Instagram and the Miami photography community have found a place to merge on the web. Igers Miami, a public Instagram profile that features Miami shooters both amateur and professional, gives local photogs the chance for their work to be seen by the group's 19,000 followers. And that sphere of influence extends into the offline world when Igers invites its members to gather for group shoots.
Last Sunday, Igers Miami hosted a meetup in the style of a scavenger hunt for the Miami community. The hangouts began in 2012 and have all drawn crowds. A previous photography event at the construction site of the SLS hosted more than 150 people who gathered on the rooftop to take photos. Igers Miami has hosted these events through South Florida, including Brickell, Sunrise, and Everglades National Park.
Cristina Sarria is one of the administrators of the account. She joined Igers Miami in January, and though she isn't a photographer, she enjoys watching people get together and form friendships through the events. With the help of her team, she curated this past Sunday's event and says she has an affection for the shooters.
“It’s a community of photographers and individuals like me who may not necessarily have the talent or skill for it, but they appreciate what they see and what others provide,” Sarria says. “Our admin team is based on seven people. None of us get paid to do this. We do it because we want to help the community, and we have a different love for photography and what the group stands for.”
The gatherings are hosted about once every two months. The first scavenger hunt took place this past July and was brought back this month by popular demand.
Over the weekend, ten groups took to the streets to photograph the Story of Miami, in some instances driving as far as Homestead to find clues. Far-flung locations offered more points.
Last year's scavenger hunt was created by Tony Miller, an admin of the group; he also came up with bonus points that could be found watermarked on the ground. To see hidden images, teams would have to splash the sidewalk with water, revealing the hidden emblems.
This past Sunday, the competition began at the Freedom Tower, where the groups received their first clues. The theme encouraged participants to discover their city and photograph themselves with some unique landmarks. To advance in the hunt, groups had to guess the correct building and photograph themselves there. The action captured on iPhones required teams to post photos to their Instagram accounts and use the Instagram story option to capture the process.
“We try to pick locations we know will be appealing and will bring out good images, and that’s really easy around Miami because Miami is beautiful. Any spot we pick, we’re most likely going to get good images from the photographers,” Sarria says. “And it’s not just for photographers; it’s for anyone who has a passion for photography. Everyone is invited. Participation is always free and open to the public — people even bring their kids.”
Anthony Jordon Jr., a freelance photographer in Miami, has been attending Igers Miami meets for about three years and has participated in about ten events. He says he enjoys meeting new people who share his passions.
“The coolest thing about the community for me, besides meeting the people, is the challenge of seeing things differently by the way people present them. It’s always interesting to see how people show that location differently through their imagery,” Jordon says. “The scavenger hunt is cool because it challenges you to learn about the city and see the city in a different light by going to places you’ve never been, with people you may not know, with the end goal of being the first group to get everything right.”
Sarria says Igers Miami is always looking forward to collaborations with potential sponsors. Live a Great Story, Chatbooks, and Brave Straps provided prizes for Sunday's winners, which included merchandise and other giveaways.
Jordon and Sarria encourage everyone to participate in the meets and special events.
“Come with an open mind and ready to sweat because it’s Miami,” Jordon laughs. “Have a good time, and just be open to seeing different things and thinking creatively."
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