Global Night Squad x OzShot: #brisbanenightsquad Instameet
Global Night Squad, what initially started as an idea between three Sydney-based photographers has grown into much more than just a figment. The squad will be making their way to Brisbane later this month, teaming up with OzShot Magazine to host their first #brisbanenightsquad instameet. We hit up the three founding members of Global Night Squad, Gareth Hayman (@nightsnlights), Demas Rusli (@demasrusli) and JR Higz (@jrhigz_) to chat about how everything came together and the upcoming #brisbanenightsquad instameet.
Q: Hey guys thanks for chatting with us here at Dopekoto.
GH (Gareth Hayman): All good guys, thanks for reaching out.
Q: All 3 of you guys were photographers before the creation of Global Night Squad. How did you three meet and when did Global Night Squad become an idea?
DR (Demas Rusli): I first met Gareth at an Instameet I was hosting for University of Sydney after he reached out and asked about the Sydney community and I met JR at the Helensburgh Tunnel when we were just both randomly shooting there. After we hosted the second #sydneynightsquad event and seeing how successful it was, we realised we needed a platform to announce these meets and that’s when the idea of Global Night Squad came about as a place to announce meets and also feature night photography to inspire our followers.
GH: We all met within the last year, I first found Demas via Instagram. I liked his work and he was local to me so when I figured out he was using his real name on “the gram”, I face-stalked him. Haha! He was chill and recommended me to come out to one of the meets that was happening around that time, so that was the first time we met in person. JR and I had followed each other on Instagram for a few months before we bumped into each other at a meet. We soon began shooting around the city together with Demas and a few other photographer friends.
JR (JR Higz): Demas and I have been following each other on Instagram for a while. It wasn’t until we randomly bumped into each other at Helensburgh Tunnel that we first met. I first approached Demas and asked him “What camera he was shooting with?”. I knew it was him because I’d seen his face online but I still asked. I asked if he was Demas Rusli on Instagram. Haha! I first met Gareth at the @matjoez #sydneytowermeet but we’d been following each other on Instagram for a couple of months. I was very impressed with Gareth’s work and I knew we were bound to meet each other sooner or later. Demas hit me up and asked if I wanted to help out with the second Sydney Night meet a few months later, I was super keen — it was a no brainer.
Q: So Global Night Squad started holding photo-walk type events, how long ago was the first one and what was the turnout like?
DR: The first photo-walk Global Night Squad held was the #sydneynightsquad event held in September 2015 hosted by Eric (@cheesecakehero) and myself. We were talking about hosting a meet for a while and the idea of hosting a night meet seemed appropriate as we both love shooting at night. After advertising it solely on our Instagram accounts, we surprisingly got a turnout of about 90 people on a cold rainy Friday night! That was when we realised that Global Night Squad could turn out to be something awesome for the Sydney community.
Q: Comparing that to the most recent meet you hosted, it must be pretty crazy seeing such support. Is it something you guys expected from the start?
GH: No certainly not. We all put our bets on how many people we thought would come but we were totally blown away when 250 people showed up on the night.
DR: Definitely did not envision this to happen at all. We are definitely very grateful to the Sydney community who come along to our events. Through the success of these night meets, we have also been fortunate enough to be sponsored by some cool brands like The Fifth Watches, Adidas, Rode Mic, and Georges Cameras who have all be super generous and provided some awesome prizes for the photo competitions we run at these meets.
GH: I think one of the reasons why it was so successful was that Sydney hadn’t really had anything like it dedicated to night and street photography before. So in a wash of cliché Instagram and corporate sponsored events we were able to create a bit of a niche in the scene. Also, thanks to word of mouth it’s organically spread to what it is now.
JR: Yeah, we predicted around 150 people for #sydneynightsquad3. But when we counted the final numbers and reached over 200, we were completely shocked. It’s amazing how an app can bring everyone together. I think everyone that comes to these events are there to share ideas, learn from each other, and of course meet like-minded people.
Q: How did Global Night Squad move from just an idea to becoming what it is today?
GH: We’d been toying with the idea of creating a feature account for a while but originally it was just going to be a local thing showcasing Sydney photographers. It wasn’t until the second meet happened that we started to realise we were onto a good thing and it was time to create a Global Night Squad Instagram account as a way to bring the community even closer together.
JR: Yeah, at that stage we didn’t want to limit ourselves locally and decided to make it global orientated with the idea that one day we would be able to take these meets all around Australia and eventually around the world.
DR: The Global Night Squad account is something very new it’s only been running for a couple of months and is growing every day, the hashtag is definitely catching on with over 2300 photos tagged on it now! We initially started by featuring Sydney photographers, and have expanded over time to feature photographers around Australia, and globally as well.
Q: I may be guilty of using the hashtag on some of my photos too, haha! So Gareth, you recently travelled overseas and did some work with a Malaysian (Kuala Lumpur) government program. What was that experience like and does it show you that Global Night Squad could end up hosting meets across the world?
“GH: Yeah that was in Kuala Lumpur a couple of months ago. I was asked by a photography magazine @stevoxmag to help with a meet they were running over there. The magazine focuses on not only spotlighting photographers but also providing insights into capturing images and post production techniques to help people learn photography and editing. The meet was really cool; I shot some stuff the day before in KL and then ran through my editing process in Lightroom with them all before we did a photo-walk. The government over there really wanted us to help inspire and grow the local photography community, so it was great to have them behind us sponsoring the venue and helping out with everything. We had 180 people turn up to the meet, another huge surprise. It was the first time we’d collaborated on anything outside of Australia and it’s certainly something we’d like to do more of. Before I left, they were already talking about having us back. Hopefully we’ll be able to take the whole squad over in the future and help run more events.”
Q: You guys have teamed up with Ozshot Magazine to host a meet in Brisbane. Can you give some insight for anyone in Brisbane who doesn’t know what you guys are about what they can expect on the night?
DR: The whole idea behind these events in general is to meet and network with new people who have the same interests as you; be it Instagram ,or photography, or anything else. So not only will we be doing the photo-walk but also meeting new people who could eventually become friends that you go on road-trips with and shoot together.
GH: Yeah it’s so true, meeting like-minded people is how you progress. Everyone brings something different to the table. Together through sharing experiences and ideas you can only make yourselves better.
Q: The team at DopeKoto are firm believers of collaborations. How do you three feel about the need for artists and brands of all genres to collaborate and work together on big projects like you guys are doing with Global Night Squad?
DR: To us, collaboration in all aspects, whether it’s with a brand, companies, photographers or music artists, is very important. From just going to meets and being active on Instagram, we have all met with some awesome creatives out there who know even more cool people.
GH: Collaboration is key, we are huge fans of everyone we work with. We try to treat everyone as we’d like to be treated ourselves, share as many ideas and experiences as we can. It’s through connections like these, that we have grown through and will continue to grow in the future.
Q: Thanks for the chat guys, any final words or info about the Brisbane meet coming up?
DR: Thanks for the interview guys! The meet will be held on the 28th of May, 7pm and starts at the Eagle Street Riverside Centre, 123 Eagle Street. Bring along some night photography props like lights etc. and a tripod too for long exposure shots. We are so excited to take Global Night Squad to Brisbane and can’t wait to meet the community. Should be a fun night!
JR: We really appreciate you taking time to interview us. Hopefully everyone gets to know us more and understand what Global Night Squad is all about. If you’re heading down to the meet don’t forget your tripods and extra batteries for your camera. I made that mistake on the last one. Looking forward to meeting you all!
GH: Cheers guys, See you on the night!