By Beth Shumate, McKinney Convention & Visitors Bureau
McKinney is fertile ground for photographers, from the historic district to the parks to our own Croatian village, Adriatica, and beyond.
Any good-weather weekend finds families walking through the historic downtown square, a photographer trailing them, to find that perfect spot for the perfect family memory shot. Or maybe you’ll see agency photographers scouting unique backdrops for some type of product shots, be it clothing, accessories or even vehicles.
One such beautiful Saturday (just last weekend, in fact), I had the privilege of accompanying a visiting group of photographers around the historic square. A couple of them had digital cameras to document this stroll, but all of them, including me, were armed with their Smartphone cameras, seeking unusual angles and subject matter to share via the popular app, Instagram.
McKinney resident Shawn Roller posted a photo promoting this “Instameet” on the McKinney Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Destination McKinney Facebook page. I wasn’t familiar with this type of meet-up group, so decide to head to the meeting point (in front of the McKinney Performing Arts Center) at the appointed time to check it out. I found 10 participants, ready to head out on a quest for cool pictures of downtown McKinney; half of the group were locals while the other half hailed from elsewhere in the metroplex – Euless, Dallas, Richardson, and The Colony. Some knew each other, having participated in earlier Instameets elsewhere in the area, while others exchanged Instagram user names and got acquainted before heading off.
I must say, as someone who promotes McKinney and who loves to spend time on the square, allowing myself to follow these folks around without wearing my usual tour guide hat was quite refreshing…and doing so allowed me to experience McKinney again through fresh eyes. These new friends headed off down alleys and into tight spaces, wide open ground, looking high and low, and often snapping close-up shots of little details or interesting angles not immediately noticeable, not unless one takes the time and makes the effort to see it.
We spent a total of two hours together, encountering numerous photographers and families along the way, some doing high school senior portraits, and even a couple of guys with fancy cameras and lights, shooting photos of an equally fancy motorcycle. We made a wide loop – east on Louisiana, across Hwy. 5 to the Flour Mill (a favorite place of all involved), and back westward on Virginia before scooting north of Tennessee, then heading west to Church Street. We turned the corner at Virginia, stopping briefly at the MCVB Visitors Center to grab a bottle of water or can of soda. These Saturday visitors then headed off to enjoy dinner on the square, with the residents recommending their favorite places to the out-of-towners.
What a fun way to spend an afternoon, and how fun to see a new kind of tourism – created through social media networking – at work/play in our very own city!
Jeyson Paez, resident of The Colony and organizer of the metroplex group, InstaDFW, has held 10 of these meet-ups since November 2012, the largest being one in downtown Dallas where 40 folks turned out. Next up? “I want to do one at the Fort Worth Stockyards,” said Paez, who is also a freelance photographer.
We’ve shared some of these Instagram photos (and others we found from McKinney) on a special Pinterest board. Or if you’d rather see them directly through Instagram, search for tag “#historicmckinneygramsesh”.
If you Instagram and want to share your photos, drop us an email at the McKinney Visitors & Convention Bureau and we’ll share them on our Facebook page and add them to our Instagram board on Pinterest.
Many thanks to Jeyson, Shawn, Brandi Hussey, Crystal Hexamer, Jessica Wright, and the other Instagrammers for letting me tag along. It was a blast!