ST. GEORGE – They’re called square shooters, igers, and Instagramers, they use hashtags, photos and videos to communicate and – thanks to Travis Hill, founder of Utahgram – they can all come together as part of a social media community to showcase the beauty of Utah.
Launched in October 2010, Instagram is a worldwide social networking platform that allows its users to quickly and simply share snippets of their lives through photographs and videos and use hashtags to attract like-minded users or followers, to convey and index a subject, and to find common interests.
Instagram differs from other photo-sharing platforms by confining the photos to a square shape similar to a classic Polaroid print. Users are also able to apply digital filters to their photos to create different effects and moods.
As Instagram gained in popularity, Hill recognized a need to do something on the site to promote the beauty and diversity of Utah, he said. About two years ago he founded the user name and hashtag Utahgram to help Utah enthusiasts and photographers have a common place to share their affinity for exploring and taking pictures of the state.
Though it started out small and slow, the username now boasts over 12,000 followers and it is growing everyday. In 2013, Utahgram joined the Intsagramers worldwide group.
“I was excited when we had 1,000 followers,” Hill said, “now we have nearly 13,000.”
How it works
Photographers who tag their pictures with the hashtag, utahgram, have the opportunity to be Utahgram’s featured artist for the day. Hill picks one or several pictures from that artist to feature, giving both Utah and the photographer a chance to shine.
In addition to featuring photos, Utahgram runs several contests in partnership with Utah businesses. The participating business comes up with a theme for the contest and prizes are given to the photographers who best capture the theme.
All these services are offered free of charge and provide not only a photo sharing platform for Utah and its breathtaking beauty but also a way to connect with and learn from other photographers and adventurers within and without the state.
Mike Thueson, a St. George resident and Utahgram user, praises Hill for creating a place where like-minded artists can connect with and inspire one another.
“I love Utahgram because it has provided me the opportunity to connect with and meet a ton of amazing people which I would have never met otherwise,” Thueson said, “being able to see the breathtaking beauty in others’ photographs has also fueled my wanderlust and propelled me to explore parts of Utah that were before unknown to me.”
On May 31, Utahgram will host its first ever meetup at Pioneer Park, located on Red Hills Parkway in St. George. The meetup, which will also feature users and followers of @igersSTG, a St. George specific Instagram account, will begin at 9 a.m. at the gazebo and will allow followers, users and fans a chance to meet each other in person and share their pictures and artistry.
Several local businesses have sponsored the meetup including Pepsi of St. George, Fractured Prune Doughnuts – which will be providing doughnuts for the Instagramers who attend – Honolulu Grill and many more, Hill said.
“Everyone is invited to come,” Hill said, “we want to meet all our fans.”
As the account continues, Hill has big dreams to create a name that people recognize and hopes to see his numbers grow.
“Twenty-two thousand would be a good number of followers,” he said.
Hill is currently working on a website and marketing materials such as T-shirts bearing the Utahgram logo and customized phone covers featuring Utahgram photos.
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For more information about Utahgram email email@example.com
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- Star Shooting Photography Seminar Taught by Nightscape Pro Royce Bair April 10 at 8 pm
- Master Photoshop Guru, Jerry Jividen, demonstrates artistic filtering techniques May 3, hosted by Click Photography of St. George Meet Up
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