Students Take Instagram Beyond the Touchscreen

200 Instagram users met up at City Hall and made their way to Williamsburg on Friday, January 27th. They photographed and modeled for each other along the way.

The rise of Instameets around the world is allowing dedicated users to access Instagram from outside the digital world. With the increasing popularity of these events, Instagram can pride itself on being able to bring users together in real time to use their creativity to connect with other people.

One of the main appeals of Instameet is its simple organization: a user can propose a meetup and gauge others’ interest through popular Instagram features like stories and direct messaging.

For aspiring photographers and Instagram lovers alike, Instameets are the perfect occasions to mingle with other users, make new friends and stage photoshoots. It was Stuyvesant High School student Redwan Rafid’s passion for photography that spurred him to organize an Instameet in New York City with his friends.

“I first started off with photography as a way to de-stress from school,” Rafid, who goes by @lost.red on Instagram, said. “I eventually started posting my work on Instagram, and the community instantly drew me in. I was able to meet and connect with many people.”

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Other students involved in the meetup, including Tandon freshman Christopher Garcia (@garcia.nyc) also cite Instagram’s ability to connect and inspire users as the launching point.

“Naturally, Instagram became a platform to not only display my work, but a source of inspiration,” Garcia said. “It allowed me to see other people’s perspectives of the same location and how people may approach it in a variety of ways.”

Rafid decided to host an Instameet in order to connect with other aspiring New York City photographers. Rafid explained that organizing the meetup involved heavy advertising on social media as well as information disseminated by word of mouth.

The turnout of the event was much larger than either Rafid or Garcia had expected. About 200 people made their way around the city on Friday Jan. 27th from City Hall, down the FDR drive and into Williamsburg. CAS freshman Jenny Levine, known as @stillnotjennyfromtheblock on Instagram, modeled at the meetup.

“At times you could have 20 people taking your photo at once,” Levine said. “It was a hectic but amazingly creative space for artistic people to meet up and share their art.”

Even with such a massive group of attendees, the event ran smoothly. Instagram users from as far as Texas showed up. Event-goers had name tags with their Instagram handles for easy identification.

Although the event spun out of control at one point, it allowed New York City based users to spend a fulfilling afternoon in the company of other Instagrammers.

“It got a bit rowdy as some of the people from the meet began to scale the pillars of the Williamsburg Bridge,” Garcia said.

Following the enormous success of this Instameet, Rafid hopes to organize more meetups in the future and even expand into different types of Instagram based events.

“I’m currently planning on having a pop-up gallery at the end of next month featuring a few artists, mainly from New York,” Rafid said.

Considering the high turnout of this event, his upcoming events are sure to be just as successful.

Email Flavia Alka Sinha at [email protected].

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