Instagram has been a huge part of my daily life. There are tons of great photographers out there who post stunning images on the app that get me really hooked, but what I find more amazing is the fact that some people out there have managed to use Instagram for their purposes in a way that goes beyond just photos of daily life (yes, I’m one of the guilty ones who only posts food, coffee and dog pictures).
Instead, these people have used Instagram to either showcase a meaningful additional layer that exists parallel to what they do in real life outside of the app (this tends to apply to publications), or have used the photo service in a fun way to engage users (this tends to apply to marketers). Some post photos that seem built to exist on Instagram, while others apply creative ideas that make their Instagram photos stand out.
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
I know there are plenty of awesome creative Instagram users out there, so if I’ve missed any you think I should include, feel free to leave a comment. In the meantime, here are the ones that have really impressed me.
An interface designer and photographer from Northern Ontario in Canada, Andrew Knapp is one of my favorite Instagram users. Instead of letting Instagram’s smaller pictures (compared to high-resolution photos on the Web) deter him, he has developed an addictive way of engaging people: #findMomo.
Basically, his photos typically show his dog, a Border Collie named Momo, in various settings where it can’t be seen at first glance. All you do is try to find Momo to feel a sense of personal accomplishment.
Malaysian artist Hong Yi, who goes by the nickname ‘Red’, is known as the artist who loves to paint, but not with a paintbrush. Her works have been picked up by media all over the world, and she obviously has a blog. However, she is much more active on Instagram now where she runs mini-projects to display works using a certain medium.
Her latest project is a 20-day challenge called ‘Make-up meets Chinese art’, where she uses make-up to paint pictures and then snaps them to post up on Instagram.
Self-taught photographer Adam Elkins, who is based in Columbus, Ohio, has an obsession with puddles. After starting a hashtag series called #portraitsinpuddles, which was featured on an Instagram blog post, he has now moved on to #puddle_warfare. Elkins takes photos of people or sights that are reflected in bodies of water, creating a beautiful dual image that adds a lot more depth to each and every posting.
Russian photographer Murad Osmann made the headlines earlier this year for his unique photo composition on Instagram. His photos are mainly of his girlfriend leading him by the hand in various places all around the world — travel photos with an entirely different spin.
It helps that the images are extremely beautiful, as he embarks on travel adventures in the most amazing places ever.
American Artist Ryan McGinness has been compared to Andy Warhol and is known for drawing the attention of the art world to the silkscreen, Warhol’s favorite medium.
On his Instagram feed, McGinness is single-minded: he only features what he calls “grams” — various typography types contained within black circles. According to Art News, the phrases or ideas come from his sketchbooks and they are then paired with a suitable typeface.
Playing with food is what Malaysian mum-of-two Samantha Lee is known for — and her Instagram feed is a fun peek into what else food can be used for other than eating. The images seem perfectly suitable for Instagram — they are photos that really don’t need high resolution to be properly appreciated.
Heineken’s “Crack the US Open” marketing campaign on Instagram is an amazing way of using the photo app creatively. It makes use of the grid feature and asks users to flip Instagram around for a scavenger hunt to win US Open tickets.
According to PetaPixel, the competition works this way: Heineken throws down challenges to find specific photos or people within the crowd on the Instagram giant panoramic photo, and people need to leave a comment with the “codeword” and find the next clue.
Heineken says all contest prizes have been awarded, but it seems like the Instagram account is here to stay.
The video feature on Instagram has given life to stop motion, and illustrator/animator Rachel Ryle has showcased this in her feed perfectly. Her videos are extremely addictive, especially for someone like me who is fascinated by stop motion — an animation technique that can make inanimate objects come to life.
Ryle’s stop-motion short films are adorable and suited extremely well to Instagram, given that they short and sweet and make use of the photo service’s ability to shoot short bursts of videos at a time and patch them together easily.
Houston native Benny Winfield Jr. only takes close-up selfies which are much removed from the plenty out there which strive to play on angles to look cool, pretty or hot. Or all three. Instead, his selfies are all virtually the same — of him smiling and looking straight into the camera.
Whether or not you love or hate his feed, it cannot be denied that he has spun an entirely different way of using Instagram, and in the midst of it, gained an impressive 99,000 followers.
What better way is there to raise crowdsourced for a movie than via Instagram, which allows teasers of photography and short videos to tempt people? With the tagline “Let’s make the first Instagram funded movie” on director Ravi Vora’s feed, it is clear that he is using Instagram as the main draw for backers of his movie, called ‘Lucid’, which is listed as a Kickstarter project. So far, $4,856 of his $70,000 goal has been raised, with 25 days to go.
Here we’ve listed just ten of the creative ways that you can use Instagram — other than just taking and posting photos of beautiful things. Basically, Instagram’s power lies in being able to act as a platform; be it for different series of photo projects, to raise funds, or simply to make a statement. The beauty of using Instagram is that it is easily accessible for users to browse daily, and can therefore be a good way to keep people constantly engaged.
Headline image via Thomas Coes/AFP/Getty Images