Instagram has quickly grown into a massive social network. With about 500 million active users taking photographs everyday and sharing them with so many different purposes, it is hard not to feel lost while looking for something interesting to see and think about.
I personally have two different accounts, one for my family and friends and the other one to follow and share with people interested in photography and visual culture. So when it comes to my @INSTRUMENTSOFMEMORY account, I am looking for a more selective version of my interests. That is why I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that some of my favorite photographers in the world are using Instagram as well. Here are five masters of photography that you can find on Instagram and some of the many reasons why you should definitely follow them.
Indian artist Dayanita Singh has described herself as a bookmaker that uses photography “to reflect and expand on the ways on which we relate to photographic images.” She graduated in photojournalism from New York’s International Center of Photography. She shoots on traditional film, usually in black and white, but color has become part of her photographic language as well. Dayanita’s mother was an amateur photographer and has said that family albums were her first introduction to photography. When asked about Instagram, she responded, “What I love the most about photography is its dissemination.” Her images on Instagram –a mix of building structures, flowers, quotes, ordinary objects, portraits, self-portraits, and even a video of a little girl criticizing how slowly Singh photographs—have garnered her 11.8k followers so far.
Stephen Shore is a celebrated American photographer. Alongside William Eggleston, he is one of the central figures of 1970s color photography. His images have captured the quotidian as a form or visual diary and have been widely exhibited and published in the United States and abroad. Shore joined Instagram in 2014 and loves it! He even lectured about the use of this app at the Photo London Festival in 2015. Shore has said that he is always open to technological development because it represents a new challenge. In his case, before he learned that there was a way to post a rectangular image on Instagram, he was “challenged” to make square images, something that he had not done in fifty years. The immediacy of Instagram is something that Shore enjoys as much as his 7.5k followers who can see on his daily posts how he perceives the world. As you can imagine, his world is full of color with that particular style that shaped what has been defined as the snapshot aesthetic.
Britain’s best-known photographer, Martin Parr claims to enjoy the banal. His iconic work has gained international recognition for his motifs and his very particular aesthetic, sometimes considered grotesque. Parr has published more than 90 books, and leisure and consumption are two of the main photographer’s interests. He shoots most of his photographs in color and his use of flash adds a hyper real quality to his images. Unlike Singh and Shore, Parr’s Studio uses Instagram as a platform to showcase past and new work and representative images of his work that have been taken with a camera and not with a mobile device. About Instagram and Flickr the photographer has said, “I welcome all of the different platforms for photography and their proliferation.” Martin Parr Studio joined Instagram in 2015 and now has 89k followers.
Zoe Strauss is a self-taught American photographer. She acquired her first camera at the age of thirty and started taking photographs of Philadelphia’s residents and neighborhoods where she lives and works. Her first photographic project, “I-95”, consisted of hanging photographs under the I-95 freeway for an exhibition free and open to the public. Since then, different institutions in the United States have recognized her work and her photographs have been included in the Whitney Biennial in 2006 and exhibited at the Philadelphia Art Museum and the International Center of Photography in New York. Strauss claims that she has no idea how to use Instagram. However, the diaristic images that she shares with more than 3000 followers focus on the distinctive features that the photographer has captured in her professional work: the struggles and beauty of everyday life.
German photographer, Wolfgang Tillmans is an expert in using saturated snapshots with a lo-fi aesthetic in his photographs. In the 1990s, the now London based photographer started documenting youth clubs and the LBGTQ scene in Germany. Self- documentation is the core of his work. Considered one of the most influential contemporary photographers, his ouvre has been awarded the Turner Prize in 2000 and the Hasselblad Award in 2015. About Instagram and selfies, Tillmans has said, “Pictures are replacing words as messages.” As you can see, the photographer uses this platform to raise his voice in visual statements about political and social issues. Before the EU referendum, Tillmans publicly endorsed the “stay in” campaign and created a series of posters for this cause that he shared with his 2.2k followers on Instagram.