Shooting Stars

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It would seem that San Francisco was built for Instagram. Our colorful Victorians, scenic vistas, endless food porn, and street scenes that no one would believe without photographic proof are just asking to be captured, shown through a filter (or not), and shared on the popular smartphone app that first came on the scene in October 2010. We live in a magical place, and it damn well deserves to be documented from as many perspectives as possible.

Being a photographer and community developer in San Francisco, I find myself using Instagram daily (follow me @helenadagmar) to keep in touch with the SF community.

I rounded up seven San Francisco–based superstar Instagrammers, who each provide their own unique lens on SF, to learn what drives them to photograph the city we love.

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Hl1c

Instagram handle: @sonyayu

Follower count: 11k+

How long have you been using Instagram?
Since early spring 2011; I was a little late to the party.

How would you describe your style?
Heavily food focused, peppered with architectural and design influences.

Are you a professional photographer? If not, what part does photography play in your life?
I am, as my bio says, a professional food pornographer. My clients are typically involved in the food and drink industry, but in my free time, I shoot purely film and that is where my passion blossoms. I take my film camera with me everywhere, and when I'm not standing on chairs in restaurants for Instagram, I'm constantly conceptualizing how to show you life through my eyes.

Favorite place to shoot in San Francisco?
Plow: Their food is irresistibly photogenic and delicious. Also, they put up with me standing on their chairs on a weekly basis.

Mt. Davidson: When it's foggy, it's magical; when it's sunny, the pockets of light that leak through the tall trees are straight out of a fairy tale.

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Hl2

Instagram handle: @ikedeani

Follower count: 152k+

How long have you been using Instagram?
I got my first iPhone in April 2011 and Instagram was one of the first apps I installed. In fact, I think my first Instagram photo is taken inside the Apple Store.

How would you describe your style?
I don't believe I have a particular style; rather, I think I've got a certain visual aesthetic that comes from my background in architecture and design.

Are you a professional photographer? If not, what part does photography play in your life?
Photography was always a hobby for me, but over the past two years it's taken a larger role in my life, and Instagram has not only contributed to that passion, it's helped refine my work by making me trust my instincts, shoot a lot more, and share my work with others.

Favorite place to shoot in San Francisco?
No place in particular. San Francisco is one big beautiful muse. I do love the hills though: Twin Peaks, Corona Heights, and especially Mt. Davidson.

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Hl3

Instagram handle: @jayzombie

Follower count: 218k+

How long have you been using Instagram?
Since moving to SF I've become one of those obnoxious "early-adopters" who can (but tries not to) boast about using an application before it was available in the Apple Store. Thanks to a close friend, and my persistence, I was invited to the beta version of Instagram just a few days prior to launch. My early obsession with the product eventually led to a full-time position on Instagram's community team.

How would you describe your style?
Artistic, yet honest, and based on personal experiences.

Are you a professional photographer? If not, what part does photography play in your life?
When I'm not providing support for the community of photographers and photo sharers on Instagram, I'm endlessly taking photographs of San Francisco. I live, work, play, think, and breathe photography.

Favorite place to shoot in San Francisco?
Alamo Square is my backyard, so it holds a special place in my heart. I love challenging myself to shoot the park or the SF skyline in unique ways, but will never get tired of that classic cliché tourist shot.

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Hl4

Instagram handle: @travisjensen

Follower count: 7.5k+

How long have you been using Instagram?
According to IG: 68 weeks ago. Does that make me an IG OG?

Why'd you join Instagram?
I joined IG after purchasing an iPhone in January/February of 2011. Before that, I was snapping with traditional digital and film cameras. I use IG as a platform to showcase my mobile snaps and connect with other photographers. Though I have a love/hate relationship with the app, I do think it serves as a good gateway drug for new photographers, meaning it exposes a lot of folks to photography that probably wouldn’t have gotten into it otherwise.

How would you describe your style?
I don’t crop, tilt, or apply any post-processing wizardry to the photos, so what you see on IG is pretty much what’s coming out of the camera. I look for good light and embrace wabi-sabi.

Are you a professional photographer? If not, what part does photography play in your life?
I occasionally land paid photo gigs, but there’s no real money in the stuff I like to shoot. And that’s a good thing. It keeps the kooks out, though these days it seems like the craft is somewhat of a hot commodity. I’m waiting for a street photography reality TV show...

Favorite place to shoot in San Francisco?
Mission District (sans Valencia Street), followed by the Tenderloin.

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Hl5

Instagram handle: @heysp

Follower count: 174k+

How long have you been using Instagram?
I started in December 2010, so about a year and a half now.

Why'd you join Instagram?
Oddly enough, I had written a tutorial as a freelancer titled "How to Make Instagrams: Hand Made Exposures on Instant Film," so when the Instagram app was announced, I was super curious about it and wanted to get into it ASAP. That December, I purchased an iPod Touch specifically so that I could join Instagram. After that, I was hooked and purchased my first iPhone!

How would you describe your style?
DIY/art-design craftsperson. I'm a functional thing-maker by birth, and an image-maker by profession. I love to make original craft projects and use my iPhone and Instagram to share them with the world. However, like most photographers, I also just love to share beautiful moments with my friends.

Are you a professional photographer? If not, what part does photography play in your life?
When I started with Instagram, my main camera was a Canon 5D and I was shooting mainly product and stock photography. Instagram has now allowed me to pick and choose which freelance jobs I take depending on how much the project excites me. I shoot all of my Instagrams with my iPhone 4S, and because of that was offered an exciting deal contributing my mobile phone images to a new Getty Images stock collection. I also run an Etsy shop where I sell my own handmade items. Photographing those items and sharing them on Instagram has become part of my job, which if you ask me, is pretty darn cool.

Favorite photo you've taken?
I may have to side with Imogen Cunningham on this one: “Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow.”

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Hl6

Instagram handle: @moneal

Follower count: 215k+

How long have you been using Instagram?
I've been using Instagram since October 2010.

How would you describe your style?
Simple, colorful, graphic landscapes and people.

Are you a professional photographer? If not, what part does photography play in your life?
Yes, I have just begun my career as a professional photographer after being an art director/creative director for 16 years.

Favorite place to shoot in San Francisco?
Sutro Baths and Bernal Hill.

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Hl7

Instagram handle: @silvermule

Follower count: 1.8k+

How long have you been using Instagram?
October 10, 2010. 9:40 a.m.

How would you describe your style?
Obsessive documentary.

Are you a professional photographer? If not, what part does photography play in your life? I am the creative director for Dwell Magazine. Photography plays the most important role in our publication. I go to photo shoots and work with the photo director and photo editor selecting photos for the stories and the cover.

Before Dwell, I was the art director/photo editor for San Francisco magazine for five and a half years. During my spare time I make collages, for which I use other people’s photographs to create my own images. I'm always posting works in progress on Instagram.

Favorite place to shoot in San Francisco?
Downtown.

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Published on August 31, 2012, 2012

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