I was asked a few weeks ago about my Instagram “strategy”: How do I choose who to follow? And why don’t I follow everyone who follows me?
The short answer is I don’t really have a strategy. I simply look for photos and photographers that challenge and inspire me to become a better photographer. And whose work helps me discover something new, however slight it may be, about our beautifully flawed world. That’s all. I’m not interested in anything else.
Instagram is a medium I’ll always use more to discover and share the work of others than to share my own. The number of followers I acquire is of no consequence. I’m delighted when someone chooses to follow my occasional posts. It makes me just as happy when someone unfollows me 24 hours after following me only because I haven’t followed them back.
Enough of that, which all brings me to these five photographers I’ve discovered in recent months when preparing for my current stint in South America.
Either from or working in the region, they’re all extremely good at capturing moments described as ‘everyday’, like the lead image above by self-described ‘street viewer’ Renato Stockler, a freelance photographer based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I was immediately drawn into this simple scene by the colorful variety of albums and the kiosk owner’s smile. This is a person who loves music and obviously enjoys his job as well. It compelled me to listen to Brazilian music for the rest of the afternoon. Thanks for that, Renato.
I first came across Stockler’s work, a delightful selection of minimalist images, always well-composed, through EverydayLatinAmerica. Check out their stream, too.
The Caracas-based Cegarra, who only began dabbling in editorial and documentary work in 2012, has quickly made waves.
First shooting for national dailies in Venezuela, he began to work as a stringer for the AP in 2013 and the following year was chosen by Magnum for its annual 30 Under 30 exhibit for his project ‘The Tower of David’, a story of a unfinished skyscraper in downtown Caracas that’s now home to about 2,000 families. More recently hes been busy covering anti-government protests in Venezuela, as in the shot below.
A Portuguese documentary photographer based between London and South America, it’s Leal’s work in the latter that first drew my attention when I noticed his photographs from several places in Bolivia that I visited two years ago. And seeing all the beautifully composed possibilities and stories that I missed, like this thoughtfully simple street scene in Uyuni.
A native of Guatemala, Martinez grew up and spent much of his life in Long Island, New York, before moving back to Guatemala City in the last decade where he covers social conflict, the environment and politics for the EFE news agency. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian and El Pais, among others. He’s the founder of EverydayGuatemala and a frequent contributor to both EverydayLatinAmerica and EverydayClimateChange, which I wrote more about last week and where I first came across Martinez’s work. Below family members of victims of the country’s armed conflict of the 1980s gather to commemorate the Day of Dignity.
I also discovered Villasana through EverydayLatinAmerica, an effort she co-founded after concluding her studies at the University of Texas. An emerging photojournalist based in Lima, her work on Instagram (all shot with an iphone) varies wildly, from images documenting transgender women in Peru to playful moments at sunset like the one below.