Time Magazine Used Instagram To Cover Hurricane Sandy, Here’s Why


Time magazine used Instagram to cover the effects of Hurricane Sandy and found out that the results were pretty impressive. An article by Forbes details why one of the world’s leading news magazine turned to an iPhone app to cover this historic natural disaster.

Time instagram cover jpeg

The report details how Kira Pollack, Time’s director of photography, rounded up five photographers from the region and gave them access to the magazine’s Instagram feed, who were all “heavy users” of the social photo platform. One of the photos even ended up getting selected for the magazine’s cover. Pollack said the ease of digital manipulation that Instagram allows with its filters and antique effects, “gives pause to some purists” and adds to the conversation in photojournalism.

Using Instagram as the primary outlet for breaking news coverage was an experiment, Pollack says, but one motivated by necessity. “We just thought this is going to be the fastest way we can cover this and it’s the most dirct route,” she says .”It’s wasn’t like, ‘Oh, this is a trend, let’s assign this on Instagram.’ It was about how quickly can we get pictures to our readers.”

The resulting collection on Lightbox, Time’s photography blog, was “one of the most popular galleries we’ve ever done,” says Pollack, and it was responsible for 13% of all the site’s traffic during a week when had its fourth-biggest day ever. Time’s Instagram account attracted 12,000 new followers during a 48-hour period. Pollack added that even though the level of resolution isn’t perhaps what might be achieved with a camera, the iPhone app reproduced photos beautifully, saying “there’s almost a painterly quality to it.”


  • londonfish

    gee, speedy convenience will really replace dslr cameras? next national geographic ? hope not.

  • Mark

    The first few were terribly composed. You couldn’t tell what was going on unless you read the caption. Many were really poor quality. A magazine like this should have their staff armed with personal Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi cards for their DSLRs so quality shots would be instantly uploaded as they are taken. Even though they won’t admit it, this was an attempt at a gimmicky, trendy thing. It’s very unfortunate that they chose to capture a historic event this way. Time’s director of photography should get fired for this.

  • bradg17

    Couldn’t agree more! Well said

  • Dave

    Well said. Part of the beauty in art is process. Instagram ignores all of that. The resulting pictures “created” by instagram emulate how old cameras and film stocks behave, but it doesn’t occur through the quirkyness of lightleaks, the chemical processing of film, or other impurities/inefficiencies that introduced an element of randomness into the equation of photography. Instagram is like autotune. It takes all the magic out of an art.

  • good post