Can you share some stories or anecdotes about how people who were personally impacted by your content or by one of your photo walks or even any other event you have organised may have reached out to you?
Mumbai Photo Walk
Oh, there are so many! When you get people with similar interests together it is bound to happen. There are people who have gotten involved romantically with somebody they met on one of our walks. There was even a couple who got married. People have come for a walk and at the end, they have said they had such a good time that they will bring their friend or cousin or anyone else along with them next time. I create WhatsApp groups to coordinate the smaller paid walks and sometimes I do not shut these groups down for months after the walk because there are some interesting conversations that take place. We socialise a lot beyond the walks so there have been drunk escapades too!
There are a lot of anecdotes like this but one of my favourites is of a group that met at a Bangalore walk a few years ago. They had not met for two years and then ended up bumping into each other in Singapore and I thought that was so cool. I even asked them to send me a picture. These types of friendships and connections have happened a lot. We are no longer just photo walk collaborators, we are friends. I have attended the wedding of at least 10 people I have met through Instagram. Anonymous online interaction is fine, but it is not authentic beyond a point, and that is what Mumbai Instagrammers stands for. I do not want to do just virtual ‘gyaan.’ I encourage my community to meet up, have good interactions with each other, and keep growing personally and as a group.
Since you primarily post user-generated content, what are some of the challenges you face with keeping your content fresh and on-brand?
My whole philosophy is to post whatever I find slightly relevant from a historical standpoint so there is no such thing as fresh and on-brand according to me. I will not feature certain kinds of images, purely because it is a personal mental block. For instance, although I am a huge fan of fashion photography, I would not do not very risqué pictures like fashion photographers do.
On the other hand, I recently profiled one of the best photographers India has produced, Rafique Syed. He is an icon for me and for a lot of us who grew up in the nineties. In that way, his work (fashion photography) may not seem on brand for Mumbai Instagrammers but I did not want to focus solely on people who are ‘Instagram superstars.’
Auditya Venkatesh is someone who perfectly captures what being ‘on brand’ is for me. He is a brilliant young photographer whom we have seen grow leaps and bounds on social media. He has a long way to go but I think he has started on a fantastic note in the past three years. I love his work and I love the fact that he started with only mobile photography and continues to promote the same. Personally, I have had offers to cover events and promote products, but I believe if their target audience and my audience are so different, no good comes out of the collaboration.