Scott Strazzante’s Instagram success

Chicago Tribune photojournalist Scott Strazzante's Instagram page. (Copyright 2012 / Scott Strazzante)

Chicago Tribune photojournalist Scott Strazzante’s Instagram page. (Copyright 2012 / Scott Strazzante)

Chicago Tribune photographer Scott Strazzante has become, like many newspaper photographers, a big fan of Instagram. A social networking site that’s based around photography, he’s found Instagram to be a wonderful creative outlet for his personal passion, street photography. In a recent video on the Trib’s website, Strazzante talks about his use of Instagram and what happened when his Instagram account became a ‘suggested’ feed by Instagram.

Although I enjoyed watching Strazzante’s video, as a photojournalist, I was left with several questions I was hoping Scott would answer. I emailed Scott and he was gracious enough to provide the following responses:

How did you get started with Instagram?

Strazzante: Last November, I traveled to Washington, DC with my daughter Betsy to visit colleges. At the time, she had an iPhone and I didn’t. As we walked around the city, I borrowed her phone, downloaded the Hipstamatic app and did some street photography. I loved the look of Hipstamatic and when I returned to Chicago, I went out and got an iPhone for myself.
Once that happened, I started using Instagram.

Was it ever for the paper or was is simply a personal project?

Strazzante: My Instagram account is my own personal stream and the majority of the photos that I share are street photography. I also will occasionally post photos of my family life and sometimes, a frame or two before a sports event that I am covering for the Tribune. In addition, I have done a handful of iPhone essays- Cubs’ spring training, Lincoln Highway, Chicago neighborhoods, Maywood Park harness racing- that I shot with the iPhone because I like the look and feel of the images.

How often do you submit? Any rhythm to it?

Strazzante: I Instagram in spurts. I try to spend thirty minutes each day I am in Chicago doing Instagram street photography and, I also carve out time when I am in other cities on assignment to wander around.
I post about 8-10 images per session while I am out shooting.

Do you ever shoot anything with the iPhone and then wish you’d shot it with a ‘real’ camera?

Strazzante: I only wish I used a pro camera when the technical limitations of the iPhone don’t allow me to capture an image in low light situations. However, I am not hung up on what type of camera an image is shot with. If a photo is compelling, it is compelling because of the content- the moment, the composition, the light, etc., not because it was shot with a Hasselblad or a Leica or a Barbie toy camera or an iPhone. I think people should get over the whole iPhone thing. I think photographers should concentrate on making better photos and not worrying what other photographers are doing.  In a year or so, this camera phone controversy will blow over and the haters will find something else to pull their hair out about.

Or to say it another way, is there ever a conflict between the two? How do you balance this out?

Strazzante: Instagram/ iPhone photography is my hobby. I don’t use it to shoot spot news or while I should be making images for the Chicago Tribune while on assignment. The Tribune gives me a lot of room to shoot with my iPhone for my “Shooting from the Hip” blog, so, I feel it is a win/win situation.

Does everyone in Photo have an account? Is the Trib involved officially at this point?

Strazzante: Five or six Tribune shooters have Instagram accounts, but they are all personal. The Chicago Tribune doesn’t have a staff account, but, then again, most of us have company issued Blackberry phones, so, they would probably have to get us all smart phones to start a photo department Instagram account..

Do you have a favorite Instagram photo that you’ve shot?

Strazzante: I have many that I like, but my current fav is from before a Louis Farrakhan speech at Chicago’s Mosque Maryam. I made this photo while sitting in my car awaiting approval to photograph the event. I eventually was denied access, but I came away with a moody black and white photo of a member of Nation of Islam on the front steps of the mosque.

"Land of the Free" From sea to shining sea, the United States of America is the land of the free. / Chicago, Illinois (Copyright 2012 / Scott Strazzante)

“Land of the Free”
From sea to shining sea, the United States of America is the land of the free. / Chicago, Illinois (Copyright 2012 / Scott Strazzante)

Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Or subscribe to our Facebook page or our Twitter feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

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Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

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