#LightBoxFF: Inside Justin Maxon’s Instagram Fantasyland

CHESTER, PA.
Justin Mead Maxon
Jul. 31, 2013. Chester, PA.

Welcome to this week’s edition of TIME’s LightBox Follow Friday, a series where we feature the work of photographers who are using Instagram in new and engaging ways. Each week we will introduce you to the person behind the feed through his or her pictures and an interview with the photographer.

This week on #LightBox FF, TIME speaks with Justin Maxon (@justinmeadmaxon), whose photographs address poverty, politics and public health from a humanitarian perspective. He says Instagram gives him the opportunity to present a view of the world not based in reality, but inspired by experience.


LightBox: How are you using Instagram now, and how has it become a part of your professional practice?

JM: My Instagram is more about collecting pieces of my experience and presenting it to the world, rather than as an expression of my professional life. I never promote myself on Instagram (which might change with time). I only use images from my iPhone, as I think it’s counterintuitive to use a DSLR or film camera and upload them. Everyone has the same tool now and the tradition has become much more equalized, for both the practitioner and the public. Now, with an equal playing field, it becomes the responsibility of the photographers to distinguish themselves within the technology.

Sept.7, 2013. Cape Town, South Africa

LightBox: What is the purpose of your feed? What does Instagram provide for you,  that other platforms don’t?

JM: The purpose of my feed is to expand my visual connectivity to audiences I would never be able to reach within the normal confinements of media and photographic distribution. Photographers without social media habitually live a life of anonymity, with only an often-bypassed byline marking their territory. Traditionally, photographers follow other photographers, which is the unspoken incestuous nature of the industry. With Instagram, traditions are ruined mines; forgotten and abandoned. People who have nothing to do with the photographic industry follow photographers now. The possibility of autonomy in regards to circulation and financial independence are boundless. Photographers are no longer forced to operate within a system of externalized gatekeeping; power becomes the practitioner; we are now independent forms of information distribution.

LightBox: Why did you start using Instagram, and how has your use of it changed since your first post?

JM: I feel that social media provides the opportunity for an endless stream of authorship and image distribution, but I don’t find the need to cater to the whims of the infinite and post three times a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s satisfying to keep my Instagram feed selective and only illustrative of my most polished representations of the world. I post sometimes once a week or once a month at the very least, deliberating on which images to upload. I want my feed to be visually crisp and controlled, but fluid and porous thematically. My feed isn’t based too heavily in reality. Most of my pictures are often whimsical versions of the space around me. I find dreams to be breeding grounds for creative expression. I constantly seek fantasy like environments in my waking reality.

Aug.8, 2013. Asleep on the Bolt Bus

LightBox: Do you envision Instagram ever loosing its appeal and, if so, how would you replace it?

JM: I see Instagram as a successful tool, one that I will use to further my goals of connectivity. The potential that exists for independence is electrifying. Though, I recognize the creative limitation that it possesses because it is software – a coded application that can only exist in a space of repetition. It will never take the place of human artistic creation. I don’t want it too.


Justin Maxon is a freelance photographer born in California and based in New York. His work has appeared in TIME, Newsweek, Mother Jones and The New York Times.

Krystal Grow is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kgreyscale

Bridget Harris is a Senior Photography Producer for TIME Magazine


See more from TIME’s #LightBoxFF series here

Related Topics: , , ,

Latest Posts

2014.  Gaza.  Palestine.  Schoolchildren head to class at the Sobhi Abu Karsh School in the Shujai'iya neighborhood. Operation Protective Edge lasted from 8 July 2014 – 26 August 2014, killing 2,189 Palestinians of which 1,486 are believed to be civilians. 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed.  It's estimated that 4,564 rockets were fired at Israel by Palestinian militants.

Inside Gaza with Photographer Peter van Agtmael

What photographer Peter van Agtmael encountered in Gaza changed the way he worked.

Read More
WASTELAND PERMITTED USE: This image may be downloaded or is otherwise provided at no charge for one-time use for coverage or promotion of National Geographic magazine dated December 2014 and exclusively in conjunction thereof.  No copying, distribution or archiving permitted.  Sublicensing, sale or resale is prohibited.     REQUIRED CREDIT AND CAPTION: All image uses must bear the copyright notice and be properly credited to the relevant photographer, as shown in this metadata, and must be accompanied by a caption, which makes reference to NGM.  Any uses in which the image appears without proper copyright notice, photographer credit and a caption referencing NGM are subject to paid licensing.        Mandatory usage requirements: (Please note: you may select 5 branded images for online use and 3 images for print/unbranded)1. Include mandatory photo credit with each image2. Show the December cover of National Geographic somewhere in the post (credit: National Geographic) unless using only one image3. Provide a prominent link to: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/12/superfund/voosen-textat the top of your piece, ahead of the photos 4. Mention that the images are from "the December issue of National Geographic magazine” GOWANUS CANALNew York, New YorkPollutants: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, lead, copperYear listed: 2010Carved from a tidal estuary 160 years ago, the Gowanus Canal is Brooklyn’s industrial artery—and a deeply polluted waterway. Even so, it’s frequented by herons, seagulls, crabs, and canoeists. Defying local fears of economic stigma, the EPA listed the canal as a Superfund site in 2010. It hopes to start dredging contaminated mud in 2016.

Photojournalism Daily: Nov. 24, 2014

Mideast Israel Palestinians

The Best Pictures of the Week: Nov. 14 – Nov. 21

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,273 other followers