Last summer, I introduced you to popular photo sharing site Instagram and told you about Instagram Photography Groups.

I belong to a Toledo-based group called Igers Toledo. It’s an informal group, we are notified of meetups via posts on Instagram. Meetups usually consist of a theme. We might go to a nature preserve, the art museum or take shots of local businesses.

One November, our project was to meet at a former vocational school that had been shut down twenty years ago. We learned of the plan to meet from this photo that turned up in the Instagram feed. Around 25 social photographers showed up for the meet.

The former Macomber High School had been purchased by a local mission. The group plans to turn it into a residential vocational school to help rehabilitate the homeless by providing not only counseling and shelter, but job training. They decided to let the photography group come in and take photos to help highlight the amount of work that’s needed to be done on the facility. We promised to post those photos on Instagram with particular hashtags. A hashtag is when you see the # sign followed by a subject that is all displayed as one word. In this case we used #macombermeetup or #cherrystreetmission.

These hashtags function as a filing system for Instagram. Hashtags are active links. If you tap on one one, you’ll see all of the photos tagged with that subject. Here I see a selection of images from various photographers tagged #macombermeetup.

The empty school made for some spooky shots. Our first stop was the basement to see old equipment.

It was pretty creepy. Creepier still, after we left the basement, one of our party received a phone call form a friend who had accidentally been left behind and locked in the basement. The guy said he was hearing strange whispers over a dead intercom system. Maybe we should have saved this for Halloween.

After the guided basement tour, we were pretty much free to wander on our own and each person discovered different things. One photographer found a graveyard for old books.


I took this shot of a long-empty hall.

My friend got this shot of broken glass in the abandoned gym.

Then there were shots of some of the damage resulting from neglect of the building that showed just how much work would be required to make this place habitable. This is a floor warped from water damage in a classroom.

In keeping with the spirit of phone photography, I took all the photos with my GS4 , did any photo editing on the Snapseed app right on the phone and posted the photos as I was taking them. Others brought high-end digital cameras, did photo editing on their PCs and posted their photos later.

It was an interesting experience, but a little bit gloomy. I like taking spooky photos, but I hope the next get-together revolves around something pretty to look at.  You can look for an Instagram Meetup Group near you here. 

If you can’t find a group in your area, just start one. Great opportunities for a meetup could be an event like a parade, a visit to a local historical or natural attraction or maybe meeting in your downtown area to highlight local businesses.

~ Cynthia