NEW YORK, NY - A lot can happen in a year. Established in early 2015 in New York City, Pursuit of Portraits has rapidly transformed from a personal Instagram account for founder Saunak Shah, into a highly connected creative community of nearly 40 thousand portraiture fanatics and photographers. Through its Instagram account, events, and upcoming print magazine, the diverse team of creatives behind Pursuit of Portraits passionately endeavors to fulfill a singular mission: "Create an accessible community of portrait-lovers through a platform to share the best of portraiture photography."

"I started Pursuit of Portraits as a way to share my growing work in portraiture photography," explains Shah. Within months, the Instagram account had gained thousands of followers, and hundreds of people were using the #pursuitofportraits hashtag. "I evolved Pursuit of Portraits into what it is today as I saw its potential to be about way more than just me," elaborates Shah. "With so many individuals striving to do something different, have their voices heard, and be part of a collective good, I saw the opportunity to provide a platform for those moments to connect, co-create and share."

The most recent manifestation of Shah's vision for Pursuit of Portraits took place on a bright Sunday, October 4th in New York City, at the group's second ever instameet, aptly named "For the Pursuit". Hosted in partnership with Central Park Conservatory and Instagram NYC, the meet boasted over 300 attendees who spanned across vastly different creative backgrounds and levels of photography experience. Participants gathered in Central Park's Sheep Meadow and ventured through the park together. Using each other as subjects, many attendees shifted seamlessly between being behind the camera to posing in front.

Portrait challenges were held in multiple categories such as Classic, Street Style, and Creative portraiture. Sponsors for the challenges included Triumph Hotels NY, Woodsnap, Moment Lens, Just Porter,, and Social Print Studio, with prizes ranging from gift cards, lens sets, a 2-night hotel stay in New York, and an opportunity to host your own "mini-meet". Beyond the friendly competition and collaboration, the most remarkable moments were the most unplanned ones. After stumbling upon a couple's wedding day photo shoot, the Pursuit of Portraits group made the milestone even more memorable by participating and capturing it on film. The group also buzzed with excitement when Daily Show host, Trevor Noah, began interacting with the crowd. However, it was two attendees who brought everyone's energy to a feverish pitch when one kneeled down and proposed to the other amidst the commotion. 

"Looking ahead, we'd like to become a collective of creatives sharing the same vision and goals," describes Shah at the meet's after party, hosted at the Hudson Hotel. "We'd like to work with brands in ways that push and challenge industry trends. We also want to be a driver behind social good, such as by funding photography workshops for under-resourced individuals. At the same time, and at the core of all our activities, we want to continue discovering and sharing exceptional talent in the portraiture space.

Pursuit of Portraits has also begun expanding its reach beyond New York through its recent instameet held in Orlando; another is currently in the works for Singapore. While it's hard to predict exactly where Pursuit of Portraits will be in a year or two, it's clear that Saunak Shah and his team have no intentions of getting comfortable.

Header Photo: Shot by @saunakspace, Model: @Nick.Staib