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The Report

Eight Daredevil Instagramers

We dive, surf and scale with men redefining the term “social climbing” (Grrr!)

Whether they’re scaling Mount Kilimanjaro, back flipping into Lake Louise or in the blue room at Bondi Beach, Instagram has pioneered an opportunity for explorers, adventurers and thrill-seekers alike – its simplicity allowing these men to share their daily escapades with the world in real time. Since launching in October 2010, the social media platform has been a game changer. The brainchild of founders Messrs Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger (their venture paid off – in 2012 it was purchased by Facebook for $1bn), the past four years have seen more than 20 billion images uploaded from our smartphones into the digital world. The platform currently generates more than 8,500 likes per second from around the globe and boasts 60 times the user engagement of Facebook – there’s no denying that Instagram is now one of the most fun, interactive and creative social media platforms out there.  

Just as blogs gave birth to legions of diamond-in-the-rough chefs (OK, cooks) and food writers (such as Mr Matt Bites), Instagram has allowed us, the more couch-orientated surfers, to feel as if we’re right in the middle of the action. With this in mind we’re celebrating some of our favourite Insta-dudes. From @aquabumps’ aerial views of the Australian surf to @abekislevitz’s stunningly remote captures from up on Whistler’s glaciers, their images allow us to escape the confines of our cube farms for a few exhilarating seconds.

1: THE URBAN NIGHT OWL

The New York-based photographer Mr Humza Deas is a night owl with a serious penchant for head-spinning heights and epic urban vistas – all captured with a wonderful eye for fading light and drama. Stumbling upon his feed, it’s easy to believe that his images aren’t real. They are – this guy just enjoys making buildings his plaything. He conquers the concrete jungle on what feels like a daily basis, scattering your feed with his fearless, gravity-defying adventures. “One thing I love about Instagram is the ability to actually connect with other great artists who are around me,” he says. It’s not just the Big Apple that draws his attention; a recent cross-country trip to LA saw him traversing gritty bridges (from dizzying angles) and off-limits rooftops, snapping anything-but-gratuitous selfies along the way.

2: THE PLEASURE SEEKER

Professional skier and mountain biker Mr KC Deane lives a rush-fuelled existence. Never appearing to see the inside of an office or a whiff of a boardroom, the Bellingham, Washington-based adventurer prefers to fill his workday week carving up fresh powder in Whistler, catching deserted waves at sunrise or descending the red rocks of Utah on his mountain bike – usually with his Contour action camera along for the ride. Like so many of us “gramers”, he is also a sucker for a sunset: “I actually got into photography because of Instagram,” he admits. “The more I took photos, the more I wanted to take better photos of whatever I was seeing around me.” Follow him and expect a daily wake-up call of fresh water, dirt and a general hunger for life.

3: THE PANORAMIST

Seattle-based landscape photographer Mr Scott Rinckenberger got into his line of work during his years as an extreme skier. Here’s someone who revels in the joy of being outside – he declares “planet earth the muse” in his bio and makes a dedicated point of showing her at her best angles in his addictive daily feed. “I love Instagram because it is home to the most dynamic and engaged photographic community in the world and provides an endless source of inspiration,” he says. His work has recently taken him from the vertical highs of Ruth Gorge in Alaska to South Sierra in California, resulting in a considered yet diverse stream of eye-popping panoramas and sun-kissed summits. A real pleasure.

4: LIFE IN THE VERY FAST LANE

“I want people to look at my feed and see a beautiful, inspiring story, something that will make them want to get out and do something with their extra time,” says Mr Zak Shelhamer, media leader of adventure and endurance sports for action camera company GoPro. Having grown up with a passion for film photography, shooting his native Californian surroundings alongside his father, he now uses Instagram as a way of telling stories about his enviable life in extreme sports. Whether he’s motorcycling across the Golden Gate Bridge, hitting the waves off Queensland, or cliff diving in Hawaii, his eye for a great action shot is second to none.

5: THE LANDSCAPE LOVER

Resident New Yorker Mr Sam Horine is a travel and landscape photographer who pays particular attention to big skies, cool cars and new perspectives in his feed. His images invite us to make the most of the weekend, whether that’s on road trips, rooftops or mountains, tempting us to pack it in early at the office and head off on an adventure. For Mr Horine, the best part about Instagram is that it's "an endless source of inspiration and a great way to stay in touch with friends and family around the world”. Cityscapes from Vienna to Mumbai are juxtaposed with delectable food items. His eye for colour and composition results in images so enticing you can almost taste the flavours and smell the atmosphere. He has used this platform wisely, garnering legions of fans around the globe and even photographing a Korean cookbook – due out in 2016.

6: THE GOPRO-FESSIONAL

As senior production artist for GoPro (seeing a theme here?) and an avid outdoorsman, professional roamer Mr Abe Kislevitz’s feed gives us serious bouts of life envy. You’re unlikely to see him hashtag anything with #nofilter but, shucks, who cares when the results are this good? Not him. “I originally joined Instagram because I thought it was an editing suite with great filters. Then a buddy told me my follower ratio was 100:0…” Escapism can also be found in his unique sense of humour – his captions are as funny as his photos are inspiring. The San Franciscan can often be found freestyle or helicopter skiing with Olympic athletes, surfing impressive Hawaiian waves or capturing life via his GoPro (obviously) camera from around the globe. Insta-gold.

7: THE SURVIVALIST

Mr Renan Ozturk is an avid film-maker, documentarian and climber for outdoor brand The North Face. Hailing from Salt Lake City but rarely staying put anywhere long enough to call home, he thrives on taking the mediums of film and photography into unseen and hard-to-reach places such as the edges of Antarctica and the coast of Oman via a 44ft catamaran. “I got on Instagram because I enjoyed the simplicity of the platform – just photos and captions, no events or messaging,” he says. He brings attention to the survivalist elements of extreme sports such as ascending a mountain while monitoring body temperature. It sounds serious because it is. Watch and learn.

8: THE SOUL SURFER

Ever wondered what the world might look like from the viewpoint of a sea bird? Then you won’t regret tapping “follow” on Sydney-based photographer Mr Eugene Tan’s stunning feed. His passion for photography began at eight years old with one focus – the rolls and waves at his favourite surf spots. “Instagram lets me share the amazing things I get to see and shoot every day, such as the sunrise at Bondi that I’ve been capturing for the past 15 years.” Lately Mr Tan has expanded his focus to other Sydney shores, Hawaii’s historic Banzai pipeline and the idyllic islands of Indonesia. Action surf shots are approached from every angle in this portfolio, including from the front seat of a helicopter or beneath the water as the waves rise, fall and come to life on the screen of your smartphone.

Instagram by numbers

20 billion
The number of Instagram images uploaded to date.

1.6 billion
The average number of likes per day on Instagram.

60 million
The number of photos posted daily on Instagram. New York City now has the lion’s share of posts per city.

1 million
The number of selfies posted daily over the past year. The word even made it into the Oxford Dictionary.

258
The number of #selfie posters per 10,000 people in Makati City, Manila, Philippines – making it the most selfie-obsessed location on Instagram, according to Time magazine. New York City’s Manhattan came a close second. Here’s looking at you, kid.

38
The percentage increase of likes on images that include faces in them. In turn, face-focused posts see a 32% increase in comments. “We are naturally attracted to faces,” researcher Ms Saeideh Bakhshi of Georgia Tech told Mashable. “We are social animals and want to see other people – it’s comforting to us and makes us safe.”

23.044
The average number of interactions (likes and comments) gained when the Mayfair filter is used on images.

24
The percentage of likes you could increase on your posts simply by having blue as the dominant colour (attributed to universally recognisable features such as the sky, or Superman), according to tech innovation website Fast Company.

11

The percentage of Instagram posts that falsely claim #nofilter. Filter cheats are most likely to have used the Amaro filter to disguise their efforts. If you are interested in finding out if a #nofilter post actually has a filter, the Tumblr blog Filter Fakers offers a “Fake Catcher” to which you can upload Instagram images to catch people out.