TIME follows Instagram photographer Dave Krugman inside the American Museum of Natural History, his latest behind-the-scene tour at some of New York City’s largest museums

By Josh Raab
August 29, 2014

Welcome to this week’s edition of TIME LightBox Follow Friday, a series where we feature the work of photographers using Instagram in new, interesting and engaging ways. Each week we will introduce you to the person behind the feed through his or her pictures and an interview with the photographer.

This week #LightBoxFF features photographer Dave Krugman (@dave.krugman), formerly a freelance photographer and retoucher for Annie Leibovitz who collaborated earlier this month with the American Museum of Natural History (@amnh) and uses his Instagram presence to lead exclusive tours for some of New York City’s largest museums.


When New York City’s museums close for the day, Dave Krugman begins his. Trailed by a select crew of prolific Instagramers and PR specialists, they methodically photograph the spaces and artifacts, showcasing what makes the institutions unique. Then, they transfer the images from their DSLRs onto their phones and post them to Instagram, tagging the museums. The goal is simple: to drive traffic to the museum’s online profiles, building up their presence on Instagram.

 

With the sale of Red Lobster, Darden Restaurants said its remaining restaurant chains, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and an expanding roster of upscale brands, could refocus on filling tables with "core customers." Dardene CEO Clarence Otis Jr. offered a clue as to who those core customers might be. Hint: they're "more financially secure." "At Olive Garden," Otis said in a recent investor call, "we had 11% more visits last year, fiscal 2013, from guests with household income over $100,000 than we did five years earlier." And that was small potatoes compared with LongHorn Steakhouse, which wrangled 50% growth out of the same income bracket. "In contrast," Otis said, "Red Lobster traffic from this income demographic was flat." Lodged squarely in the middle class bracket, Red Lobster's sales have trailed behind Dardene's upmarket brands, such as Eddie V's, a premium seafood restaurant where diners are treated to live shows. On either end of this graph, the columns tell a tale of two seafood chains. Source: Darden 2013 Annual Report It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and restauranteurs can sense it. Dardene
Josh Raab for TIME

Krugman’s first foray into Instagram-led tours happened a year ago when he convinced the Metropolitan Museum of Art to open up its galleries for him after normal opening hours. Accompanied by other Instagram photographers, they tagged their images with the hash tag #emptymet. The project proved to be hugely successful. “Before the project, the MET had a little shy of 4000 followers,” Krugman tells TIME. “Basically the project really put them on the map in the [photo] community. Instagram took notice because a lot of the people in the Instagram community were involved in it. As we repeated the project and through the museum’s own efforts, [they now have] over 200,000 followers.”

Aside from Instagram, the New York Times and Fortune Magazine featured #emptymet in their pages, propelling Krugman to the top of the New York City Instagram community with more than 100,000 followers.

 

Updated 1:15 p.m. E.T. Fast food workers demanding higher wages staged strikes in dozens of cities across as many as 30 countries Thursday, alongside 150 similar protests planned in the United States. Workers were set to take to the streets in Seoul, Dublin, Casablanca and Panama City, part of strikes planned in as many as 80 cities, the New York Times reports. "We're here to get $15 and a union, we're here to strike, we're here to make some noise and we're here to disrupt because that's the only way to get their attention," Taco Bell employee Chad Tall said on CNN. He and other workers were striking outside a McDonald's in New York. The most recent round of fast food wage strikes began more than a year ago, but they have failed to meet their goal of forcing McDonald's and other companies to raise workers' wages to at least $15 an hour. (The current federal minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25.) Protest organizers in the U.S. have turned to international workers to increase global pressure on fast food companies in light of dwindling membership in American unions. Fast food companies increasingly rely on international revenue in the face of falling U.S. sales. “Fast-food workers in many other parts of the world face the same corporate policies—low pay, no guaranteed hours and no benefits,” said Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees International Union. The median pay for fast food workers is slightly higher than $9 an hour, coming out to $18,500 a year, CNN reports—which falls short of the Census Bureau's poverty threshold of $23,000 for a family of four.
Jose Silva @jnsilva for @amnh

He has since led tours for the New York Public Library and the Intrepid Air & Space Museum. The American Museum of Natural History took notice, reaching out to Krugman for help in finding a voice on Instagram.

For Anne Canty, AMNH’s Senior Vice President of Communications and Marketing the Instagram tour is “for people that have never been here, and maybe don’t have the ability to come here. Hopefully it will be a way for them to appreciate interesting natural history content. Both content that’s timeless as well as showing how the museum changes.”

Krugman selected his team carefully, choosing top Instagrammers Jose Silva @jnsilva, Karim Mustafa @karim.mustafa, Sam Morrison @Sam the Cobra, and John Suarez @jm_suarez. Together they spent six hours touring the museum, photographing its main attractions as well as rooms that are off-limit to the public such as the ichthyology, mineralogy and entomology collections. The images will then be curated by the Museum’s public relations team and released over time on the museums feed @amnh.

Karim Mustafa @karim.mustafa for @amnh

Aside from exclusive access, Krugman was able to secure a budget for the project, something he wasn’t able to do in the past. “Instagram was very young when we started this project. Very very few brands or institutions were paying [Instagram] photographers. Now, I’m paying photographers, I’m paying myself. It’s actually becoming an incredible opportunity for paid work.”

For Krugman, this success is representative of a new golden age of photography, with Instagram helping to elevate smartphone photography. “When the printing press came out, it didn’t invent books but it democratized literacy,” he says. “When the iPhone came out, it didn’t invent the camera but it democratized visual literacy. I think some people view the phone as an assault on photography while it’s really not, it’s exactly the opposite. Everybody has a camera now, and if you have experience with something, you have a deeper appreciation for it.”

 

With the sale of Red Lobster, Darden Restaurants said its remaining restaurant chains, Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse and an expanding roster of upscale brands, could refocus on filling tables with "core customers." Dardene CEO Clarence Otis Jr. offered a clue as to who those core customers might be. Hint: they're "more financially secure." "At Olive Garden," Otis said in a recent investor call, "we had 11% more visits last year, fiscal 2013, from guests with household income over $100,000 than we did five years earlier." And that was small potatoes compared with LongHorn Steakhouse, which wrangled 50% growth out of the same income bracket. "In contrast," Otis said, "Red Lobster traffic from this income demographic was flat." Lodged squarely in the middle class bracket, Red Lobster's sales have trailed behind Dardene's upmarket brands, such as Eddie V's, a premium seafood restaurant where diners are treated to live shows. On either end of this graph, the columns tell a tale of two seafood chains. Source: Darden 2013 Annual Report It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and restauranteurs can sense it. Dardene
Josh Raab for TIME

Dave Krugman is an Instagram Consultant. Follow him on Instagram @dave.krugman

Josh Raab is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow him on Instagram @instagraabit

Diane Tsai is an Associate Video Producer at TIME.com. Follow her on Instagram @tsaiclops


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