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Why Instameets may change the way you look at the world

October 27, 2015
WWInstameet2015-MyCustardPie

@bare_kiwi demonstrates the art of the GoPro selfie and has (almost) everyone smiling

Confession time. I think I’m addicted to Instagram. However, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. My alarm goes every morning (on my phone) and the first thing I do is switch it off, put on my glasses and check Instagram. I haven’t even switched the light on or taken my head off the pillow. Are you nodding in agreement here? Or are you thinking “not another boring social channel which robs us of meaningful conversation due to everyone staring at their little screens”?

Being a still rather than a moving image kind of person, Instagram has connected with me in a way Snapchat and Periscope have failed to do. It’s a window on an incredibly creative, clever and beautiful world and I use it for pleasure, relaxation, research and inspiration. It’s given me a creative outlet that’s easy to use which has been invaluable over the last couple of months where a ‘fear of failure’ kind of perfectionism crept up, overwhelmed me and prevented me from posting much on this blog.

So a few weeks ago, early on a very hot Saturday morning, you could find me in Box Park, Dubai, at my first Instameet. This was a Dubai meeting of Instagrammers but similar events were happening on this day all round the world. Welcomed, given our hashtagsΒ #wwim12_mydubai (the vital glue in Instagram that helps you find things) and the task of summing up the event through image, we all wandered off in groups. It was quite convivial but not as friendly as Tweet ups I’ve been to in the past (although Twitter isn’t such a friendly place to be now either).

I met some Emirati ladies in beautiful abayas who were happy for me to photograph them. I met Amy from Instagram who was easy to chat with and probably has one of the best jobs in the world (if you are an addict like me). A bus drew up and disgorged an interesting-lookingΒ  group carrying big cameras and Gopros. These were Instagrammers with large followings who had been flown in from Australia by the MyDubai team. A few chatted, a few were more aloof; the distinctive appearance of Jarrad Seng saw him starring in quite a few photos. After a while they hopped back on the bus to get to the Sharjah Instameet.

After a big group pic in the now extremely hot, frazzling sun, I wandered off with a couple of friends to the cool (in both senses) Marimekko cafe. Apparently my abaya picture was chosen for a prize but they redrew as I’d already left. Good to know though.

Part of the fun of the event was looking at everyone else’s interpretation of the day via #wwim12_mydubai Through my chats and with a bit of research I followed all the Australian mega-instagrammers to see the rest of their journey.

MyDubai certainly put on an amazing schedule for them and over the next few days I was dazzled by extraordinary images from the mountains, in the sea, from beaches and even sunrise through fog from the Burj Khalifa. The thought that kept running through my head was “I live here”. It was a wake-up call on many levels to see the Emirate where I have lived for over fifteen years through many fresh pairs of eyes.

wwinstameet2015-mycustardpie

Bad selfie with @minnahe @orangekitchens and @stuindubai

I shoot my Instagram pictures on my iphone. I’m pretty sure all of these instagrammers used some sort of DSLR or GoPro and they edit the images carefully. While I love the spontaneity of my mobile camera I applaud people who use the creative tools at their disposal to the max and this bunch certainly did that. But this was not what got me thinking. It was the interpretation of the things on my own doorstep. When was the last time I went to Hatta to watch the sunrise? How many times do I really stop to look at the sunset? When did I swim in the dark and watch the lights of the Burj Al Arab reflecting on the waves?

This has been a kick in the butt. To make time away from work, the house, commitments and daily life to go and seek out more of the special things on my doorstep. A few weeks later I was standing on a cliff edge looking at one of the most incredible canyons I have ever seen, with distant purple mountains peeping through the clouds. But that’s another story….

To find out about other Instameets and happenings here in Dubai follow @igersdubai There are similar accounts and hashtags throughout the world so search a bit if you want to find one near you.

And here’s a list of the visitors who inspired me if you want to check them out (scroll down through their feeds to see the Dubai images): @amy @haileybe @Laurenepbath @melissafindleyΒ @robmulally @taramilktea @jarradseng @lichipan @matjoez @jemmacraig @youngadventuressΒ  @bare_kiwi (he was really nice).
Check out @heraldherrera who lives here and shows off another side of Dubai in his Instagram feed andΒ @shackette who is also a Dubai dweller giving a beautiful perspective. And see what everyone else posted (and check out some new follows) via #wwim12_mydubai

@IgersDubai, @MyDubai & @BOXPARKDubai united to bring you the best Dubai instameet ever at #WWIM12_MYDUBAI! A massive thanks to everyone that participated and to the people in the Dubai Instagram Community that helped in making the event a huge success! @3lawi_3li, @ahmad_abi, @alattarz, @ali7alhawai, @aljvd, @amy, @ayangcempaka, @bakmehta, @bistek, @boyintsik, @callmedivi, @charu_kumar, @conelvanzyl, @cuddlesncrumbs, @danishwani, @daryllbborja, @dexdexdex, @dirkmania, @dubistcom, @elitehamano, @farihaosmani, @furkanzafar, @giasonejaurigue, @gibsterg, @grapher_technique, @haileybe, @harold.evangelista, @hatim_jawad, @heraldherrera, @hiten.kumar, @hudabinr, @iamjaydalida, @iamjhoysi, @ikeng, @indiofilipino, @iradonteovel, @ismailnoor, @jaiarumugam, @jarradseng, @jemmacraig, @jeromerafael, @jetupinthesky, @joseivan, @jvn214, @kanchanb, @kennethsurat, @kiethwalter, @kyobad, @laurenepbath, @lichipan, @line.vanzyl, @luckylaksmi, @lynnarey, @mactuscraig, @mariamtahers, @marikabeindorff, @marjanne.ph, @markwilson, @matjoez, @mc_doubleu, @melissafindley, @michaelacaptures, @minnahe, @minuchawla, @moebakheet, @mohdabk, @muneerarts, @mustafa_abbas, @mycustardpie, @najeebmusallam, @nencee, @ohitsjean @orangekitchens, @ozzgurl, @pierricklebourdiec, @pixelville, @pjozkan, @pooj_u, @poulyak, @pretaposephotography, @pyongsss, @ramimansourr, @richard.salamat, @sagarchablani, @salehalbraik, @shabszo, @shaikhmeraj, @shikhar_taneja, @sreyavempatti, @stuindubai, @sumayaalattar, @sunshinemaylove, @talesandwaves, @taramilktea, @thatguynamedpatrick, @the.amran, @thefoodsisters3, @therealmcahmed, @thezestdxb, @umairmir66, @unicornindubai, @webbytechy, @xx_ghadeer_xx, @youngadventures

A post shared by Instagrammers | Dubai πŸ‡¦πŸ‡ͺ (@igersdubai) on

So if you weren’t interested in Instagram before have I tempted you? Come and join me @mycustardpie Would you like to know who I follow for the most appetising food inspiration? How about tips for making food look great on Instagram (and what not to do)? Let me know if any of this floats your boat and I’ll add to my ever-increasing ‘to blog about’ list!

30 Comments
  1. October 27, 2015 6:10 pm

    Oh boy. I know what you mean. I recently got on instagram and it has taken over my life. I wish I would have done it much sooner! So many creative and inspiring people out there. I was hoping this is a honeymoon phase and the novelty will wear off so I can get back to actually taking care of my children πŸ™‚ but from your experience – sounds like that won’t happen any time soon. eek.

  2. October 27, 2015 6:10 pm

    Great post Sally! I love Instagram, like you I fear I am a little bit addicted. Loved the follow recommendations, have already looked some of the ones I wasn’t following up.

  3. October 27, 2015 6:36 pm

    Well, I don’t get on it first thing every morning, but eventually I do. This was a fabulous post. Maybe I should follow more people!

  4. October 27, 2015 6:49 pm

    I love Instagram too. What a lovely meet up. I think they have something similar to this in Birmingham. Perhaps I should join them?

  5. October 27, 2015 7:23 pm

    I am always slow on the update but get there eventually. πŸ˜€
    Have a super day Sally.
    πŸ™‚ Mandy xo

  6. October 27, 2015 8:04 pm

    Love this, Sally! I too am an “addict” and like you, have found Instagram to be a great source of inspiration, a place to learn and expand my “horizons,” and a huge creative outlet for me. As always, thanks for your contribution to beauty on my Instagram feed!

  7. October 28, 2015 12:47 am

    Great post Sally. I loved your pictures. I love instagram but must admit that I am horrible about remembering to take photos.

  8. October 28, 2015 8:53 am

    Hello from an insta addict as well. Love your pictures and feed Sally! And thanks for an inspiring in many ways once again πŸ™‚

  9. mita56 permalink
    October 28, 2015 1:57 pm

    Wow! I don’t do as much on Instagram but there are some amazing photos from that Instameet. Thanks for sharing Sally

    • October 29, 2015 8:59 am

      I tend to get stuck in a food and travel rut. The instameet also gave me a view into a world of some photographers here in Dubai really exploring shape, form and ideas.

  10. October 28, 2015 4:38 pm

    Oh I do love your Instagram feed… would love some tips on how you make everything look so beautiful! I only use my iPhone too. And thanks for introducing us to some of your fellow Dubai instagrammers – some truly incredible images!

    • October 29, 2015 8:58 am

      Thanks Christine. Thinking of doing something about instagram photography. Watch this space.

  11. October 28, 2015 5:58 pm

    Fabulous post, as always Sally! I love your pics!

    • October 29, 2015 8:57 am

      Thank you Tara. Your pics on instagram every morning from beside the waves give me a daily lift. Especially as I have to look at the same waves from further away due to my dog!

  12. October 28, 2015 7:56 pm

    Wow!!! I wish I could make it that morning. Like you, I am guilty of waking up and opening the app the first thing in the morning – not to see how many new followers I have or how many likes I have got, but to sniff in some fresh air through this creative space. I look out for a few creative instagrammers – you being one of them, @followmetraveller, @muradosmann @wrongbob and others. These words resonated with me a lot: The thought that kept running through my head was β€œI live here”. It was a wake-up call on many levels to see the Emirate where I have lived for over fifteen years through many fresh pairs of eyes.

    • October 29, 2015 8:55 am

      That’s why I wrote this post actually – I heard myself telling friends that this was the catalyst to go and do several things (including an amazing weekend in Oman). I follow some of those – will check out others.

  13. October 28, 2015 8:19 pm

    Fantastic post, so interesting and that shot from atop the tallest building in the world is incredible!.

    • October 29, 2015 8:56 am

      They were so lucky – normally it opens at 10am… plus there was fog that morning. Hoping that someone in the DTCM will read that and let me watch the sunrise up there!

  14. Fuss Free Helen permalink
    October 28, 2015 9:04 pm

    I’ve not yet been to an Instagram meet and think I must. It is a lovely way of looking at the world, and does make it very easy to find beauty everywhere.

    • October 29, 2015 8:53 am

      I agree Helen. There’s some truly shocking stuff on there too!

  15. October 29, 2015 5:16 am

    All very interesting Sally. I love using my iPhone too for instagram though I do find sometimes I have to shoot in the camera setting first so I can edit — the instagram function on my iPhone 6 doesn’t let you edit your photo prior to posting. Tell me where is Box Park I have never heard of this park, is it new?

    • October 29, 2015 8:52 am

      Thanks Petra. You need to upgrade your app – you can definitely edit in instagram on a 6. I always shoot in camera first though. Box Park is on the Al Wasl road where all those old villas were knocked down along from Safa park.

  16. October 29, 2015 12:18 pm

    You’ve just described my daily wake up to the letter! I love IG too – my absolute favourite social media. Where’s your fav spot in Dubai for pics – I’ll have to check it out when I’m over in Feb?

  17. October 29, 2015 12:34 pm

    While I don’t check IG first thing, it is my favourite social media channel. I follow mainly those who post food images (to torture myself?) but I follow and am in awe of travel and adventure accounts too. I have yet to go to an Instameet, although I hope to soon as I have just got in the Edinburgh group on IG. Going along will take me out of my comfort zone – unless of course they choose to hang around in kitchens and coffee houses! Great post, Sally. I am now raring to get to my first Instameet and not only meet other like-minded (if quite a bit younger) IGer’s but learn from them too. Your comment about seeing things in a different way has resonated with me. I will be sure to get out at the weekend and do just that!

  18. October 29, 2015 9:04 pm

    Loved reading about your adventure Sally, and I also check IG practically before opening my eyes in the morning too #loveit πŸ™‚
    Janie x

  19. October 29, 2015 10:01 pm

    Hello Sally, Indeed Instagram is relaxing place to rest eyes between daily routines. It’s source of inspiration. I always loved taking photos I think I got it from my father he was keen instaphoto snapper, anyone remembers Polaroid instant cameras…. he’d be darling at instagram.
    I see beautiful shooting objects everywhere, details attracts me more, they interesting. Everyday design, nature, food, interior, Finland and Dubai those are objects of my hashtags.
    I missed last years instameet, this time there was no excuse, It was practically beside my house, and when I knew you and few other friends join, it was done deal.

    I am waiting for invite to brainstorm our own Fooderati InstaFeast15.
    Loving your pictures !

  20. ramblingtart permalink
    October 30, 2015 6:28 am

    I’m so glad you’ve found such an inspiring niche for yourself on Instagram. πŸ™‚ It’s a happy place for me too, a space where I shrug off demands of perfection and just capture what brings a smile to my face. πŸ™‚

  21. November 1, 2015 6:05 am

    I ❀ Instagram. Such a generally happy place.

  22. jarradseng permalink
    November 3, 2015 10:19 am

    awesome read, wish we could have hung out more at the meet!

  23. November 3, 2015 10:33 am

    Awesome read! we were not supposed to go to the instameet but because I was missing the one at home I asked and the awesome sophia and lauren helped changed our schedule so we could come stop by! That’s why we couldn’t stay that long! Instagram has changed my life and for the same reason as you. it makes me go to places and do things that I might not have done otherwise. No matter if its running, photos or just meditation anything that gets you to those places and meeting new people is a wonderful thing. I only got my camera a year ago I looove mobile photography. Instagram is an amazing platform and responsible for fantastic stories no matter what you choose do do with it.

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