How to organise an Instameet

There’s no better way to get new ideas and inspiration flowing than by attending a creative event – or organising one yourself. Getting out of your comfort zone and around a bunch of new people can work wonders when you’re stuck in a rut.

Jess (aka @PorthJess) organises Bristol’s Instameets, which have gained a reputation in the Instagram community for being serious amounts of fun. We asked her for some tips on what makes a cracking creative gathering.

How did you first become involved in organising Instameets?

I’d been promoting my home city of Bristol through my own account for about six months when I discovered that Bristol had it’s own official Instagrammers’ network, @IgersBristol. The Igers movement is global and run with Instagram’s support; there are now more than 500 networks worldwide.

Not long after, the moderator announced he was stepping down and asked if I wanted to take over. I jumped at the chance! A few months later, Instagram announced a World Wide Instameet Day (WWIM) where networks around the world are encouraged to host their own meet. So I organised my first Instameet to tie in, and it was a great success.

@porthjess for #igersbristol

@porthjess for #igersbristol

What happens during an Instameet?

They’re fun! We (that’s myself and Jon, our other moderator) select a different theme or route for each. We’ve had a classic Bristol landmarks walk, a ‘colourwalk’, and we held another at Upfest, Europe’s biggest annual street art festival.

Instagrammers have a strange language all of their own, so meets contain a lot of ‘stride-bys’ (when one Instagrammer gets another to casually walk past a great wall or street scene while others photograph them),  ‘from where I stands’ (feet photographed on an interesting floor) or some ‘levitation’ (much jumping required!). We also always try and end each meet at a good local café or pub to compare shots.

How many people turn up?

We’ve had everything from 10 to 100+ people at a meet. Attendees range from those new to the city, such as students who want to discover different neighbourhoods, to serious photographers who bring all sorts of kit with them.

@ben_adams88 for #igersbristol

@ben_adams88 for #igersbristol

What’s been your most successful Instameet?

Last autumn we formed a partnership with Bristol University and arranged our first Instameet with them in November. This included behind-the-scenes tours of some of the Uni’s most iconic buildings and locations, so we could only allow a maximum of one hundred (pre-booked) spaces. We were delighted when it quickly became over-subscribed and we had to form a waiting list! The day itself was fantastic: perfect weather, interesting scenery and great people.

Have Instameets influenced your own photography?

I’ve definitely learned lots of new tips, tricks and techniques. At the first meet I learned various things unbeknown to me previously such as #InstagrammerDown: basically one or more Instagrammers lying on the ground and being photographed to make it look as though a terrible fatal accident has occurred – way more fun than it sounds, promise!

@iamsamstefan for #igersbristol

@iamsamstefan for #igersbristol

What are your top tips for a successful creative gathering?

You will need…
• A specific theme for the walk, or basing the Instameet at one large, interesting, photogenic location.
• A guide (or two) who knows the area very well.
• A route that doesn’t stick to the main roads, for three reasons: Safety (large groups of you on busy pavements is a big no-no!), volume levels (it’s not great if noisy traffic is drowning out your guide or ability to talk), and backstreets are just always way more interesting.
• The odd prop or Instagram game, such as #stridebys.
• A good pub to finish at!

Taking part in #igersbristol or Instameets in your town? Show and tell using #molliemakes.

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