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Instagram Diehards Gather in Person Before App's Fourth Birthday

Instagrammers met in groups worldwide ahead of Instagram's fourth anniversary.

Kurt Wagner/ Re/code

From Moscow’s historic Bolshoi Theater to the Sa’dabad Palace in Tehran, Instagram diehards from across the globe gathered over the weekend as part of the platform’s 10th ever world-wide InstaMeet.

The purpose: bring the social element of the photo-sharing app to life in the real world. Users then share photos from their respective gatherings to Instagram with a universal hashtag, #WWIM10, which included more than 30,000 photos on Saturday alone, according to Instagram.

At San Francisco’s Presidio park, more than 100 Instagrammers gathered to snap photos, meet those who they follow in person, and, of course, talk about their favorite filters. Some participants brought props, like sunflowers and pinwheels. The event’s host, a local photographer named Brock Sanders, brought Instagram pins and name tags where people identified themselves using their @ handle instead of their real name.

Most everyone was friendly, if not eager to meet the rest of crew. One Instagrammer, who introduced himself as JJ, caught sight of a familiar name tag before exclaiming “It’s so great to meet you, I love your feed!” Others introduced themselves to Elizabeth Gilmore, a popular Instagram disciple who also works as a designer at Facebook. (She also co-hosted the event with Sanders.)

Perhaps the most interesting part of InstaMeets is that Instagram has almost nothing to do with orchestrating them. The company picks the weekend — this weekend’s world-wide InstaMeet coincides with Instagram’s four-year anniversary on Monday — but otherwise the meetups are organized and carried out exclusively by Instagram users.

Sanders, 35, has planned three world-wide InstaMeets in the past year or so, including Saturday’s Presidio event. He says that planning the event is a full-time job for the week leading up to it. Sanders keeps all logistics in mind — Are there bathrooms and parking nearby? Can children or people with disabilities attend? And once the logistics are set, simply spreading the word is the hardest part. (Although, with 37,000 followers, Sanders is probably the right man for the job.)

Is all that work worth it? See for yourself.

“We all love the same thing, we have a passion for photography,” he says. “It’s not everyday you can get everyone from a community together who all enjoy the same thing.”

Auto-retrato para o mundo. #Rio365_Instameet #WWIM10 #WWIM10_Rio #AmoBotafogo

A photo posted by Aluísio Ezequiel (@aezequiel) on

An InstaMeet in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

An InstaMeet in Russia.

The beard scene was real at my first Instagram meetup. #PresidioMeetsWWIM #WWIM10 #instameet @andyevans2

A photo posted by Danika Lam (@viededanika) on

The InstaMeet at the Presidio in San Francisco.

Walking through the fall #wwim10 #tehranim10 #tehranim10golestan

A photo posted by حُــــين افشاری (@hosseinafshari) on

An InstaMeet in Tehran, Iran.

An InstaMeet near São Paulo, Brazil.

A group in Semarang, Indonesia, recreates the Instagram Like button.

Elizabeth Gilmore, who helped Sanders plan the Presidio meetup, stands with a bright red balloon.

Vuela/fly #instameetLima #igersPeru #WWIM10Lima #WWIM10

A photo posted by Andrea (@abyte24) on

An InstaMeet in Lima, Peru.

The InstaMeet at El Matador Beach in Malibu, Caif.

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