For more from Rowan, follow @rowanblanchard on Instagram.
“#Hellomynameis Rowan Blanchard (@rowanblanchard). I am a 13-year-old student, actress, activist and aspiring writer. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, even though my heart belongs to New York City. Acting is something I have adored since I can remember — I started when I was five, which led to booking my show Girl Meets World in 2013. Acting gives me a better understanding of humans, and makes me far less judgmental of people, because I can see the world through their eyes.
I am not shy to speak my mind on anything, and I encourage my fans to be the same. I want teens my age to know that they have a voice and it should not be silenced. I have been lucky enough to grow up around people who have let me use my voice to speak up about things I see. There is not an age requirement on when to start changing the world.
Education is something that’s extremely important to me. Unfortunately, many kids who are actors don’t value school, but my biggest hope is to go to the Columbia School of Journalism and then Oxford University. Besides being on Broadway and baking a perfect apple pie, it is on the top of all my dream boards.
Acting has given me confidence and strength in my voice, which led to working with HeForShe through social media. I teach my followers about gender inequality and how we can change it. I use Instagram to share things that I genuinely care about, whether it be the Armenian genocide or my dog getting scared of the rain. I hope that my pictures inspire anyone of any age to understand the value of their voices.”
For more ‘Blade Runner’ details in the world, follow @bladerunnerreality on Instagram.
“I am personally interested in random places that have the ‘Blade Runner’ feel,” says Ryan Allen, a PhD student from New York, who co-created the account @bladerunnerreality to post pictures of places that are aesthetically similar to Ridley Scott’s cult film.
“We realized we had a lot of photos of a certain kind of architecture or lighting which evoked flashbacks of ‘Blade Runner.’ We both loved the look so we got pretty excited about finding more of it in New York pretty quickly,” adds the other creator, Siddharth Chander, who now works in education in Washington, D.C.
They are also fascinated by the craft shown in the film. “The future isn’t clean, like so many other movies depict. It’s just this one little detail that builds this very real-feeling world,” says Ryan. Siddharth adds, “Yes, I think the detail is really inspiring. That kind of thinking resulted in one of the most beautiful films ever. You’d like to see that sort of creativity encouraged more often.”
Both Ryan and Siddharth share their own images of ‘Blade Runner’-inspired sightings, and also curate submissions of original pictures on the account. “For instance, we recently had one from Kazakhstan, which I don’t think is a place that immediately evokes a futuristic look,” says Ryan. Siddharth adds, “The best part of this whole thing was that right from the beginning we were contacted by a few people from Europe and South America who just loved it.
“We aren’t telling a story, each photo sort of tells a different story and then the next day it’s something new entirely,” says Siddharth.
Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @instagram and look for a post announcing the weekend’s project every Friday.
This weekend’s prompt was #WHPholdstill, which asked participants to take creative videos while holding their camera completely still in order to capture the motion in a set frame. Every Monday we feature some of our favorite submissions from the project, but be sure to check out the rest here.
To see more of Carl’s highline views, follow @carlmarrs on Instagram.
“It’s like, ‘Yeah I’m out here balancing on a one-inch-wide [2.5 cm] band of nylon fibers above a great drop, and I feel really good about it. Yeah, I like this. This is good.’” Welcome to the inner-dialogue of Carl Marrs (@carlmarrs), a 23-year-old climber and highliner from Seattle. Highlining is slacklinging – walking on webbing that is fixed to two anchors – but at elevation. “I think it’s cool that as human beings our mind has the power to transform a situation from something dangerous into something exhilarating,” Carl says. But before ever becoming attracted to the adrenaline of great heights, Carl was inspired by the photographs of climbers and highliners he admired.
Carl started climbing with high school friends in 2010 and later discovered a passion for slacklining during a trip with to Yosemite, the site where some believe slacklining was invented. “I’ve slacklined as much as possible since then and don’t see any signs of slowing down,” he says. Through slacklining, Carl has found more than just an athletic challenge with amazing views. He has found belonging in a vibrant community. “The times I’ve spent at highline festivals surrounded by the tribe are the best of my life,” Carl says.
While Carl enjoys being out on the ropes with fellow athletes as well as sharing his photographs with a diverse community, he also values the meditative and solitary feeling he gets out in the wilderness. “The best moments come when I’m out in the middle of a highline, comfortably balancing, feeling a light breeze blow by and hearing nothing but the calls of swooping birds echoing through the canyons hundreds of feet below me.”
“I love certain tones, like whites and browns and reds and oranges. But the most important thing is lighting,” says 23-year-old film composer Eric von Fricken (@ericchristian).
Eric, who’s based in Boston, began playing piano at the age of four. However, he only got into taking photos recently, thanks to a good friend who’s a professional photographer. Now Eric approaches his pictures the same way he writes his music: through an outside eye, with a willingness to revise and revisit his work.
“It’s easy to get pulled in when you’re creating or you’re taking a photo,” he says. “But to be able to step back and look at it like it was from somebody else, I use that a lot with music and photography. You write and rewrite. Maybe the melody should be a French horn or maybe it should be a cello. There’s no right or wrong answer to photography or music, it’s just which route do you want to go.”
For more imaginative character studies from Joey, follow @joeyellis on Instagram.
For Joey Ellis (@joeyellis), drawing is a study of relationships. “You can’t treat your younger sister the way you treat your grandma. They are at totally different stages of life. Drawing characters is similar,” says the Charlotte, North Carolina-based illustrator. Joey’s work is filled with bold, off-the-wall personality — from dragons in business suits to robot musicians.
“I love creating things that look one way, then different when you see them in a whole different world,” he says. “Things that are out of context, being used by someone else out in the wild. To me, that’s very gratifying.”
While experimenting with mismatched environments is important to his character work, the thing that weaves all of Joey’s projects together is something more simple: fun.
“I think everyone has the same problems. Everybody carries around heavy, sad things throughout their life — everybody — and it’s possible to handle it in a positive and silly way,” he says. “Life is short.”
Around the Community
To see more photos from photojournalist Guy Martin, follow @mrguymartin on Instagram.
Photojournalist Guy Martin (@mrguymartin) won’t exactly say what he’s doing in a mountain village in Bulgaria photographing ceremonial outdoor wedding beds. He professes, however: “Those pictures and the real reason behind those images will become clear at the end of the year—believe me, those beds are just the beginning!”
Creating a sense of playful intrigue through the images on his feed is par for the course for Guy. Raised in the southwest of England but based in Istanbul, Guy moves fluidly between long-term personal projects and editorial assignments for major publications. One week he’s in Turkey continuing his on-going series on the rowdy world of Turkish soap operas and the next he’s road tripping across Ukraine for a magazine story. In either case, Guy’s unique visual interpretation of the world around him is a constant. “For me, successful documentary photography has to come from a very personal, subjective place. I try, as much as is possible to weave my personal experience into every single picture I take. Otherwise, what’s the point?”
Guy’s path to professional photography wasn’t a straight line. He actually used to be a semi-professional bodyboarder. But since his teen years the calling of photography was strong. “I think from about 17 or 18, I knew that my attention was being diverted into the world of social engaged photography, images and visual storytelling,” he says. Coming into adulthood during the early years of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan only pushed him further to his calling. “I was too young to cover them professionally, but those wars, and events from the Middle East greatly shaped my outlook and engagement with the world.”
The first time Adrian Portia (@adrian_portia) laid eyes on a handpan drum was in an online video in 2008. He fell in love with it immediately. The instrument, designed by a Swiss couple from Bern, Switzerland, was less than a decade old then. It was a bit like an inverted steel pan, except instead of mallets it was played with a person’s bare palms.
Unfortunately for Adrian, a trained drummer and percussionist who grew up outside Melbourne, Australia, getting one would take more than his checkbook. The handpan –– or as it was called at the time, the hang –– was made from steel and hand-tuned with a hammer. Creating one was an intricate, time-consuming process, and the chances of owning one himself were slim. The only way was to write a handwritten letter to the Swiss couple, who were then the only makers of the handpan. If they accepted you (a big if, considering the number of letters they received), you would fly over to Switzerland, pay for it and come home.
“I was kind of deterred at the time,” says Adrian, who, at the age of 10, was taught how to play the drums by his musician father. “But it was always in my mind. I always knew that I was going to play this instrument, I just didn’t know when.”
Still, the length of time to get one could be torturous. But Adrian was persistent – and lucky. One morning, he awoke at five and went onto the website of a music store he had visited in Long Beach, California.
“I don’t know why but something just told me to go on and check it out,” recalls Adrian. “He had four instruments up for a flash sale. And three of the instruments he wasn’t really happy with the quality so he had a discounted price. But one was a good quality instrument. And I just went, boom, buy now.”
Adrian soon began playing the handpan and recording the results. Over the last two years, he has become known for his unique percussive style, performing grooves and melodies at the same time. Each of his videos shows a close-up on the drum, with his hands skipping across the surface like pebbles on water.
“A lot of players just come along and belt them. The thing is, if you strike it too hard you detune the instrument quite quickly, because it is hand-hammered,” he says, adding, “For me it was a little bit easier to adapt. But it’s been a constant learning curve.”
Adrian has been proud to impart his evolving handpan knowledge onto younger musicians, giving lessons and making it the driving force behind his upcoming solo album. Unlike the guitar or the piano, the handpan is still in its infant stages. Adrian, along with the community of handpan players from around the world, has the chance to shape how it’s seen and heard by future generations.
“We’re making the history of this instrument right now,” he says. “It’s quite a magical instrument.”
–– Instagram @music
To see more of Rui’s graphical black-and-white photos, follow @__darkwhite__ on Instagram.
Just over a year ago Rui Veiga (@__darkwhite__) picked up photography as a hobby and has since developed his own visual voice, focusing on silhouettes, contrasts and graphic shapes. “I like taking pictures in black-and-white because it travels through time and adds a touch of supernatural,” says Rui, who lives in Lausanne, Switzerland. “It is a style that allows me to go straight to what inspires me.” Most of his images are precisely planned and he often uses friends as his subjects, although sometimes he waits for pedestrians to naturally appear in the right spot.
Here are some of Rui’s tips for shooting high contrast photos:
Camera: Canon 7D, iPhone 6
Vantage Point: “To start with, look for lines, shadows, perspectives or light sources in geometrical forms and place your subject on it.”
Shooting: “Think of your composition and use the rule of thirds, so that your photos have more impact.”
Post-Production: “In post-production I use Lightroom to create the black and the white, correct the perspectives, refocus and reframe.” In Photoshop, Rui retouches more precisely – strengthening shadows and deleting or modifying elements, if desired. “I use Snapseed on my smartphone to finalize my photos before posting them on Instagram.”
Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @instagram and look for a post announcing the weekend’s project every Friday.
The goal this weekend is to take creative videos where you hold your camera completely still in order to capture the motion in a set frame. Some tips to get you started:
PROJECT RULES: Please add the #WHPholdstill hashtag only to videos taken over this weekend and only submit your own videos to the project. If you include music in your video submissions, please only use music to which you own the rights. Any tagged video taken over the weekend is eligible to be featured Monday morning.
Monthly Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @music on Instagram.
This month’s prompt was #MHPlive, which asked participants to create images of a live musical performance. Guest curator Sacha Lecca (@sachalecca) selected some of his favorite submissions from the project, but be sure to check out the rest here.
To see more of Phil’s food hats, follow @chiliphilly on Instagram.
When Phil Ferguson (@chiliphilly) isn’t serving up tasty burgers at Tuck Shop Take Away in Melbourne, Australia, he’s crocheting hats that look like pizza slices, plates of spaghetti and eggplants. “I started watching the TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race and got a real appreciation for drag,” says Phil, who began the project as an experiment. “I was thinking of different sorts of hats that I could create a character with.” His creative process is simple and never takes more than a day. “I think of a food first, then get appropriately colored wool and go from there,” he says. “I don’t plan or sketch, I just do. I usually sit there for hours on end just so I can finish one hat in a sitting.”
Phil taught himself how to crochet from watching online videos. His first piece, a full-head cowl, was an experiment that turned into a larger project. “I tried a potted plant next, then a burger,” he says. “After seeing how popular the burger was, I kept looking to food for inspiration.”
For Phil, each piece has its own sentimental value. “Always in the back of my mind I thought I could make them an extension of me.”
In this series, we let local Instagrammers show you their favorite places to shoot in their city. For more from Bordeaux, explore the Bordeaux location page. To see more photos from Jean, follow @poutge on Instagram.
(This interview was conducted in French.)
Famous for its beautiful squares, expansive parks, architecture and of course housing some of the best wine in the world, 27-year-old Jean Luxe (@poutge) says the southern French city of Bordeaux has much more to offer than is originally perceived. Born in Dax, Jean moved to Bordeaux four years ago and lives in the heart of the city, whose historic center has earned a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Jean works as a computer technician by day, but scours his local area for good places to shoot photos in his spare time. “The architecture is really quite special, and some places are well worth going out of your way to see,” he says.
“Whenever I have some free time, I pick up my camera and my phone, and I go for a walk, either on my own or with friends,” he says. “I take photos of anything that catches my eye.”
Here are some of Jean’s favorite places to shoot in Bordeaux:
The first time singer Asaf Avidan (@asafavidanmusic) performed live was at a dingy venue in Jerusalem. He had only seven or eight tracks to his name at that point, and had to go to 15 bars around the city before finding one that would let him perform them. By the time he got on stage, the event had all the markings of a bad first date.
“I started strumming my guitar, and everybody, even friends, were just talking louder because they couldn’t hear themselves,” recalls Asaf. “I remember sitting there saying, ‘Oh my god, this is going to be hell.’ And then I started singing…”
If you were talking when the first lyrics came tumbling out of Asaf that night, you would have shut up too. Calling his voice “distinctive” doesn’t do it service. It’s high-pitched, ethereal, androgynous –– it creaks and crackles and wails –– and over the last decade, it has turned him into a star, both in his native Israel, and throughout Europe. Asaf still stays humble, though, by capturing the authentic bits and pieces you don’t always associate with rock stars, from sewing a shirt 10 minutes before a show to signing hundreds of CDs for a future giveaway.
“People have this vision or imagination of what rock stardom is,” he says. “I would find myself back in this little scene of loneliness waiting for time to pass or needing to iron my clothes because you crumple them up in your luggage and carry them all around and you have another show the next day and you aren’t going to have time to wash it. I find these little moments so ironically pathetic and beautiful because they are so real.”
The son of diplomat parents, Asaf didn’t start singing or playing music until he was 17. By then, he had moved back to Israel, after spending his childhood years in Jamaica. Even then, he was not interested in pursuing it, instead turning his attention to being an animator. But he would eventually convert to songwriting full time at 26 –– a late start, yes, but one Asaf, now 35, considers an advantage.
“It is a huge whirlwind –– it’s a huge gale trying to carry away particles of you,” he says of the pressures of being a professional musician. “And you have to stay complete and you have to stay whole and you have to understand what it is … I pity people who are not fully baked as mature when they start out.”
Immaturity would have crippled someone in Asaf’s position during the release and subsequent tour of his latest album, Gold Shadow. The record, his second as a solo artist (his previous efforts were with the folk-flecked group, Asaf Avidan and the Mojos), is about Asaf’s previous girlfriend, and their subsequent breakup. But there’s an added emotional twist: his former love is now part of the band, and has been playing the songs Asaf wrote about her on his current tour.
“It’s difficult,” he says. “I mean, it took us a while. There were a couple of months where we really had to separate physically from each other … She always said, ‘I am dreading the day you will write songs about me.’ It was always kind of a running joke. And it finally did happen.”
Knowing that the woman who inspired the album is now performing it herself gives lyrics like “Lately I’ve been picking at the fossil in my throat / it’s hard to stare into the ocean and to try to stay afloat,” an extra emotional punch. They are friends now, but Asaf admits it’s a complicated situation –– not just because she was the reason behind the record, but because she has been a part of his artistic career from the start –– first as a PR agent, then tour manager, then band member.
So far, the deeply personal Gold Shadow has been received warmly, from both critics and audiences alike. He ultimately sees the album as a diary –– a time capsule to a difficult moment in his life that has already passed. It’s certainly more intimate than his previous work. The constant is his voice, which is just as raw and inspiring as it’s always been.
“It is always surprising the more intimate and the more personal something that I do is, in some ironic way, the more accessible it is to others. It strikes some chord in them that I don’t really understand the mechanism of.”
For more behind-the-scenes photos of Fideli’s paper art, follow @fidelisundqvist on Instagram.
“My favorite things to build are characters, like a parrot for example,” says image-maker and paper artist Fideli Sundqvist (@fidelisundqvist) of Uppsala, Sweden, who creates three-dimensional objects and environments for images and props.
During her degree studies, Fideli found a way to work with 3-D paper to build characters and environments like a puppet theater. “It made it possible for me to feel the characters, and to make images and tales more intuitive. It’s a playful way to work, and opens up various opportunities and ideas.” She likes to post the behind-the-scenes process of her art, which is used for everything from digital and print campaigns to city projects in Sweden.
To create a parrot, Fideli searches the Internet for images for a collage, then draws onto card stock before cutting using a scalpel, shaving small strips for the feathers, and mounting these onto the base using double-sided tape. Then she adds details like claws, eyes and wings. “I often build only half-models, so one side is always flat. This is time efficient and works well for shooting,” Fideli says.
“I want to wake the child inside us regularly, so we do not forget that they exist in us. I think life can be a little more exciting and fun that way,” she says. “I hope people feel inspired, and for a while can go into their own fantasy worlds.”
To keep up with creative director John Gall’s graphic design adventures and discoveries, follow @llagj on Instagram.
“Who wouldn’t want to be a time traveler?” asks John Gall (@llagj), the creative director at Abrams Books, a New York art and illustrated book publisher. Following John on Instagram is like being lead on impromptu meanderings through different vintages of graphic design eras. His feed is a guided time travel with whimsical stops to admire bold fonts, witty titles, original artwork, unexpected pairings and design experiments that often feel fresh and contemporary all over again. “I am very much interested in how design from the past has influenced the things of the present and how they will continue to influence the future,” he explains. “The slow push forward has always been built on the backs of what came before.”
To keep his design senses sharp for work, where he creates book covers, John keeps up a steady practice of making collages at home in New Jersey. “It started as an exercise in stepping away from the computer and the design process and focusing on what can be made with materials at hand—working simply with scissors, paper and glue and giving myself the permission to make something just because I want to see what it looks like. Although the process has restrictions, it’s terribly exciting, as I get to discover all kinds of new juxtapositions and associations that arrive out of seemingly nowhere.”
“We’re pretty much best friends despite being actually related,” says Todd, who, at 34, is the younger of the two siblings.
“I think we have a similar shooting style,” adds Chris, 36. “At the same time it’s different enough and there’s enough overlap to make it common, but a wide enough spread that there’s value to having both of us shoot at the same time.”
Chris and Todd have been taking photos together for almost a decade. Growing up in St. Louis, the two were music fans from an early age, with tastes ranging from classic rock staples like the Beatles and Donovan, to ‘90s heyday groups including Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots. The duo would go on to attend Washington University, but never considered music photography as a means of stability until Todd received an invite to a concert in 2006 for the relatively unknown Avett Brothers.
“I went on a whim, and I brought my camera along,” he says. “I figured if I didn’t enjoy the music I could always entertain myself by shooting photos.”
Surprise: He ended up loving both. He was soon applying for credentials to concerts he already planned on going to. Todd eventually followed suit. After work for some local papers, they began shooting concerts for Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and Q Magazine, before turning to more corporate- and band-related gigs for the likes of Red Bull Music Academy and country star Jason Aldean.
“There is just this addictive quality to being right up front, closer than the fans are, right up at the stage and having the best access –– and ringing eardrums in the morning,” says Todd.
Of course, convincing publications or other organizations to take on two photographers instead of one can be risky –– there’s the increase in cost, logistics, etc. But having two also means the ability to cover a wider area of ground.
“One person can get safe shots and the other one can be more free to do the risky shots,” says Todd.
Adds Chris, “It might be a stadium of 70,000. To go to the very top and wait for the shot and then hike back 20 minutes –– half the show is over by the time you get back into position to get the normal stuff.”
Not every “risky shot” is worth the climb, but they sometimes pay off: In 2008, a photo Todd took at dusk of a Dave Matthews Band show in St. Louis ended up as the black-and-white cover art for the group’s live record.
The Dave Matthews record is the type of thing the brothers strive for. In an era of endless cell phone images, Todd and Chris are just looking to capture memories –– both on stage and off –– of the musicians and the crowd that live long past the actual event.
“I think there’s something nostalgic documenting rock and roll history,” says Chris. “If I can even create a couple pictures that are remembered in that way, that will be really special for me.”
As usual, Todd agrees with his older brother.
“If there’s a fan that has a photo of mine on their wall or is the desktop or screensaver on their phone, that’s success for me. Making those kinds of images is the kind of thing we strive to do.”
–– Instagram @music
To see more of Hadeer’s photography, follow @hadeermahmoud1 on Instagram.
“We have here in Egypt many women in the photojournalism field,” says 24-year-old newspaper photographer Hadeer Mahmoud (@hadeermahmoud1). “The profession became more popular with the revolution, and after it, because of the huge number of websites and newspapers that appeared.”
Hadeer was still a teenager when the Arab Spring swept across the Middle East, changing the lives of millions of people — including hers. As world events unfolded around her, Hadeer left behind her life as a law student and pursued her interest in photography, which gave her access to the lives around her.
“It makes me near real people,” she says. “And I do love to take pictures of people wherever they are — at protests, in the subway and the streets. Photojournalism made me start seeing life from a different point of view, and take care of each and every detail, and when I look back to my photos I find them making history.”
For more nature photography from the Ukraine, follow @derzhanovskaya on Instagram.
“#Hellomynameis Anna Derzhanovskaya (@derzhanovskaya). I am 21 years old and from Kiev, Ukraine. I like watching the sunrise early in the morning and walking in the foggy woods or high mountains. The forests and lakes give me so much creative energy — these are the best places to feel emotion. I want to demonstrate the beauty of my country, hoping that others might fall in love with its nature as deeply as I have.
My favorite activity is photography. For me, taking photos is a great method for self-realization. Creating pictures is an art — like painting. When I see how many wonderful things surround me in nature, I feel happy. I carefully prepare the content I share on Instagram. I try to take high-quality pictures with special meaning.
I am inspired by three things: talented people, happy people and wonderful landscapes. I dream of visiting many countries, sharing my experiences with people and inspiring others to travel, or even just walk in the park. I hope to someday transform taking pictures from my hobby to my job.”