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The gallery known as Instagram.

Somewhere in the social networking silt of shoddy food pictures and manifestations of dysmorphophobia, one occasionally finds sparkly little gems of refreshingly great value--the work of quiet, often faceless, artists, who use Instagram as their gallery, taking advantage of the nuances of the digital medium to create a finely tuned, but wide-netted impact. Everyone can snap a random photo, and computer generated filters can mask lack of technical skill, but it is the ones that have delivered on my three crucial "C's"--context, consistency, and composition--that truly rise to elite status on a list of over 600 followed accounts. Some of these modern-day gallery stewards dedicate months of their lives to creating and curating wonderful clickable exhibits, visual orgasms brought about by a scrollable montage of 1x1 square images.

Composition. Context. Consistency. Being able to create a story (and hold back from the temptation of the incessant real-time photo upload vomit) has become such a rarity; one that demonstrates level-headedness, a fair amount of restraint, finesse, and careful execution. It is like stumbling upon a completely placid and ripple-free lake in the middle of an ADD-riddled warzone; surreal at first, vital for your sanity after. After a slew of pictures of your high school friend's new baby's left foot, right foot, first pureed vegetable meal, first pureed fruit meal, and #ootd (onesie of the day)--anything a little more poignant and polished in perspective is much appreciated.

I've selected three of my unshakeable favorites to share with you today, in the hopes that you follow them and they provide you with the same solace, smiles, and inspiration they do me.


I don't know much about this fabulous individual, other than that he is Thai, and has a flair for the very essence of what makes fashion fun. Embodying all the great qualities of outlandish stylists and designers I've worked with throughout my career in the fashion industry, it is this precise desire to go bigger and more beautiful, and to bring joy to people with the images you create, that has grown my affection for this insane Instagrammer. Take the biggest-skirted gown you've ever seen in your life, turn it into a high octane shade of pink or yellow, multiply that by three, put it on a bowl-bellied Asian, and then put that Asian in an assortment of circumstances (hanging out of a provincial bus, swimming in the ocean, standing on stilts, and holding onto an electric pole), and there you have the person I now just refer to as "Bongga Mae." Pure delight, in photo form.


Theron Humphrey takes you on a virtual road trip throughout the United States, giving a tour that celebrates the quaint, the curious, and the comforting--but it is his muse and favorite model that makes this Instagram account truly unique. Theron's best friend, Maddie the coonhound, is the perfect personification (or should I say "dog-ification" of loyalty, trust, and coexistence. Images of Maddie holding still with an egg on her face, balancing effortlessly on precarious objects, sleeping with such a palpable peace; these are some my absolute all-time favorite images, that alone, completely justify Instagram's existence.


Patrick may be most known for his work at the New York Times, or perhaps as the international photo editor at Time magazine, or things he does in his current position as director of photography for Wired Magazine, but it was a capsule series on his Instagram page that reeled me in and impacted me. The now discontinued "Out Cold" mini-project was Patrick's documentation of New York City's Subway passengers sleeping on the train. Heads dropped, it is the eclectic assortment of crowning glory characteristics that make the collection so vibrant--the curly top mop of a little boy, a cowboy hat, bleached or dyed or naturally graying hair. I miss this series dearly, but sporadic offshoots (like the subway passengers playing Candy Crush series), and overall beauty, keep me watching Mr. Witty eagerly.

Other accounts worth mentioning, if you start to like this "themed" thing, are @willitbeard (beard art at its finest), @tishacherry (edible pop culture), and @stace_a_lace (keeping a leg up on the competiton).


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Title Annotation:Arts & Culture
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Jul 21, 2014
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