Over the last few months, I’ve fallen a little in love with Instagram, a social photography iPhone app where people share their love of photography (or themselves, depending on the photographer…) with other Instagram users. I’ve enjoyed becoming a part of this strange little online photographic community of enthusiastic photographers. And there are some amazing insect photographers on Instagram! A few have pro level DSLRs and are much more advanced than the rest of us, but many are simply wandering out into their backyard gardens armed only with an iPhone and a $20 Photojojo “macro” lens and getting some really great shots. Today I’d like to share 5 of my favorite insect/spider photographers on Instagram, in no particular order. (Note: You don’t have to have an iPhone to simply view Instagram photos. Click on a username to view that photographer’s entire collection in an online viewer!)
As an entomologist with an interest in photographing insects, my favorite Instagram insect photographer from a technical standpoint is Popumon. He has much more crisp, clear, precise photos of insects than most Instagram users but there’s a reason for this: Popumon has a Canon DSLR with a 65mm MP-E macro lens, one of the best lenses for insect macrophotography you can buy. (This is what Alex Wild uses, for example). Popumon knows how to make the most of this fabulous lens, so his photos are good. Really good. I think they’re a nice bit of insect photo viewing heaven, lovely eye candy for the insect obsessed! I swoon a little every time I see one of his shots. Seriously, how cool are the eyes on that fly up there?
Tui was one of the first people I interacted with on Instagram and is one heck of an insect photographer! Her photos are beautiful, well composed, and many have a lovely dreamy quality to them that I really enjoy. She relies entirely on an iPhone and a Photojojo macro lens for her insect photos and she uses both with great skill (certainly better than me!), so I find her work impressive. Even more impressive: most of her insects and spiders come from her one little backyard and she identifies them! Her photos show how anyone with a good eye and an interest in photography can produce beautiful images, even with a simple little camera with a $20 magnifying glass. I think her work is inspiring and I love that she loves insects so much. Plus, the bugs in her yard are amazing. Check them out!
I’ve got three Australians in my top 5 Instagrammers list, and @labrat71 is one of them. Like Tui, Dan uses an iPhone and macro lens attachment to photograph his world and gets some really great shots. He is a bit more of an all-purpose nature photographer than some of the other macro addicts, but his spider and insect shots are really fun. I especially love the photo I’ve posted here. There’s something about it that calls to me and makes me want to stare at the blend of textures and colors for long periods of time. Dan is also really great to interact with. He loves science and the natural world, so I’ve had several pleasant exchanges with him. Those kinds of interactions are why I am enjoying Instagram so much!
The third Australian in my top five list of Instagram photographers is @amy_leee! She’s another iPhone + Photojojo macro lens user and, like Tui, focuses a lot of her efforts on insects and spiders. I think Amy has a very great eye for composition, giving her arthropods a sort of whimsical, non-threatening look that I just love. The spider above is a great example of this! The gentle light, soft background, and playful pose of the spider makes me want to actually use a phrase I try to avoid: squeeeeee! I think stuffed animal companies should use Amy’s photos to make a line of soft, cuddly insect and spider plushes (they’re that cute!) so that people will appreciate insects more. And she’s a really nice, fun person to interact with too! Amy rocks!
The only American to make my top 5 list is @teresa_franco and I love, love, love her macrophotography! Like my favorite Aussies, Teresa uses an iPhone with a macro attachment to create her fantastic images. Her work features a lot of bright, yet understated, colors that make me smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I especially love her recent inchworm photos! Can you believe that shot above was taken with a cell phone?! On a non-insect related note, Teresa’s also got some superb botanical images on her feed, including a great series called Oblivious that features tiny plants that most people never notice. They’re stunning!
While a lot of people on Instagram use the app as yet another way to gauge their popularity, there are also a lot of people who use it because they genuinely love photography and enjoy sharing how they see the world with others. The 5 people I’ve listed here are people who definitely fall into the latter category, the people who obviously take pleasure in their photographic hobbies/obsessions and interacting with other like-minded people. These kind of people are why I like Instagram. They inspire me to get outside and take more photos, to practice photographing nature while dealing with the constraints imposed by whatever equipment I have on hand, and to enjoy the world around me. I hope you’ll spare a moment to take a look at their work!