Over the past month or so I’ve been on a couple photo walks through the city of Chicago. The first one was in celebration of Flickr’s 10th anniversary. Flickr had a global photo walk in which people in cities all around the world came together to met up and take pictures together. The second photo walk was I attended was similar, only it was organized through Instagram. It was Instagram’s 9th global “Instameet” where local Instagrammers get together and take pictures. Chicago instagrammers tag their photos #igerschicago. It’s a creative and fun community of people.
People often criticize social media of distancing us from having real relationships with one another. We interact with people online rather than face-to-face. And in the process, we lose the ability to really connect with people (supposedly). I don’t believe that social media is the enemy. I believe social media is an incredible tool to enhance and enable real relationships in this 21st century, technology driven culture. Social media is tool – and it can be used to drive one to seclusion or it can be used to connect to real people with common interests – people who you would never come in contact with otherwise.
Flickr and Instagram have two of the largest online photo communities. People from all over the world post pictures from their communities, their families, their travels, and their lives. We get glimpses into corners of the world that we will never visit. We get to see what life is like for a 17 year old girl living in eastern Russia or a 35 year old dad of three living in Norway. We may even get a glimpse of someone living right down the street that we’ve passed on the street a number of times without even knowing it. Are they showing us only the aspects of their life that they want others to see? Sure. That’s ok. I don’t like seeing my own dirty house, why would I really want to see someone else’s dirty house? I understand that most people’s lives aren’t as beautiful as their Instagram feeds or their Flickr photo stream seems to suggest.
In the process of these photo walks, you spend half a day walking around with people with similar interests to you. You meet people from all walks of life, and from all over the region you live in. On the Flickr photo walk I met people who’ve been doing this sort of thing for years and years, walking around Chicago taking pictures of every building from every imaginable angle. These people loved the city. Every brick. They knew the history of the areas.
I remember when this was just a field, now it’s a high rise.
The Instagram photo walk had a lot more participants — probably about 150 or so. And most were younger than those on the Flickr photo walk. Some came armed with their $5,000 cameras and lenses, while some only came with their smart phones. It was neat to see people walk around and capture angles of the city in ways that most walking by would never even notice or think twice about.
After a day of shooting and chatting as we walked, we ended up at The Billy Goat to get some burgers and chat.I remember coming home from the Flickr photo walk and thinking to myself, “These are my kind of people.”
I’ll include some photos from my Flickr photo walk here. Some will have been taken on my iPhone 5s, some on my Pentax K-5, and some on my Pentax K-01. The one’s on my iPhone will be more obvious due to their small size. I’ll make a second blog post including my shots from the Instameet.