My First Instameet

Instameet-5

Ever since I became passionate about photography, I’ve stayed clear of other photographers.  I’ve grouped up with a few of my closest friends, but in general I’ve shied away from attending any events or mass gatherings.  This is partially out of fear, due to a lack of confidence in my abilities, but also out of a little inadequacy; my Canon G12 looks like a toy when compared to the world of DSLR cameras.  I can’t tell anybody what an f stop is or what the right ISO is to use for certain conditions.  Hell, I rarely take my camera out of ‘Auto’ mode at all.  However, I took a step outside of my comfort zone yesterday when I joined about 40 other local photographers in downtown Tulsa for an ‘Instameet’, organized by one of my best friends and some other artists I respect from my Instagram circles.

The day was bitterly cold; in fact, I wasn’t sure anyone would show for the meet even though it’d been planned for months.  Samantha and I layered up and drove down to the Guthrie Green, hoping there’s still be enough folks to make the effort worth it.  Snow fell out of the sky with tired ambivalence and the wind seemed to laugh at me as it assaulted my face, but lo and behold there was a small group of people huddled together near Lucky’s.  My excitement began to override my anxiety as I shook hands with people I knew by their Instagram handles, adding dimensions to relationships that had been built by mutual admiration of talent.  At about 2:10, we gathered for a group photo on the steps of the Green; someone brought an Oklahoma flag, which was a really nice touch.  By the time we set out to wander the streets, there were over 40 of us.

Instameet-12Anybody that has been with me when I’ve been in photographer mode can tell you that I tend to wander off, lost in my own world as I capture various things in my lens.  I quickly noticed that a large group works similarly, with each shooter wandering off and coming back regularly.  The whole group expanded and contracted like a separate organism.  I also noticed how the many would feed off of the creativity of a few.  There were several instances where I saw someone taking a photo of a building I knew well, but in a new and exciting way, and other people would experiment with the same idea.  After we left the Guthrie Green, we wandered down Boston Avenue towards the Center of the Universe.  One of the guys headed into the parking garage across from the Union Depot, and then everyone did.  I stayed on the ground level, but looked up often to see others on various levels, exploring the city in their own way.  When an approaching train sounded its horn, people took various positions to capture it.

Instameet-24The cold was REALLY starting to get to me, but I pressed on.  We walked over to Boulder and turned east on 3rd.  There were about ten guys that had driven up from Oklahoma City to partake in the meeting and they had some creative ideas.  They had a couple of smoke bombs they used for creative effect and weren’t afraid to climb a little; at one point, they ascended a fire escape in an alleyway and inspired some Tulsans to do the same.  My fear of heights and consequences kept me on the ground (again) but it was somewhat exhilarating to see a more fearless breed of photographer, taking advantage of the empty streets.  As we continued, I noticed our group had begun to splinter, no doubt due to the brutal winds and cold temperatures.  By the time we made it to the fountain area at 4th and Main, I too was spent and ready to warm up.  An end-point had been established at McNellie’s Pub, so I locked arms with Samantha and hightailed it for warmth and shelter.

Instameet-22We hadn’t been at the pub for more than ten minutes before others in the group began trickling in.  I spent the next two hours talking to my new friends, sharing our combined works, and enjoying a much-needed meal.  At one point, I just sat at the end of our long table and let the cacophony of conversation wash over me.  I was among friends, even though I couldn’t tell you most of their names.  My friend Maggie, one of the organizers, looked over at one point and smiled broadly.  She was on Cloud Nine; and why shouldn’t she be?  She helped put together this fantastic event, which was successful beyond our hopes.  Not only was attendance stronger than expected, the Tulsa World newspaper had some representatives that showed up. They launched a new initiative, starting with our group, to celebrate local photography on a wider scale through Instagram and the paper itself.

I learned a lot from my fellow photographers and also had the opportunity to share some of my knowledge, something I hadn’t expected.  I was able to speak to some of the history of the city and my passion for the unique offerings that Tulsa presents.  We had people of every skill level, with equipment ranging from smartphones to expensive SLR rigs with multiple lenses and accessories.  My fears were completely eradicated and I had a wonderful time; I can’t wait for our next gathering….once it’s warmer!

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About rhysfunk

Rhys Martin was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1981. In 2009, he sold everything he owned and left the country, living out of a backpack for ten months. He discovered a passion for photography while traveling throughout Southeast Asia and Europe. After returning home, he looked at his home town and Oklahoma heritage with fresh eyes. When he began to explore his home state, Rhys turned his attention to historic Route 66. As he became familiar with the iconic highway, he began to truly appreciate Oklahoma’s place along the Mother Road. He has traveled all 2,400 miles of Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. He has also driven many miles on rural Oklahoma highways to explore the fading Main Streets of our small towns. Rhys has a desire to find and share the unique qualities of the Sooner State with the rest of the world. Cloudless Lens Photography has been featured in several publications including This Land, Route 66 Magazine, Nimrod Journal, Inbound Asia Magazine, The Oklahoman, and the Tulsa World. Rhys loves to connect with people and share his experiences; ask him about enjoyable day trips from Tulsa, locations along Route 66, and good diners or burger joints along the way.
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5 Responses to My First Instameet

  1. cindymaddera says:

    They type of camera is never important. It’s having a camera at all that matters. I’ve taken some of my best and favorite pictures with my dinky little Sony point and shoot. I love that you did this. It’s really scary to put yourself out there like that, but totally worth it.

  2. Donna Le says:

    Sounds like a wonderful event and I’m glad to learn that people of all levels are encouraged to participate. I have two cameras that I’m trying to learn how to use. I’ve gotten great photos with both–at random times. It’s a hobby, of course, but I am enjoying learning even a little.

  3. What a fantastic time for you and now you have broken the ice so to speak. The next meet should be like a reunion. That is the way to “tour” any place, with the eye of an artist and the mind of a historian.

  4. Pingback: Instameet 2: The Island | Rhys' Pieces

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