As well as my business, Love Luella Photography I also run IGersWales. In short it's part of Instagram's official IGers network. Some random examples of this worldwide network and their links:

So, I run Wales' Instagram account. It's been 2 years this month and what was a modest hub with an inactive 200-300 members in June 2014 is now a 6000+ strong community. Numbers aren't everything. My focus is on giving an unbiased pan-Wales view. Every time I pick a photograph to feature I think about our current content, if we are being fair across North, South & Mid Wales and including all abilities.

The main point is you don't have to be a photographer to be featured, although we have an amazing amount of talented photographers, our community stretches across all scales. From phone photos to DSLR's to drones! If you don't live here that is no problem, As long as the photo was taken in Wales or is at a Wales event (like maybe a big football event,  3-0....) AND MOST IMPORTANTLY is tagged in the caption or the comments with:

#igerswales #igerswales #igerswales #igerswales #igerswales #igerswales #igerswales

Then you have as much chance as anyone to get your photo seen/featured. I look at the tag, which is #igerswales incase you didn't get that bit ;) every single time I pick an image. Unless I have contacted a community member to pick, which will be a regular aspect of the hub soon. If you are a community member reading this, hello! Contact me via the hub or email me igerswales@outlook.com if you'd like to pick a feature sometime. We also give stuff away every now and again via competitions and love collaborating with businesses, most recently we collaborated with Studio 9 Wall Art and  Uncle Jack UK.

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On 1st July 2016  IGersWales and IGersCymru- which is the Welsh language equivalent of IGersWales will be holding our very first instameet in Cardiff. I cannot wait! It's pretty much a social event. Think tea/coffee, taking photos and meeting a small group of likeminded people. You might even gain a friend or two!

We decided to hold our first instameet in South Wales and our second will be up North to ensure all our community have the chance to attend in future.

With this  being my first instameet I wanted to gain any advice or helpful tips and ended up chatting to Dane Pollard who runs Manchester's Instagram hub IGersMCR. We met up in Liverpool a few weeks ago, before the sunshine! I got to hear all about his story of running a city-based hub, his approach to instameets and lots of other useful info. Dane brought with him his lovely wife Emma and their dog Princess Roy!! We spent the day swapping ideas while walking the docks and will definitely help each other out with Instagram in future. I even found a little bit of Wales on my walk!

Of all the information I gained on the day regarding our mutual Instagram hubs. What struck me most is how giving he is.

Dane works really, really hard. He juggles his job, IGersMCR and is part of the band Modern Sound Library. He also puts all his energies into the charity Lungfest, an ongoing awareness campaign through the medium of music for cystic fibrosis and organ donation.

Dane has cystic fibrosis. In August 2008 he was the recipient of a double lung transplant which literally saved his life. Hearing his story left me gobsmacked. Reading it is one thing but seeing someone and hearing them talk about their constant self care routine just to stay well each day... His reality is so different from mine. Something I know I have taken for granted. I've sat here before now with a migraine and moaned about my day- he's sat there gravely ill, he's gone through the most invasive surgeries and literally received life from someones ultimate loss. Their families loss. There is no better way to honour the gift of life than to do what Dane is doing now. Living. He's a joy to be around. His charm and wit is infectious and to be privy to that and see him if only for a short afternoon loving his beautiful wife and fur baby but also raising awareness to those, like me that just don't know, or don't think about it was a pleasure.

I left there with so much more than I expected to. What started as an Instameet-ing of minds, ended with collaborative plans for the future and my mind well and truly blown. I will definitely be keeping in touch with Dane, Emma and of course Princess Roy.

To keep up to date with Dane's charity work please visit the links below, the next Lungfest will take place in August, to mark Dane's 8th year post transplant. It's such a humbling and fitting tribute to the person who gave him everything. I will be attending for sure.

Hear Dane's song 'Thank you' written in honour of his donor here.

Thanks for persevering through all the links and the change of subject, but I wanted to give insight into my experience of meeting someone for one reason and then learning so much more than you anticipated. Below are some images from the day.

Tash x

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