Most of us are fully into our addiction into instagram, well I am at least ready to admit I have a problem ( @digitalafrican ). Being naturally a visual person it is no wonder that incessantly checking instagram has become one of my social media habitual practices. Like most social media platforms, Instagram has exposed us to an entirely new way of seeing Africa. Instagram collectives are beginning to be popular in Africa including one of my favorite one EverdayAfrica. We were very fortunate to speak to Gareth Pon, @garethpon founder of the official South African Instagram community, @igersSouthAfrica. In February of 2013 Gareth begun this collective encouraging a new generation of photographers in South Africa to share with the global audience their surroundings and experiences in South Africa. We are so happy to share his insights, observations and just great practical advice any avid instagrammer might need.
You recently founded the official South African Instagram community tell us a little about this all came about?
Earlier in 2013 myself and a group of sleeted individuals in the major cities founded the local South African Instagramers community. This community links up with communities all over the world. This international community was officially founded by Phil Gonzalez, @philgonzalez it’s an ever growing community all over the world and people are continually wanting to get involved in these communities.
The way Instagramers South Africa came about was really a progression from me founding the Johannesburg Community toward the end of 2012. At the end of 2012 I was chatting to Phil about various communities and we decided that I should make it national and founder the South African community. I then went ahead and source several individuals in each major city who I recognised as passionate instagramers who represented the same zeal and passion for the Instagramers culture. We launched the community by doing a combined national instameet where every city got together to launch their communities in their respective cities. Since then we have become recognised as quite an active community, to the point where Phil considers us high on his list of active communities. We have also had several features by Instagram officially on their blog in the form of image features, featuring little videos I’ve put together to show what we get up to
“People are starting to realise that we can shoot beautiful things in South Africa without needing a sunset.
Who are some of your favorite instagram users and why do you like them?
This is a VERY long list! haha… I will mention a few locally and internationally:
Each of these local instagramers give a real unique perspective of South Africa.
There really are too many to mention!
I kindly remind people that the best camera you own is the one that you have with you right now.
What are some of the trends you can see from the photographers, and images coming from South Africa?
Everyone really has a different flavour in the photographs that they share. However without fail, it is common to hear that the local instagramers are always looking for the next shot.
At first there was a huge trend of people taking shots of their main cities, it seemed the trend was that people were reclaiming their cities visually and rediscovering what they didn’t notice before. It’s since progressed to people seeking out unique locations, shooting the people of their cities and going on short trips to gain photo opportunities.
We’ve got quite a diverse community locally and I’d say that if we compared our photographs to those around the world, we have something unique as every shot is so different to the next. When you’re uploading between 1-3 photos a day, you always need to stay on your feet to stay fresh and find something unique to photograph.
There is however a really common trend of people photographing sunsets, but luckily people are starting to realise that we can shoot beautiful things in South Africa without needing a sunset.
The most creative mobile photographers are pioneering techniques and styles that traditional photographers could never achieve. Many people all around the world are accessing a creative vein they never thought they had and those “common” people are recognising their passion for capturing an image.
You foster instameets (meet ups with instagramers) in South Africa? Is it important to have physical interactions? What are some of the meetups that you’ve had in the past? Any for this year?
I’ve always heard and firmly believe in the comment that anything done on a digital platform should always cater for a physical meet in person.
It is very important to have physical interactions, it brings people together and also allows people to put a face to their photographer. There have been some really great and unique stories from local Instagramers. It also really gives people the opportunities to build friendships locally around a similar passion. Instagram has given people a simple platform to share their creativity in a unique way and from their own personal perspectives, and passion is always best when it’s explored with others who share a common interest.
We’ve had hundreds of instameets, some impromptu and some not. We try to have at least 1-2 instameets per city when we can, but we’ve also had smaller ones in between.
You can read more about the people involved locally at www.instagramers.co.za as well as watch the videos I’ve done.
How do you think instagram is changing the field of photograph?
Instagram for me personally has done 3 things.
Firstly, it’s made the medium of photography a lot more available to the “common” people and as a result it’s given birth to a new medium known as Mobile Photography (many communities have formed all over the world). The most creative mobile photographers are pioneering techniques and styles that traditional photographers could never achieve. Many people all around the world are accessing a creative vein they never thought they had and those “common” people are recognising their passion for capturing an image.
Secondly, because Instagram has caused photography to become so accessible, it’s raised the bar for photographers all around the world. Some traditional photographers really hate Instagram because they say it’s taken away from the medium and it’s watered down the effort needed to take a great shot. I kindly remind people that the best camera you own is the one that you have with you right now and it really boils down to allowing the medium to speak for itself with a little bit of your own creative interpretation to make it personal. Coming from having photography and videography knowledge, I really appreciate Instagram more as a new way of capturing an image, rather than seeing it as competition to what we already know. As they say, change is inevitable and those who cater for change will ultimately usher in the innovation and as I always say, the traditional photographers who feel threatened by Instagram are those who should feel threatened.
Thirdly, Instagram has allowed the world to see visually. With over 150 million users, Instagram has really begun to create a visual audience of people who are always looking for the next photograph. It’s not uncommon to hear an Instagramer say that they see the world in photographs, the result of this is that photography has slowly begun to take a unique turn. The traditional way of doing things has become a ceiling and new unique ways are starting to emerge.
What are your five must do tips for capturing the best instagram photos and videos?
#WHPfilmedfromabove // Today I had the privilege of filming a short doccie about @lorraineloots, this is Lorraine setting up just before she starts with her 250th painting for her "365 Paintings for Ants" project. Stay tuned for the full length edit, I'll share a teaser here here once it's done and available online. In the mean time check out her account, she's doing amazing things! #iphoneonly #garethponfilmography
- Read the image, before you start taking photos of something you feel is beautiful, stop and give it some thought. I believe that photography is not so much about shooting pretty pictures, but rather about the story that a single moment wants to tell, and how I as a photographer can be as honourable as possible to capture that story in a single image.
- Composition, sometimes a really great moment is spoilt by really bad composition. Look up a bit of technical guidelines of photography and practice them.
- Understand lighting and exposure. If you understand the way light is falling on a subject, you’ll be able to capture that subject a whole lot better. Place your subjects in such a way that the lighting gives you the image that you want.
- Master some editing apps, the two most used apps are Snapseed and VSCOCam, available for both iOS and Android.
- Shoot first and apologise later. Sometimes people are too scared of taking photos, get over that fear and just start shooting. You never know when you’ll get a shot you might have missed.
How do we get involved?
Join in! On the website www.instagramers.co.za we have listed all the active community managers and communities around South Africa, look them up, follow the communities and their managers and find out when the next instameet is. Everyone is welcome and we really do love having new people rediscover their cities with us.