Instawalking Through Alex (With a DSLR)

by | Feb 17, 2015 | Instagram, Johannesburg, Tours, Townships/Informal Settlements | 8 comments

On Sunday I helped organize an Instawalk through Alexandra Township, sponsored by the South African Cities Network and Mobile Media Mob.

I’ve been to Alex many times and I’ve gone on Instawalks many times, but this was my first time going on an Instawalk in Alex. In fact I’m pretty sure this was the first organized Alex Instawalk, ever.

About 20 or 25 people showed up for the walk. Despite being Joburg’s oldest township and one of the most historic parts of the city, the vast majority of Joburgers have never been to Alex, mainly due to fear. But I’ve always found Alex to be one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Joburg and one of the best places to take photos. I’m really happy that we had such a great turnout, especially because it was the first visit to Alex for most of the participants.

The theoretical purpose of an Instawalk is to walk around an area, take photos with your phone, and then post them to Instagram. But I actually didn’t take many photos on this walk. First, I was semi-responsible for the group and it was challenging to keep track of everyone in the Alex traffic. Second, I haven’t been feeling very inspired taking photos with my phone lately. The only photos from the walk that I’m even remotely happy with are the few that I shot with my Canon DSLR.

When I first became active in the Instagram community, almost all of the Instagrammers I met were “iPhone-only” — meaning they posted only iPhone (or other smartphone) photos on their Instagram feeds. With the exception of one or two film shots, all 1671 photos on my Instagram feed have also been shot with an iPhone (or an iPad, which I used early on before I had an iPhone).

Over the last year or two, more and more Instagrammers have begun to post DSLR shots on their feeds. I’ve refrained from doing so, mainly because I feel that iPhone photography and DSLR photography are two totally different art forms and I wanted to keep the mediums separate. @2Summers on Instagram was my iPhone domain and was (primarily) my DSLR domain.

I’ve been using Instagram for almost three years now, and I’m becoming bored with my iPhone photos. Shooting with a phone has many advantages and it’s really helped me to become a better photographer. But I’m ready for something new. Plus my new Canon 6D has wifi capability, so I figure why waste it?

So as of today, my Instagram account is no longer iPhone-only. This change will make absolutely no difference to about 99 percent of you but I feel the need to announce it anyway. For those who are curious, I’ll always specify in my Instagram captions whether the photo was shot with a DSLR or a phone.

In celebration of this announcement, here are my four favorite DSLR shots from the Alex Instawalk. All of these will eventually appear on my Instagram feed.


Edmore, a tailor working on the street in Alex. Alex has tons of street-side tailors.

Mom and baby

A mother and her very cute (but very suspicious) baby. I was in a hurry and didn’t get the chance to write down their names.


An unhappy rooster. The contraption he is sitting in is used to remove feathers from chickens after they have been slaughtered. I felt very sad for him although I don’t actually know if he was destined for this machine.


Diana, a dressmaker selling clothes on the street outside of a Zionist church service. I love the dress she’s wearing.

Thanks to Kabelo and Wandele at the Sartists for organizing such a fun walk in Alex. And if you’re not following me on Instagram yet, please check out my feed at


  1. Timmee

    I’m clutching my pearls

    • 2summers


  2. Sine

    Wonderful photos, Heather! And I just love that you’ve gone into Alex to take them. The colors are spectacular (especially for such a dusty place:-). LOVE the tailor! And the rooster!

    • 2summers

      Thanks Sine, I thought you’d like this post.

  3. Rob Wood

    Hi Heather, I’ve never used my 6D to post to instagram but I have taken to using my phones standard camera, editing in snapseed and then posting to instagram afterwards. Perhaps I should play with my 6D’s wifi some more

    • 2summers

      Hi Rob, I just learned how to use the 6D wifi yesterday. It’s amazing! I’ll definitely be using it all the time. And yes, Snapseed is the best — I edit pretty much all of my IG photos on Snapseed before posting.

  4. Eugenia Parrish

    I know nothing about Istagram — I like messing with my photos before I let anyone else see them, cropping, etc. I don’t know if you can do this with Instagram, but I got the impression you don’t — photos go up as is. Besides, I’m strictly PC — no iPhone, no iPad!

    The one thing I’ve noticed is that your pics with DSLR seem to have more depth. I don’t mean depth of field, I mean that there’s a feeling I could reach in past the image in front and touch things behind it, sort of like 3D. The Instagram pics are beautiful, but like a painting, all on one plane. But it doesn’t matter — you have a talent for capturing people and places that bring them alive. Thanks!

    • 2summers

      That’s such an interesting observation, Eugenia, thank you. I know this isn’t really what you mean, but it’s definitely true that iPhone photos lack depth of field — this is one of the biggest things missing from cell phone photography at this point. And you’re probably right that shooting with a DSLR simply allows for more detail and more emotion — more storytelling.

      Incidentally, you CAN edit and crop your Instagram photos before posting. There are many editing tools within the Instagram app itself, as well as countless other apps designed for photo editing that you can download to your phone. If you every decide to buy a smartphone and use it for Instagram, let me know and I’ll give you some tips 🙂

      Thanks for reading and commenting, as always!


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