This past weekend Instagram challenged Instagramers to it's eight World Wide Instameet. The goal was to go out and find or organize an Instameet in your local community. A couple days before this challenge was announced I was approached by a few instagramers in Europe who wondered if I would like to help with a simultaneous instameet that would be hosted in Lisbon and San Francisco. Lisbon and San Francisco share a strong connection. Both cities are famous for old style street cars, amazing hill top views, and there is a striking similarity between two bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge, in San Francisco, and Lisbon's Ponte 25 de Abril bridge. These bridges are often refered as twin bridges.
With the help of a couple people at Instagram, the foundation for this meet was born. I was contacted, along with Jim Barcelona to see if I'd be interested in organizing and co-hosting the San Francisco side of the meet. I knew this meet wouldn't be like any other instameet before and would be an amazing opportunity. Two wonderful Instagramers in Portugal, Jose Lourenzo and Manuel Pita were the meat and potatoes of this global meet and were organizers and hosts in Lisbon. Then Hannah Waldram, who works for Instagram in Europe, helped get us on the same page, so we could plan this Twin Bridges Meet. The five us us stayed in close contact through group chats, organizing and hashing out details. It was decided we would use #twinbridgesmeet as a shared hashtag for both locations. For our meets to be held in unison we would have to host one in the early morning and another in the evening because of the time differences. The San Francisco meet would start at 7:30am while the meet in Lisbon would start at 3:30pm their time. Jim and I made our announcements and created an event on Facebook in order to get a rough count of how many people would be attending. We had a couple things working against us, first out meet would be at 7:30am and secondly we were asking people not only to get up early, but to get up early on a Saturday. At best I hoped that we could get roughly 50 people to attend the meet.
The day of the meet I woke up at 5:30 and I begin to think no one else would be getting up this early for an instameet. As I headed out the door it was still quite dark and when I approached the city I noticed the fog was rolling in. I must say the San Francisco Instagram community blew me away! The turnout was over 100 people who got up early and braved a cold, foggy, and drizzly day! After everyone said their hellos we organized everyone for a group picture in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. Unfortunately the fog had engulfed the bridge, which was nowhere in sight! We began to photowalk our way to Fort Point and I was impressed that everyone stayed together. It turned out to be a great place to hold the meet. There was lots of open space for all the people to spread out. The fort and bridge provided a great backdrop for photos. It was fun to see everyones different styles all coming together. Some people were taking landscapes, others were climbing steep cliffs to pose for photos, and people were taking tons of portraits. We were all together doing what we love doing most, taking photos for Instagram! One of the best parts of these instameets is seeing new friendships begin and hearing people planning to meet up again in the future.
As I look back at this meet I am so glad I had the opportunity to help out! Not only was it an amazing experience, but I made so many friendships between the organizers and many people who made it out for our gathering. When I look at the shared hashtag I am blown away that so many people from two different parts of the globe joined together because of Instagram. Even better was hearing all the feedback from the meet. Many people contacted me to let me know that this was in fact their first meet and they couldn't believe how much fun an instameet could be. Others messaged me asking me when the next meet was going to be held. I will be honest, before I was asked to host this meet I had told myself I was going to take a break from hosting instameets. I had decided that I was going to work more on my photography and building a career, but after hearing from many people I think I may have more instameets ahead of me. There is just something about bringing people together that I enjoy to much to ever give up. This community never ceases to surprise me and I am so fortunate to be a part of it!