Instagram and the Power of Community

By September 26, 2016Blog

img_3178I get asked often how I transitioned into photography, so this is a short write up on how I came to join the IG community.

“12 significant photographs in a year is a good crop” – Ansell Adams

Once in a while, I have a shot that goes viral (by my standards, I am NOT a well known/great photographer by any means) but whenever something like that happens I always think about how great the community that I am in is – and how much they play a part in making photos. I know there are many, especially of the old era, that mock photography on Instagram, or as they liked to call it “Instagram photography” but deep down they even know this is by far the most powerful tool ever created to show ones work.

Everyone, from the greatest and best Nat Geo photographers to the most talented teenager shooting on an iPhone uses this platform. But its the community that this platform brings together that I believe is its most powerful element.

Life before IGERS

Before I joined the local @igersdubai community in 2015, I had probably the shittiest year of my life career wise which affected family life as well. I was an investment banker that quit and started my own little investment management firm with an idea of ONLY MAKING MONEY IF THE CLIENT MAKES MONEY. This sounds like a win win, especially to the client, but if you don’t make money one year, in fact if you loose allot of money on a single trade (undoing years of work) you are pretty much screwed for a long time. But I digress, after that shitty broke year, and many family and friends saying “Hey, you’re not bad at this photography thing” (I was shooting on Nokias, Blackberries and then the iPhone all this time), so I decided I needed to change something in my life and finally get out and meet this community that does cool stuff together.

Long story short, life turn around and I am in a much happier place hugely thanks to a supportive family and a community who is passionate about photography. I even started making money from photography.

Back to this photo

We were out shooting an old part of Dubai during the month of Ramadan. It was close to Iftar (breaking of the fast) time and I was inspired by another photographer (@rhielims) look down street shot and really wanted to do something like that. My good friend MC knew of this. After walking around this neighborhood getting our shots and also getting rejected to go on a couple of residential rooftops we noticed that MC had disappeared. Next thing I know we get a call from her and she’s made it on top of a hotel roof where the swimming pool happens to be. We all headed up there but found there was no angle to shoot the folks lined up on the street preparing to break the fast.

At that moment, the life guard happened to be check on some pool systems which were on the side of the roof we could get this look down shot from. This is where you need to kind of be aggressive and super friendly at the same time. I spoke to him to let us get down to that platform and quickly take a few shots. Hesitant, he allowed us to do that. I was shooting wide (street photographer style) and quickly changed to my telephoto lens (I shoot with the cheapest slowest tele Fuji makes, in fact they forced me to take it as part of the deal when I bought my camera and is now my favorite lens). I had the shot, I put it up that night. In the morning I discovered I had over 2000 likes on the photo and it had been picked up by the Huffington Post. It now has over 4000 likes with loads of engagement, and this happened at a time when if I even hit 500 likes was a huge deal for me.

I have had 3 shots @instagram itself has re-posted, and for each of them I could write a story like this (maybe I will)

Back to the point: community plays a huge role for all us and everyone has a part in everyones success.

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