A Look at Instagram Meetups in Nairobi

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Instameets, or Instagram meetups, are events where Instagramers meet each other. They share, learn photography, and create content together to post on their personal feeds.

 

There are two types of instagram meetups:

Worldwide instameets usually takes place twice a year. They are officially organized by Instagram.

Local instameets take place on a semi-regular basis. They are often organized by individuals or companies. Sometimes, they come with a specific theme.

 

Preparations for Instagram Meetups

For global meetups, Instagram posts the dates and location on their official page. It is usually a weekend where a global Instameet can be held simultaneously all over the world.

For local Instagram meetups, the host (individual, company etc.) would post the details. Often, influential Instagram users would repost, and users will spread the word.

In Nairobi, Instameets used to host about 20 to 50 people. Now it can be as many as 300-500 attendants. These instagram meetups are really getting more and more popular.

Most meetups are held early to mid-morning. It is typically held on weekends when most people are free. In Nairobi, the meetups usually take place around the Railways Museum, the CBD area or even outside of town.

Most of the planning of the meetups is left to the hosts. They are responsible for securing the location and shooting permits. Otherwise, the city council will take action against the photographers.

 

Meet Trevor, aka @AnalogBeard, a photographer from the USA who travels with his Polaroid and came for   the instameet in Nairobi

Meet Trevor, aka @AnalogBeard, a photographer from the USA who travels with his Polaroid and came for the instameet in Nairobi

 

Instameet or Instagram Meetings Hashtags

Every meetup has a unique hashtag to enable grouping of the posts. Official Instagram meetups are referred to as Worldwide Instameets (WWIM). Hashtags for each meetup depend on the edition. For example, the last meetup had #WWIM11, and the upcoming will have #WWIM12.

The hashtags for local Instagram meetups mostly follow the theme. Last Sunday, we had a Samsung-sponsored meetup. So we used the hashtags #SamsungColoursofKenya and #SamsungColorMeet. Hashtags for past Instagram meetups have included #EvolveKe and #AsiaWithAirtel.

These hashtags are chosen first and foremost based on uniqueness. They have to be exclusive to the meetup. They also make the grouping of posts more efficient. The hashtags tend to follow the theme of the meeting, or even about the sponsor brands.

 

A photo taken at Ngong hills, peaks in a ridge along the Great Rift Valley, located southwest near Nairobi, in southern Kenya.

A photo taken at Ngong hills, peaks in a ridge along the Great Rift Valley, located southwest near Nairobi, in southern Kenya.

 

Building Connections at Instagram Meetings

Instagram meetups are a fun way to connect with fellow photographers. I was first taught how to use manual camera settings at a meetup. I have also had a chance to attend two Instagram meetups in two cities, 500 kilometres apart. That was a refreshing experience. Photographers like Samir Dave (@samdave69) even have been to three meetups in three different countries. India, Nepal, and Kenya.

It’s not just about photography. It’s essentially a social networking event. I’ve met people who asked me how I shoot or edit my photos. And from these interactions, I’ve made great friendships.

 

No DSLR? No Problem

Owning a DSLR isn’t a prerequisite. Instagram meetups are actually meant for mobile photography. This means almost anyone can join. Since it involves a lot of walking, there is little room to tag along heavy gear anyway. Many people don’t even shoot. They came to model or socialise.

Most of the time, we write a little description about the new people we meet. This adds a personal touch to the pictures. It’s not just about shooting and going. I’ve learned that approaching someone and striking a conversation before shooting them gets me a good story for my caption. It creates connection between people.

 

And the only selfie I’ll admit to. That’s me in blue and a bunch of friends at one of the Instagram meetups.

And the only selfie I’ll admit to. That’s me in blue and a bunch of friends at one of the Instagram meetups.

 

This is the crew I shoot with at the Instagram meetups. We went to the shoot car trails along Thika Highway, a major road in Kenya linking the city of Nairobi to Thika town.

This is the crew I shoot with at the Instagram meetups. We went to the shoot car trails along Thika Highway, a major road in Kenya linking the city of Nairobi to Thika town.

Growing with Instagram Meetups

My skills have really grown since the first meetup. This mostly comes not only from being taught new skills. It is from being exposed to others’ shooting styles and having to shoot things you normally don’t. I mostly do portraits. But during the meetups, I get to shoot architecture or motion. I have also met a lot of new friends and made a lot of important connections to more experienced photographers.

Instagram meetups help me know my country better and explore places I would otherwise not have access to.

All in all, I’d highly advise everyone to go for an Instagram meeting. Or, better yet, organize one in their city or town. It is a very enjoyable experience. You get to make great friends and memories. You even get to travel and see awesome spots you never knew existed.

You just have to experience the thrill for yourselves!

 

My friends relaxing during an Instagram meetup session. It’s not always about shooting!

My friends relaxing during an Instagram meetup session. It’s not always about shooting!