16 Portrait Photographers You Should Be Following on Instagram

It's that time of year when your timeline is flooded with end of the year reviews and "best of" lists ... tl;dr ... 2016 was shit. Despite what seemed like a constant barrage of social and political upheaval, I think this was a great year for music and the arts. Photography proved to be the best outlet for me this year to channel my creative energy, something I felt like was missing for a long time but couldn't articulate or fully appreciate until I was a few months into it.

When I wasn't shooting my own images I was trying my best to take in as many as I could on platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram. Listed below (in no particular order) are 16 portrait photographers whose work was a source of inspiration for me in 2016.  I was inspired not only by the caliber of their work but by the fact that the majority of the photographers (and their muses) were men and women of color. We'll jump into the topic of representation, or the lack thereof, in the media and arts in my next blog post ... so make sure you stay tuned!  

Each photographer's handle is a direct link to their Instagram page, I've also included tags for the models featured in each portrait (clicking on the picture will take you to the original Instagram post).

16 photographers + 59 models = 75 new creatives to follow. #ThankMeLater

1. Aaron Pegg (@underground_nyc

2. Aris Jerome (@arisjerome)

3. Jessica Kobeissi (@jessicakobeissi)

4. Shawn Theodore (@_xst)

5. Andrew Morales (@lifeinreverie)

6. Yagazie Emezi (@yagazieemezi)

7. Mizra Babic (@theprinceofpeace)

8. Louge Delcy (@dapperlou)

9. Joey Rosado (@islandboiphotography)

10. Kat Irlin (@kat_in_nyc)

11. Raen Badua (@raenbadua)

12. Ed Maximus (@edmaximus)

13. Kaitlyn Mikayla (@kaitlynmikayla)

14. Travis Matthews (@a_kid_named_trav) 

15. Michäel (@5thphvse)

16. Joshua Kissi (@joshuakissi)


I read a quote a few months ago from a photographer who said having one or two great images in an entire year should be considered an accomplishment. At face value I thought he had to be wrong, it just didn't seem possible that you could go an entire year as a photographer shooting thousands of images and have only a handful of images you were truly proud of. Now that almost a year has gone by since I started shooting I absolutely understand what he was saying. Part of being an artist, at least in my experience, has been constantly straddling the line between feeling confident in my work and thinking it's complete shit (especially when I see some of the work other photographers are putting out). Most days it doesn't even seem like there's any space between the two extremes, but I'm learning to quiet the self-doubt and keep dedicating myself to learning and growing, not just in photography but as a person and as a man.

My two favorite images I shot this year are an image I shot of a sleeping man aboard an R train in March (you can buy the print and read about the story behind the shot here) and a portrait I captured during my shoot for fashion designer Ashaka Givens in October. Check them out ... what was your favorite image I took this year? Let me know in the comment section!


I'm wishing each of you a Happy New Year! I appreciate all the likes, shares, and comments you guys have left me this year. I never would have imagined the amount of support I've had this early into my growth as a photographer and hearing that my work resonates with you inspires me to go out and create. I'm looking forward to continuing to share my craft with you in 2017!