By Samantha Johnson
Long gowns, high heels, suits and ties, hats, and people sporting all sorts of styles were present for the Reno Instagrammys last Saturday. It was hosted at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts on South Virginia Street, and it was nothing short of glamorous. Complete with a red carpet and backdrop, everyone, not just nominees and VIPs, could take pictures like a celebrity. The Reno Instagrammys is much more than flashing lights and dazzling gowns. The event began last year and is the result of a citywide competition to capture the best photographs of the Truckee Meadows area and its citizens. The trophies are not your average Oscar statues, but unique plaques and sculptures created by local artists.
This year they were given an opportunity to hand out a scholarship, according to the Reno Instagrammys website, to “any student from an underrepresented group pursuing an undergraduate degree in the arts.” Allie McDade won that award with her photo essay, “Growing Up Ranching on the South Fork Indian Reservation.”
The show also raised funds for the Holland Project to buy out their space. They had only reached 90 percent of their goal prior to the event and hoped to reach the remaining 10 percent, allowing them to own their facility independently. The show opened with a song and dance number reminiscent of old Hollywood, called “Reno State of Mind,” a spoof of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.” Feathers flew off of showgirls’ costumes, the band was lively and the stage was set for an entertaining night of humor and appreciation.
There were 21 categories, from “pet portrait” to “photobomb,” “dance video” to “slo-mo video,” “motel life” to “urban landscape.” The strongest takeaway from the Reno Instagrammys was the sense of a community gathering together to better the city they call home.
After each nominee’s name was presented, scattered groups across the theater would cheer (and sometimes scream) in support. Regardless, there was never a dull moment. At some point, someone shouted “I like your headpiece!” to contestant Lauren Hober when she accepted her award for best photobomb, and hecklers didn’t miss a beat all night. Some nominees couldn’t even talk over the boisterous cheers of the crowd and had to wait for several minutes before making their acceptance speeches. The presenters were not short on personality either. Hosts Michael Moberly and Drea Ballard cracked puns and kept the audience alive by having competitions to see which side of the theater was louder.
Each presenter acted out based on the category they announced, like Jamie Hemingway, who presented the “dance video” category, doing her own dance number before making her way up to the podium. Casey Clark, who presented the “outdoor adventure” category, renamed it “the best hipster camping photo” and Zach Girdis joked about how George Washington spread his selfie through quarters when he announced the “selfie his and hers” nominees.
As the night came to a close and the Nevada state-shaped trophy case was emptied, the group Splash of Gold performed “All Night Long,” and the audience was given a chance to dance while the nominees and VIPs joined the group on stage. Confetti sprayed over the theater and people cheered, bringing the Reno Instagrammys, a show of charity and glamour, to an end.
The next contest for the Reno Instagrammys will open in the summer of 2016.
Samantha Johnson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @SamRayJohnson.