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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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Signposts of Culture on an Unconventional Road with @mattslaby

To see more from photojournalist Matt Slaby’s test kitchen of photographic experiments, follow @mattslaby on Instagram.

Matt Slaby (@mattslaby) is a 6-foot-7 colorblind photographer based in Denver who was once told by Salman Rushdie that he was “too tall.” His Instagram photos are populated by spacemen, abandoned nuclear missile silos and fictional stories written for found snapshots.

"The signposts of culture are really set by the outliers and the weirdos," Matt says. He describes Instagram as his "test kitchen" for experimenting, receiving feedback and understanding “how subjects view their own world and what items they are tuned into."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Matt traveled an “unconventional road into the creative world,” working his way through university and law school as a wilderness firefighter and an metropolitan EMT before taking on photography full time—just a month after passing his law exams.

"I love how things take on apparent order when you view them from a macro or micro perspective," he says. "It’s the middle distance that’s confusing, chaotic and kinda absurd."

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Stories from Chicago’s South Side with @jonlowenstein

To see more scenes from daily life on Chicago’s South Side and learn the stories behind the images, follow @jonlowenstein on Instagram.

Photographer Jon Lowenstein (@jonlowenstein) came to Chicago’s South Side on an assignment fifteen years ago and made a home in the poverty-ravaged neighborhood. He began photographing his community with SX-70 and 4x5 film cameras, leaving a trail of Polaroid portraits with his new neighbors who nicknamed him “Photoman”. He transformed vacant apartments within his housing complex into community exhibition spaces called “The Island”, and taught photography classes at a local elementary school.

“When I started the project on the South Side, analog was the only way to go. Nowadays so many people in the ‘hood use Instagram that it is a real way to communicate on a local level, as well as national and international,” Jon says.

He credits his college classmate, David Guttenfelder (@dguttenfelder), for exposing him to Instagram, where he now pairs images from his neighborhood with the stories behind them. “I believe that the iPhone is the new Polaroid: I love that I can share my thoughts and observations in real time as I do the work. I find this part most satisfying when I can actually talk with people who I don’t know about issues that I cover.”

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Documenting the US-Mexico Border with Charles Ommanney

To see more photos from Charles’s work in Mexico and across the world, follow @charlesommanney on Instagram.

A desire to better understand the immigration debate brought photographer Charles Ommanney (@charlesommanney) to the United States’ border with Mexico.

"I flew from my home in Miami to Houston, Texas, where I bought an old Land Rover," says Charles, who then spent the next three weeks traveling 3,000 miles along the border. His journey, and the stories he heard along the way, left a powerful impression. "Many of the people found by the Border Patrol in southern Texas are arriving after traveling for weeks across difficult terrain, having given everything they have to the ‘coyotes’ that promised them a better life in the U.S. I found the spectacle of people realizing that the journey was over for them very depressing."

Through his photos and through The Fence, a forthcoming three-part documentary for MSNBC (@msnbcphoto), Charles hopes people “will see the facts and be able to make up their own minds about the complexities of this subject.”

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Exploring the World through the Different Photographers of @burndiary

To see more photo essays each week from contributing photographers around the world, follow @burndiary on Instagram and visit the Burn Magazine website.

When the curators of Burn Magazine, an online journal for emerging photographers, decided to start @burndiary in July 2013, they opted for a single strategy: to have a new photographer take over each week and publish a photographic diary of life around them.

“The beauty of @burndiary is that it’s a real essay in real time,” says Burn Magazine founder and photographer David Alan Harvey (@davidalanharvey). “You’re seeing it raw. People who can produce great images on a day-to-day basis on demand like this are very rare, but we get people in on the process.”

Mentoring photographers has been at the center of Harvey’s career as an assignment photographer, instructor and member of the Magnum Photos (@magnumphotos) agency. “I’ve always thought elevating the craft was a good thing,” says David. “Anyone who knows me knows I always share my secrets. On Burn, people can be part of a community and learn something useful to them. We’re all about photo education. What we’re doing on Instagram is all part of that.”

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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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On Assignment across Africa with @glennagordon

To see more photos and videos from photojournalist Glenna Gordon’s work in Nigeria, Liberia and across Africa, follow @glennagordon on Instagram.

"I love the informality of Instagram," says photojournalist Glenna Gordon (@glennagordon), who shares photos while on assignment across Africa. “It started as a scrapbook for me, and in some sense it still is: it’s a record of where I’ve been and what I’m working on.”

Glenna recently wrapped up an assignment in Nigeria and began a new one in Ghana. Senegal and Liberia are next.

"I never planned to be a photographer," Glenna explains. "I always wanted to be a writer." When journalism school proved uninspiring, however, Glenna visited her brother who was working in Rwanda. Working in such a different context "was the opposite of journalism school and I loved everything about it immediately." Soon after, Glenna moved to Uganda and began writing. Over time, she says, "I felt myself more and more pulled towards photography," which she now does almost exclusively.

Glenna seeks to present a more nuanced view of Africa. “I hope people see contrasts among places, and the moments in between. I hope they see individuals rather than groups, and individuals within groups, to make it harder to generalize and say, ‘Africa is this,’ or ‘Africa is that.’”

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On Assignment in Kenya with @balazsgardi

To see more photos and videos from photojournalist Balazs Gardi’s work in Kenya and elsewhere, follow @balazsgardi on Instagram.

Photojournalist Balazs Gardi (@balazsgardi) has spent the past decade documenting the effects of the unfolding global water crisis. Balazs’s work has taken him to more than 20 countries across Africa and the Middle East. Most recently, he finds himself in Kenya: “With the changing climate, the people of Kenya’s already arid Turkana region suffer greatly from the consequences of prolonged droughts,” he explains.

It was Balazs’s grandmother that sparked his interest in photography. “She had it in her head that photography was a good path for a young man with no patience for authority or office work,” he says. “She was right, and I discovered that photography was a way to learn about people, their situations and problems, and about the world.”

As he learns and shares the stories of people affected by the water crisis, Balazs says Instagram “has become a vital tool to share work that matters to me and allows me to put the image in context and deliver it directly to my audience.”

Balazs hopes his photos and videos will stir people to action. “By passing on my experiences, I’d like not only to inform but also to spark meaningful public dialog. As time goes on I hope my audience takes action that either directly helps people in great need or changes their own behavior for the better.”

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Ten Years of Documenting Illegal Poaching with @patrickbrownphoto

To see more photos from Patrick Brown’s forthcoming book Trading to Extinction, follow @patrickbrownphoto on Instagram.

Patrick Brown (@patrickbrownphoto) spent the past decade documenting the illicit animal trade around the world, but he actually honed his photography skills working with a different subject: dancers. “This was the best schooling if you ask me,” explains Patrick. “Well lit but low lighting, movement, pushing black and white film to its limits.”

Patrick’s focus shifted 12 years ago when he was asked to take photos for Black Market, a book documenting the trade of endangered species in Asia. “The book was completed in 18 months, but I knew I had only started to scratch the surface of this incredibly complex subject.” When Patrick’s photography won an award two years later, the prize money gave him the financial freedom to continue his work on the subject.

Trading to Extinction is the culmination of Patrick’s work, the goal of which is to stir people to action. “This is important not to me but to the subjects I photograph,” says Patrick, who turned to Instagram to give his work greater exposure. “There are a lot of people out there that won’t be able to get a copy of my book, but with Instagram I can quite literally touch tens of thousands of people. It’s a very powerful tool.”

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Photojournalists Sharing the World through Instagram, Part 2

People around the world are capturing and sharing moments from their lives through Instagram. This includes photojournalists, who travel the globe and tell other people’s stories as a career.

For a glimpse into the life of a photojournalist, take a look at these accounts:

  • Tim Fitzsimons, Beirut-based journalist — @tfitzsimons
  • Ed Ou, journalist based in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia — @edouphoto
  • Teru Kuwayama, Afghanistan and Pakistan-based journalist — @terukuwayama
  • Wissam Nassar, a photographer based in the Middle East — @wissamgaza
  • Damir Sagolj, Reuters photojournalist based in Bangkok — @damirsagolj
  • Daniel Berehulak, Australian photojournalist based in New Delhi — @danielberehulak

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Photojournalists Sharing the World through Instagram

Photojournalists from around the globe have begun using Instagram as an important part of their storytelling, using the intimacy and immediacy of mobile photography to open up new avenues of engagement with their audiences.

From Hurricane Sandy’s destruction to baseball’s opening season, photojournalists are capturing and sharing the world’s stories with people in real time through Instagram.

To tune into the news as it unfolds, be sure to follow these photojournalists:

  • Michael Christopher Brown, documents life in Congolese refugee camps — @michaelchristopherbrown
  • Ben Lowy, a conflict and feature photographer based in New York City — @benlowy
  • Phil Moore, a British photojournalist based in East Africa — @philmoorephoto
  • Kevin Frayer, the chief photographer for the Associated Press in South Asia — @kevinfrayer
  • Ivan Kashinsky, a freelance photographer based in Quito, Ecuador — @ivankphoto
  • Michael Yamashita, a documentary photographer for National Geographic specializing in Asia — @yamashitaphoto