On a cold August evening last year, I sat in bed messing around with my new iPad. I hit the camera button and shot a picture of the Melville Cat. Then I went to the app store and downloaded a free app called Instagram. I plugged in the photo, added an Instagram filter, and got this.

old smokey pic

A grainy Melville Cat.

Five months later, I’ve posted 463 photos on Instagram. My cat-stagrams have improved significantly.

smokey sleeping

I’ve even learned how to shoot horizontal Instagrams.

In the same way that digital photography transformed my life two years ago, Instagram has transformed it again. I’ve made a new group of friends — people I never would have befriended if not for Instagram. We go Instawalking around Joburg almost every weekend. We climb up to places where we don’t belong. We sit around fast-food restaurants in comfortable semi-silence, editing photos on our phones and making jokes about bananas. I rarely bring my DSLR on these outings.

fordsburg

I took this on a recent Instawalk in Fordsburg and Mayfair. A DSLR would have ruined the moment but I was able to capture it with my iPhone.

Commissioner St.

Another shot that I probably wouldn’t have taken with my big camera.

Hat Market

Taken on a rainy Instawalk in the Jozi CBD last weekend. 

Ministry Intl

My two biggest passions at the moment are taking photos and walking the streets of Jozi. Instagram provides the perfect forum for those two passions.

Gareth jumping

Crazy @garethpon, jumping across a railroad bridge in Mayfair. Instagramers like to jump. I wouldn’t have attempted a shot like this before my Instagram days.

Instagram does different things for different people, but for me it’s a bridge between documentary photography and art. It’s a social network for cutting-edge artists, storytellers, and regular people who like to connect with the world through pictures. It’s a community that I’m grateful to have become part of.

IgersJozi group

The Jozi Instagramers, aka @IGersJozi. This photo was featured last week on Instagram’s main feed, which has more than 14 million followers. I’m pretty psyched to be in it. (Photo by Gareth Pon)

I’ve been flooding cyberspace with Instagram blogging lately and I don’t want to overdo it. So I’ll get to the point. My Instagram friends, led by the crazy jumper Gareth Pon, have started a new group on Instagram called @igerssouthafrica. These guys are passionate about Instagram and they are putting South African Instagramers (IG-ers) on the map. They’ve organized a bunch of “Instameets” in cities all around South Africa this Sunday and they want as many people as possible to join.

Instameet announcement

“Infogram” for the @igerssouthafrica Instameet in Jozi, which starts at 5:30 on Sunday in the Maboneng Precinct. It’s going to be epic. And you can win prizes and stuff.

So if you’re sick of reading about Instagram on my blog and want to check it out for yourself, or if you’re on Instagram already and want to meet some of your favorite IG-ers in person, you should come. There are walks in Jozi, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban, and a bunch of other places. Go to the @igerssouthafrica Instagram feed for more details, or if you’re not on Instagram yet go here.

You need to have an iPhone, iPad, or Android phone to load pictures on Instagram. I recognize that this excludes a significant portion of the South African population. But come anyway, even if you don’t have one of these devices. You won’t be able to feature your own photos on Instagram but you can still be featured in someone else’s.

Scrooch jump shot

Golden-hour Jozi IG-er’s jump. I love this shot. Can you find me? Hint: You can see the phone in my hand. (Photo by Ofentse Mwase, aka @unclescrooch)

Join the South African Instagram orgy on Sunday. All the cool kids are doing it. That is all.

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