Pilgramers Ryan Carl, @ryancarl; Tim Landis, @curious2119; Jody Johnston, @jodyjohnston; and Thomas Fisher, @thomasflight, set out on a cross-country journey this summer to explore the connections created by the photo sharing app Instagram, which they are sharing through a continuing online web series through YouTube.

When college buddies Ryan Carl and Jody Johnston, both students at Liberty University in Virginia, posted an Internet meme video, “Stuff Instagramers Say,” in February of this year, they set out to poke a little fun at the stereotypical Instagram user.

The video mocks Instagram users’ propensity for shooting “interesting” angles of everyday objects, fondness for reflection shots and feet photos, obsession with likes and followers, and other habits.

 It took two days to film and spread like wildfire across the web.

They expected to ride the coattails of their Internet success when they set out across the country on a self-funded road trip this past summer to film another Insta-hit, this time joined by Thomas Fisher, a recent graduate of Liberty University, and popular Instagram user Tim Landis, who they met through Instagram. But the journey took a different turn.

Crammed into a Toyota Corolla, the foursome discovered a creative community of Instagram users, bonded by the act of photo sharing and relating to one another through those images, from coast to coast.

The Pilgramers shared this image via Instagram from their Instameet in Houston, Texas.
The Pilgramers seek out a higher vantage point while filming their online web series this summer.

The resulting online series, which can be seen on the Pilgramers’ YouTube channel, features the group interacting with Instagram users in various cities across the United States. Most encounters were encouraged via “Instameets,” real life gatherings the Pilgramers advertised through the app to bring users together to discuss the Instagram phenomenon.

We were able to catch up with them after their trip to see how their "Pilgramage" went.

“I was extremely surprised by how people really long for community,” said Johnston.

 The videos showcase portions of the Pilgramers’ journey by geographic location. The first episode focuses on Charlotte, North Carolina, and New Orleans, Louisiana; Episode 2 shows the group’s visit to Chicago, Minneapolis, Duluth, and Ottertail; and Episode 3 offers an Instagraming perspective on the West Coast cities of Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.

Instagram users are featured in short montages that explore how they use Instagram, where and what they shoot, and what the platform means to them.

With school back in session, Johnston and Ryan hope to continue to post more episodes as time allows, pulling from from hours of remaining unedited video ambitiously captured in 21 cities over 24 days. 

Ultimately, the Pilgramers feel the greatest outcome of their journey may have been their own personal growth and connections gained through the experience.

“We were not alone in how we felt about Instagram,” Carl said. “People all over have the most incredible stories.”