With over 300 million users, Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms popular amongst youth. While most people upload selfies and pictures of their meals on their account, there are a group of Instagram superstars who are followed by thousands every day. We speak to two RP students who are insta-stars.
Ameerul Hakim | @ameerulhakim
At first glance, you wouldn’t expect this slightly medium-built young man to have more than 12,900 (and counting) followers on Instagram. Even if you are a follower, you probably wouldn’t recognise if you saw him on the street because all pictures on his account barely have a full view of him.
Instead, 18-year-old Ameerul Hakim’s Instagram feed is like a checkerboard – filled with minimalistic black and white pictures of people around him with a quirky twist.
“I get very amused when I look at photos from brands like American Apparel and Louis Vuitton as well as magazines such as Cereal and Kinfolk. I try to re-create those ad campaigns that I am inspired by, and one led to another which sparked my need to make my photos nicer,” said the second-year Diploma in Aerospace Avionics student who first started using Instagram four years ago.
Ameerul has since become very serious about his pictures so much so that he created a dummy account to curate his pictures before posting it onto his real account. Even though he is good at his pictures, Ameerul admits it takes him about two hours to come up with the right caption for his pictures. This means he is constantly on his phone and it has become a big part of his life.
Ameerul recalled an experience where he dropped his iPhone 5 into the Kallang River. “I was posting almost three times a day back then and after the incident happened, I went on with life without having any means to connect with the world outside for a week, and it was quite a painful week,” he said. But through that experience, Ameerul has learned that art cannot be rushed as he cuts down on pictures he post up each day.
All the hard work and effort that Ameerul puts in has paid off as he has since gained local and international attention. His work was featured in the MAD About Singapore exhibition at ION Orchard and he is one of Instagram’s suggested users – a title given by Instagram to deserving Instagram users who consistently shares great pictures.
Although having never been paid for his work, he sees a bright future for his work as he finds a need to be creative and to work in companies like Kinfolk and Cereal magazine. Ideally though, he could get paid for his passion.
“I know of this person who has dropped out of school after being offered a job to photograph overseas for a lifestyle company,”Ameerul shared with us about Instagrammers making their mark and landing job opportunities abroad.
Despite all the attention he receives, Ameerul doesn’t like to really talk about fame. When asked why he has such a discreet anonymous identity on his Instagram, he said: “I am an introvert. I don’t always want to be in the limelight because it tends to be overwhelming. The only thing that I want to be in the limelight is my work – not me.”
His followers have nothing but praises for him as he often receives comments on each picture he posted, complimenting his work.
“I find Ameerul’s Instagram feed really cool and impressive. Sometimes I wonder how much effort he takes to produce his pictures because even though his pictures doesn’t have much context, it somehow tells a story – which I guess is a hard thing to do,” said Afiq Naqiuddin, 18, a follower of Ameerul’s Instagram account.
Alex Wong | @killerfvith
“Death, where is your sting?” That is the first line you would read on his profile when you enter 18-year-old Alex Wong’s Instagram account. He shows the daredevil side of him through his pictures as he explores roof tops, dangles off the edge of a 30-storey building and stands close to a busy road full of oncoming traffic.
Why does he do these stunts?
“My Instagram feed is a reflection of who I am and is influenced by street photography. At 16, I started to take photography more seriously instead of just taking selfies and pictures of food because I hope to use my photos to inspire or encourage someone and tell stories of faith and love”.
The first-year Diploma in Interactive and Digital Media student aspires to be a photographer in the future and uses Instagram as a platform to practise his skills and showcase the fruits of his labour.
His work has caught the attention of many as he was featured on Visual Supply Company (VSCO), an American-based art and technology company popular amongst people worldwide and has a specially curated gallery of exceptional pictures known as the VSCO Grid.
Despite not getting paid, Alex is delighted and feels honoured upon receiving the e-mail from VSCO that his works is selected to be showcased on such a prominent platform. But Alex isn’t just getting attention; he is also making new friends along the way.
“Instagram connects people with the same interest and passion together. Being able to connect with so many people through this tiny application on the phone is really something for me and has definitely changed my life in a way as I use it to interact with others,” he explained.
Through Instagram, Alex has met many new people and is now part of a 16-men squad called Ghostbusters. They all met through the application about two months ago and meet regularly about twice a week to hang out and go for shoots together.
With more locals fostering new friendships through Instagram, Singapore’s Instagram community account, InstaSG, organizes monthly gathering, known as an InstaMeet, for local Instagrammers to come together to bond and exchange knowledge for their common interest in photography and Instagramming.
As to why more people are taking Instagram more seriously, Alex shared with us his thoughts. “I think people don’t only want to present themselves nicely in reality, but in the virtual world as well. I guess there’s a sense of pride in what they post online on their accounts, so they would naturally want to take nicer pictures too,” he said.