While there may be some dedicated photographers who continue to disregard Instagram as a platform for showcasing their work, an increasing number are embracing the service, seeing it as a way to take their images to a wider audience and make connections with like-minded shooters.
Recognizing Instagram’s growing popularity among committed photographers, Getty Images earlier this year announced details of a new grant for people “documenting stories from under-represented communities around the world using Instagram.”
Having spent the last few months evaluating images from more than 1,200 photographers in 109 countries, a panel of photographic experts from the likes of National Geographic and Time recently awarded $10,000 grants to three Instagram users.
One of the awarded photographers, Bangladeshi Ismail Ferdous (@afterranaplaza), has been using the photo-sharing site to document the aftermath of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse that occurred in his home country in 2013, killing more than 1,100 people.
“I didn’t want the world to forget about Rana Plaza,” he told Time earlier this year. On hearing about Getty’s award, he said it was “massive” for his ongoing project, adding, “It took a lot of research and effort to start a project on Instagram with a totally new approach, utilizing photos, stories, and audio.” Ferdous said the money will help him broaden the project’s scope by “connecting the dots” between the garment makers and consumers.
The work of Adriana Zehbrauskas (@adrianazehbrauskas), a Brazilian-born, Mexico City-based photographer whose Instagram work covers topics such as climate change and the documentation of the everyday lives of Latin Americans, also caught the eye of judges. She plans to use the cash to fund a project gathering portraits of the families of 43 students who went missing from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers School in central Mexico last year.
The third and final recipient, Russian Dmitry Markov (@dcim.ru), has been using Instagram to highlight the plight of orphaned children and encourage society to “look at the problems of such children in a humane way.”
All three photographers told Time they value Instagram for its ability to reach people beyond traditional media audiences.
Ferdous said that while he didn’t think the platform made any difference to the way he worked, he considered Instagram as “the bridge between your work and the audience, which is much larger than say, for example, the people who view your website.”
He added, “Instagram has the power of using visuals at its best on many different levels, from personal to entertainment to social issues.”