The Profiles You’ll Never Read in a Magazine Are Happening on Instagram would like to offer most of us a new way to think about the popular app.
Jeff Sharlet felt suspicious when he joined Instagram last August. He saw it as a dumping ground for the trivial and the superfluous — cat photos, food porn, selfies; the things important only to an amateur photographer and his or her inner circle.
“I was really dismissive of this stuff,” Sharlet, a magazine journalist and author, told Mic by phone from his home in Vermont. “I signed on, actually, just for family things and kid pictures.” But after a time, he began to recognize that Instagram wasn’t just a platform for pointless personal junk — it was also a brilliant storytelling tool.
Just over a week later, he turned the camera outward. Sharlet began to document regular people and their stories, posting snapshot portraits accompanied by miniature stories that describe bits and pieces of his subject’s life.
Sharlet’s Instagram profile series borrows elements from his features for Harper’s and Rolling Stone. They offer a glimpse into someone else’s life; they pinpoint what makes his subjects who they are. But they’re also distinct in their own way.
And great photography, too. Also, this: