I knew that I wanted to write this blog the moment we decided to move to Johannesburg. But I also knew that my computer skills being what they are, it would take me a while before I actually posted my first article. So what did I do in the meantime? I went for the easy road, and created an instagram account, @abrandnewsky, to document the steps of our journey to our new country.
The creation of the account coincided with another major personal event: the purchase of our first DSLR, a canon EOS 600D that we bought right before Christmas. I had been craving for such a camera for years, but their prohibitive prices always prevented me from buying one. But now that we might have to shoot wild animals in the distance, I had the perfect excuse to indulge myself a special treat…
Truth is, the camera stayed in its box for quite a long time, a few months at least. Too heavy, too big, too complicated. I kept shooting with my iphone, and was quite happy with the results. Until one day, the magic started operating on me. Feeling sad about leaving Barcelona, I took the time to stroll around the city, with my heavy camera hanging down my neck, and started shooting. I shot everything that day. Every single detail. The parks, the beach, the huge buildings, the small cracks in the pavement. Everything basically. And I felt reinvigorated. Some of the beauty of the city would travel with me. I was at peace.
The pictures were good, much better than the ones taken with my iphone. I started editing them, and soon realised that decent pics, with some editing boost, can become great pics. Published them on my account, hash-tagged them. And received my first “like” from a total stranger, soon followed by a first “follow”. And here it was, in a split of a second, I had become an instagram addict, begging for more likes, for more followers, as if the quality of my “work”, and by extent, my self-esteem, could be measured in the appreciation of my peers.
So that’s how I became an insta-junkie. And I thought that would mean I was bound to stay all day behind my computer, secluded in my loneliness. I couldn’t be more wrong. First of all, by following people sharing the same interests, I got to know places I would never have heard of before. Places I went to, to check them out. Quite a nice way to discover new spots, I must say.
But the best was yet to come. I soon discovered that people organised insta-meets as well. Basically, a few grammers joining for an afternoon of uninterrupted shooting. And some of them go big when organising an event. The first one I joined was a World Wide Insta Meet (all people around the world gathering the very same day in multiple locations for a fun afternoon of shooting), where we were basically given access to Soccer City, the big brand new stadium next to Soweto (I’ll surely write a another post about the meeting). Seeing a hundred folks, sharing the same passion for photography, spending the afternoon together, going to the most unexpected places to snap the perfect shot, was a fantastic experience. But being quite reserved by nature, I didn’t mix that much with the other guys that day, and just admired their work on their feed once the meeting was over.
It was only a matter of time before what was bound to happen happened. I got in touch with some of guys. Through Instagram, I met my friend Ryan, an accountant by profession, but a photograph at heart, passionate about social media, with a strong sense of curiosity. Ryan had created with a bunch of other photographs a group called “Bang Bang Jhb” – please don’t ask me the origin of the name – and offered me to enter the group, which I happily did. They took me everywhere. They made me see CBD, and showed me that you can safely walk there with your camera and shoot without bothering anyone. They showed me Northcliff, and its gorgeous sunsets, Newton, the Mandela Bridge, Melville Koppies. Many places I wouldn’t have ventured on my own. It opened up a brand new world to me, and I’m deeply grateful to Ryan and the other guys for having me welcomed into their group.
I dearly care for my fellow “bangers” What I like about this group is the diversity you can find there. People of all origins, ages, social classes, gather together around the same passion of photography, sharing tips, advice, spending time together and forging memories. From a group of individuals, we’re slowing turning into a group of friends. And that is why I love social media so much. Because in the end, it’s all about sharing and bringing people together. And making you go out of your comfy home.