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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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Hashtag Highlight: #aprilfools on Instagram

To view more photos and videos from April Fools’ Day around the world, explore the #aprilfools, #aprilfoolsday, #aprilscherz and #poissondavril on Instagram.

Every year on April 1, people around the world celebrate April Fools’ Day. Though exact origins are unclear, the unofficial holiday has been popular since medieval times. Some Instagrammers celebrated the day by playing especially visual practical jokes on one other.

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Spotting #pizzainthewild with @jonpauldouglass

For more photos and videos from Jonpaul’s #pizzainthewild series, follow @jonpauldouglass on Instagram.

"There is a wall in my neighborhood I pass often that’s always covered in graffiti. One time I walked by there was a random pizza tag in the middle of the wall. I thought it was so funny—just a random pepperoni pizza there in the middle of the wall,” says Los Angeles photographer Jonpaul Douglass, creator of the #pizzainthewild hashtag. “I thought it would be humorous to do a photo series of real pizzas on random things, but I didn’t start doing the #pizzainthewild series until months after when I had a bit of free time.”

The series had humble beginnings. “For my first test shot, I just had a pepperoni pizza delivered and went around my neighborhood putting it on stuff,” explains Jonpaul. “I quickly realized that having the pizza sliced wasn’t the way to go. I wanted a pizza that looked more graphical with a nice separation between the cheese and pepperoni. Basically what I wanted was what I call ‘Ninja Turtle pizza,’ because the look of the pizza in those cartoons was perfect.”

After some trial and error, Jonpaul decided on Little Caesars (@littlecaesars) pizza. “The price is as beautiful as the pizza. Five dollars for a large pizza that much of time I reuse… It’s a steal!”

Jonpaul’s series has sparked the interest of pizza lovers on Instagram. “What I have noticed is that lots of people feel very passionate about pizza. So much so that I feel like it warrants a scientific study!” he says. “I’ve been contacted by many pizza fans over the past few months. One guy calls me his ‘honorary pizza brother’ which I get a real kick out of.”

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Hashtag Highlight: #promposals on Instagram

To view more proposal photos and videos, explore the #promposal on Instagram.

Prom season is officially underway in the United States. Prom, short for “promenade,” is a high school dance typically held at the end of a student’s senior year.

Elaborate, creative or funny “promposals”—asking someone to the dance—can reach mythic status, and students have been sharing some of their proposal experiences on Instagram.

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The Art of #muttmuggin with @muttadventures

For more photos of mutts in mugs, browse the #muttmuggin hashtag and follow @muttadventures on Instagram.

"Over the last couple of years I have fallen in love with the creative, unique and supportive community on Instagram," says Emily McCracken (@muttadventures), who shares whimsical portraits of her three rescued pups: Gertie the bull terrier, Boston the Dane mix and George the mutt. “It has allowed me to connect with people around the globe.”

Several months ago, Sarah posted a photo of George that would spark a new trend: #muttmuggin. “I was originally inspired when a friend showed me #babymugging photos by the ever talented @mommyshorts,” explains Emily. “The pictures were hilarious and adorable, so naturally I put George (my ‘fur-kid’) inside a mug.”

Since then, hundreds of other canines and their human accomplices have joined in. Interested in giving #muttmuggin a shot? Emily offers these tips:

  • "Every dog photographer needs to have three things on hand: a full bag of smelly treats, a nice squeaky toy and a tennis ball (or two). If you make it a fun experience for your pup, she or he will enjoy all the #muttmuggin that you can offer!
  • "For me #muttmuggin is all about the pup. Focus in on him or her and try to capture a funny angle, maybe a sideways mug or give a ‘bottoms up’ shot a try. Have fun with it!
  • "Try capturing the picture from the dog’s point of view, get down to their level, or set them up on a sofa or bed."

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Joining “The Wall Club” (#ザ壁部) with @ka_nai

To see more photos from “The Wall Club,” browse the #ザ壁部 hashtag and follow @ka_nai on Instagram.

"One of my followers once told me that all the photos I take on Instagram are of walls, so I decided to create a hashtag for it." This is how Tokyo Instagrammer Hisayuki Kanai (@ka_nai) came up with the idea for a unique hashtag to chronicle his wall photos: #ザ壁部, literally meaning “The Wall Club” in Japanese (the English equivalent of the hashtag is #straightfacades). Until very recently, the hashtag project became the center of his life as he searched for good walls to shoot whenever he went out.

"For me, taking wall photos is not meant to be ‘photography.’ I capture walls because it is something I can find anywhere to design a square frame in interesting ways," explains Hisayuki. "The trick to shooting wall photos is to just shoot straight!" he adds. "It takes a lot of patience aligning the camera in perfect parallel with the wall."

Hisayuki’s work quickly caught the imagination of other community members and the hashtag is now widely used by many Instagrammers across the world. “I’ve actually been thanked by other strange people like me who like to take photos of walls but didn’t know what to make of it,” he says.

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Inside the Bento Box: Exploring the Art of Charaben (#キャラ弁)

To see more photos of beautifully decorated bentos, browse the #キャラ弁 hashtag.

For many Japanese people, having home cooked bentos, or boxed meals, for lunch is a part of everyday life. Often parents will wake up early in the morning to prepare and pack the lunches into individual bento boxes for the whole family before they go to school or work. In recent years, the daily endeavor to prepare a balanced and appetizing meal has evolved into an artistic talent. These have taken the form of “charabens" (キャラ弁), short for "character bentos."

Charabens are bentos that are arranged to resemble famous characters, animals or other cute icons using the ingredients of the meal. Charaben making originally started as a way to encourage fussy kids to eat everything in the bento, including vegetables. Nowadays, with more cooking ideas and specialized tools at hand, this elaborate style of bento creation has become a hobby for many mothers. The bentos are increasingly sophisticated with rice balls shaped into rabbits, eggs baked to form stars and seaweed carved out into kids’ favorite manga characters. Skilled charaben are also beginning to gain recognition for their craft as many mothers have taken to writing blogs and cookbooks about their work, producing new cooking utensils or even entering charaben cooking contests.

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Finding Googly-Eyed Creatures Everywhere with @alen4a_b

For more photos and videos of googly-eyed monsters, browse the #я_тебя_вижу hashtag and follow project contributors @alen4a_b, @gmentezi and @olasimxa on Instagram

For Ukraine Instagrammer Alena Baranova (@alen4a_b), the world is full of living creatures many people fail to notice.

She loves bringing everyday objects to life and giving them new, unexpected identities. As she lets her imagination run wild, Instagram has become her creative sketchbook for ideas. Inspired by childhood games, she bought a pack of googly-eye stickers and began to post photos of her new living creations with the hashtag #ятебявижу, which translates to “I see you.”

"The hashtag ‘I see you’ is a continuation of my favorite story from childhood," she says. "The world is full of living creatures, and adults forget about it when they grow up—so I resurrected my favorite game about pretty monsters."

Other Instagrammers welcomed the project. Alena sent a similar packet of googly-eye stickers to Ukraine Instagrammer Evgeniya Drach (@gmentezi) to take part, who also shared the eyes with her sister Olga Simxa (@olasimxa). Since then, the three Instagrammers have been finding little monsters everywhere. “Evgeniya and Olga make cooking videos and spend a lot of time in the kitchen,” explains Alena. “That’s why food, vegetables and fruits are often the subjects of the project.”

As for Alena herself, she carries a special small box with the eyes in it so she is ready to shoot at any second inspiration appears.

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How I Shoot: Creating #swayingstructures with @renecharlesrichie

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 from René Charles Ritchie’s series, explore the #swayingstructures hashtag and follow @renecharlesritchie on Instagram.

"The moment an iPhone landed in my hands, it was over. I was documenting everything," says Instagrammer René Charles Ritchie (@renecharlesritchie) from Portland, Oregon, who has always been passionate about capturing photos and videos.

One day, when he was out shooting and experimenting with his iPhone’s panorama feature, he ended up with an unexpected effect. “I was taking a vertical panorama photo of a building and didn’t keep the phone straight. The result turned out to be pretty cool.” The accidental tilt as René Charles moved his phone caused a distortion in his photo, making it seem as though the building was swaying or leaning to the side.

"My first couple posts got some really cool feedback," René Charles says. He started a hashtag for the effect, #swayingstructures, and loves seeing how it’s started to catch on in the community. “I actually think a lot of people are better than I am at the technique. I let a few people in on the secret of how to take a #swayingstructures photo and was blown away by their posts. Every time I see one coming through my feed, I get really excited.”

Want to try creating your own #swayingstructures photo? René Charles provides the following tips:

Device

iPhone 4S or above

Vantage Point

"It all depends on what angle you want to get. I usually like my structures to lean up into a vanishing point. To achieve this I stand maybe twenty feet in front of the building. (This often puts me in the middle of the street.)"

Shooting

"Once you’ve found the building you want to sway, you take a vertical panorama of it. So, instead of side to side, pan upwards. While you are panning upwards, you tilt your phone to the left or right to ‘sway’ the building. I find the best technique is to lock my arms and bend my body rather than just the phone. This helps to get smoother edges. It usually takes me about ten shots before I get one that looks natural."

Editing

"I usually use an app called Afterlight (iOS and Android). It has a pretty simple interface and I love the adjustable filters. If I am using a filter, I’ll use Russ, Coral or Lume—and then maybe a little vignette to help with the focal point. I’ve been finding lately, though, that less is more when editing a photo. So I’ll maybe just turn up the shadows 30%, if at all, before posting.”

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Hashtag Highlight: Snooping Pets (#mascotaschismosas) in Mexico City

Share your photos and videos of curious pets with the #mascotaschismosas hashtag and follow @brokeniphone for more adventures throughout Mexico City.

"Here in La Condesa, a nice walking-friendly neighborhood in Mexico City, a lot of people have pets and walk them throughout the day in the streets or in the park," explains 26-year-old Chilango Instagrammer Felipe Lanz (@brokeniphone). “You can see them at midday hanging out by the windows, gates or doors. They look like they are gossiping—really observant of what passes by, chit-chatty even.” To capture the essence of these pets, Felipe started the #mascotaschismosas hashtag, which translates in English to gossipy or snooping pets.

To get just the right #mascotaschismosas scene, it takes a keen eye for pet expressions, but there’s plenty of room to get creative. “The picture just has to exalt the curiosity in the animal.”

Looking for more great pet-related hashtags? Check out #lonelydogchronicles, #flightswithruby, #peanutbutterseries, #catchseries and #petselfiez.

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Finding Peace in #WhiteonWhite with @myatilio

To see more from Sandra in Sweden, follow @myatilio on Instagram.

It took Sandra Lundin (@myatilio) a six-month break from photography and a drastic move to find her creative muse.

Before moving to Karlsborg in Sweden, a mounting pressure had stilted Sandra’s freedom to explore new photographic styles and stopped her shooting spontaneously. “About a year ago I was so overwhelmed with positive feedback that I started to feel forced to produce pictures just to keep everybody (well, mostly myself) happy,” the Swedish Instagrammer explains. “I could easily spend a whole day staging photos to try and make them look perfect. I realized that’s not what this community is about and decided to take a break while figuring out how to keep doing it and still have fun.”

Now, inspired by her surroundings, Sandra has found a tranquility to share. “I try to keep my photos clean, serene and peaceful, because that’s exactly how I feel when I visit these places,” she says.

One of her favorite series is White on White (#whiteonwhite), where Sandra’s creative combinations give a feeling of purity and calm. Want to take your own White on White photo? Sandra suggests finding different textures and shades to make objects stand out and, most importantly, having fun.

"I hope my feed inspires others to go out and find the beauty that’s waiting around the corner. And to have fun while doing it."