Julian is a filmmaker and photographer. He received his M.A. in Communication from Wichita State and currently works for Yale University.
Instagram: A Photographer's Playground
If you're a photographer, then I probably don't need to explain what a wonderful tool Instagram can be. When we're not sharing our own photography over the platform, we can use it to explore the work of others from across the globe, perhaps gleaning some inspiration from others!
The purpose of this article is to highlight six photographers who create unique photos, and hopefully show you why you should be following them on Instagram.
6. Ben Sasso
Ben Sasso (@bensasso) creates intriguing images by focusing heavily on odd props and poses, which you can see immediately upon visiting his Instagram page. But it's not necessarily the strangeness of his photos that should give you reason to follow him, but rather the fact that he puts thought to developing his shots as well as the references and meaning behind them.
Ben's work is art, and he undeniably treats it that way, which can be seen in his shoot breakdown he did with a model recently.
The fact that he takes his art so seriously is only one of the reasons you should be following him, though. The main reason, in my opinion, is how dedicated he is to creating dialogue with his followers. He encourages questions with each of his Instagram posts, usually ending his posts with the phrase "we're all in this together."
It's a very unifying feeling, and it's true. As photographers and artists, we're all in this together, and the best way to get better at what we do is to talk to each other, build relationships, and lean from one another.
"I love creating art that gets me excited, and I’m a firm believer in fostering a close-knit photo community and encouraging individual progression."
— Ben Sasso
Ben understands that, and even labels himself as an educator along with being a photographer. His desire to help other grow is commendable, and something we should all strive to exemplify as well.
So regardless of whether you're an established photographer or someone who's just getting into portraits, Ben's page is well worth a look-over, and his site is filled inspirational blog posts and tips on improving your concepts and photography.
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5. Vanessa Mckeown
I like the idea of featuring Vanessa's (@vanessamckeown) work after Ben Sasso's because there is such a stark contrast between just about every element of their photography. Vanessa's work is vibrant, colorful, and playful in a really odd way. Part of the reason it seems so odd is probably her choice of subject. Instead of taking portraits of models, she takes photos of inanimate objects such as Barbie dolls, candy, and food, usually against a solid color background which gives her work a minimalistic feel.
As a graduate in both graphic design and film studies, her creativity pops straight out of her Instagram page, and it's fascinating to see how she can arrange everyday objects in creative and fascinating ways. The great thing about her work is that you can be left to draw your own conclusions of what they might mean. Not to mention she's even done animations for clients like McDonald's!
So if you're a photographer, you should definitely be following Vanessa's work. She has a unique style and approach to her photography, which may be hard to replicate, but is definitely worth observing if not for inspiration, then to learn. The ubiquitous nature of photography in today's world makes it difficult to be truly unique in your work, and by observing those with noticeable styles can help us to improve and develop our own photographic styles as well.
In Vanessa's case, the valuable takeaway is being creative those items around you. Her subjects are typically items that can be easily obtained by anyone nearly anywhere, which doesn't make them unique in their own right. What makes her work unique is the way she approaches arranging them into stories. And that's what we can take away from her page.
4. Anka Zhuravleva
Anka Zhuravelva (@anka_zhuravleva_arts) creates a noticeable mood with her portraiture, which sometimes look more like paintings than your typical photograph. Her Instagram is rather dark, but in a creative and moody way (not a scare you away kind of dark). Something subtle, but important, is her attention to small details that make her photos stand out from the crowd. For instance, if you look at the photo above, a portrait of a girl with a lollipop wouldn't necessarily be anything to stop and look at for too long, but the fact that Anka made the model's stand up every which way as if she'd put her hands on one of those static balls that makes your hair frizzy, she effectively adds an element of interest to her portrait.
This sort of subtle creativity is what we as photographers should strive for in our own work, especially if we're approaching our work from an artistic standpoint as opposed to simply a freelance portrait perspective.
"I just shoot what I love to shoot, whether it is a picturesque place in the middle of nowhere or an intimate bedroom moment."
— Anka Zhuravleva
I think Anka is a good person to follow not only because she offers workshops and valuable information for aspiring artists and photographers, but because her style is the embodiment of what we should all strive for. The fact that she comes out and simply says that she shoots what she loves to shoot, is what we should all take note of and do ourselves. We should shoot photos of what we want to, not what we think will bring us recognition, fame, money, or whatever. We should shoot what we're passionate about and not let anyone tell us otherwise. Anka is truly devoted to her craft and her style, and that's what I find most commendable about her!
3. Jesse Herzog
Toronto-based photographer Jesse Herzog (@jesseherzog) has a background in film production and a result draws a lot of his inspiration from cinematic works. Something that's noticeable immediately about his photos is how he makes them appear as though they're from a different time period. Part of it is probably the editing, but he also makes sure that the outfits and props are realistic for the time period he's mimicking. A lot of his photos seem to be straight out of the 1970s.
"I think my work is cinematic and emotional, which are related things."
— Jesse Herzog
His film background definitely stands out in his work, and it's interesting to see how many of these photographers have a background in film production of some sort. Overall, I think Jesse is a good example of taking your photography to another level by incorporating a story or deeper meaning into your work. And like most artists, he says it best himself:
"I want my models to be more than just a part of a pretty picture, but to become characters within a frame."
— Jesse Herzog
2. Jimmy Marble
Jimmy Marble's (@jimmymarble) work is just a blast to look at. He's got such a unique style, and a faded, vintage look to his photographs. Once again, he's another shining example of how simplicity is key, and can often times be more interesting than something that's wild and outlandish. Oh, and like several of the other people on this list, he's also got a background in filmmaking.
And recently, he even shot photos for the cover of Time Magazine featuring Ariana Grande.
So again, you should be following Jimmy because of the consistency in his work and style, and the fact that he's so creative with his photography. I think he shows that sometimes having content that's off the beaten path and maybe a little bizarre can take you a long way. Though you might have your editing style down, it's what's in the frame of your pictures that defines your work.
Oleg Oprisco (@oprisco) is a Ukrainian photographer who shoots using an old school film camera, and he's easily one of my favorite photographers on Instagram right now. Besides the fact that he shoots on film instead of digitally (which shows dedication to his craft), you can tell immediately that concept is huge part of his work. In fact, Oprisco has such a specific vision in mind for his shots, he's found it best to be in charge of every aspect of the shoot that he can.
"I come up with a concept, create the clothing, choose the location and direct the hair and makeup. Before shooting, I plan the overall color scheme. According to the chosen palette, I select clothes, props, location, etc, making sure that all of it plays within a single color range."
— Oleg Oprisco
Personally, I love the concepts behind his work and the way he makes everyday objects larger than life in a lot of his work. A huge paintbrush made out out of a mop, extravagant headdresses, lavish birdhouses and more make his work eye catching, and really worth checking out.
That's a Wrap!
And that's my list of photographers you should be following on Instagram as well as my reasons why. If anything, I think each of these photographers shows how you can take your work to the next level simply by thinking outside the box and not being afraid of what others say about your work. A lot of their content is odd and bizarre, which doesn't always appeal to the larger audience out there, but it's definitely definitive of each of their styles, which I think is more important than anything when it comes to art.
For those of you photographers reading, I hope you've found some inspiration in these six people, and good luck with your own photography!