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Discovering — and telling — stories from around the world. Curated by Instagram’s community team.
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Mohammed Elshamy ( @elshamyme) is still looking for a home. Born in Cairo, raised in Lagos and working around the world as a photojournalist since the age of 17, he recalls a life as an outsider. “When I was only a few weeks old, my family moved to West Africa, where I spent most of my formative years. In Nigeria, I went to a public school and, despite being African myself, I could never feel welcome in the place I spent most of my life in — I did not look like I belonged.” Now 23 years old and based in New York, Mohammed is weary, but still pursuing his journey. “It’s very challenging to be an Arab Muslim during the rise of extreme voices around the world calling for a refugee lockdown, violence against Muslims and further marginalizing minority and vulnerable populations,” he says. “But I find it very important to witness and document this dark but historic era.” #WhereIComeFrom Photo by @elshamyme
Vicky Graham’s Plan A was to open up a doughnut and coffee shop that was simple and authentic. But then she started experimenting, and people liked what she was coming up with. And then the special requests started pouring in — which quickly turned into Plan B, Vicky’s Donuts ( @vickysdonuts), the two-year-old East London doughnut shop that’s already won taste-test awards. “I don’t think people had really seen anything like them before, and it was really working,” says Vicky of her vibrant colors and unique combinations. “I haven’t looked back!” Vicky isn’t content to stick to one flavor or design. While she occasionally dots her doughnuts with edible flowers or gold leaf, she doesn’t shy away from old favorites, like chocolate glaze with sprinkles. And she often dreams up unconventional designs and shapes, such as wedges decorated to look like pepperoni pizza slices or rings dipped in lime icing and striped with white to mimic tennis balls. “They are just really fun to do,” says Vicky of her creations. “And because they are deep-fried, the wait time is two minutes — instant gratification!” Watch our Instagram story now to see Vicky’s doughnut decorating in action. Photo by @vickysdonuts
While learning underwater photography, Tessie Wallace ( @tessiewallace) captured a moment of quiet sibling bonding between her two nephews. “I was really just trying to capture them in the light because it was so amazing — you could see that they are identical twins,” says Tessie. “These boys love my son like he’s their little brother. This bond only gets stronger over time. It’s amazing to see, especially since my son is an only child. He never feels alone.” #WHPmood Photo by @tessiewallace
Melissa Nordan ( @mlnordan) wasn’t quite sure what she’d get when she decided to experiment with a glass block that she found in her garage. “Each picture was a surprise depending on how my daughter tilted her head, and at the age of 7 there is really not too much instruction to give her other than, ‘Let’s have some fun and take pictures.’ The bends and curves in the glass did the rest.” While Melissa liked the perplexed effect of this #WHPmood submission, she notes: “My model thought the images were quite funny.” Photo by @mlnordan
“Photography has helped me pinpoint my exact emotions as I too experience it,” says Jonathon Collins ( @easternsuns), an environmental scientist and photographer from Australia. This #WHPmood submission, from the streets of Havana, makes him feel reflective: “When I look at it now, I’m reminded of a city with beautiful moments to capture, and an infinite number of stories to tell.” Photo by @easternsuns
Shark attack survivor and amputee Mike Coots ( @mikecoots) isn’t afraid of sharks. When he was 18, Mike was attacked by a tiger shark while surfing off the coast of his hometown of Kilauea, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai’s north shore; it took Mike five weeks to recover from the near-fatal accident, which resulted in an amputated leg. “The hardest part wasn’t losing a limb,” says the photographer and still-avid surfer, who is outfitted with a carbon fiber prosthetic leg. “It was being out of the water.” Almost 20 years after the attack, Mike is more of a shark lover than ever, and he has devoted his life to being their advocate. “I love the beauty of them surviving mass extinctions,” he describes. “They’ve outlived dinosaurs. They’re older than trees. The entire Earth has been wiped out, species have completely disappeared, and sharks have existed and survived through that. I believe, strongly, that they’re here for a reason.” Photo by @mikecoots
Vivid colorist Kayla Boyer ( @kayla_boyer) believes rainbow hair makes the world a happier place. “If I had it my way, everyone would have colored hair,” she says. Rainbow hair, unicorn hair, confetti hair and even black-light hair are more than just mesmerizing hair color trends — they’re works of art for all to appreciate: “Hair can be just like a painting. It’s my canvas, and I can put these colors in 10 million different ways and it will always look beautiful,” she says. Kayla, who owns and operates a salon in Minneapolis, exclusively services a booming vivid color clientele. The best part about her job? Encouraging a unique identity and renewed confidence in her clients. “You have to believe you can rock it to walk around and just be like, ‘This is me and I love my hair and I love myself.’ My goal is to impart that mindset.” After all, Kayla knows from experience that she’s the best version of herself when she’s sporting neon or pastel as her crown: “Vivid hair is my thing. I love it.” Watch our Instagram story now to see how Kayla creates rainbow-colored hair. 🌈 Photo by @kayla_boyer
There’s nothing like the silliness shared among friends, Astika Rumateor de Leeuw ( @astikarumateor) reminds us. #WHPmood Photo by @astikarumateor
Irina ( @irinahp) captures her bright, summery state of mind with some juicy watermelon and a pink picnic to match. #WHPmood Photo by @irinahp
In Jakarta, @masjiwa captures that familiar feeling of just hanging in there. Follow along to see more of our favorites from last weekend’s hashtag project, #WHPmood. Photo by @masjiwa
Tens of thousands of electronic music revelers from around the globe descend upon the Belgium city of Boom for two weekends in July for the @tomorrowland festival. “I love how the festival keeps improving itself — the production, the stages — it gets crazier every year,” says DJ Martin Garrix ( @martingarrix), who is performing at the festival for the fourth year in a row. “Onstage, I get a very euphoric feeling when I see all these people in the crowd, having the best time and enjoying the music,” the Dutch musician explains. “I always want to put on the best performance so before my show I still get nervous, but when I get onstage it just all falls in place. It’s hard to explain, but the adrenaline I get from performing is insane and one of the best feelings in the world.” Watch our Instagram story now for a behind-the-scenes look from one of the world’s largest music festivals. Photo of @martingarrix by @louisvanbaar
Fireworks are on display for one in this surreal scene from Japan’s Aichi Prefecture by Taizi Sakamoto ( @aixphoto). “I was inspired by the light and shadow in the beautiful sky,” says Taizi. #TheWeekOnInstagram Photo by @aixphoto
“Serendipity has played its role in making this photo,” says Marko Risovic ( @markorisovic) of a timeless moment captured in Drvengrad, Serbia. The freelance photographer from Belgrade noticed the golden light on the mountaintops from the corner of his eye while on assignment at a nearby music festival. “The timing was perfect. Ten minutes before or after this photograph was made, the scene had a completely different feeling and visual quality.” #TheWeekOnInstagram Photo by @markorisovic
A single flower becomes a giant gift when playing with scale in this coastal scene from Balaklava, Ukraine. #TheWeekOnInstagram Photo by @chuuubaka
It’s been an exciting year for Sejahari Saulter-Villegas ( @amaru_ler). The 18-year-old, who travels to NYU this fall to study dramatic writing, was recognized by Chicago’s young playwrights competition, and made his Broadway performance debut after winning a separate competition. “I was born into this community of arts and activism,” says Sejahari. “I started at Kuumba Lynx, which is a hip-hop arts and education program housed in the Uptown area of Chicago. We take elements of rap, poetry, theater, dance, and we put it into a production, so the world of poetry and theater were always intertwined.” This week, Sejahari joined other young creatives at the International Youth Poetry Slam Festival @bravenewvoices for its 20th annual gathering. “People think that poetry is this café, after-midnight thing, when the culture that it’s become is a place for youth to speak their truth and express themselves in a way that informs the entire world of what’s going on.” The multi-day festival, which includes workshops, competitions, showcases, community service and civic participation, is an energizing moment for Sejahari. “I love this slam community. I have people in Philly, New York, Twin Cities, Miami — we haven’t seen these people for a whole year, some two years, but we come back and we’re best friends. Social media plays a big part in that because it’s sort of how we constantly stay updated on each other’s lives.” Check out our story to meet more poets from this year’s @bravenewvoices festival. Photo by @amaru_ler
The majesty of the Matterhorn pales in comparison to the cuteness of these Valais blacknose sheep. “When I saw this herd of sheep and well-known Matterhorn in the background, I imagined exactly this picture in my mind,” says Iryna Raichuk ( @iryna_raichuk). “I just didn’t know how to make them still,” says Iryna, who lives in Zurich. An unfortunate misstep while trying to get the shot did just the trick. “I knocked over a stone and fell down with my heavy backpack. At that moment, I was screaming something and all sheep stopped moving. It was a magic.” #TheWeekOnInstagram Photo by @iryna_raichuk
Two swans make guest appearances as Kate Matsevych ( @kate_matsevych) strolls down a dock at Toronto’s Sunnyside Beach in our #BoomerangOfTheWeek. Kate has spent the past three years traveling the globe, and at each stop she tries to capture Boomerangs of inspiring places. “Actually, I’m scared of water,” says Kate, who grew up in the Ukraine. “But when moving forward into something new and unexplored, the main thing is to know that you’re not alone, and you have a person that will always take care of you — like those two swans. Did you know that they are mates for life?” Add #BoomerangOfTheWeek to your next Boomerang — yours might show up here on @instagram. #Boomerang by @kate_matsevych
Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPmood The goal this weekend is to create photos and videos that creatively interpret specific moods, like this underwhelmed, sleepy cat by @rojiman. Whether you’re feeling amused, energetic, mellow or even bored, here’s how to get started: If you’re with friends, look for ways to playfully exaggerate a mood without using words — like all yawning together to show being tired, or contrasting one friend’s silliness with another friend’s seriousness. Consider how an emotion can be conveyed through props, colors and even sounds. Colors like blue and gray can create a sense of calm, while happiness can be found in overhearing laughter at a public park. If you’re not sure what mood best suits you — try some on in stories via face filters and stickers, and share your favorite creations to feed. PROJECT RULES: Please add the #WHPmood hashtag only to photos and videos taken over this weekend and only submit your own visuals to the project. If you include music in your video submissions, please only use music to which you own the rights. Any tagged photo or video taken over the weekend is eligible to be featured next week. Featured photo by @rojiman
“I’m an adult and I dress up as people,” says 22-year-old cosplayer Kiera Please ( @kieraplease). While Kiera enjoys seeing the reactions she gets from bystanders when she’s in costume, she says the process of transforming herself into beloved characters is the real reward. “I think growing up, I was a little scared to be myself in a sense, or wear whatever I wanted to or do my hair however I wanted to,” the Atlanta-based creative explains. “What I’ve learned is, don’t be afraid to just try something completely random or new, because you never know what you’re going to like until you try it.” Watch our Instagram story now to see Kiera’s cosplay characters come to life. Photo by @kieraplease
Hello, world! Meet today’s squeaky-clean #WeeklyFluff, @sun.kyu39thankyou. This Himalayan cat and his brother from Japan are often seen soaking in the tub, dressing up and munching on treats. To learn more about these seal-point furballs, follow @sun.kyu39thankyou