Is Instagram A Professional Tool For Photographers?

Posted on 11/7/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

After Hurricane Sandy many news organizations will be thinking hard about covering breaking news events with iPhone’s rather than digital SLRs and delivering the images via Instagram.

As Sandy was bearing down on New York City and New Jersey Kira Pollack, Director of Photography for Time Magazine, decided to send five professional photographers — Michael Christopher Brown, Benjamin Lowy, Ed Kashi, Andrew Quilty and Stephen Wilkes -- to document the hurricane and its aftermath. Pollack told Folio Magazine, "We knew that power was going to be out, that the storm was coming very fast, and we wanted to get the pictures out as quickly as possible and as directly as possible. We thought Instagram was a great platform to do that.”

The photographers were told to shoot with their iPhones and deliver the images via Time’s Instagram account. Speed and reliability were key issues. Cellphones seemed to offer more reliability than land lines. Another big plus from using Instagram was that customers could follow the events in real time either on their phones or on the web ( Customers would be able to see all the same images as the Time editors, and at the same time.

One of Lowy’s images of a Coney Island beach ended up on the cover of Time. In addition. 57 of the images were uploaded to Time’s LightBox photo page. The editors also selected images for the print magazine.

Time’s own Instagram account attracted 12,000 new followers during a 48-hour period. Another photographer benefit is that those who review the images on Instagram can click through from any one of the photographer’s images and see his entire portfolio.

While the Time images were shot by professional photographers a record number of amateur images were also posted on Instagram and tagged #sandy. According to Kevin Systrom, CEO of Instagram, at one point ten new photos were being posted every second and that total eventually reached 800,000.

Copyright © 2012 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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