Life through a lens: get an eyeful thanks to these incredible snappers’ work.

As it turns out, Instagram isn’t just a place for selfies, holiday snaps and pictures of one’s breakfast. At its best, it can also be a platform for excellent photography which, outside the context of a gallery, is free and accessible to all. In a world in which our ubiquitous iPhones makes aspiring David Baileys of us all, it serves as an excellent reminder of what a remarkable skill the true art of photographic composition actually is. From fashion to food, travel to seascapes, we round up some sensational snappers whose work elevates the art form – and our Instagram feeds, just in time for #WorldPhotoDay.

Tobias Hagg

Tobias Hagg, known on social media as @airpixels, is a Stockholm-based photographer and videographer who specialises in aerial images. He travels to the furthest reaches of the earth in search of shots of rare beauty taken from above. Every single one that makes his feed is astonishing. Is there anything more pleasingly perfect than this ‘Weekend Explorer’ canoeing in crystal-clear waters? Follow him here.

Chris Burkard

It is no coincidence that Chris Burkard has accrued some 3.4m followers on Instagram; his images are unfailingly mind-stretching and awe-inspiring. And, in addition to the fact that his landscape work is beautiful, the appeal lies in following his extraordinary adventures, whether trekking through deserts or immersed in freezing Alaskan waters. This image, taken from the cockpit of a plane above an erupting Icelandic volcano, is arresting, strange, frightening and compelling. Also see this series of images for Burkard toasting marshmallows in the heat from the volcano. Follow him here.

Her Dark Materials

We have LINK NOT FOUND FOR PAGEID: 21475 for the Cotswolds-based Ros Atkinson, aka @herdarkmaterials, whose work is dedicated to food and fine art. And indeed, one glance at her little squares is akin to being pulled into the world of sixteenth-century Dutch masters, all dramatic light and perfectly stylised domestic tableaux which somehow manage to also seem profoundly modern despite the historical allusions. We’re not the only ones to be in awe of her talent; aside from her 68.5k followers on Instagram, Spode, The Royal Academy of Arts and Daylesford Organic are all clients, too. Follow her here.

Mario Testino

Mario Testino needs little by way of introduction. One of the most influential fashion photographers of all time, his work has graced the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair, and his was the unerring eye behind the lens of perhaps the most beautiful and certainly the most relaxed ever images of Princess Diana. Testino’s work with fashion brands such as Versace and Dolce & Gabbana doubtless contributed to their success and he’s known for his work with the famous supermodels of the nineties, as evidenced by this image of them all together, which we could pick over all day long. Happily, we can do just that courtesy of his Instagram feed, which you can follow here.

Mario Martinez

Another Mario, another outrageously talented photographer. Mr Martinez is a Barcelona-dwelling architect, content creator and snapper who specialises in capturing moments of humanity and quiet beauty amid the urban world in which he lives. We love this image of a lone cyclist zipping along under the cathedral-like proportions of an urban tunnel. Follow him here.

John Kowitz

The Hawaii-based John Kowitz’ passions for freediving and photography come together beautifully in his Instagram account. Capturing the mystery of marine life in the most exquisite way, his feed illuminates the complex world contained within our oceans. This magnificent whale shark alone is enough to reel us in. Follow him here.


John Rankin Waddell is amongst those rare artistes, along with Banksy, who are instantly recognisable by one name alone. A photographer, director and the co-founder of Dazed & Confused along with Jefferson Hack, Rankin has shot some of the world’s most famous and yet enigmatic people, from Kate Moss to David Bowie to HM The Queen. A scroll through his archives is never not a good way to spend an idle moment. Follow him here.

Don McCullin

‘Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures,’ says Don McCullin, who ranks among our very greatest living photographers. First and foremost a photojournalist, he began by documenting the poverty of the East End of London, before earning acclaim capturing the horrors of war across Africa, the Middle East and Asia. His 1961 images of the construction of the Berlin Wall won the British Press Award; it was the first gong in a much-garlanded career, and swiftly followed by scooping a World Press Award for his documentation of war in Cyprus in 1964. This image of a priest hearing soldiers’ confessions on a hill in Da Nang is haunting. Follow him here.

Ami Vitale

Ami Vitale is a National Geographic photographer whose compelling images of the natural world have rightly earned her a World Press Photo Award. Committed not simply to producing polished images but to inspiring her followers to protect the natural world, this image of one of only two northern white rhinos on the planet is at once a call to action and full of optimism. Follow her here.

By Nancy Alsop
August 2021

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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.