Washington, D.C.-based photographer Reema Desai’s work is immediately recognizable with its clean aesthetic and natural-feeling light. A look through her Instagram feed is immediately familiar. It’s like your own life, but idealized, and with much better styling. It’s as though she is finding the very best instant in every situation to highlight, a rare gift in an artist. We talked to her about her approach to Instagram, and you can check out her account here as well as see some of her images during her takeover of our own Daily Beast Instagram account, happening all this weekend
When did you first start using Instagram, and how has using the app influenced your photography?
I downloaded the app in the spring of 2011 and I think my first photo posted was pretty unremarkable. Initially, I just posted snapshots here and there, but I really fell in love with the app over time and with the idea of mobile photography in general. I only post iPhone photos to my Instagram, and just really enjoy the challenge of creating a body of work using just your phone. I think it forces you to look at things differently, which is always important for photographers.
What do you look for when shooting for you Instagram? Do you have a different set of aesthetic principles than your “normal” work would?
I like for my Instagram work to be an extension of my regular, professional work. With Instagram, I get to share a lot of shots that I wouldn’t normally put on my website or portfolio, so that’s one difference. I like to have fun with it, and just share the things that really catch my eye. I’m always drawn to a more minimal style, and look for unusual colors and textures, but overall I do try to make my photos on Instagram consistent with my other work.
What is your favorite aspect of the app?
I share so much more of my work now than I ever did before because of Instagram. I used to be really hesitant about putting myself out there, and I think Instagram helped alleviate that. I really enjoy having friends on the app around the world, and getting glimpses into their daily lives. It’s pretty incredible to be able to interact with people you never would have met or heard of normally.
Has it afforded you any advantages professionally? Or do you use it primarily for fun?
Instagram, by far, has been one of the best ways to get my photography work out there. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive some really cool, interesting photo gigs as result of someone finding one of my photos on Instagram. It’s definitely one of the easiest, and most effective, ways to market yourself as a photographer.
Who are some of the accounts you’re into right now?
There are so many! I live in D.C. and really love the @igdc community, and all of the great work that comes out of there. @nicole_franzen has been an inspiration to me for years, @dialaskitchen is one of my favorites, @monicasweeks is a great friend of mine who has beautiful work, @corinanika has amazing imagery from her home in Greece, @katrinarobinsn always has consistently great shots, and @kathrynmccary is great photographer from Atlanta that I’ve been loving. I really could go on.
What is some advice for the average person to take better pics for their Instagram?
I think the most important thing is to just take photos that you love and that you are happy with. Don’t try to take photos that you think others are going to like because you’re ultimately not going to be happy with them. For a more concrete tip, try to shoot in natural light when you can, and stick to the same few filters and edits to maintain a consistent style. Just have fun with it!
Where can people see more of your work?
You can see my work at reemadesai.com