In an age where everyone can claim to be a photographer with a DSLR and access to Photoshop, Instagram levels the playing field–all you have is your eye and your iPhone camera. It challenges you to showcase your perspective without the help of fancy equipment, reflectors or special lights. While it’s true that the app’s filters can make even chewed gum look poetic and the contents of a garbage bin look sleek, at the end of the day, your Instagram photos reveal how you see what you see.
We chose these five Instagram accounts because, well, we love seeing how they see what they see. Their perspectives are diverse and out of the ordinary, and they range from inspiring and feel-good photos to Ansel-Adams-take-your-breath-away images. These Instagrammers are not hash-holes or Inspagrammers, and they don’t only post selfies, holiday sunset photos or pictures of their meals. And when they do, the well-thought out posts make us want to stare at them just a little longer as we click the Like button.
That morning when God was handing out talents, Vito Selma must’ve set his alarm clock earlier than the rest of us did. While this 29-year-old’s success as a furniture designer in the local and global stage is no secret, a prolific career in photography is probably (or we insist, should be) the next phase in his artistic evolution. His Instagram profile aptly says, “There is nowhere to go but everywhere,” and through every beautifully composed photo, Vito’s wanderlust is evident and infectious. His Instagram feed takes us on less beaten paths, like the stunning Jokulsarlon Lagoon in Iceland and the majestic sand dunes of Namibia where he also took his most cherished portraits of the Himba people. We dare say though that his most inspired shots are those of our own archipelago—from the striking limestone cliffs of Coron and the pink and purple sunsets of Bohol to the impossibly clear waters of his hometown, Cebu. And maybe that’s what we love the most about @vitoselma. We can’t all go trekking on glacial lakes or hang out with semi-nomadic African tribes like he does, but his Instagram feed is a much-needed reminder that some of the most beautiful places in the world, are in fact, right here at home.
We love Instagram because interesting photos say so much more than status updates, but with Renée Pimentel’s Instagram feed, you have to read her captions, which give you insight not only on her eye but also into her mind. They are clever as hell, and her posts never fail to make us smile. A devoted stay-at-home wife and mom currently living in Bacolod, this true-blue Cebuana’s posts revolve around her 4-year-old son Rafa, 2-year-old daughter Rocio, and their everyday life. Renée showcases her tremendous ability to capture the beauty in the ordinary, and reveals her innermost self—a creative spirit awash with positivity and the incessant desire to share it. This is why she has her own line of stationery called Peacock and Co. whose personalized note card and notepad designs are full of whimsy and wonder. Her Instagram feed reminds us to just stop for a moment and take in what’s around us with a fresh gaze and a happy heart.
This awe-inspiring feed of yoga instructor, scuba diver and dive shop owner, wife and mother Rica Hernandez-Gomez, chronicles her body’s transformation. It also shows her journey as a yogi and vegetarian. What is truly amazing isn’t just the happy-hued photos of her blissful self in Cirque du Soleil-like arm balances, inversions and backbends, but her story when she decided to change her lifestyle. If you scroll through her previous posts, you’ll find her pre-weight-loss photos and her complaints over not being able to fit into her clothes. Then, you realize that the breathtaking yoga poses did not happen effortlessly overnight but instead, took a lot of commitment and effort. In one post, she shows her progress in firefly pose from the start of the year to the present and writes: “The evolution of a Firefly from impossible to I’M POSSIBLE.” We also love the fonts she uses on her photos, and the overall feeling of bliss the feed imparts. Rica, who is originally from Manila but now calls Cebu home, also shares little tips on how to do a pose, as well as motivational quotes that move you to get on your mat, start that something you’ve been putting off into the ever-receding future, or be completely content with where you are at this very moment.
More often than not, Instagram posts are of things that are generally perceived to be beautiful—or at the very least, cute. That’s why, as of this writing, there are almost 17 million photos hashtagged under #sunset and close to four million under #dogs. They are rarely, if not never, of rusty metal or dilapidated wood, and yet those are what make up @dorobarandino’s Instagram feed. He’s not some depressed emo artist that professes to find beauty in the ugly. Without pretension or irony, he says that he finds abandoned and worn out materials beautiful on their own. And with his Instagram feed, you’ll start to think so too. While the rest of us may see oxidized metal, @dorobarandino sees a Mark Rothko painting. His images of paint peeling off walls and dried glue on wooden surfaces read like Jackson Pollock, and you’ll see Frank Gehry in his photos of dented galvanized steel sheets. Unsurprisingly, it is these same materials that Doro uses as inspiration in his work as a designer of fashion jewelry, bags, and home accessories. Those who know him well will agree though that it’s hardly fair or correct to limit him to those three things. He is the consummate artist—not just because he can also paint or sculpt (rubber being his material of choice)—but because by lending us his eye, he gives us a fresh perspective on the mundane. Now, we give every dirty, rundown wall a second look.
Few things (perhaps not even “The Lord of the Rings” franchise) have convinced us to book our next vacation for New Zealand as much as @gberds’ Instagram account has. Gian Berdin is a former model from Cebu who now finds himself in the Land of the Long White Cloud, and while he does not work as a professional photographer, Gian’s Instagram feed is proof that he’s just as skillful behind the lens as he was in front of it. This guy never seems to stay indoors, and though we worry that he may not be layering enough sunscreen, our Instagram feed is all the better for his sun-worshipping ways. His photos document his perpetual love affair with the water and the open sky as he takes us with him to the beaches of Canterbury, the lagoons of Cook Islands, and sometimes, to his favorite pieces of paradise when he happens to be home in Cebu. Through the moments he captures on Instagram, @gberds shows us that nature has more colors than we give her credit for. In one post, he says, “I’ve never seen blue like that.” Actually, neither have we.
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