TIME On Our Radar

See How One Photographer Uses Instagram to Bring a Community Together

matt-eich-mississippi
Matt Eich Portrait of Lil' Mike and his daughter in the Baptist Town neighborhood of Greenwood, Miss. on April 2, 2014.

Photographer Matt Eich's long-term project in Greenwood, Miss., uses Instagram to forge understanding between divided communities

TIME LightBox Follow Friday is a series featuring the work of photographers using Instagram in new, interesting and engaging ways.

This week on #LightBoxFF, TIME speaks to Matt Eich, a freelance photographer based in Norfolk, Va., who uses Instagram to build a bridge between communities in Greenwood, Miss.

TIME LightBox: How did you first use Instagram?

Matt Eich: I actually created my Instagram account while sitting in a doctor’s office with my wife during her second pregnancy. I am a late adapter when it comes to smartphone technology, so this was early 2012 when I began using the platform. Honestly, it was just for fun, and having this new and ubiquitous tool always in my pocket re-energized something in my work.

TIME LightBox: How has your use evolved? How does it fit in your work?

Matt Eich: At first, I focused primarily on family, using Instagram as a sort of public family photo album. Over time I came to realize that it was a platform for engaging people with my work, so I began to make pictures for Instagram while juggling other cameras and tools for personal projects and assignments. It is a way of teasing out some of the long-form projects that are slowly evolving without giving too much away. When juggling multiple tools, I try to think about what the strengths and weaknesses of each are. Sometimes when I’m out working I’ll see something that looks like a Mamiya 7 frame, so I’ll use the 6×7 camera. Sometimes I’ll see something that seems like the iPhone might be better suited for, so I’ll switch over to that tool.

 

TIME LightBox: What do you think it can bring to a photographer like you?

Matt Eich: What most excites me about a platform like Instagram is the ability to engage with a community. Because the technological playing field is becoming more level, professional photographers using Instagram can serve as a bridge between two parts of a community or begin to engage community members in self-representation instead of the outsider perspective that is all-too-familiar.

 

For example, when I was working on my project in Greenwood, Miss., I realized that in this less-affluent black community, all of these kids I’ve photographed have smartphones and they’re all on Instagram posting these occasional daily life pictures — images that I don’t shoot. And the same happens in the white community. These folks are living in close proximity of one another with little awareness of the other side of that community. But it’s all there on Instagram, and you just need something to connect the two.

 

One thing I’ve struggled with is the fact that I’m a white boy from Virginia coming to a place that I don’t really belong in, and projecting my perception onto them. That’s just the sad reality of photography, but these new tools enable us, as storytellers and journalists, to gather content from the people we’re documenting so they can have a larger voice [in the project].

 

TIME LightBox: So you would play the role of curator.

Matt Eich: Exactly, and I’ve started doing some of that. When I see something on Instagram that I think is strong, I’ll ask them to text it to me so I can build a little archive.

 

TIME LightBox: Would that collection of images live on Instagram or would it take on a different form?

Matt Eich: Right now, I’m gathering as much content from as many people as I can. I’m taking my cue from the Everyday Africa folks: we started an Everyday Delta (@everydaydelta) feed, and we hope to build on it by bringing in photographers who are working in the area, as well as locals to create a curated mix that will allow people from outside of the Delta to get a more accurate glimpse of the community.

 

Matt Eich is a freelance photographer based in Norfolk, Va. His long-term project is Sin and Salvation in Baptist Town. Eich is currently holding an Instagram Print Sale to finance the continuation of his work across the Delta. Follow him on Instagram @matteich.

Marisa Schwartz Taylor is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME.com. Follow her on Instagram and twitter.

Olivier Laurent is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

TIME justice

See Evidence From the Boston Bombing Trial

Including a bullet-ridden 'manifesto' and new surveillance footage

The writings were allegedly scribbled in pencil by Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev inside the boat where he hid before his arrest. “I am jealous of my brother who has received the ward of Jannatul Firdaus (inshallah) before me,” the writing states. “I do not mourn because his soul is very much alive.” Jannat ul Firdaus refers to the highest level of paradise in Islam.

The jury also saw newly released surveillance footage of the attacks, which identify Tsarnaev at the scene, and heard witness testimony from victims and police officers.

Read next: See the Final Moments Before Boston Bombing Suspect Was Arrested

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME portfolio

Inside a Saudi Arabian Oil Giant’s American Oasis

“When I think back on growing up in Dhahran, it seems like a dream. An American dream in Saudi Arabia.”

Photographer Ayesha Malik grew up in a typical American suburb with cookie-cutter houses, softball fields, and Christmas trees in December. However, her hometown, Dhahran, is located on the east coast of Saudi Arabia, some 8,000 miles away from the California neighborhood it was modeled after.

Dhahran is a 22.5 square-mile gated compound built for the American expatriate workers of Aramco, the biggest oil company in the world. Now owned by the Saudi state, Aramco was originally founded in 1933 as a U.S.-Saudi joint venture. Palm trees and lush lawns were imported after striking black gold.

“Growing up, I didn’t differentiate between ‘American’ and ‘Saudi’,” says Malik. “In my world, abayas and softball fields were very compatible. As I got older, I realized what a rare privilege it was to have the chance to experience Saudi Arabia.”

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Ayesha MalikStreet signs in Dhahran are written in both Arabic and English.

The opportunity for Westerners to travel, let alone photograph, in Saudi Arabia has always been severely restricted. “Sure, [Dhahran] is in Saudi Arabia, but it’s not really Saudi Arabia,” Malik tells TIME. Outside the Aramco compound, women can’t drive, shops close multiple times a day for prayer, and restaurants are segregated between families and single males, she says.

In Dhahran, Malik can drive, ride a bike, and photograph her hometown. But, if she steps out of the compound, she cannot enjoy the same range of freedoms without being accompanied by a male relative, and must conform to the country’s stringent rules. “I still get told to put my camera away by guards at the mall,” she says. “Legally, I can take photos in public — but that wasn’t always the case. For years, camera phones were banned at the mall, but there is no way that could be controlled in this day and age.”

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Ayesha MalikDhahran Mall, a 10 minute drive outside of the compound. Women usually wear abayas outside of Aramco’s compound.

With her Pakistani origins, her American passport and Saudi background, Malik is perfectly positioned to document Saudi identity, which now forms an integral part of her work as a photographer. “I try not to let the restrictions on women get in my way,” Malik tells TIME. “I focus on the positive. As a woman, I have the chance to meet and speak with many other young women in Saudi Arabia, which would not be doable as a man. I get my fair share of rejections [from men and women], but I also find that people are more curious and open to [being photographed].”

Saudi Arabia is a complex country, and the pace of change is slow, Malik says. However, she sees signs of a shifting status quo. “I just don’t think you can look at Saudi Arabia and implement changes based on a Western perspective,” she says. “Saudi Arabia takes great pride in its history and tradition, but it also values the importance of a future in the modern world.”

Ayesha Malik is a photographer based in New York City and Riyadh.

Marisa Schwartz is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME.com. Follow her on Instagram and twitter.

 

TIME Follow Friday

Deconstructing Brazil’s Largest City on Instagram

Photographer Décio Araújo uses his cellphone to create captivating cityscapes of his native Sao Paulo

Decio Araujo Sao Paulo
Décio Araújos u p e r p o p u l a ç ã o • V

TIME Lightbox Follow Friday isa series featuring the work of photographers using Instagram in new, interesting and engaging ways.

This week on #LightBoxFF, TIME speaks to Brazilian architect and photographer Décio Araújo (@dearaujo). Inspired by his formal training as an architect, Araújo uses mobile apps to create fascinating images that illuminate issues of urban expansion in one of the world’s largest cities.


Lightbox: Tell us about yourself and how you became interested in photography?

Décio Araújo: I am an architect and I really love the relations between city, people and nature. Perhaps because of my passion for architecture, I like to photograph urban spaces and buildings. I try to capture a different point of view of the city and different perspectives on daily urban life.

 

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A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀décio araújo (@dearaujo) on

 

Lightbox: Does photography offer creative freedom you might not have in your daily work as an architect?

Décio Araújo: My photography involves architectural elements, but it also involves other issues about the architecture – such as urban aspects of the city, social issues, and the relationship between built spaces, people and nature. I see relationships that go beyond architectural projects, problems that large cities have like chaos, sprawl and lack of planning, which influence the population of the city. Photography is a way to express elements that are not part of my daily work.

 

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A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀décio araújo (@dearaujo) on

 

Lightbox: Has your understanding of the Instagram platform changed since you first started using it?

Décio Araújo: I started using Instagram four years ago. At the time, I did not have an idea of the size of the app and what could be [achieved] through it. Until then, my photos were more day-to-day [snaps] and did not follow any project. I realized the possibility of sharing my point of view about the city I live in with others, from [different] countries and Brazil itself. I had never published any of my photographs before Instagram.

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A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀décio araújo (@dearaujo) on

 

Lightbox: Tell us about your creative and technical process. How do you make these images?

Décio Araújo: Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil and is often judged by its uncontrolled growth and lack of planning—which are problems any city can [face]. I believe we can see beauty in many places where people think it does not exist—and it is through photography that I express this. All of my photos are made 100% on the phone, from the picture to the final treatment and sharing. I have a list of smartphone apps that I use to make collages (including UnionApp, FragmentApp, and Filterstorm) of mostly urban spaces and buildings in the city. I use different or identical photographs to develop the “deconstructed” image. After this, I take care of aesthetic elements such as symmetry, balance and proportion.

 

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A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀décio araújo (@dearaujo) on

 

Lightbox: What do you hope viewers will see in your photographs?

Décio Araújo: I want to make people more critical of the space they live in, encourage them to look, to go to areas that are not attractive, to be more poetic and analytical.

 

c l a u s t r o f o b i a u r b a n a • V fotografia é a possibilidade de transmitir um segundo ponto de vista. entrada para o #SextaTarefa tema: Fotografia é…

A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀décio araújo (@dearaujo) on

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A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀décio araújo (@dearaujo) on

 

Décio Araújo is an architect based in Sao Paulo. Follow him on Instagram @dearaujo.

Marisa Schwartz is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME.com. Follow her on twitter and Instagram.

TIME State of the Union 2015

These Are the Funniest Memes From the State of the Union

Few were safe from becoming a joke on social media

While pundits and political operatives dissected President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, the quick-witted citizens of Twitter flourished in the abundance of meme-able moments Tuesday night.

Here are some of the highlights.

  • Biden’s Reaction

    Not sure if the Vice President knew he was making the face of a rapper’s hype-man as the President spoke.

  • Speaker Boehner is Not Impressed

    Like the Vice President’s, House Speaker John Boehner’s facial expressions are always an easy target for critique during the State of the Union

  • Secretary Moniz Gets Meme’d

    Neither Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz nor his amazing hair got enough air time during the State of the Union

  • First Lady Fashion

    First Lady Michelle Obama channelled the look of another “First Lady” last night, Alicia Florrick of CBS’s The Good Wife.

  • The President’s “Drops-Mic” Moment

    The moment that stole the show gets the Vine treatment, complete with dad-dancing

  • Rand Paul Joins In

    Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul joined in on the fun, using a Willy Wonka meme to question the President’s plan for free community college

  • The State of the Union Is…

    Though Obama said Tuesday the state of our union is “strong,” someone suggested a word that could better connect with the youth

  • The Suit Returns

    White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer did a little pre-speech trolling, suggesting the President would be wearing his infamous tan-suit during the evening’s address

  • Joni Ernst’s Shoes

    During the official Republican response, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst recalled covering her shoes with bread bags to protect them when she was growing up, which spawned arguably one of the funniest memes of the night

  • A Presidential Wink

    POTUS flashes a wink and a smile

    Read next: The State of the Union Brought Out the Troll in Everyone

    Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Military

See the U.S. Military’s Last Days of Combat in Afghanistan

The U.S.-led coalition ended its combat mission on Sunday

The United States-led coalition in Afghanistan ended its combat mission on Sunday, 13 years after it began in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. More than 10,000 troops will remain on the ground to aid Afghan forces in a new U.S. role that called Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

“For more than 13 years, ever since nearly 3,000 innocent lives were taken from us on 9/11, our nation has been at war in Afghanistan,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “Now, thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.”

Almost 1 million U.S. troops served at least one tour in Afghanistan; a total 3,485 allied troops were killed, including 2,356 Americans.

Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson documented the final days of the U.S.’s official combat campaign with the men and women of Forward Operating Bases Gamberi and Fenty in Laghman and Nangarhar provinces, respectively.

Read next: U.S. Ends Its War in Afghanistan

TIME Culture

Meet the Man Who Spent $60,000 on Christmas

Christmas in Staten Island, N.Y. is taken very seriously

Sammy Nahas, a 38-year-old electrician, is a guy’s guy, according to photographer Dana Ullman. Ullman has been documenting Nahas’ preparations for the holiday season since September, although planning is a year-round task.

“It’s like Harley Davidson meets Christmas,” says Nahas. “Would I picture me doing this? No. I sew for God’s sake. If you asked me 10 or 15 years ago if I could sew, I’d say you were out of your mind.”

On Staten Island, Christmas decorations are taken very seriously. Talking about Christmas trees, Santa’s elves, reindeer, and toy soldiers “makes everyday men Kings of Christmas,” Ullman says.

Nahas has spent over $100,000 on Christmas decorations in the last three years. This year alone, he estimates spending around $60,000.

The extravagant display takes extreme effort all year round. It requires almost 3,000 square feet of storage space, 200,000 lights, and an entire house full of Christmas paraphernalia — from miniature elves to life-size snowmen.

“It’s hard to live like this,” Nahas says, “bumping into stuff, just everyday activities. But it’s all for Christmas so it’s all ok. You wait 365 days for this one day. Jesus is born, family comes over, you eat like pigs, you’re merry, it’s a good day.”

The season isn’t all cheery and bright for Nahas. After finalizing a divorce three years ago, he said that Christmas Day actually became the most depressing day of the year for him. But once it’s over, he starts planning for next year.

Nahas works hard on his decorations for the enjoyment of others. Children and families tour the neighborhood full of dazzling lights and Nahas is satisfied by the happiness he brings to the community.


Dana Ullman is a freelance photographer based in Brooklyn.

READ NEXT Your Christmas Tree Lights Are Headed to China—Then Back to You

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME portfolio

Documenting Immigration From Both Sides of the Border

For the past eight years, Kirsten Luce has been documenting immigration issues between the U.S. and Mexico

On Nov. 20, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a series of executive actions to reform immigration laws in the United States. These new actions will protect up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation, expand border security, and create new programs to promote citizenship and legal immigration.


Photographer Kirsten Luce has been documenting both sides of the U.S.–Mexico border since 2006, when she became a staff photographer at The Monitor in the border town of McAllen, Texas. After moving to New York City in 2008, Luce had a shift in perspective and started to look at immigration issues from a national point of view, she says.

Earlier this year, immigration came back at the forefront of the national debate when a massive influx of unaccompanied minors and families crossed the border. “When I first started seeing the news in May and June,” Luce says, “I thought I was aware of how busy the border has been for a couple of years [and that] reports might be exaggerating things. I was wrong.”

Luce immediately went to Texas, embedding herself with local law enforcement. They encountered two groups of 12 women and children within an hour, and then another group several minutes later. “Normally, you go on a ride along, [and] you don’t see anything for a couple of hours,” says Luce. “You might see one group the whole time… [This time] it was surreal.”

And while news organizations usually had little interest for Luce’s work on immigration, suddenly “people wanted whatever pictures they could get from the Rio Grande Valley to try to understand this space that has become the focal point of the national debate on immigration,” she says. Since this summer, Luce has been able to publish every story that she has produced, with other journalists also reaching out to her for advice on how to work in the area.

Luce’s comprehensive body of work covers diverse aspects of immigration on both sides of the border – from illegal border crossing to border patrol agents, stash houses where migrants are kept on arrival in the US. She is well aware that, as a journalist, such access is hard to come by. Over the years, Luce has maintained good relations with several local law enforcement agencies and they have grown to trust her. And while she is not always allowed to ask migrants about their stories, Luce appreciates the law enforcement officers that give her a chance to document the situation while they do their jobs.

“My intention is to contribute to a dialogue on the current immigration system,” Luce says. She has seen the complex narrative of immigration evolve for years, and stresses the importance of understanding this fluid situation and the people it affects on both sides of the border.

Kirsten Luce is a freelance photographer based in New York City.

Marisa Schwartz is an Associate Photo Editor at TIME.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

 

TIME

See Haunting Photos of NYPD Surveillance Helicopters Above the Eric Garner Protests

Police presence is evident in the air, as well as on the ground

On Thursday, photographer Kevin Kunstadt joined the New York City protests against the grand jury decision not to charge a white NYPD officer in the death of Eric Garner.

While most photographers focused their lenses on the protesters themselves, Kunstadt turned his towards the sky. He used his experience photographing airplane trails, using 20-30 second exposures, to capture the abundance of police and news helicopters above the protests — illuminating the constant surveillance.

“There was a sense of almost joyous rebellion,” Kunstadt tells TIME, “and irreverence for authority, police, and the status quo. I didn’t feel the same sadness as last week’s protests [for Michael Brown], but it was still quite emotional and beautiful to see everyone coming together.”

Protests against the police killings of Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. continue throughout the country. Kunstadt understands that the act of protesting often requires a police presence, but he finds “something especially ominous” about the aerial surveillance.

“Nevertheless,” he says, “there is an inherent power in turning the gaze of the surveiller back on them, enacting surveillance of the surveillance.”

TIME Crime

Darren Wilson Evidence Photos: What He Looked Like After Killing Michael Brown

These four images offer the clearest view of Wilson's wounds

The images below show Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson shortly after he fatally shot Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014. In grand jury testimony, Wilson described Brown as a violent aggressor who made the officer fear for his life. “When I grabbed him,” Wilson said in testimony, “the only way I can describe it is I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan.”

On Monday, the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney released 38 pictures of Wilson taken after the deadly encounter. The four below offer the clearest view of his injuries.

 

Darren Wilson Ferguson Police Officer
St. Louis County
Darren Wilson Ferguson Police Officer
St. Louis County
Darren Wilson Ferguson Police Officer
St. Louis County
Darren Wilson Ferguson Police Officer
St. Louis County

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