Since its inception, cellphone photography has made professionals out of amateurs, and amateurs out of professionals (cough — Martha Stewart — cough). Instagram, unlike most social photo-sharing networks, not only provides users a platform to share images, but also the tools to art direct, edit, and style their own pictures. The fashion-forward and design-minded shine bright on the network, and CFDA just handed out its first fashion Instagrammer of the Year award to a New York-based graphic designer with an affinity for perfectly paired menswear and nibbles named Patrick Janelle. In Boston, we have our own Insta elite. Can Ahtam (www.in
stagram.com/canahtam), 25, is one of the gatekeepers to IgersBoston, the unofficial local Instagram community with more than 15,000 followers, who are responsible for meetups and regular competitions.We spoke with the Waltham resident about what it takes to be featured on IgersBoston’s account and why he appears to only take selfies in black tie.
Q. How did you get involved with IgersBoston?
A. When I first moved, I didn’t have that much time to get involved with the events and their InstaMeets, because I was studying a lot. But I was already taking photos, ever since high school, and I took some courses along the way to develop my skills. Then I said I want to meet with other people. On Instagram, it’s social media, but you cannot only stay social online, you have to stay social offline by putting names to faces.
Q. How do users catch your eye for the IgersBoston account?
A. I’m really into all of the details, because, as you know, Instagram is such a little square. The first thought is, “Wow, I’m limited. What could I fit in to this square?” It’s really difficult, but if I can get to see a magical composition with a brilliant perspective, and of course color and contrast, it just stuns me.
Q. What about for your own photos?
A. I spend the day with my camera, and I always take my camera everywhere I go, because who knows? If I don’t have my camera, and I miss a scene, it just drives me insane. I go crazy.
Q. So you’re shooting with a regular DSLR, not your phone?
A. No, I never shoot with the phone, unfortunately, because my phone is not that well-equipped (laughs). I shoot with a Canon 70D, and I have various lenses, so I carry a huge backpack with me everywhere I go. Then I put the card into my iPad and use VSCO or the Photoshop app.
Q. You don’t post too many photos of yourself on your account, but several of the ones you have feature you in black tie.
A. I’m not a selfie person, but I do have a tripod and a remote control that I’ll use for those special occasions. For one of the black-tie photos, I was one of the Instagrammers who won an invitation to the Museum of Fine Arts Summer Party. That’s why I took that. Then the selfie of me with the balloon, that was my 25th birthday, so I wanted to share it like that. Like I said, I’m not a selfie person. I would rather show my life through my own eyes than me taking place in it.
Rachel Raczka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Instagram @RachelRaczka.