For me, the best thing about Instagram is without doubt the opportunity to take part in Instameets - something I've been lucky to do plenty of recently. This page not only gathers together all of my blog posts from the different Instameets I've been part of, but also tries to explain a little more about what an Instameet actually is and how you can go about participating in one or even organising one yourself.

So, what is an Instameet?

Quite simply, an Instameet is where a bunch of Instagramers meet up, in person, at a set place and time to take photos, hang out, take some more photos, explore places they've perhaps looked at closely before, take even more photos and have a drink or two to round things off. And that's just about it - simple, but oh so effective.

I love Instameets for a number of reasons; first, you won't get anywhere near as many strange looks from passers-by when you're taking photos as part of a group as you do when you're on your own. Instameets make you forget about being self-conscious and instead allow you to just get on with taking great photos.

Then there's the places you get to see; through taking part in Instameets I've been able to shoot behind the scenes at Birmingham's Rep Theatre, I've watched professional BMXers doing backflips over a triceratops, I've explored the workshops of Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter and have even seen the bits of Birmingham's Council House that were used as an emergency morgue during the Second World War - all amazing.

Finally, Instameets make a social network a real network full of real people. While following other photographers in your city is all well and good, meeting them in person and shooting alongside them is even better. Instameets help put the social in social media.

Oh I almost forgot...some Instameets will set a theme and will even prizes for the best photos and get prominent local Instagramers to help judge them - this always goes down a treat!

How can I take part in an Instameet?

Your best bet is to find your local Igers group, as they are more than likely to put on a meet at some point. If you're lucky like me and live in the West Midlands, you should definitely check in with @igersbirmingham and @igerscoventry who both do a brilliant job.

Can't find a local Igers group? Well there's nothing to stop you putting on a meet yourself. Pick a location and a time and spread the word on Instagram! If you want inspiration, twice a year Instagram will designate a weekend to be a worldwide Instameet weekend - the perfect time to host your own meet.

Can you help me organise a meet?

Sure thing! Previously I've teamed up with @igersocventry to run a couple of meets at my place of work - the University of Warwick. In fact, at that time we were the first UK University to run an official Instameet. I'm also an enthusiastic participant (and volunteer PR helper) for all of the @igersbirmingham meets, and have a few more ideas in the pipeline. If you'd like some tips on how to run an Instameet, if you'd perhaps like me to help pick the winners from your next meet or if you'd just like me to give your meet a plug to my own followers then drop me a line as I'd be more than happy to help!

In the meantime, why don't you have a browse through some of my photo sets from the Instameets I've taken part in? You'll find them below...

(PS all the pics on this page were shot by me and posted on my Instagram feed)