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.
I am working this week at an @ngphotocamp with Syrian refugee kids in Jordan. Today we visited the ancient Greco-Roman ruins in Jerash. This is Anwar Al Sayed – she is 15 years old and she says her favorite movies to watch are historical documentaries – when asked why, she said, “So I can learn about the past in order to change the future.” To see the work these kids are doing and more student photography from around the world, please follow @ngphotocamp on Instagram. So happy to be working with @mattmoyerphoto @brackjon @sepoulton @jmwender @projectamalousalam #iphone
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.
Life goes on in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province in Afghanistan's south. The amusement park pictured sits by the province's life-blood—the Helmand River—which irrigates the crops and generates electricity through the hydroelectric plant in Kajaki to the north. Despite the river's awesome capacity however, Lashkar Gah has been without power for seven weeks since power lines between the power plant and the provincial capital were cut by insurgents in the notorious Sangin district. Andrew Quilty / Oculi. 5.4.2015. #Helmand #Afghanistan
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.
Tavy, or burning of the forest to clear for planting, is illegal but local farmers in #Madagascar continue to do this despite the massive reductions of their forests. It is estimated that each year more than 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere from #deforestation, mainly the cutting and burning of forests, resulting in a loss of over 30 million acres of forest. #climatechange
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.
Gul Meena, 16, who was slashed 15 times with an ax by her brother, poses for a portrait in a #WAW shelter in Kabul. from the brilliant, heart-breaking piece on shelters in #afghanistan by @alissanyt "The women in the long-term shelter try to cheat sleep by huddling together in the dark, their voices a way to ward off nightmares. The torments they endured at the hands of their families are written on their bodies. Knife scars traverse their faces and necks. Beatings with chains mark their backs. Some limp from broken bones that were never properly set. Several have faces eroded by acid, a favorite weapon here." http://nyti.ms/1EaKXI1
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.
Photo by @paleyphoto (Matthieu Paley). Her face dusted in bedak sejuk, a cooling powder made of rice and pandan leaves, Alpaida paddles out to visit friends in stilt houses. The teen and her family belong to the tribal group known as Sea #Bajau because they live year round on their lepas-lepas, handmade houseboats. Check out the "Evolution of Diet" story in the September issue of National Geographic! Great text by Ann Gibbons. For the FULL IMAGE SERIES, go to @paleyphoto #stilthouses #Malaysia #Borneo #ocean #food #latergram #evolutionofdiet #paleodiet @thephotosociety @natgeocreative @natgeo
National Geographic. Stunning photos, and they usually do a good job of providing context to help you understand the story behind the photo.
Photo by @mattmoyerphoto – Celebrating the end of an amazing National Geographic Photo Camp in Jordan! Our team worked with Syrian refugee children teaching them to document their world with photography. To see the photographs the children took and more student photography from around the world, please follow @ngphotocamp on Instagram. #photocampjordan #PhotoCamp #ngphotocamp #studentphotography #studentphotos #syria #refugees #syrianrefugees #syriankids #empoweringthefuture The amazing team: @amytoensing @brackjon @sepoulton @jmwender @projectamalousalam @kellylynnlunde
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.
Indonesian migrant workers wearing their traditional dress on their day off. Indonesians represent the second largest population of migrant workers in #HongKong. One of the main human rights abuse they suffer is underpayment of wages.April 04,2015 #osf #opensociety #documentary #photojournalism #humanrights #asia #indonesian #migrants #DomesticWorkers photo by @xyzacruzbacani