The definition of what it means to be a “photographer” has dramatically changed over the past few years. It’s no longer reserved for those who just shoot film, or receive a paycheck to do so. Social media was largely responsible for this shift in how people view the medium and its current status. Once Instagram was solidified as a social media giant, it became a running joke that its users were actual “photographers.” The term “social photographer” grew from this skepticism, and used to identify those who were incredibly talented and possessed the ability to tell stories with their images. This was the major catalyst for Producer Michael Kalish, in creating the “Following Boston” documentary film series that launched summer 2015.
Diversity was critical to Kalish when choosing the cast for Following Boston. The “secret sauce” of developing a season, or group of videos that play well together was also important. Kalish hand selected a dozen or so local street photographers from Instagram to be considered as the subject of a fully produced short film. The process involved printing one photo from each person, removing the names/handles, and number of followers. This leveled the playing field. The images were then tossed into the air. Once they landed, the season started to take shape. At that point, the photographers were contacted to participate in the project. Not all were thrilled about being the subject of a short film. Many feel more comfortable behind the camera, Kalish being one. Those who were truly enthusiastic about the project were asked to choose the location in Boston to be filmed. Boston became a central character in these love letters to a city, bringing together and spotlighting a vibrant community of photographers.
With the help of talented local editor Kenton Van Natten, and cinematographers, Douglas Gordon, Grace Deacon, and Alex Enman, the Following Boston documentary series has reached a new level of story telling in its second, third, and upcoming fourth season. The challenge for Kalish was to produce quality content that allowed the viewer to learn about the subject and location, while at the same time, entertain the audience and keep them engaged.
Leveraging Instagram as the pulse and distribution channel for the series, @FollowingBoston has become the hottest hub in Boston, with over 22k followers, and more than 150k images tagged #FollowingBoston by hopefuls looking to have their photos featured… or perhaps to be selected to host an upcoming episode. In 2017, the "Following" Instagram series spread to 8 US cities, with more to come.
A total of 18 episodes have been produced and shared online, with 2 more in production (Michael Kalish and Hailey Carlson), and sold-out events with Kimpton Onyx Hotel, Leica Store Boston, and honeygrow, the question becomes what is next for Michael Kalish and Following Boston...
Update: Earlier this year, Following Boston joined forces with NBC Universal to create a multi-platform promotion for local affiliate - NBC10 Boston #FollowingNBC10Boston
Oscar Alvarez, Ann Jiang, Evan Beauvais, Kathryn Riley, Danyson “Dee” Tavares, Jules Lesinski, Chris Rocco, Kiana Gibson, Curtis Reid, Joy Clark, Greg Dubois, Sally Cooper, James Berkley, Saili Kline, Juan Murray, Erin DeFuria, Akshay Kokil, Andrea Fanelli, Michael Kalish, and Hailey Carlson
Michael Kalish (Producer), Kenton Van Natten (Editor), Douglas Gordon, Grace Deacon, Alex Enman (Cinematographer), Oscar Alvarez, Jason Cooper, Chris Rocco, Debbie Poutsiaka, Neha Singh, Sam Swan, Nicole Schiarizzi, and Susan Flarherty (Production Assistants)