'Insta'nt insight: How the 'Everyday' accounts on Instagram are showing us our cities — like they haven't been seen before

The Everyday accounts on Instagram are offering us interesting glimpses of the world — from Africa, Asia, to Iran, and Mumbai

hidden March 26, 2016 10:22:12 IST
'Insta'nt insight: How the 'Everyday' accounts on Instagram are showing us our cities — like they haven't been seen before

By Chirag Wakaskar

It was back in 2010, while on an assignment for GettyImages, that I came across photographer Daniel Berehulak who was using his iPhone to take photos across the country. The photographs blew my mind (mostly because of Berehulak’s prowess) and I discovered a new world of mobile photography.

The phone is inconspicuous — almost invisible on the streets — unlike a camera, which grabs attention. With the technology behind phone cameras getting better, the improvement started to reflect in the photographs you could take with them as well. I started off photographing the city and sharing these images on the popular social media platform Instagram, after seeing several international photographers such as Berehulak, Kevin Frayer, David Guttenfelder among others, also sharing their work on it.

In India, there were few professional photographers on the platform — maybe because Instagram was considered a place to share food photos or selfies. Over time, that perception began to change, and Instagram is now a very serious medium for everyone related to photography. Giants like Magnum and National Geographic have very active accounts. Digital media agencies are taking an interest in Instagram and that has resulted in several curated photography pages with a massive following, created with purely commercial interests in mind.

I came across @EverdayAfrica in 2013. It is a collective of photographers working in the continent and it presented an Africa that went beyond the image of famine, war and poverty that has been created in the popular consciousness. What the @EverdayAfrica account also did, was play a pivotal role in sparking an “everyday movement” all over the world.

Narga selassie church i#on deq island. Photo by @guillaumebonn #laketana #ethiopia #guillaumebonn #dispatchesfromatraveler A photo posted by Everyday Africa (@everydayafrica) on

Beyond this, @EverdayAfrica also helped in the creation of projects which are not only city or country-specific, but also tackle socially relevant issues (across the globe). Foremost among these are @everydayclimatechange — which looks at climate change and environmental issues — and also, @everydayincarceration, which showcases lives of people inside the prison system.

#FridayRepost Photo by @uletifan A general view of land clearing for palm oil plantation in Central Kalimantan. The Nature Climate Change journal has reported that Indonesia lost 840,000 hectares of natural forest in 2012 compared to 460,000 hectares in Brazil—despite the Indonesian forest being a quarter of the size of the Amazon rainforest. The destruction of forests is driven by the expansion of palm oil plantations as well as pulp & paper factories. This increase in pollution is affecting man and animal alike: from the nearly extinct Sumatran tigers, to traditional communities on the brink of collapse, the country’s fragile ecosystems are under intense pressure. #repost #everydayclimatechange #climatechange #climatechangeisreal #indonesia #deforestation #asia #globalwarming A photo posted by Everyday Climate Change (@everydayclimatechange) on

Photo by Vlad Sokhin @lens_pacific for @everydayclimatechange: A boat engineer Semesi Makrava, 64, standing in front of a passenger ship "Spirit of Altruism" that ran aground near Natovi town in Fiji. On the evening of March 20th the ship lost control due the strong winds caused by Cyclone Winston. "We were it the sea when the cyclone hit our ship. When we realised that the wind is taking us toward the shore we managed to navigate it to the muddy place, to avoid crashing to the rocks. Now we are trying to dig it out and tow back to the sea". On 20 and 21 February 2016 Category 5 Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, destroying country's infrastructure and people's homes. 43 people confirmed dead and more than 50000 people remain in hundreds evacuation centres across the country. An estimated 347,000 people have been affected by Cyclone Winston, that's 40% of Fiji's population. #cyclonewinston2016 #cyclonewinston #cyclone #strongerthanwinston #disaster #VitiLevu #Pacific #ship #Fiji #Melanesia #Oceania #climatechange #climatechangeisreal #elnino #elnino2016 #globalwarming @panospictures #everydayclimatechange

A photo posted by Everyday Climate Change (@everydayclimatechange) on

Roughly one fourth of the 4,386 men imprisoned at California’s Corcoran State Prison live in a security housing units, better known as the SHU. They spend 23 hours a day in their 11 by 7 foot cells. They leave only to shower, and to exercise, escorted, handcuffed, to outdoor cages. These prisoners are considered by the state among the most dangerous. Some are separated from the general population because of violent infractions like attacking a guard, but others have spent years in the SHU after they were deemed gang members. Brent Shelton, who is legally blind from a shotgun blast incident, looks out from a SHU cage during yard time at Corcoran State Prison in 2013. Shelton, 41, said "solitary" is the only way to describe it. "You're living in cages," he said. "Dog cages." He's serving a life sentence for armed robbery and was placed in the SHU because of his alleged affiliation with the Mexican Mafia. By Barbara Davidson @photospice / @latimes #everydayincarceration #everydayeverywhere #prisonphotography #prison #California #Corcoran #SHU #solitaryconfinement

A photo posted by Everyday Incarceration (@everydayincarceration) on

I have been documenting the city and its residents for a while now, sharing the images on my own Instagram feed — @ChiragWakaskar. Looking at the interest in my account and after an Instagram user suggested the idea to me, I created @EverydayMumbai. The aim was to share stories from the city which were beyond the tourist-y images of the Gateway of India and CST railway station.

This beautiful image by @ravimishraindia was shared by @instagram today. ・・・ “The power of color translates into the magic of love and bonding through Holi,” photographer Ravi Mishra (@ravimishraindia) says. “It’s great to see people meet as strangers, smear some color on one another and turn into friends.” Ravi has documented #Holi for the last six years, but 2013 stands out in his mind: Ravi watched the widows of Vrindavan play with color for the first time. Traditionally, the women in this town weren’t allowed to take part in any celebration after they lost their husbands. “The opening up of the festival to these women, therefore, signaled an important development in the Indian societal fabric,” he says. “This was a historic moment in India’s cultural landscape.” Photo by @ravimishraindia A photo posted by EverydayMumbai (@everydaymumbai) on

However unlike @EverydayAfrica and @EverydayAsia where we have a collective of photographers showcasing their work, @EverydayMumbai is a curated account on the lines of @EverydayEverywhere, where I share relevant images, based on Instagram users who have shared images using the hashtag #everydaymumbai. This is the city, like you've never seen it before — or seen a million times, and haven't noticed. The response to @everydaymumbai has been overwhelming, to say the least. A lot of young photographers whose work is shared on it are happy to have a platform for their work, and for it to reach a larger audience. It has also inspired a lot of people to express an interest in learning the craft of photography. When I curate the images, I do try to provide a balanced view of the city. The popularity of the 'Everyday' projects can be attributed to the view they provide us into things we may have seen but have rarely looked into. And because of the accessibility of the medium, the users are able to not just consume stories — but also share them with us. In a way, the 'Everyday' projects have helped create a strong interest in photojournalism and documentary photography. Several young photographers are now telling stories via their cellphones or cameras and sharing them on Instagram for the world to see.

Chirag Wakaskar is a photojournalist and the curator of @EverydayMumbai on Instagram

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