I always tell people that Instagram is a terrific way through which I see the world.
Ever since I became a user of this popular photo app, my favorite thing to do is to search hashtags of cities and countries and look through the photos of the many Instagrammers, i.e. everyday people, around the world. It’s amazing to be able to see the places which individuals who are far away pass by in their daily lives, while I am able to share images of the places that I come across in my own.
One of my favorite and most memorable Instagram users–who I discovered through my hashtag search and have been following for over a year is @gcooler. @gcooler’s Instagram is a collection of the coolest snapshots of London you will ever see. Taken in the style of street art edited with bright color filters, his photos capture the hip, bustling and vivid spirit of life in England’s metropolitan capitol. It was thanks to this specific Instagram account that I always had a positive impression of the city and was thrilled when I finally had the chance to check it out myself during Easter holiday.
After posting a few photos of London on my own account after arrival, I was surprised to hear from @gcooler, who has also been following me for a year now, through a comment asking if I would like to meet up to do a feature for his Instagram. Although I am normally very hesitant to link up with strangers from the Internet, I decided meeting up with a favorite Instagrammer would be interesting so a friend and I went to go meet @gcooler in front of Big Ben one night during my week in London.
Turns out @gcooler’s actual name is Avi, and despite the fact that he was 20 minutes late, Avi is a really cool guy. He’s friendly and he dresses pretty hipster for someone who is much older than I am. We walked along the pretty passageway and bridges along the South Bank of the Thames where the London Eye is located and talked about our interests, our lives in our respective cities and Avi’s leisurely pursuit of photography. Then at the end as is appropriate with London tradition, we went to a pub to have a pint.
As a restaurant manager by day and street photographer by night, Avi seems to use Instagram as a tool for community building and connecting with people he finds unique,such as yours truly. After photographing almost every place worth seeing in London from every angle, he has become more interested in featuring people on his Instagram and introducing cool individuals to his 11,000 followers. For Avi Instagram is a way of seeing life from different angles and perspectives, which to him is like therapy.
Avi also organizes and participates in what he calls Instagram Meets during which he gets together with fellow Instagrammers and photographers in London to walk around taking pictures, share photography techniques and get pissed (meaning to get drunk in British) at pubs while getting to know one another. He says London has a very active Instagram community and it’s one of the best cities to capture street life and civilians. As a seasoned traveler himself, who has lived in various cities such as Moscow, Beirut, Sofia, Jeddah, he loves London but out of all places Ankara is where his heart is because of the night life and fantastic friends.
After taking some amazing photos and having great conversation, I was incredibly happy to have met a fellow social media junkie and friend during my travels. Although I wouldn’t overtly endorse meeting up with any given person one comes into contact with on the inter-webs, my experience with @gcooler is a testament to how social media has the potential of bringing together exceptional people from around the world. Thanks to Avi I now feel inspired by the experience of having had connected with such an original individual whom I never would have known, and I also have a good reason to go back to London whenever I feel like having some top notch photos taken of me and getting pissed afterwards. Check out @gcooler’s Instagram to show him some love and light up your Instagram feed with some bright, popping photos of London town.