Unless you’re a news junkie or minor local celebrity—let’s be honest —Twitter is hard to get into. And Facebook? It’s massive, but the vibe changed the minute you got a friend request from one of your grandparents. Now it’s just an inescapable—and occasionally weird—part of everyday life, like it or not.
Instagram, on the other hand, is blowing up faster than either Twitter or Facebook were in their early days. Not even two years old, the trendy photo-sharing app for smartphones is on track to sign up its 100-millionth user any day now. That’s pretty insane.
Unlike most of its social media brethren—including its new parent company, Facebook—Instagram is a distinctly visual medium. Its smartphone-exclusivity and vintage-looking photo filters earned it a hipster reputation early on, but the service has since attracted all kinds of people. Naturally, photographers are drawn to it, as are designers and other visual artists. It’s also made up of everyday people who use it to document everything from storm clouds to whatever they happen to have to just ordered for brunch.
Those hordes of users are scattered across the globe, but Philadelphia is pretty well-represented on Instagram. Tapping the #philly tag reveals nearly a quarter of a million recent photos from around our fair city.
So who are the best Instagrammers in Philly? Based on a mix of their own popularity, reader recommendations and our subjective whims, we compiled a list of nine must-follow Philadelphians. We stuck mostly to photographers who cover the city from broad, yet unique perspectives. There are plenty of people Instagramming the shit out of this city, and way too many of them are impressively capturing the essence of Philadelphia, with or without a filter.
1. Streets Dept
Conrad Benner got his start at Philebrity and Philthy Blog, but these days, the Philly-born photographer is best known for Streets Dept, the site on which he documents street art throughout the city. His popular Instagram account mostly follows the street art theme of its namesake blog, but often branches out beyond that. Benner actively seeks out new nooks and crannies from which to capture Philly, from rooftops and alleyways to cemeteries and dive bars.
2. Neal Santos
When he’s not shooting photos for City Paper , Neal Santos is urban-farming at Farm 51 in Southwest Philly. Both passions shine through in his Instagram account, which blends food photography with some of the best Philly street portraits you’ve ever seen.
3. David Maialetti
Daily News and Inquirer photographer David Maialetti Instagrams Philly as he sees it. Thankfully, for the rest of us, he has a remarkable eye. From playful man-on-the-street portraits to the funeral of a murdered police officer, Maialetti covers the gamut of what Philly looks like, nailing it every time.