What happens when over 150 people meet beneath the Tower Bridge with cameras in hand and Temple Coffee in the other? Don’t be alarmed: You’re probably just at an Instameet, the most epic  photography event in your community. And when you find yourself climbing a tree or staring out into the sunrise because a few photographers asked you to, then you know it’s the real deal.

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On the weekend of March 21 and 22, 2015, all kinds of Instagrammers participated in the World Wide Instameet 11. Instameets are planned to connect local creatives and help people build community, explore, and share their art with the world by using the official hashtag #WWIM11 (and locally via #WWIM11Sac).

There were quite a few meets going on in the Sacramento area during the WWIM11 weekend. I went to the one that started at 7:00 am on a Saturday. Some called it crazy; I called it worth it, especially when it involves a beautiful sunrise and doubled as a fundraiser for Charity Water. (The free Temple Coffee and Bakers Donuts helped too!) This particular meet was hosted by Faith Mari, Dinelia Noel, Society Church, and City Scout Sac, all ‘grammers and organizations that I definitely fangirl over.

In this safe place, everyone is celebrated as a story waiting to be told. Everyone brings something valuable to the table.  It’s humbling to connect with world travelers, adventure enthusiasts, hand-letterers, baristas, designers, musicians, and bloggers (just to name a few), all in one place because we have a shared love of creativity. Better yet, how awesome to see things from someone else’s perspective. I mean, how can the guy next to me make his coffee cup look like a superhero, while I made mine look like… a coffee cup? It’s pretty inspiring, to say the least.

It’s no secret that I’m an Instagram enthusiast and tech-lover for life. But when we separate likes and followers from our humanity, we’re able to really meet a person face-to-face (no clicking required) and look them in the eyes when we speak the words from our heart (rather than sending them ten of my favorite heart-eyes emojis). It’s the little connections we make in these meets that turn the bigger picture into something grand for our lives.

For updates on upcoming Instameets, be sure to follow Visit Sacramento. Come find me at the next one, I’d love to say hi! Photographers of all levels and ages are welcome and encouraged to come.

Jayla Lee is an Assistant Account Coordinator at Appency, and loves grammin’ about her adventures. (Does the Farmers’ Market count?)

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