FocusOn Instagramers 1.43: @Grether

. Each week, discovers new people. People addicted to Instagram, revealing their lives, passions, and favorite tips in Instagram.  Today we feature @Grether . @Grether is definitely one of those “Instagram community evangilizers” who detected, in the real first Instagram’s steps, a certain need of community. It was probably the first man who set an #Igers community in U.S and started with a local group in Portland. And one day, our paths finally crossed! I think he really deserved to be feature here this week! .

His name is Morgan Stone Grether…

. …But we know him as @Grether. Morgan is Instagram user nº 173.736. That means he´s started his is in under the first 0,5% of users who downloaded the app. His bio on instagram is “Musician – Nice Person – Lunatic — in beautiful Portland, Oregon, USA” and he thinks that covers it pretty well. To that he would add he is a lifelong learner, forever pushing himself to learn new things, to move beyond his comfort zone. “One facet of that is getting out and meeting new people, exploring new perspectives” he says. “That to me is one of the greatest things about Instagram: that ability to converse with people from across the globe (as well as your very own hometown). Just beautiful. And I have worked to build a sense of community among Portland’s Instagram users, and I would love to help other people do it in their hometowns too”.

@Grether is a great human guy. If you don´t know him already, he is an Iger you should probably know. Thank you for graciously accepting to answer our weekly interview! You can see his Gallery in Instagram here.

You were one of the first person to promote Instagramers community all around the world, how did it start? 

In October 2010 I’d gotten an iPhone and became entranced with taking pictures with it. I loved the limitations and simplicity of it. It reminded me of my grandfather’s Polaroid cameras (he never left home without one). Well, I would take a photo with my phone, then I’d open Facebook and post it to those friends; then I’d open Flickr and post it there; then I’d open Twitter and post it there; then I’d open Tumblr… you get the idea. It was frustrating and a waste of time. As luck would have it, I noticed an article online about a new app called Instagram that would push your images to different social networks. I joyfully downloaded it, but was stunned to discover that Instagram itself was a social network. And a darn fine one too! Instantly, I had new friends I was having fun with in Paris, London, Tokyo. And as we talked, I felt that there was something about the visual core of the Instagram experience where you could get to know each other in a meaningful way very quickly. In other words, I felt I knew the people I followed on Instagram better than the people I followed on, say, Twitter. We were presenting ourselves; it was difficult to sustain any masks or pretense; truth was able to win out.  Following from that, I don’t think there is any question that some of my Instagram friends will be close to me for the rest of my life. It quickly occurred to me, as I was making all these wonderful friends thousands of miles or even continents away, that there were most likely wonderful people right in my area using Instagram. Why weren’t we hanging out, in real life?  This idea seemed impossible to ignore, and it filled me with a lot of energy to get the wheels in motion. And almost everyone told me it was a great idea. Even people who worked at Instagram contacted me and cheered me on. To some degree this is where they came up with the world-wide instameets. And they have been positive and supportive of my efforts ever since.  . So, I started looking at local geotags and hash tags in Instagram, following and talking to people who had taken photos around town. And talking and following and talking… It took me a couple of months to build the trust of a enough brave souls to come out and hang out with me at a pub in the center of town. Our first meet-up was the beginning of January in 2011. Since then, we have met at least once a month (sometimes three or more times). We have done photo walks, and pub crawls, and hangouts, and dinners, and on and on. In the beginning, we had nothing like Meetup Portland to help us.  I would make rudimentary posts using the Notes app on the iPhone, then post a screenshot of that. Apps for writing text on images were few and far between. It was silly, but interesting; we were doing things the Instagram app itself was not designed to do; that is, text instead of imagery. Now of course you see that all the time on IG, with all sorts of wonderful apps adding to the fun, but not at first.  One person early on suggested I create a Facebook group. I did it here and it helped our group by being a place we can list usernames and post events, etc. A big help actually. I suppose we had merged with Facebook long before Kevin and Mikey did, though far less lucratively, haha.


Which are the kind of people who participate in the Instagram Portland and the main projects?


Anyone in and around the metropolitan area of Portland, Oregon, is welcome. We have had full-time professional photographers, school teachers, PR execs, retirees, cooks, DJs, app developers, you name it. The range runs from people deadly serious about photography to dabblers having fun with simple snapshots.  It is a diverse and evolving group, and that is wonderful. .

Portland´s Network is always very engaged with your activities, how do you manage to keep their interest alive?


I try to maintain an atmosphere of acceptance and fun. Nothing is too serious, nothing is too heavy. We keep the rules next to nonexistent.  And I try very hard to listen to their needs and their ideas. It is a inclusive group, friendly. Not secretive or exclusive. I would never be a part of a group like that.

You are promoting Instameets quite every months. What are your next plans?


We will continue to meet at local spots, but we will also do a couple of gallery exhibits soon as a community. Still hammering out the details on those, but they will be fun. Additionally, one thing I want to build on is activities with other cities. Interested groups can please contact me via my website: .And we will continue to look at new ideas, new ways to have fun as a group and help each other grow as photographers.

Do you have still time to dedicate to your own pictures stream? How much time do you spend on Instagram each day?


Definitely, I make time to post at least once a day. That is the whole point, to have fun with this app, right? And the great people who use it. Each image I post is an attempt at reaching other people with real emotion. In almost every shot I am looking at a scene and feeling something pretty seriously, and so it is my hope to reach you and have you feel some of that emotion as well.


What was the first reaction of your buddies when Facebook bought Instagram? How did you manage the communication around it?


At first everyone was worried that Facebook would ruin it. The giant was snatching up the little guy. For a few days, we were deflated. Someone had let air out of the balloon. But then we refused to let that deter us; we plowed forward and declared we would have our fun despite them.  To our happy surprise, Facebook has been fairly hands-off thus far. The fun does indeed continue. .

If you could change one thing in Instagram app. What would be your suggestion?


I doubt I would change anything, as the formula has been so winning. However, one thing that has always been an issue for me is that it is almost impossible to have real conversations within the app. The amount of talking back and forth is very limited, particularly if you have a good amount of followers and comments. For instance, the news stops at 100 notifications. For that matter, the “following” news feed does not work at all for me, as I follow more than 1000 people. I am not big on obeying limits and regulations, so creating the Portland group was a way of expanding the conversation out of the barriers of the app. It was a natural outgrowth and one that has provided me a lot of wonderful memories.


Which are the best tips for people who manage local Instagram´s fans group around the world?


This is a great question, and one I think about a lot. Feel free to contact me via my website  for specific questions, but I have a few tips:  .

  • Keep things casual. Don’t hem yourselves in with unnecessary and unsustainable rules. Just have fun.
  • Be the kind of fun, relaxed group that people would want to hang out with even if you were not talking about Instagram.
  • When you are having a meet up: have a sign, or name tags, or anything that will help identify your group. In the beginning, we really stood out as the people all staring at their phones and taking pictures. Now, that behavior is omnipresent.
  • Come to the meet up prepared to discuss the latest photography apps in extreme detail… or to talk about the weather. Let the participants determine how conversations will go. Bend to where the fun takes you. That said, sometimes it can be nice to guide the group through a theme event or a game like a scavenger hunt.
  • Roll with the punches. If you have a meet up and no one shows up, go on a photo walk of one. Walking is healthy! Post some pics and tell people they missed out. And then start planning your next event!
  • Welcome people whether they have iPhones or DSLRs or a tin can with a hole in it. Everyone should be allowed to join the fun, as long as they share your love of Instagram and taking photos. The person you exclude could soon sell something to Facebook for a billion dollars, who knows?
  • Speaking of Facebook, start a group for your town like I did at or  site like this or a Google group — all are free and can be a great resource for your community to communicate and plan with each other.
  • Be a leader and point person for your group, but continually ask the group for their ideas and suggestions. Don’t try to be the dictator. You will be amazed at the fun ideas people have that would never have occurred to you.
  • Do not get discouraged if things are not working out for your group. Maintain a positive attitude and take a break for a while to recharge the batteries. Things will turn around very quickly if you have that positivity

. Thanks very much @Grether for this very interesting point of view. You can see his Gallery in Instagram here.  Remember you can follow Instagram Portland here.  We are proud to know that Instagram Portland is our official Instagramers Group representative in Portland, Oregon. . @philgonzalez

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