by Vanessa Zhang
While travelling through the exotic city of Istanbul last year, Scott Drummond was armed with only his iPhone and an Internet connection and discovered more about the city than he could have imagined.
Scott was connecting with strangers through an app on his iPhone and ended up discovering beautiful street art while being guided to lost historical sites of the city.
“They were projecting an exhibition onto the dome of this beautiful old cannon factory and I wouldn’t have known about it had it not been for these people on Instagram,” he explained.
A keen photographer, Scott was able to instantly connect to others through his live photographic gallery on his iPhone with a simple app called Instagram, which he describes as “a crowd-sourced photo exhibition.”
The app is a photograph-sharing application that uses a variety of filters to alter the look of pictures. It allows users to upload and share their photographs through their mobiles, comment on others and ‘like’ them to show their support.
With over 30 million users and growing daily, Instagram is bringing people together through a visual medium that appeals to users by allowing them to exhibit their work to a global audience.
“It’s quick, easy, accessible and provides an opportunity to network and showcase their images,” says Josephine Skinner, Assistant Curator at Stills Gallery.
Now back in Sydney, Scott slowly sips on a glass of beer after an exhausting Saturday afternoon wandering around The Rocks and the Botanical Gardens on a photographic walk he organised for a group that calls themselves Instagrammers.
The light-hearted conversations are constantly punctuated with the sounds of multiple iPhones buzzing and lighting up to let the owner know of yet another notification coming through from Instagram.
Scott and the others have just participated in an ‘Instameet’, a monthly event that draws Instagram users from cities around the world to meet with others and explore their city as they take photographs for their personal galleries on Instagram. The idea is to upload live photo streams of the walk with fellow Instagrammers, and meet the people behind the photos online and sharing in a common interest.
“Social networking is very good, but there is still something quite wonderful about meeting the people on social networks face-to-face,” says Alan Saunders, a 47-year-old Instagrammer, who travelled from Wollongong just to be around other Instagram enthusiasts for the day.
Fellow Instagrammer Jean Jacques Halans says, “I’m not really interested in the social networking side of it, I’m more interested in making boring pictures a little more interesting.”
Instagram allows users to tag their photographs with hash tags under common themes or categories to share with others, making it a mobile gallery that fits into the size of your pocket. Users can then search for hash tags to find photos and connect with other users and view their personal galleries.
“If you’re trying to curate something then Instagram’s a beautiful place to do that because so many people around the world have access to it, you could literally build a gallery show instantly,” said Scott.
Josephine says, “There is an increasing number of online sites and apps that present artwork, both photographic and otherwise. It’s a form of community or social engagement.”
At 31, Scott is the Director of Social Media at creative agency Host and is very much in touch with the new age of social networking. He knows how powerful apps such as Instagram can be for individuals and businesses from a marketing perspective and the rapid growth of Instagram is something to be a part of now.
“I think if you’re a marketer, it’s a no-brainer. If they are on other social networks, maybe they should be on this photographic network,”
“I think if you’re doing it sensibly and sensitively and you understand the kind of community elements of Instagram you can of course do it really well,” he explained.
Social network Facebook recently bought Instagram for $1 Billion dollars, showing the true value in an app that brings people together through social networking and the potential audience it may bring to marketers.
But the most important aspect of Instagram is still the idea behind sharing photographs and building online communities with others around the world that share the same interests in photography.
As Scott says, “It really allows people to showcase what they think is important in the world visually,”
“It’s true of blogging and its relationship to writing, as it is to Instagram and its relationship to traditional photography.”