By Nick Dunne
Many people imagine the average Instagramer as a white girl in Starbucks snapping selfies as she sips on a fat-free soy milk frappuccino. However, RU Student Life’s #RUInsta Gallery at the Student Learning Centre [SLC] has brought together an artistic community of Ryerson Instagramers.
“Anything that you take time to do and put your energy into is art,” said Augustine Ng, a second-year journalism student whose work was featured in the 300-photo gallery, defending Instagram as a legitimate medium of photography.
The #RUInsta Gallery’s photos were selected from a pool of approximately 2000 posts from the 2014-2015 school year, highlighting seasonal landscapes of Ryerson and Toronto. Photos were tagged with #RUdaysof Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. Six awards were given to photographers with the most liked photos for each season, the most dedicated poster and most liked photo overall. Each winner received a wide-angle lens attachment for their phones.
The online initiative began in 2014 as a way to see what students were up to during summer holidays, said Julianna Garofalo, RU Student Life’s Social Media Manager. “The idea of the campaign was to take a picture, tag us in it and show us what the season looks like through your lens.”
The hashtag soon popularized and RU Student Life extended the initiative to all four seasons. “Some of them go out and take photos together now,” said Garofalo. “They started just building this little community of people.”
The concept behind the gallery was to celebrate the creativity of Ryerson students and to bring together a previously online-only group. “This is one of our first [events], and we wanted that community to become tangible, we wanted to translate it into a physical community,” said Garofalo.
While many photos displayed the natural beauty of Ryerson’s campus, the majority was shot off-campus within Toronto or even abroad. But Garofalo said the photos still pertained to Ryerson. “It would be unrealistic to think everyone’s story ends on campus. It extends everywhere,” said Garofalo. “Every photo submitted was taken by a member of the Ryerson community. We had staff featured here today, or alumni.”
Although Instagram is usually considered for casual shooting, second-year business technology management student and DSLR shooter Mitul Shah — who took up photography in 2014 — sees the app as a viable platform. Photographing since 2014, the #RUdaysof hashtag helped Shah gain recognition and connections with other common minded artists. “It’s bringing together people that are photographers, or just enjoy photography, or even looking at photos and it gives people that opportunity.”