Friday Inspiration: The seven storytellers you should be following on Instagram

Photo by Stephanie E. Buck

It was my first week on a new job. My team of three people were sitting around the table in my manager’s office, discussing a communications plan for an event in Peru that we had coming up. Out of curiosity, I asked if the organization had an Instagram account, so we could share stories that way. One of my colleagues just shook his head, laughed, and made a joke about teenagers and selfies.

For those of you with only a cursory understanding of Instagram, you may make the same associations as my colleague did. But the reality is that it can be an important platform for powerful visual storytelling.

And many organizations and photojournalists have already caught on to that.

By posting one image a day and adding a poignant caption, you can share stories with the world that normally go unheard. And that’s a pretty cool thing.

But rather than spend more time talking about how these kinds of photo sharing platforms can be used to tell powerful stories, it’s probably best to show you. Here are seven accounts you should be following on Instagram:

Amy Toensing: A photojournalist who tells stories with depth and sensitivity. She has contributed regularly to National Geographic, and her Instagram account captures a variety of perspectives.

Andrew Quilty: An Australian photojournalist currently based in Afghanistan. His photos offer an in-depth look at life inside a country that is often poorly understood.

Ed Kashi: Ed Kashi is a photojournalist, filmmaker, and educator who documents contemporary social and political issues. He covers a variety of topics around the world, including in the US. His photos are always compelling, and the captions often informative.

Lynsey Addario is an American photojournalist who photographs regularly for the New York Times, National Geographic, and Time Magazine. Her Instagram account mixes the stories she covers internationally, with a few photos thrown in of her family life – all done in a compelling way.

Matthieu Paley is one of my favorite photographers to follow. He often travels to places I have never heard of, and gets to document the lives of people many of us know nothing about. And his images are always stunning. 

National Geographic. Stunning photos, and they usually do a good job of providing context to help you understand the story behind the photo.

Open Society Foundations: Some of the best in-depth photojournalism I have seen on Instagram. OSF hires professional photographers to cover stories for several weeks at a time in various parts of the world. It makes it easy to follow that story and watch it unfold over time. Because the photographers are often dealing with human rights abuses, the subject matter can be heavy. But they usually manage to capture a spirit of hope as well.

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