Telling a story with Instagram

A snapshot of the Humans of New York Instagram account.
A snapshot of the Humans of New York Instagram account.

If you’ve been using Instagram for a while, you would be aware of a very successful (and often very beautiful) account called Humans of New York. The Insta account has now grown to include a web page, Facebook page, and a book. It’s also spawned possibly thousands of storytelling sites just like it.

So can the ‘Humans of …’ idea be extended to journalism and news reporting? The Washington Post thinks so. Today (US time) The Post is hosting a debate at a university campus in Florida. They wanted to ask people about the issues important to them.

“Specifically on the college campus where the debate is being held, the student population is 78.8 percent Hispanic, and 46 percent are non-native English speakers. In talking to the students, we settled on telling stories of first-time voters on campus.

Instagram was a natural choice for this project, because we wanted to capture portraits of the students while also including long, blog-style captions.”

– The Washington Post, on Medium

You can see more of the WaPo first-time voters project here.


To continue with our interviewing from Tuesday, today we’re going to tell a story using portraits of people and interviews with those people, in the style of Humans of New York. We’ll post our story on the Sydney TAFE Media account Instagram.

Together, choose an issue you’d like to interview people on campus about. Each of you must go out and find someone to speak to. You will need to record your question/s and your interviewee’s answers. You will also need to take a portrait of the person. TIP: take more than one shot when photographing people. Try moving around to improve the background, or the light on the person’s face. Sunglasses often diminish the power of a portrait because there can be so much feeling in a subject’s eyes – consider asking your subject to remove them if they’re wearing them 🙂

Write up your interview in first-person style, as Humans of New York does. You may take a little poetic licence with what they have said BUT be careful not to change the meaning of what was said.

Post your portrait and interview on Instagram using the hashtags #sydneytafemopho and #humansoftafe


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: