The Social Photography Experiment Continues...
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 quickly approaching 25k followers, and more than 185k 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.
To date, a total of 18 episodes have been produced and shared online, with several more in production, and (6!) sold-out events with Kimpton Onyx Hotel ... the question becomes what is next for Michael Kalish and Following Boston?
Earlier this year, Following Boston joined forces with NBC Universal to create a multi-platform promotional for local affiliate - NBC10 Boston #FollowingNBC10Boston
In 2019, Following Boston will hold it's first Film/Arts/Music Festival in (and around) the city of Boston... please stay tuned for information on what is guaranteed to be an incredible networking experience!
Boston Calling Music Festival
Boston Red Sox
Harvard University/Hasty Pudding Institute
Kimpton Onyx Hotel
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Leica Store Boston
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Photo Shoot For A Cure/Michael J. Fox Foundation
Danyson “Dee” Tavares
Michael Kalish (Creator/Producer)
Kenton Van Natten (Editor)
Douglas Gordon (Cinematographers)
Oscar Alvarez (Production Assistants)
Banner Photo: Jay Coy