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Welcome to the Instagram blog! See how Instagrammers are capturing and sharing the world's moments through photo and video features, user spotlights, tips and news from Instagram HQ.

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User Feature, photojournalism, anastasia taylor-lind, portrait, negative zero,

Through the Viewfinder with @anastasiatl

To view more of Anastasia’s photos and videos, follow @anastasiatl on Instagram and visit her website.

“Traditionally, photographers are taught not to share their work before it’s finished,” says documentary photographer Anastasia Taylor-Lind (@anastasiatl). “What if someone steals your idea, or the work turns out completely different than what you told people it would be about? Photojournalism is all about being invisible, but I think it’s more honest to show how I work and how I make my photographs.”

Anastasia’s Instagram account stands as a deep look into her photographic process. Since October, she has been working on a long-term personal project called Negative Zero that documents population decline in 19 European countries. She’s shooting entirely on 6x6 negative film using her Hasselblad and Bronica film cameras, but by holding her iPhone above the viewfinder and making photos directly through the ground glass, what she calls “the view from my belly button,” she’s creating a whole new subset of photographs that can be published and shared instantly on Instagram.

For Anastasia, being so open on Instagram “allows me to muse on my own process. To sound things out and be encouraged. It’s a way of pondering what I’m doing.”

Her integration of digital and analog expanded to shooting video portraits when she found herself in Ukraine during the outbreak of anti-government riots in Kiev. With a custom-built flexible mount for her iPhone that attaches to the camera body, she devised a hands-free system to record video while making portraits of protestors inside the barricades of Maidan Square. Through these video portraits, we are able to watch her subjects prepare to have their portrait made: we see the slight shift in their stance, their gaze tilting, and ultimately, the precise moment Anastasia releases the shutter. These videos bring her subjects to life and provide an immediate, living connection to the images that Anastasia will release this summer in a book entitled MAIDAN - Portraits from the Black Square.

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User Feature, the netherlands, instameet,

Exploring the Netherlands with the #supersizoobrothers

For more photos and videos from the Sizoo brothers, browse the #supersizoobrothers hashtag and follow @bastiaansizoo, @willemsizoo and @bob_sizoo on Instagram.

Going on photowalks on bitterly cold mornings may not be every teen’s idea of fun—but for three Dutch brothers, Bastiaan, Bob and Willem Sizoo, this regular occurrence has fueled their creative passion.

"We started using Instagram around one year ago," explains Bob. "It has allowed us to give our creativity a boost. It was, and still is, the reason why we wake up early to go out and take photos in the fog together or to document our travels to foreign countries."

New York Instagrammer Ilitch Peters @ilitchpeters added the hashtag #supersizoobrothers in a comment on one of their photos, and Bob said they decided to keep adding it to create “a place where everyone can see who we actually are and what we do.”

Their photos, while often taken together, demonstrate different styles and approaches. Fog, sunsets, #jumpstagrams and city scenes, however, are staples in all the brothers’ feeds.

"As a family, we travel a lot," adds Bob. "Most of our photos are taken in the Netherlands on foggy mornings or during chilly sunsets. A lot of my photos are also taken in larger cities in the Netherlands like Amsterdam or Rotterdam. We regularly meet up in cities with friends who we met through Instagram; we then go out and explore the city. Sometimes we organize InstaMeets together.”

As one of the younger groups of InstaMeet organizers in the area, more experienced Instagrammers often speak of how talented the trio are, and they hope to see more young groups like them coming together.

"I hope to inspire the new generation on Instagram to explore the world, take photos with their phone or camera from places they visit and to go to InstaMeets and meet new people." says Willem.

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how i shoot, portrait, makeportraits, user feature, benjamin heath,

How I Shoot: Making Portraits with @benjaminheath

How I Shoot is a series where we ask Instagrammers to tell us about the set-up and process behind their photos and videos. For more of Benjamin’s portraits, follow @benjaminheath on Instagram. For more portraits from photographers across Instagram, browse the #makeportraits hashtag.

For Los Angeles Instagrammer Benjamin Heath (@benjaminheath), portraits are an artform. As he explains it, “Making a good portrait is hard, much harder than making a pretty landscape. I wanted to challenge myself. I felt a spark and I wondered if there were other folks in the Instagram community that shared that spark. The answer is a resounding ‘yes!’—there are!”

To Benjamin, there’s a difference between a portrait that you make and a photo that you take. “Make is such a strong word. I think it connotes a methodology or a particular rhythm to creating. If it’s going to be worthwhile you have to take time to make something. You have to hone your craft.” Benjamin, the creator of the #makeportraits hashtag, shares some of the methodology, craft and planning that goes into his own process of making portraits below.

Camera

"I use an iPhone 5s for mobile photos and shoot with a variety of digital and film cameras otherwise. I probably own too many cameras but I like picking up a camera I haven’t used for awhile. It’s like catching up with an old friend."

Planning

"Getting inspired with an idea is step one. I have a collection of photo books that I study for inspiration: Bruce Davidson, Alex Webb, Dan WintersPhilip-Lorca diCorcia blows my mind. I spend a lot of time studying photographers I love and am influenced by. Once I feel like I have an idea or some thoughts on what I want my photo to look like, I’m ready to go.

"Finding a good location is important. I like to shoot portraits that are more environmental with a sense of time and place along with the subject. For me, giving some background and environment adds depth. I think of these portraits as little 1/250 second plays that I’m directing—and this can be difficult or easy. Sometimes I’ll find something wonderful when I’m out and about and will make a mental note to come back when the light is right. Sometimes I see something online that I like and will add it to a running doc that I keep. And, you know, sometimes you stumble onto something terrific as it is and you’re fortunate to have a friend with you.

"Shooting with an experienced model is extremely helpful. I’ve been lucky to work with some great ones. That creative exchange between people is such a charge for me. I love working with people like that."

Editing

"I really don’t edit too much. I use a few of the VSCO (iOS and Android) filters pretty consistently, but like to add my own touch to each. My general view is that if I’m spending a lot of time editing a photo, I did a bad job of making the photo and it’s probably not a keeper.”

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Local Lens, Paris, User Feature, ruerodier,

Local Lens: The Backstreets of Montmartre with @ruerodier

In this series, local Instagrammers show you their favorite places to shoot around where they live. This time, we take a trip to Paris with Instagrammer Marissa Cox (@ruerodier)—a blogger who recently moved to the French capital. For more from Marissa’s adventures in Paris, follow @ruerodier on Instagram.

“For me, Paris is a feast for the eyes,” says Instagrammer and recently-arrived Paris resident Marissa Cox (@ruerodier). “From the narrow cobbled streets, medieval architecture and famous landmarks to the plethora of cute cafés and decadent patisseries, the city of lights is an Instagrammer’s dream.

"In Montmartre, the Sacré-Cœur is the main attraction. The angelic, ivory-white basilica towers over Paris just behind a flight of steps, which feature several levels of lookout points where you can capture beautiful views of the white and cream shades of the city. The best place to take Instagram photos of the basilica is from the little park below, which blooms with flowers in springtime and is near an equally beautiful and ornate carousel. I also love to wander the winding cobbled backstreets a little further off the beaten tourist track. I’m a big foodie and coffee addict, so I like to walk through the Place du Tertre and down Avenue Junot to Marcel for brunch or stop for a coffee at Soul Kitchen, just on the other side of the Sacré-Cœur, or Café Kooka Boora on my way back down to Rue des Martyrs.

"Rue des Martyrs, located to the south of the Sacré-Cœur, is a street of untapped treasures with a village feel to it. Be sure to shoot pretty bouquets at the many flower shops, the jewel-colored patisseries displayed in the window of Arnaud Delmontel and the rows of artisan cakes and chocolates lined up at chocolatier Sébastien Gaudard.”

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user feature, coffee,

Scouring the Globe for the Best Cup of Coffee

To see more photos and videos from the life of a traveling coffee buyer, follow @stephen_vick and @bluebottle on Instagram.

As the buyer for Blue Bottle Coffee’s green, not-yet-roasted coffee, Stephen Vick (@stephen_vick) travels to every corner of the globe. “I use Instagram to document my travels and show interesting, beautiful, quirky things that I see when I’m out in the world,” says Stephen.

It was in 2004 that Stephen began visiting the farms where coffee is grown. With those trips, says Stephen, “came a greater understanding that most of the challenges in producing a quality cup of coffee are hurdles that are faced by the producer,” like shortfalls in knowledge, resources and capacity.

In the past decade, Stephen has visited more than 17 countries in a variety of capacities, from teaching farmers best practices to working on the construction of more economical and sustainable processing facilities. Spending time in remote, tropical areas has also brought the occasional harrowing health experience: “In Northwestern Tanzania I contracted cerebral malaria, had kidney failure and went into a coma.” After a few months, Stephen regained his strength and returned to the work he loves.

These days, Stephen spends about half his time out visiting coffee farms. “My favorite is Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee and the most challenging and rewarding country to source from.”

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User Feature,

A Long Journey Home with @nashker

To view more photos and videos from Nathan’s travel across the globe, follow @nashker on Instagram.

After living and working in Hong Kong for a couple of years, United States Instagrammer Nathan Ashker (@nashker) decided to head back to his parents’ home in Tennessee, but with one caveat: he’d travel home without taking a single plane. “I wanted to combine my long-term travel desires with my journey back to America by traveling overland from South East Asia to the USA,” he says. Nathan is now at the beginning of his trip that started in March. He has planned an extensive backpacking journey by land and by sea that takes him across South East Asia, China, Russia, parts of Europe and finally through a long stretch of America from the East coast westward. Though the trip is largely on his own time, he has set a few deadlines to meet: a reunion with friends from Hong Kong in Cambodia later this month, the train ride from Beijing to Moscow in mid May and boarding the cargo ship in August that will take him from Northern France to New York. When all is said and done, he hopes to reach his final destination in roughly eight months time.

In addition to reunions with old friends, Nathan has plans to meet up with local Instagrammers as he travels: “When I started mapping my route I realized that I knew Instagrammers in many of the cities I’m going to visit, and so I hope to meet many of those people along the way.”

Nathan says he has met some of his closest friends through Instagram, and sharing this epic journey with them helps him persevere through any difficulties he meets on his travels. “It’s so wonderful to know that once I reconnect to the internet, I have a community of people to engage with and even meet when I arrive to their city,” he says. “This trip is very much a personal journey, but knowing that other people find it inspiring motivates me on the tough days (and there are many) and also humbles me to the scope of what I’m doing.”

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user feature, 45 degrees,

Exploring the World at 45 Degrees with @teaforbear

To view more photos and videos of different teas, follow @teaforbear on Instagram.

Russian Instagrammer Sergey Minkin (@teaforbear) has found a unique way of blending geometry and objects to create what he calls his perfect “cup of tea.”

He started his “Tea of” series more than a year ago, developing a passion for 45-degree angles in the process. “I was walking down the street and thinking about new compositions for a themed account but I wanted something which would last,” says Sergey. “My friends now joke that I can capture everything in 45 degrees. I started to get good feedback from people and I became more involved.”

Sergey also explains how he juxtaposes different patterns and objects to create the different compositions—or “teas”—of each photo. Says Sergey, “Every photo is ‘tea’ of something I find around. Tea of good mood, different angles. Actually it does not depend on 45 degrees, it’s just describing about what is this tea. There are complicated things, and there are things that are both simple and unclear at the same time.”

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ahmad_abi, User Feature, stuffed hair,

The Art of Stuffing Hair with @ahmad_abi

For more photos and videos of Ahmad’s hair, browse the #stuffedhair hashtag and follow @ahmad_abi on Instagram.

Egypt Instagrammer Ahmad El-Abi’s first #stuffedhair photo was originally a submission for the Weekend Hashtag Project on 2014 resolutions (#WHPresolutions2014). Ahmad stuffed his hair full of yellow rubber ducks he had bought in 2013 but never got round to doing anything with. Instead of creating a project about yellow rubber ducks, Ahmad had given birth to a creative and amusing new photo series on Instagram.

"Family and friends’ reaction to the photo was amazing," Ahmad muses. "I said to myself, I shall put stuff in my hair until I cut it and I made the ‘paper boats head' and the reaction was even more awesome and encouraging.”

Ahmad says many people comment asking how he creates the photos. “The most interesting (and difficult) photo was the ‘bubble head,’ because people couldn’t understand how the bubbles didn’t pop when they touched my hair. So I posted showing a making of the photo, which was really difficult to do. There were so many trial shots until I finally got one I liked.”

The reaction to the series from the Instagram community has inspired Ahmad to continue posting and explore a newfound interest in photography. “I hope to inspire others to open their eyes, to do what they love and to discover more about what they can do, because when I started photography three years ago, I didn’t know I would be doing conceptual/creative photography. I really love it when someone says my photos cheer them up because they are colorful and funny.”

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User Feature, matt steele, whpwhoopsie, april fools,

Celebrating April Fool’s Day with @mattsteele's Visual Wordplay

For more of Matt’s creative humor, follow @_mattsteele_ on Instagram.

For Ohio Instagrammer Matt Steele (@_mattsteele_), photography doesn’t always have to be a serious matter. For this April Fool’s Day, Matt—who’s “always doing something silly”—shares his thoughts on combining creativity and humor.

"In terms of a photograph, I’m drawn to silliness because it gives me the opportunity to create something unique and share it," Matt explains. "I have an incredibly tight-knit group of friends here in Ohio, and each of us are funny in our own distinct way so we’re always exchanging laughs."

Many of Matt’s photos are visual takes on wordplay and often make up part of his #WHPwhoopsie and #autocorrectgonefishing series, which are either puns on the Instagram Weekend Hashtag Project or scenes built out of humorous autocorrect malfunctions.

As Matt tells it, “The ‘whoopsie’ started when Instagram chose #WHPlighthouse as their weekend project. Arkansas isn’t exactly close to any lighthouses. I thought it would be fun to make a typo out of ‘lighthouse’ and photograph the result by creating something fun and silly, which happened to be a horse with a light bulb glued to it (‘lighthorse’).”

From there, the lighthearted series has grown into a weekly staple, with many looking forward to Matt’s creations and some even creating their own spin-offs as well. “When I posted the first whoopsie, I remember someone telling me to ‘please do this every weekend,’ so it stuck ever since. The encouragement I get to keep creating, as well as seeing other Instagrammers contributing their interpretation of the idea is what keeps me going.”

Can you guess the wordplay behind any of Matt’s photos above? Click on each to see the captions and inspiration for each project.

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User Feature, 3191 miles apart, home decor, craft, coffee,

Mornings and Evenings: 3191 Miles Apart

To view more photos from Maria and Steph, follow @3191milesapart on Instagram and visit their blog, 3191 Miles Apart.

Long before Instagram began, Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes found each other online and bonded over a mutual love of craft and simple domesticity. Living 3191 miles (5135 km) apart in the US cities of Portland, Maine, and Portland, Oregon, the two began a year-long project posting a diptych of their morning view side-by-side on their blog, 3191 Miles Apart.

They enjoyed the experience so much that they ran a subsequent year-long project of evenings, eventually met each other in person and later started a quarterly magazine, blog and shop together. Instagram was the natural next step for their daily photos of coffee and cereal.

"We decided to start the Instagram account to recapture some of the spirit of how 3191 Miles Apart began," explains Steph. "Instagram allows us to celebrate the everyday again." The pair alternate in posting photos from their morning and evening scenes with the signatures "MAV" for Maria and "SCB" for Steph, as well as some additions from newer members of the team.

"What I have loved about being on Instagram with my 3191 team is how our posts play off and interact with each other much as MAV’s and my photos did in our Year of Mornings and Evenings projects. I love to look at our grid of photos every now and again. Inevitably, the colors and shapes complement each other in amazing ways."