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For a whole generation of photographers, Instagram has become the default channel for finding and viewing inspiring photography.
Convenient as it is, the social media platform can fall short at delivering the best work. Instagram is not designed to help you find work that is the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful, or artistically inspiring. It is designed for one goal, and one goal only: to make you spend more time on your phone so the app can serve you ads. This is the company’s singular mission, and it doesn’t care whether it achieves this with great photography, so-so photography, or cat videos. The result of all this is that for the photography lover, Instagram can leave some of the world’s most accomplished work underexposed.
On top of that, Instagram dictates that artists edit and format their work to help them in their mission. New posts have to appear regularly, so larger bodies of work get chopped up into bite-sized pieces. There is no place for a well-curated portfolio overview or image archive. There is no place for longer series or photo essays. And because the order of posts can not be edited, anything that was posted more than a few months ago is relegated to the bottom of a long scroll – if it is shown at all.
Thankfully, there are organizations that make it their business to find the world’s very best photographers and present them online. Contrary to Instagram, their business model is not built around keeping you on your device. It is built around finding the very best artists whose work can sell prints, books, products, or magazines.
I will list 50 of these organizations below. Each one of these will show you between ten and fifty amazing photographers, for a total running in the hundreds. Obviously, these links are only a tiny selection of what’s out there, but I hope it’s enough to get you started.
Photo Book Publishers
Fashion Photography Agencies
Advertising Photography Agencies
Yes, you could use these links to find new photographers to follow on Instagram. But for a better experience, I recommend that you (also) seek out the individual photographers’ websites and bookmark them. You will see the work as the photographer intended it to be seen online, in the form of larger images, complete essays, and a more carefully curated selection. And as a bonus, you will break free from the grip of Mark Zuckerberg for at least some of your photography-viewing needs.
About the author: David Cohen de Lara is an Amsterdam-based fashion and advertising photographer whose client list includes Vogue, Elle, Glamour, Tommy Hilfiger, Wandler, Levi’s, Calvin Klein, O’Neill, and Footlocker. Besides his work as a photographer, David writes about photography and mentors young photographers through advice and portfolio reviews. You can find more of his work on his website and Instagram.
Image credits: Header photo from Depositphotos