographers as Sebastian Salgado or Mc Curry or cook with many of the best chefs all over the world. That´s amazing. I always think the movement will soon fade away but we opened 3 more groups this last week and I still receive application from people who want to launch a new local community.
IGersBirmingham: What is your favourite thing to photograph?
Phil: Definitely, I love to photograph landscapes but, I think with a smartphone (I only share pictures taken with smartphone on Instagram) it´s a little bit complicated. So I always mix landscape, sunsets, the sea with people. I think that a small figure, tiny people are very important on the pictures. It brings life to my shots.
You will see in my account I like to take people at sunset with a strong backlight. That´s my fave shot but I also took hundreds of black and white pictures in the past. It depends on my mood. Now that Instagram is changing, I´m using Instagram stories sometimes but I´m still photography focused…
(Image: Koh Tao sunset)
IGersBirmingham: What are your favourite IG accounts?
Phil: That´s a question I never answer! It´s difficult to say just one, two or three… Hundreds probably. That´s why we created Instagramers Gallery where we exhibit more permanently more than 30 artists from all over the world and we do punctual exhibition with 50 artists too.. Have a look here!
IGersBirmingham: Thank you for answering out questions and all that you do! We’re off to admire your gallery!
(Image: Selfie with Steve McCurry and Orazio Spoto from IGers Italia.)