‘In 2010, Instagram introduced me to the world of mobile photography. I started going on adventures purely for the sake of Instagram. It gave me a whole new perspective on the world around me, all with the ease of my iPhone.
My work is inspired by the art of travelling. When I travel, I like to travel alone. Nobody and nothing can hold me back. Best of all, nobody can judge me when I’m on my own- I really enjoy eating breakfast for dinner. There is something comfortable about “not knowing”. Going into a foreign country without a plan and wandering the streets with my camera have brought me the greatest life lessons and experiences. I never could have found them in a lifetime at home in the Pacific Northwest.
I seem to always encounter disasters and conflict during my trips. When I travel, something always seems to happen – from winding up in the middle of the biggest government uprising in Turkish history to huddling together with complete strangers in one of Australia’s biggest cyclones. My best photographs have come from living in the present moment.
The darker side of life is a heavy influence on my photography. Dark tones and subject matter are present in most of my photos. For instance, my photo taken in the holy city of Tz’fat, Israel, captures the bullet holes littered throughout the city. Tz’fat is the city with the highest elevation in the country and is therefore very desirable for both Israelis and their Syrian neighbors. Tz’fat has also taken its fair share of fire from Hezbollah forces of nearby Lebanon, making it the “ticking tme bomb” city of Israel.
During my time in Istanbul, Turkey, I arrived unknowing I would be witnessing history in the making. I had heart of the anti-government clashes prior to arriving in Istanbul; I had to see them for myself. I walked into the crowd at Taksim Square as an observer. I couldn’t understand a word locals were chanting to the riot police. I found myself on the front lines of the protest, with only a street-width dividing us from the angry police. A bottle was thrown from my side, smashing over their riot shields. A moment later, a tear gas canister was fired in my direction. With my eyes and throat burning, I had no choice but to flee the scene. I tried to snap a few pictures as another gas canister whizzed past my head, hitting the ground in front of me. I had heard that they were detaining journalists, and I didn’t feel like sleeping in a Turkish prison that night. The rest of my day was spent on my hostel roof, watching the smoke and flames rise from Taskim’
My Initial Response
The sheer rawness and honesty behind these images are impossible to ignore. There is no opinion included within these images which is quite rare in this mode of photography, the photographs purely state ‘this is what is happening and this is what it looks like’.
Normally news outlets don’t show the realistic outcome of disasters and conflicts to this extent, it usually tends to be from a distance or using amateur style photography which has been sent in and lacks in quality therefore the audience is unable to view the scene to it’s full extent – up close and personal. News outlets also need to consider the times in which their programmes will be shown, for example the BBC news at 6 o clock – families will watch this news, therefore they need to modify their documentation of the disaster so that it does not heavily upset these families and cause complaints to be filed in. However, the beauty of Instagram is that anyone of any age, anywhere in the world can access these images and therefore nothing needs to be modified – it’s simply there for those who choose to view it.
One particular image stands out to me – the bullet holes in the wall. I feel as though the mood has been captured perfectly, the viewer can hear the deathly silence after the guns have been fired and feel the emptyness of the lives lost and sadness behind that fact. It is completely down to the viewer as to where their opinion lies on these events, and I appreciate that this image leaves you to do so
How Furst Used Social Media Platforms And For What Purposes:
- Uploading images of his travels to Instagram
- To document his experience of being caught in the middle of conflict and disasters around the world
- To inform
Steve Crist and Megan Shoemaker (2014). The Instagram Book. Korea: Ammo. 20-23.