New York Times Puts Instagram Image on the Front Page


In November of 2010, The New York Times made headlines of their own when they chose four Hipstamatic photos to grace their front page. And now, Instagram is getting in on the action as well. For Sunday’s paper, the NYT decided to use a photo of Alex Rodriguez taken by photographer Nick Laham in a locker room bathroom using an iPhone and edited in Instagram.

The photo shoot actually took place a year ago in February of 2012. Having to compete with countless other photographers, Laham set up in a stadium bathroom; and once he was done taking photos using his SLR, he decided to take a few snaps using his iPhone and the popular photo-sharing app.

Here’s a behind the scenes look at that shoot:


Laham published the photos on his blog right after he took them, alongside a full account of the experience. And now, over a year later, the New York Times is making what some see as a statement about Instagram and professional photography as a whole by using one of them on the front page.

New York Yankees Photo Day

Reactions have been mixed, ranging from excited to upset. Since Laham is a professional sports photographer, it’s not like the photo was taken by a fan with an iPhone and a faked press pass, but some still see it as a threat to what they do.

Whatever the case, an Instagram photo on the front page of the New York Times moves us yet another step closer to a world where smartphones are an accepted source of photojournalism — at least in the hands of professionals.

(via The Huffington Post)

  • Roman

    There was a reason for 35mm film camera. For the same reason(and many more) iPhone may be a good tool for today photojournalists.

  • WarDamnPhil

    Nikon. Canon. iPhone.

    What’s the difference?

  • Kay O. Sweaver

    Its not the camera. Its never the camera. Its the lighting.

  • The all mighty one

    hipsterism has reached a new level

  • Matt Higby

    That was my first thought too. Lots of good light.

  • Sco Jo

    Good lighting. Photographers should only be like 20% offended. He gave Jeter a fat face though, not a great angle. I’m bumping it up to 32% offended.

  • Forbs

    At least it’s not a picture of food.

  • MMielech

    That is the worst picture of Jeter I have ever seen.

    Actually, it’s the worst picture of all four I have ever seen. Sabathia should slap him for allowing it to be shown anywhere on the internet.

  • David Liang

    This doesn’t have anything to do with Instagram, and very little to do with the phone, this is the photographers skill at work. Just because he’s chosen medium is a smartphone and platform is Instagram, doesn’t mean having a smartphone and instagram equates to NTY front page.
    Stop trying to legitimize a technological fad. What endures is the skill behind the technology.

  • stefan {}

    If you look at the behind the scenes images, you can see that Nick Laham had a second light setup in his bathroom-studio with a beauty dish using a DSLR. This was either the backup plan or a setup for images to be used beyond newspaper print and web. You can use any camera if you know what you are doing and have a backup plan.

  • KeeFyBeeFy

    Do you hear yourself sometimes?

    >Just because he’s chosen medium is a smartphone and platform is Instagram, doesn’t mean having a smartphone and instagram equates to NTY front page.

    Uhmmm…… The point is smartphone and instagram DID result in a NYT front page image, even tho he did shoot with his dslr as well.

  • KeeFyBeeFy

    Personally am not a fan of smartphones and such for photoshoots. Why compromise your shot just to prove a point when you have equipment. Sure in the event you don’t have your gear, a camera is better than no cam. But planning such a shoot and using a smartphone is just plain silly.

    Then again, the fact that he shot with a phone and it got published over his dslr shots does prove a point that the popularity of the medium far outweighs traditional methods. Think about it… if a traditional shot was taken and published… we wouldn’t be talking about the shot and NYT. Good and free publicity right there.

  • KeeFyBeeFy

    hear, hear!! after all.. photography is all about light. Without light, there will be no photographs!

  • Ceasar

    Its not the popularity of the medium. Its about What picture is created? If its worthy and has the feel – Medium is no bar

  • Jake

    I’m so far amazed by the lack of Petapixel’s usual “camera phone isn’t a camera” comments here. Maybe the luddites have realized that any light-tight object that stores a picture through an aperture is a camera.

    Now if only I didn’t hate the Yankees, this would be pretty cool. :P

  • John Spaulding

    The reference to Instagram being ‘controversial’ completely misses the point. There’s nothing controversial about a professional, properly credited and compensated photographer using it as a tool.

    Instagram, Flickr and other sources such as YouTube are controversial because of lazy media outlets using content they find there, and crediting ONLY THE WEBSITE ITSELF as the ‘source’ of the image. It’s become far too common to see “Photo via Twitter” or “Source: YouTube” as an credit in a media usage. It shows that the media outlets fear only the weight of a lawsuit from those site’s corporate owners, not the likelihood of the actual creator of the image coming after them.

    That’s why Instagram and other social media image-sharing sites are controversial; there are millions of uninformed users who are providing ‘free’ content to media outlets that should know better.

  • John Spaulding

    There’s nothing controversial about a professional using Instagram, or a camera phone, or whatever tool s/he wishes. What makes him a professional is not the choice of camera, it’s that he ensured he was properly credited and compensated for the use of the photo.

    The problem with social-media sharing sites like Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr etc is that too many lazy media outlets use images they find there as “free” media, and only credit the website itself as the “source” of the image. (“Image Via Twitter” or “Video Credit: YouTube”)

    In short, there are millions of uninformed users providing “free” pictures and video to outlets that should know better, and that is having a dramatic impact on the industry.

    There’s nothing like that in this story, so the references to “controversy” are off-target.

  • Felipe Paredes Schulz

    two of them are real cameras…

  • bob cooley

    One thing to consider here too is that the NYT is also trying to generate buzz (and even welcoming controversy) with this tactic.

    Discussions here, and elsewhere on the net gives a lot of free brand-recognition/ advertising for them, espeically in light of the fact that they spent the last 2 years launching new digital products (iPad/IPhone/Mobile apps) and working hard on their image as being a digital leader in journalism. Embracing popular services and tech is only going to add to that cache.

    I’m not arguing that it’s a bad tactic, either – in an age where we are seeing more and more great print publications die due to digital media, the NYT is trying its hard to evolve (which is better than seeing it disappear).

    Could the shots have been better w/ a Hasse, Nikon, etc.? sure – but it wouldn’t be much of a story. But the lighting is great, and he’s pulled it off.

    The irony here is that this is no different from back in film days when we used to use cross-processing, polaroid xfers, or SX-70 emulsion manipulation on portraits we’d publish in a paper or magazine. The main difference being that instagram and the iPhone are tools with no entry barrier, which makes people (incorrectly) say that the iPhone will become a tool for everyday photojournalism. That’s just bunk. the phone was used in this case as a gimmick for a specific effect and buzz.

    That doesn’t mean the iPhone is going to replace your D4 or 5DmkIII anytime soon as the primary tool that a photojournalist uses…

  • Nenad Ilic


  • Ralphie

    “but some still see it as a threat to what they do.”

    Let’s emphasize the equipment and not the photograph.

  • David Liang

    Ok, go shoot something with a smartphone and upload on instagram, will that translate to a NYT front page? If no then the relationship is not there. Do you understand how cause and effect works?

  • roofusmcface

    They’re really not very good, and Im not surprised (or impressed) that they came from an iphone. For one, these pictures are at web resolution, so they’re going to be just as good as any fancy DSLR because both have to be compressed to be viewable on the web. Still, you can see the poor dynamic range and loss of detail, both resolution and color, in the subjects which is only acceptable because portraits are usually softer anyway. The composition and lighting isn’t awful (but not great, these portraits look pastey and bulbous to me) so they’re still decent pictures, but view them at normal press sizes like A3 or larger and the limitations of the equipment will become impossible to ignore.

  • Ian

    Actually, the printed paper that I received at home looked pretty good. I honestly didn’t know it was an iPhone that took it. It’s just a well lit shot that allowed for the iPhone to showcase its camera capabilities. Instagram, while boring and generic, is just an oversimplified version of some Lightroom presets.

    It’s not rocket science, the photographer just knew how to use his medium and experiment. That’s what artists should do, even in photo journalism (while maintaining truth and accuracy – or admitting to editing such as Instagram or Photoshop).

  • KeeFyBeeFy

    Ok, go shoot something with a DSLR and upload on wherever, will that translate to a NYT front page? If no then the relationship is not there. Do you understand the words spewing out of your brain?

  • KeeFyBeeFy

    I’m afraid in this case, the popularity of the medium overcame everything else. Wide angle lens on the smartphone camera = fat distorted face. Most people won’t publish such a shot, but yet… in this case.. it was published and on the front page no less! Would it have been front page material if it was the exact same shot but with a dslr? I’d suspect not.

    Again, IMO, it’s the popularity of the medium that propped it to it’s current status.

  • isahiah62

    NYT decided to use a photo : PAID FOR? credited? with permission?

    New York Times is making what some see as a statement about Instagram:

    we don’t need no stinking pros? we can buy pics for cheap price?

  • Ingemar Smith

    The NYT has reached an unprecedented level of desperation. Soon it will be but a memory.