While Instagram is filled with talented photo-graphers trying to use that powerful little square to get their work out there, a select few are also using it as their curatorial canvass. We decided to talk to Columbus Visuals’ founders for this month’s Uncovering Columbus feature—in the only way that made sense: from our photographer and editor, all in the DMs.
@briankaiser: So, tell us a bit about @columbusvisuals. How long have you been around and why did you start it?
@mitchgeiser: Zack (@inthemidwest) and I started the page just over a year ago. When we looked at Columbus feature pages we felt like they fell in two categories. Half were highly followed pages that tend to feature businesses/tourism and [the] occasional skyline shot. While the other half were under-followed, yet featured a lot of amazing art/artists. We really wanted to bring these two worlds together. We are shooting for a page that artists follow and look to be featured on but also your every day user would be interested in as well. We want a page where not only photographers are inspired but so is the user who just wants to follow a Columbus page to see somewhere new to visit in their city.
@briankaiser: With over 3,500 followers and more than 18,000 uses of the#ColumbusVisuals hashtag, you guys have clearly found an audience. I think a big part of that has been the distinct images you find and feature. What goes into that process of selecting images to feature? Is there anything in particular you are looking for?
@inthemidwest: When Mitch and I talked about creating a page, it was because we wanted it to be something different. We wanted to share unique styles and perspectives to inspire our community to get out and explore Columbus. We wanted to share more than the same 10 photographers, and we actually wanted to find photographers who have never been featured on any page, but deserved it. The process is a lot of work. Enough so that we brought on three others to help run the page. A lot of time is spent digging through random hashtags and locations. We try to make sure we keep a diverse feed in both style and content by constantly featuring new artists daily. Another way we have been able to discover new artists is by asking our Takeover Tuesday hosts to share what inspires them. Some of my favorite photographers have been found through others sharing their work during their takeover.
@briankaiser: Who have you guys found via the hashtag or a takeover recommendation whose work has really blown you away? Someone you weren’t already following?
@mitchgeiser: @xmarterz was a guy we found through this page. It was pretty exciting finding him because his style was unlike anything I’ve seen in Columbus. He isn’t from Columbus so our community was the first he got involved in. If I remember correctly our first meet up was also the first he had ever been to. He was also one of the first to host a takeover on our page.
@thelastwhitesquirrel: @house_of_revelry she’s rad. We’ve featured her a ton and others who have taken our page over have featured her as well. She shoots analog and digital. I love her work; she’s really good at making the ordinary things I’ve seen my whole life look extraordinary. I value that a lot in photography. She’s also super supportive to the community. She’s always commenting and liking photos we share.
@travis614: Are there certain tropes you see pop up that you try to avoid, or catch yourself trying to limit in your feed in such an imitative medium?
@widfarend: I think our focus is more on trying to feature a variety of photographers around Columbus, so if there was anything we try to avoid, it would be sharing the same photographers over and over.
@inthemidwest: I completely agree with Stephanie. I am completely amateur. I was into photography in college and stopped when life got busy. Mitch helped reignite that passion again by talking about photography while I got haircuts. He explained so much, took the time to give me advice, etc.
@travis614: Why do you think professional photographers have embraced Instagram, beyond just that it’s exposure? In my years in the biz, there was always such a huge divide and frankly, a bit of a snootiness about pro/am. Why has that changed and if you agree, how have you seen Instagram evolve that?
@widfarend: I really think that the communities nowadays want to collaborate and create with each other, especially the community we are seeing grow at Columbus Visuals. Instagram has simply provided the platform to do so. People want to connect, learn from, and explore with each other. And frankly that gets us so excited. The CV team is a great testament to that because each one of us brings something entirely different to the table.
@inthemidwest: Since starting CV we have had a wide range of professionals and amateurs and I have not seen a divide at all. People seem more about building a community and wanting to help one another, rather than being competitive.
@thelastwhitesquirrel: I totally agree with both of you.I’ve wanted to quit so many times, but the community has always encouraged me to keep going, pros and amateurs alike. I can’t speak for the rest of Instagram, but for the team here in Columbus, I see no divide between the pros and the amateurs.
@travis614: Finally: is there always the thought that there is still some secret spot out there that no one’s blown up? Or is it all about trying to find a fresh angle or lens to put on a familiar backdrop?
@inthemidwest: I still believe in the hidden spots. Exploring is one of my favorite things. I love looking for new locations, buildings, and views. The rush I get when I feel like I’ve been somewhere and captured something new no one else has, is a feeling like no other. Photography has just enhanced my passion to explore because I can share those places with others. I think if you look hard enough you can find little gems that haven’t been captured yet.
@thelastwhitesquirrel: As for tropes, the deer at the mile has been shot a ton and the skyline, but even so I still see new takes on those two things that make me say “wow.” I’m always impressed by people’s creativity and ability to capture things
I pass by every day and make them beautiful.