Alex Hart Ciaramitaro is helping the people of Nashville form bonds in an instant through Instagram.
The 20-year-old organizes InstaMeets, local events where instagrammers agree to meet at a location to take photos of one another and their surroundings and build relationships.
“It’s more than just taking photos. We can go to the movies and do other stuff together,” Alex said. “It hasn’t just benefitted me, it’s benefitted people I know too. There have been people who have gotten jobs and found roommates and friendships from people they’ve met through InstaMeets.”
Alex (@mrciaramitaro) said he believes you can use any social medium positively, but Instagram has set the bar because they publicize that they want to build a community and that they want people to meet and connect with one another.
YOUNG MISTER CIARAMITARO
Alex was born and raised in Spring Hill, Tennessee and graduated from Spring Hill High School in 2012.
As a kid, Alex was in Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.
“I always had a camera so I dabbled a little bit into photography,” he said. “It wasn’t much. It was like ‘Whoa, here’s my dog’ and I took a picture. But once I entered into high school, I started making videos like YouTube videos and music videos.”
Alex joined a theatre arts class solely for the purpose of making videos.
“I hated acting on stage and any of the other projects, but the one thing I loved were the videos. I had it down pack,” he said. “I don’t like standing in front of people and not being myself but with the camera, it was different. You don’t have an audience in front of you.”
Alex lost interest in the video production when the software he used dramatically changed and he no longer knew how to operate it.
“I could do it, but I’d probably have to go back to school to learn all the techniques,” he said. “I know I’m not perfect at it, and I would have to invest more time into doing different angles instead of just moving the camera around and everyone get sick after watching it.”
Alex has two half siblings that are about 20 years older than him.
“There’s a lot of generation gaps in my family, and I think that’s why I’m a little easy to talk to, outgoing and able to talk to anyone and meet strangers through Instagram,” he said laughing.
Along with organizing InstaMeets, Alex also works full-time at a pathology company in Brentwood collecting data from patients and creating electronic backups.
MORE THAN JUST AN APP
“I hated when people took screenshots of the weather. I have the weather app on my iPhone too,” he said with another laugh. Alex said it quickly became a thing where he didn’t want to be THAT person.
“I always at least tried to take pictures that I liked or that were interesting,” he said.
Alex began to take photography more seriously in January of 2014 when Instagram posted something about a World Wide InstaMeet. He was curious about what InstaMeets were so he tried to do some research.
He said before the latest update, it was hard to search for events or InstaMeets.
“You just had to scroll through hashtags, and Nashville had been hashtagged a billion times, it feels like,” he said. “I couldn’t find anything so I just figured I would host one myself. I mean, I knew the concept.”
Alex got some of his friends to join him along with a fellow photographer and his friends to have the first known organized InstaMeet in Franklin.
“It was fun. It was on a random Sunday, and it went from around 7 p.m. to midnight,” he said. “After that everyone kept asking me when was the next one. I was thinking it was a one-time only thing. I hadn’t really thought about it, but I set the next one in Nashville.”
“That one I was by myself and I was a little flustered because there were about 20 people there, and they were all older than me,” he said. “Luckily, [another instagrammer] helped me out and boosted my confidence a little bit.”
Alex said after that experience, he knew he needed to make more of a plan if he was going to continue to organize InstaMeets. Since the ones in Franklin and Nashville, he has broadened out to different cities and has held InstaMeets in places like Dickson, Murfreesboro, Clarksville and Columbia among others.
“I try to make them in different places each time because so many people already live in Nashville. I’m always thinking of where the next one is going to be,” he said.
Earlier this year, Alex was chosen to be a suggested user by Instagram.
“They sent me a direct message and told me congratulations, I had been chosen,” he said. “Basically, when someone creates a new Instagram account they give you suggestions in different categories and I was picked by them to be in the photography category.”
He said it was great and he’s happy to have been chosen, but he also said given the chance he would have opted out of the opportunity.
“I know a lot of my followers are spam, so I would have preferred to grow organically,” he said. I’d rather have local people follow me or, at least, people in the United States.”
AN EVOLVING COMMUNITY
Alex defined community as people working together, supporting one another and showing friendliness toward all.
“I get to meet so many different people and hear so many different stories,” he said. “It started with about eight people and now there are as many as 50 people at some.”
Alex said everyone told him once he graduated high school a lot of his friends would move on and separate. He said a year went by and he still talked to most of his friends, but then eventually some of the people he had become close with moved away.
“Slowly they all started moving away to get jobs, or they are getting married and having children or something else. I felt a little left, almost like I didn’t have any friends. So this has been great because I have a lot of people I can call my friends.”
Now, Alex has a close group of friends that he can go to for anything. He said the common interest of Instagram has really brought people together.
“It’s great just to meet new people, get new ideas and work together. Nashville is a big city with a small town feel,” he said. “You kind of know everyone and every one is polite for the most part, so Instagram and the community aspect it brings is definitely a positive thing on Nashville.”
Alex isn’t sure what’s in store next for himself and for the InstaMeets he organizes.
“I’ve always gone with the flow of life,” he said. “People get worried about things and stress over things, and I’m just not that type of person.”
“I know where my next InstaMeet is, but I don’t know if I want it to become something more,” he said. “It could become more popular and that would be fine and maybe some recognition with businesses to offer some perks.”
He said eventually, he would like to do an out-of-state-meet or an Instagram road trip, but he said he would need a lot of commitment in order to make something like that happen.
Alex did express some of his concerns about the community and Instagram in Nashville.
“I worry about that people may forget about the community they are a part of if they create a following (community) then decide to later become a business. It’s easy to get lost in all the dollars and cents, worrying about making a profit. [They may] forget the whole reason why they created the community,” he said in a text message with Neat Nashville.
He encouraged people to always be kind to one another and that word of mouth is the best publicity moving forward throughout life.
“Leave a good impression. The first impression is a lasting impression,” he said.
As far as the next InstaMeet, Alex said he wants to go to Manchester, Tennessee.
“It’s the perfect halfway point between Nashville and Chattanooga. I’ve met a lot of people in Chattanooga, and it would be a good opportunities to bring people together,” he said.
He said what matters to him right now in his life is having fun and being happy.
Thanks for reading Nashville!
Every Thursday at noon Neat Nashville embraces the community by highlighting an individual in a feature article that tells their story and voices their concerns about the city moving forward. It is our hope to inspire good change locally, to be a force of unity, and support the people we call neighbors.
It starts with community. It starts where you are.