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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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photography, women, human rights, child marriage, stephanie sinclair, too young to wed, india, User Feature, social change, instagram, portrait,

Inspiring Change and an End to Child Marriage with @stephsinclairpix

To learn more about the stories behind the pictures, follow @stephsinclairpix and @tooyoungtowed on Instagram. To see how you can get involved, visit the Too Young To Wed website and the Girl Summit website.

“She looked at me with tears in her eyes and spoke quietly, ‘In my whole life, I have never felt love.’ I continued to hear similar stories as I traveled, researching and photographing child marriage in countries like Nepal, Ethiopia, India and Yemen, Tanzania, South Sudan and even Europe and the US,” says photographer Stephanie Sinclair (@stephsinclairpix), who has spent more than a decade documenting the abuse of women and girls around the world.

Stephanie’s long-term photography project, Too Young To Wed (@tooyoungtowed), joins the UK’s Department for International Development and UNICEF at the first Girl Summit in London.

"I wanted to make sure that we got these images and stories in front of diplomats and policy makers who could enforce laws and support programs to provide more protection for these girls," she says. "I was sure if the rest of the world understood their lives as I had come to, real change wouldn’t be far behind."

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Architecture, landscape, portrait, local lens, singapore, user feature, photography, instagram,

Local Lens: Venturing off the Beaten Path in Singapore with @m_herwin

In this series, local Instagrammers show you their favorite places to shoot around where they live. To find refuge from Singapore’s busy city life, follow @m_herwin on Instagram.

"There is more to Singapore than those big, tall buildings that you see in travel pamphlets," says local Instagrammer Herwin van Johari (@m_herwin), who seeks out the quiet sanctuaries nestled in one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

For visiting nature enthusiasts, Herwin suggests a visit to the Southern Ridges, a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) trail that connects five of the city’s public parks. “The trail offers many vantage points that give you an amazing view of the city from some of the highest points in Singapore.” Other lush, photogenic escapes favored by Herwin include the Singapore Botanic Garden and MacRitchie Reservoir.

"If you are adventurous enough to explore further from the main island," says Herwin, "take a short boat trip to Pulau Ubin. Singapore is preserved in its rustic form here, and it’s a complete break away from the modern city.”

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history, portrait, art, Nelson Mandela, Mandela Day, photography, Instagram,

Paying Tribute to Madiba on Mandela Day

To see more tributes to activist and former South African president Nelson Mandela, explore the #MandelaDay and #Madiba hashtags.

Nelson Mandela was only 33 years old when a speech he gave incited a protest in Durban and first landed him in jail. Over the next 10 years, Mandela would be arrested three more times for his work fighting South Africa’s oppressive apartheid regime until a 1962 conviction for sedition sent him to prison for the next 27 years.

“I was hoping to capture some sense of the hardships he suffered,” retired Johannesburg math lecturer Vivien Budge (@vivbudge) says of the young Mandela portrait she painted, “the anger he must have felt at the injustices he witnessed and the relentless tenacity, determination and courage with which he fought for his beliefs.”

After his release in 1990, Mandela helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa and became the country’s first black democratically elected President. Mandela, who died last December but would have been 96 today, continues to inspire South Africans and others around the world to this day.

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art, portrait, taxidermy, user feature, chipito, instagram,

Bringing Taxidermy Back to Life with @chipito

To see more of Chipito’s surrealist taxidermy scenes, follow @chipito on Instagram.

"Bringing things that are not meant to be together into one image creates a new, disrupted story that hopefully inspires people," says Chipito (@chipito), the anonymous alter ego of two Belgian creative directors.

Chipito’s haunting, surreal photos bring together a love of photography, a desire to explore abandoned locations and a fascination with taxidermy that stretches back 25 years. “Our home is like a giant Wunderkammer,” Chipito explains. “It’s an inexhaustible source of inspiration.”

The jarring masked figures, says Chipito, are supposed to make the viewer feel a sense of unease. “We’ve always been passionate about controversy and curiosities, ” he says. “The ugliness is a reaction against the overdose of beauty in the media, and the masks against the voyeurism of social media and government surveillance.”

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Instagram, User Feature, iran, photography, hands, portrait,

Discovering Life Through Our Hands with Tehran’s @mo3eni

To view more photos and videos from Mohsen, follow @mo3eni on Instagram

"We always do our job with our hands, but we never focus on them," says Mohsen Oliaei (@mo3eni), an architecture student from Tehran who fills his Instagram account with photos from his daily life in a special and beautiful way. Mohsen uses hands in his photos to show our delicate interplay with the world around us: “We think that they’re just hands, but they aren’t. They put our feelings, thoughts and everything that happens in our minds into the things that we touch. They’re absolutely a bridge between our feelings and the outside world.”

Moshen says he relies on gut feeling when composing his photos. When shooting a small flower in his palm, for example, he “felt some love within it and thought that it needed a little light and a little help.” He further explains: “I felt a mixture of white light and my hand would remind some of serenity and peace. I think the center of composition is feeling—when you feel good about something, that’s the right composition.”

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Instagram, User Feature, makeup, art, louisiana, fashion, photography, portrait,

Making Up the Music with @stephanie_fernandez

To see more of Stephanie’s makeup looks follow @stephanie_fernandez on Instagram.

"What started out as a day at home experimenting with makeup has become my career aspiration and ultimately the love of my life,” says 19-year-old Louisiana Instagrammer Stephanie Fernandez (@stephanie_fernandez), who often acts as makeup artist, model and photographer for each of her makeup sessions. “I know my face and body better than anyone, so it is a very familiar canvas,” she explains.

Stephanie defines her makeup style as colorfully creepy. “The gory and creepy side of my style is influenced by my passion for horror movies and psychological thrillers,” she says. “Most of my makeup is also heavily influenced by music. I love to be able to create and see what I am hearing and feeling. I simply see it in my mind’s eye, and my hands do the rest.”

Stephanie’s dreams are as colorful and eclectic as her work. “I would love to do high-fashion makeup for NYC Fashion Week. I would love to have at least 100 art shows before I die. I would love to direct movies and creative direct music videos as well as open a studio to create SFX masks, canvas pieces and explore other media. I have no limits. My mind is constantly moving. I want to do it all.”

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art, vintage, portrait, user feature, Sandro Giordano, instagram,

The Whimsically Macabre Scenes of @__remmidemmi

To see more of Sandro’s explorations of “bodies with no regret,” follow @__remmidemmi on Instagram.

In his macabre, tragicomic photo series, Italian photographer Sandro Giordoan (@__remmidemmi) explores the willingness of people to put the safety of material objects before their own well-being.

When conceiving the project, _IN EXTREMIS (bodies with no regret), Sandro drew from personal experience. “Last summer I had a small but tough bicycle accident,” he explains. “I lost 30% of my right hand’s functions because I never let go of the object I was holding as I fell.”

When, shortly after, a friend broke his leg to prevent his smartphone from falling in water, Sandro became concerned. “We live in a time where we risk material things becoming more important than our own lives, and this is really worrying.”

Sandro channeled his concern into crafting meticulous and whimsical photos. “I immediately felt the urgency to capture the moment of impact. I wanted to talk about obsessions, neurosis and frailties of our times through my personal experience.” The resulting photos are at once humorous and haunting.

Many think that the wildly contorted bodies in Sandro’s photos are dolls or dummies. Not so, says Sandro. “I work exclusively with professional actors who are able to position themselves in anatomically impossible poses because they are trained to use their bodies to communicate.”

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portrait, landscape, central park, sketch, art, draw, photography, miki meek, jason polan, todayimet,

#TodayIMet with @jasonpolan and @mikimeek

In this series, Instagrammers share the stories of the people they’ve met in real life after discovering their work on Instagram. To see more photos and videos by these New York storytellers, follow @MikiMeek and @JasonPolan on Instagram.

Jason Polan (@JasonPolan) is on a mission to draw “every person in New York" and often shares those sketches along with other artwork on Instagram. Miki Meek (@MikiMeek), a radio producer for This American Life, has a knack for noticing and photographing quintessential New York City moments. After following each other’s work on Instagram for a few months, they decided to meet for a photowalk.

"What I like about Instagram is that by the time I actually meet someone in person, I’m already comfortable," Miki says. "I feel like we already have a rapport—we have a sense of each other’s lives."

"Instagram is such a great platform for art," Jason says. "The idea that I can make something and then instantly thousands of people can see it is really exciting."

Despite the rain on the day they met, Jason made drawings and both of them took pictures. “Miki has a really nice subtle feel in the pictures she posts,” Jason says. “I would love to collaborate more with her in the future.”

"It definitely would be fun to pick a neighborhood or a long walk that started and ended somewhere specific," Miki adds. "It’d be interesting to compare all the people who made us stop."

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User Feature, portrait,

Finding the Light with @fabsgrassi

For more photos and videos from Fabs, follow @fabsgrassi on Instagram.

"I believe in getting my hands dirty more than I believe in inspiration, but I can’t deny that a book, a song or a conversation can fuel my energy for shooting," says São Paulo Instagrammer Fabs Grassi (@fabsgrassi). “The idea that we have an infinite creative repertoire inside of us reminds me of the Ansel Adams quote, ‘You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.’”

Fabs, a fashion designer, considers himself just a regular guy. “I have a job and I like going out with my friends. Of course, waking up at six in the morning to catch the right light for a photograph does not seem normal to most people.” Recently, however, Fabs shifted his focus from street photography to portraits. As he explains, “In 2013 my street photography sort of hit a wall. I felt it was time to try and refresh my ideas and find something less frenetic. I started picking out songs by my favorite bands and attempting to recreate their atmosphere through photography. I got some friends of mine to pose for these shots. They were really nice and brave about being my guinea pigs.”

Fabs has also started incorporating shadows, once used heavily in his street photography, into his portraits. “Shadows help create a really unique atmosphere for each photo session, where light takes on a different form in each portrait. I try to create an intimate image, something that feels languid and not too sexy. Usually, the woman posing in the photograph greatly influences the final result, so a photo session might start one way and have a surprising outcome.”

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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.