wienXtra-medienzentrum, Instagramers Austria
Young people up the age of 13
Instawalk is a format established by the worldwide Instagram community. Instawalks turn photography into a collective, shared activity: a group a people meet to explore a certain place or route together.
In Vienna there is an active Instagram community, but mainly adults participate in its events and activities. When the idea first came up to organize Instawalks especially for young people, the main motive was to make this inspiring community more accessible to the youth.
An Instawalk needs to have a specific theme. We have tried topics like „Street Art“ or, as in the video „Tourist in your own home town“. When the topic is fixed, you can start planning the route. It should offer as many interesting motives as possible, and it really makes sense not to do the planning on a map only, but also on the spot. Besides a suitable starting and ending point, it is useful to know if there are public toilets and drinking water fountains available along the route, and to locate a place for a short break. Consider that a group moves a lot slower than a single person! Our Instawalks for young people have lasted for 3 to 4 hours. You can establish an specific hashtag for the Instawalk, and ask the participants to tag their photos with it.
After a very brief introduction the group is ready to get going. According to our experience, to walk, explore and take pictures together quite naturally functions as an ice breaker. The participants will quickly start showing each other their photos, and those who experiment with new angles inspire the others to try out similar things. There is also no need to prepare long inputs. The youth worker accompanies the group and picks up topics as they come up. For example, when the participants start to take pictures of each other, it is a good time to bring up the topic of considerate use: only post pictures of one other, if the person on the photo fully agrees.
Instawalks follow a BOYD approach: the participants work with their own equipment (smartphones or cameras). You might consider providing a mobile hotspot for the upload of the pictures. The most important resource, however, is the youth worker him/herself: one should definitely share participants’ interest in photography. Good knowledge of the area and contacts to the local Instagram community are very useful. A good group size is 10 to 15 young people, with two accompanying adults.
Instawalks usually attract young people who are already active on Instagram. In their feedback, they stress the importance of learning to know others with similar interests – photography can be a rather solitary activity. Instawalks are also well suited for the purpose of raising awareness of one’s own living environment. Simply exploring the unknown corners of your own home town by foot can be quite a new experience for many.
wienxtra-medienzentrum offers young people a selection of media workshops with different themes and durations. Instawalk is a fairly new format that is relevant in several ways. At the moment, Instagram is the third most important social media platform for young people in Austria, and we see the positive potential of approaches that invite to explore the platform off the beaten track. More and more young people express interest in photography – with regard to the growing importance of visuality in our everyday communication, this is quite understandable. We also observe a rising demand for activities that invite young people to get connected with others with similar interests. And we find it important also to offer short formats, since many prefer them to longer activities.