As the year draws to a close, it's only appropriate…
With over 200 million users, Instagram provides the opportunity to follow and like images from your favorite photographers, celebrities, brands, and friends alike. It’s also a great resource for creative people to showcase ongoing personal projects on everything from fashion to food to the outdoors and beyond.
What’s fun about following feeds like this is the combination of excellent photography and creativity that leaves you waiting for the next post — and to see them build wildly successful followings so much so that they’re able to turn their personal projects into actual income. Does it get better than that??
For now, we’ve compiled our 8 favorite personal projects from photographers, brands, designers, and of course, dogs. If these don’t get your creative juices flowing, we don’t know what will. Feel free to post others who inspire you in the comments!
Yonder Journal is a group of cultural anthropologists on a mission to explore and document the American frontiers. They use Instagram to offer a unique view of a different side of America, not quite the urban consumerism many of us are accustomed to. They photograph everything, from landscapes and nature to things unique to the region’s culture and its inhabitants. The stunning compositions are what makes their Instagram feed distinct, and the combination of various subjects make this one of the most visually interesting feeds out there.
2. Samantha Lee
Samantha Lee’s Instagram is an ode to food. Lee is a fine artist and photographer whose main aesthetic revolves around culinary creations. However, this isn’t your standard #foodporn Instagram feed; Lee makes works of art with her food, as inspired by movies and well-known fictional characters. She takes on the Simpsons, Maleficent, Princess Leia and international football celebrities, using Instagram to document each culinary creation.
3. Stacey Baker
Stacey Baker, aka Citi Legs, features a concept that you really don’t see everyday. Baker, an associate photo editor at the NYT Magazine, roams New York City searching for a pair of inspirational legs. Once she finds a few pairs she likes, she’ll post photos to Instagram, shooting only from the waist down. It’s an interesting project that showcases the diversity of her subjects, both in body type and style, that are quintessentially New York.
Over the past 14 years, Dane Shitagi has been photographing some of the most talented ballerinas in the industry. Despite what the title suggests, The Ballerina Project is much more than just a collection of beautiful dance photography. Shitagi captures the dedication, passion and emotions of the subject in a single photograph. Dance alone is a beautiful outlet, but combined with stunning photographs that transport the viewer, this is one of the most moving Instagram feeds we’ve found yet.
5. Murad Osmann
At first scrolling through this feed, you might think you’ve come across only a set of beautiful photos from around the world. But once you see the hashtag, #follometo, you realize that this personal project is something a bit different. Taken by videographer Murad Osmann, the majority of these images of iconic spots across the globe show a woman’s back to the camera, leading the person behind her with a hand outstretched. Not only are these stunning images, but they share a powerful and romantic theme. Murad received so much attention for this particular personal project, that he even captured the attention of major blogs likes Mashable and Petapixel.
6. Menswear Dog
Is Menswear Dog’s New York’s most influential style icon? Quite possibly. This dapper and meme-worthy Shiba Inu uses Instagram to take followers into his wardrobe, behind the scenes of a Revlon photoshoot, and more. Menswear dog resides in SoHo, where he takes this city by storm from glossy magazine pages helping his fashionable friends ‘Get the Look’, partnering with big name brands from American Apparel to Hudson.
7. Rachel Ryle
Rachel Ryle, an illustrator and animator with a large presence on YouTube, utilizes Instagram to showcase her brand, as a talented illustrator with a quirky sense of humor. She’s worked with big name clients like CVS, but keeps her Instagram current with a lot of personal works such as holiday greetings, a camera printing and promotions for charities she partners with.
8. Humans of NY
Humans of NY is incredibly famous, and if you aren’t already following this feed, you should because he shares the unique perspectives of New York’s inhabitants through both words and photographs. Portrait photographer Brandon Stanton walks around the Big Apple and captures images of its inhabitants, prompting them with an interview question like ‘What’s your biggest fear?’ or ‘Tell me your story’. Often shot from a very specific angle, these beautiful portraits paired alongside the participant’s response can be inspirational, moving, or at times heartbreaking. Brandon showcases the sheer diversity of New York City through his portraits, photographing all ages, ethnicities and genders, ad sharing a real look inside each unique story.
Want more inspiration from photographers and creatives using Instagram? Check out our latest guide, The Photographer’s Guide to Instagram.