MOSCOW: ''I take absolutely typical photographs,’’ said Sergei, 22, about his abilities. ‘My photos are nothing special.’’ His skill is in editing and its anything but typical. With the help of four applications on his telephone - including Snapseed, Union and Facetune - he began actively experimenting about a year ago with photos he took on his phone. He posted his colorful pictures on Instagram and attracted followers, including businesses and not just teenagers as he thought. One of his 65,000 followers - a bakery - offered Sergey work as a photographer immediately after he graduated university in July with a degree in journalism. His telephone-based photography and editing hobby suddenly became his job. While he says he earns just an ‘average salary,’ Sergey admits his work requires relatively little time, with everything done from his phone. Sergey also contributes photos to a monthly men’s magazine. You can see his work at @sergeysuxov
DAGESTAN: Magomed bought his first SLR camera in 2012 on the encouragement of friends that liked his photography. Until that moment, he had been using a point-and-shoot digital camera. In 2013, he registeted on Instagram, posting photos mainly from his phone. He quickly built up a following thanks to his landscape shots around the Caucasus. In 2014, while attending a university lecture on emergency situations, he got a call from the Dagestan Presiential office. The administration said they had an opening for a photographer and that he was recommended based on his strong Instagram feed. Magomed took the job. Magomed said one of his dreams is to visit Iceland to photograph. The island country offers diverse landscape photography opportunities, he said.
Arina, a 16 year-old Coldplay and Haruki Murakami fan from Angarsk in Eastern Siberia, is an example of how Instagram can break down barriers of distance and language and create opportunities for people. The popular teenage blogger using the name @sleepnovember now gets business inquires to promote clothing or goods.
Arina, who would need to drive an hour to Irkutsk airport and then fly six hours to get to Moscow, expressed frustration that she lives ‘’far from the rest of the world.’’ Change and trends ‘’come to us last’’ in Siberia, she said.
Over the past two years, she has used Instagram to see the world and promote herself to an international audience. ‘’I have met a lot of fantastic people and it has really widened my horizon,’’ she said.
Stanislav, my previous portrait post, is one of those stereotypical Russian stories about the Soviet generation. Anfisa is one about the Apple-toting, Internet savvy, post-Soviet generation. She was sitting by the window in a Starbucks, typing away on her Apple laptop at 4pm on New Year's Eve, when most Russians are preparing for their New Year's celebration. When I asked what she was up to, the 16yo answered she was writing a blog post for her readers, summing up her year. A portrait drawer and fashion lover, she said 2014 was a breakthru year as her Instagram followers jumped to 22,000 amid interest in her drawings. She said she plans on blogging more. "Before I was a nobody and had nothing to say. This year has changed me so much. I am inspired." She said she plans to answer her followers questions about herself in the future through youtube videos.