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10 Out-of-the-Ordinary Portrait Photographers to Follow on Instagram

by Hillary Grigonis
photo & video

Portraits are a very traditional sub-genre of photography — but that doesn’t mean the contents of that portrait has to be that age-old fake smile against a plain backdrop. Today, more than ever, portrait photographers are shifting away from the norm and finding new ways to let their subject’s personality shine through non-traditional, creative photography.

While there are tons of great portrait photographers on Instagram, we’ve put together a list of portrait photographers that are outside the norm, whether that’s through an adaption of journalistic styles or total abandonment of posing for dance stances. We’ve gone so far from traditional in fact, that our list includes a former mime, a former engineer and yes, even a coffee company. Here are ten portrait photographers to follow on Instagram to fuel your creativity and fill your feed with a break from the norm.

I See A Different You (@Iseeadifferentyou)

East London 2017 #iseeadifferentyou #eastercape #photography #artphotography

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I See A Different You isn’t a single photographer but a group of artists. Their goal? To show a personal, positive look at Soweto in South Africa rather than the negative, struggling community often portrayed in the media. The result is an Instagram feed full of colorful, inspiring photos, many of them portraits. Follow I See A Different You for genuine, inspiring portraiture.

Jordan Voth (@jordanvoth)

@xomissdanielle and I ventured out to find snow yesterday. It was a success and also very cold. ❄️❄️

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Seattle-based portrait and wedding photographer Jordan Voth’s work is characterized by rich natural tones, soft light and genuine expressions. The photographer also has a love for the outdoors, a passion that often shows up in his work. Named one of Rangefinder Magazine’s rising stars for this year, join Jordan’s 100k+ followers for inspiring portrait work.


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Omar Z. Robles (@omarzrobles)

Flying off to a new adventure today. Can’t wait to be in Prague! In this photograph Kelly Korfhage @kellytheshell

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You won’t find stiff traditional poses scrolling through Omar Z. Robles’ Instagram feed. That’s because the photographer originally studied miming in Paris, a focus on movements that inspires his work today. In a New York City backdrop, Omar captures the movements and flexible poses of dancers for portraits that are anything but ordinary. Follow Omar on Instagram for inspiration on mixing movement and portraiture.

Long Miles Coffee (@longmilescoffee)

The happiest moment in Jean´s life was when he got married and when God provided him with children. And now, the health of those children is what matters most to him. “All other challenges except the health of my family are meaningless.” -Jean #realoriginstories

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Wait, a coffee company on a portrait list? Long Miles Coffee isn’t your typical coffee company, they’re an American family both producing coffee and supporting the farmers with a company in Burundi. Of course, that’s a recipe for an adventure and that’s exactly what the company’s Instagram shows. Mother Kristy Carlson (@kristyjcarlson) captures those adventures on camera, which often includes portraits of the people they come across on their journey. Follow Long Miles Coffee on Instagram for non-traditional portraits that tell a story.

Sasha Arutyunova (@sashafoto)

in june, I got to travel through three russian cities with the non-profit @1beatmusic to create a portrait portfolio of the fellows & organizers partaking in this truly unique cultural diplomacy project. ⠀ this is milia, a moscow-based dancer and member of @poematheatre.

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Sasha Arutyunova is both a portrait and documentary photographer and her work in each genre pulls at the other. Her portrait work often takes on a documentary feel with surroundings familiar to the subject, while in the studio work often uses shaped light and serious yet genuine expressions. Born in Russia and living in New York, Sasha often shoots portraits and documentary work in both cultures.

Saunak Shah (@sunakspace)

“Pursuit of Doubles ⚡️⚡️” – Finally getting to share this set from Dubai with the one and only @mrmoudz – For this series in particular we were blessed to have the backdrop artwork by none other than @pokraslampas // This one is an in-camera double exposure. – Credit for the artwork goes entirely to Pokras Lampas; a true inspiration 🔥 – Thanks to @annaliescollins for making this happen and to Team @anishaspice and @erickhercules – #pursuitofportraits

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Saunak Shah is shooting portraits in 15 countries all over the span of a year — which makes for a pretty sweet Instagram feed. Saunak created Pursuit of Portraits (@pursuitofportraits) to mix both portraits and travel photography, after leaving the advertising industry, a previous profession that influences the style of his work. When he’s not continent hopping, he’s based in New York City. Follow him on Instagram for a mix of portraits from around the world.

Aundre Larrow (@aundre)

“Ph.D.s are no different than people who haven't graduated high school. They have the same idiosyncrasies and the same issues as everybody else. Academia is not the bastion of good morals and intellectual rigor. It's just another kind of business,” —- Shane. #storiesfromhere #creativeresidency

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What’s it like to photograph portraits of complete strangers? That’s a question Aundre Larrow could easily answer. The photographer created Stories From Here, a project to photograph and interview complete strangers. Through an Adobe Creative Residency, the New York-based photographer is traveling the US capturing portraits and the stories of the people in them. Follow Aundre on Instagram for creative, inspirational portrait work.

Nirav Patel (@niravphotography)

Stop. Be present. Take a deep breath. Exhale. . @meredithadelaide . #dailyreminder #portrait #light

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Nirav Patel’s background in engineering taught him to see lines and shape — a perspective that continues to influence his portraits. His work is characterized by what he calls “quiet moments” — rather than the traditional, smiling-at-the-camera poses, his subjects are often in familiar backgrounds with stoic but genuine expressions. But, that engineering love for shapes and lines often shows up in the pattern of the light. Nirav also shoots weddings, sharing the shots at @niravpatelweddings. Follow Nirav on Instagram for intimate portraits in those quiet moments.

Chris Schoonover (@cshoonover)

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Chris Schoonover is a portrait photographer that tells a story within the image. His work — and Instagram feed — is often inspired by retro colors, film looks and even past fashions. With a photojournalistic style, his portrait subjects are often in poses that allow them to interact with their surroundings. Oh, and he’s certainly not afraid of both bold colors and hard light. Follow him on Instagram for non-traditional portraits with a retro feel.

Peggy Sirota (@Peggysorota)

#LeaMichele ❤️PS

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Peggy Sirota is a fashion and portrait photographer often working with celebrities — but it’s her ability to get genuine moments from the people in front of her camera that allows her work to stand out from the norm. Her cover-worthy work has appeared in a number of magazines. Her Instagram is filled with some of those same photos, along with photo-pairs that align perfectly in her Instagram grid. Follow Peggy on Instagram for portrait inspiration coming from the covers of magazines.

Don’t see your favorite portrait photographer here? Share with us your favorite portrait photographers to follow on Instagram in the comments.


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Hillary Grigonis

Hillary K. Grigonis is a web content writer and lifestyle photographer from Michigan. After working as a photojournalist for several years, she made the leap and started her own business and now enjoys sharing tips and tricks with emerging photographers.