16 Things Photo Hipsters Did To Improve the World of Photography


You might think that bearded, Carhartt-wearing, ironic dudes riding fixed geared bicycles in Brooklyn are obnoxious, but a different brand of 21st century hipster is helping make photography, er, awesomer. Let’s celebrate the nerdtastic dedication that possesses these photo hipsters.

#1. The Impossible Project


This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the group of individuals who thought it was unacceptable for Polaroid to stop making instant film. Instead, they bought the production equipment from Polaroid, and within two years, concocted their own formulation, thus making the impossible, possible. In the words of the founders, they “decided to take action against the death of Instant Photography.” Shooting Polaroid is like owning vinyl. In a world increasingly filled with the digital, there’s just no analog to analog.

#2. New 55 Project

Although The Impossible Project has succeeded in making film for the traditional SX70, Polaroid 600, and 8×10 view cameras, there’s a huge gaping hole for all the 4×5 owners. Not to fear, the New 55 Project was designed specifically to fill this niche (and help revitalize the Sinar F1 that is sitting in my living room). If there’s one thing hipsters like, it’s DIY projects, and New 55 founder Bob Crowley took this to heart in explaining why he created the project: “One day on Twitter I noticed that The Impossible Project said they were not going to focus on 4×5 materials, so I said that I would do it.” No biggie.

#3. Instacube


Originally started as a Kickstarter project (hipster alert!), Instacube is an appliance that can display your Instagram feeds, which is so much better than those lame digital picture frames of year’s past. Do you really need one? Nope. That’s why we bought the two-pack.

#4. Instagram Halloween Costume


Hipsters don’t buy Halloween costumes, they make them. But not all handmade costumes are alike. My costume, for example, consisted of strips of construction paper glued to posterboard. Eric Micotto was inspired by a spat of iPad-related costumes, and decided that he would rig up his Nikon and iPad, print out an Instagram shell, and glue it to some cardboard he had lying around.

#5. Digital Tintypes

A black tintype made from a digital file

A black tintype made from a digital file

“I’ma take your grandpa’s style, I’ma take your grandpa’s style, No for real – ask your grandpa – can I have his hand-me-downs?”
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Thriftshop

Yeah, you want an old school tintype because you’re a retro hipster who wears his grandpa’s style. But ack, those chemicals! Who needs the hassle or the fumes? Fortunately for you, Digital Tintypes allows you to upload any digital picture and order several sizes of tintypes. I would suggest a portrait of yourself with a thick beard and an Abe Lincoln top hat.

#6. Tiny Atlas Quarterly


Most photographers maintain a crappy old blog where they post some “personal” pictures and talk about their creative slump. And then there’s Emily Nathan, who travels around the world to exotic locales, often with a team of producers, make-up artists, and models. She has a lot of talented friends who do the same. So why not make a really cool blog that makes you wish you were her, and use it as a subtle marketing piece of your enormous talent, which will continue to make you wish you were her?

#7. Lens Stool


Sculptor and Etsy proprietor Sandra Díaz decided that someone should have a stool that looks like a lens. It’s a one of a kind (duh) made in Andalusia, Spain, and undoubtedly the hipster who made it would love for another hipster to sit on it every day.

#8. Photoville


Maybe you’ve been thinking about producing a civic art installation, and wondering exactly how you might accomplish that feat. In the olden days, you might request a grant, or petition the city council. But this is Brooklyn, so fuggedaboutit. Last summer, the folks at Photoville raised over $30,000 via Kickstarter to create a “photo destination” in Brooklyn Bridge Park composed of empty shipping containers and lots and lots of photography. Did ya miss it? Don’t worry, it’s coming back in September 2013.

#9. Ona Bags


Black ballistic nylon is so passé. Hipsters prefer leather. Rich Corinthian leather, or something like that. Ok, you might prefer your rolling suitcase, but you have to admit that these bags look pretty scrumptious. In the words of the founder, Tracy Foster, “In summer 2010, I launched ONA with a simple vision: to offer style-conscious photographers and photography enthusiasts camera bags and accessories that complement their life and style.” So you see, it’s less of a bag, and more of a lifestyle.

#10. Phoot Camp

No, that’s not a typo. That’s called cool. Phoot Camp is so cool, in fact, that you need to be invited to participate. No amount of money will get you into this exclusive retreat, well, unless you want to personally sponsor the thing.

#11. Self Publish, Be Happy


Even just the name “Self Publish, Be Happy” embodies the new-age hipster photographers’ attitude. The organization’s goal is simple: promote the work of self-published photographers. SPBH was founded by Bruno Ceschel in 2010, who prior to launch worked in traditional publishing. Bruno became frustrated by the long process of publishing a body a work, and seeing the work he loved get rejected simply because it was not “commercially viable”. He decided to take matters into his own hands, creating an online store front and advocate for the little guys publishing their work in zines, and books. SPBH now hosts events all over the world, including many at the Aperture Foundation.

#12. Fourteen-Nineteen

Image by Theo Lloyd-Hughes

Image by Theo Lloyd-Hughes

Publishing house Fourteen-Nineteen was started by two young British photographers, Alex F. Webb and Lewis Chaplin. Alex and Lewis felt there was a place needed online for young image-makers who were still developing their talents, and carving their space within the fine-art and documentary world. Mainly, images of skateboarders, rowdy boys, and of course some blood. Inspired by friends and each other’s work, Fourteen-Nineteen became a popular online platform for photography students to see what their fellow peers were creating. The project took off and soon the two were expanding the business, publishing books and stocking them at swanky shops such as Fourth and Main. Did we mention their recently published I Don’t Warna Grow Up by Sean Vegezzi made Time’s Best of 2012: The Photo Books We Loved? Check it out here.

#13. Mossless Magazine

Issue 2 of Mossless

Issue 2 of Mossless

The success of Fourteen-Nineteen allowed the boys to sponsor other online platforms and zine producers such as Mossless – which was started by Romke Hoogwaerts while he was studying in New York City. Like those before him, Romke’s ultimate goal was print, but he knew like any young hip photographer should: he had to start online. He began producing his humble blog Mossless a little over 3 years ago which interviewed emerging photographers such as Bobby Doherty and David Brandon Geeting before the two had starting shooting for clients such as New York Magazine and Bloomberg Business Week.

#14. Little Brown Mushroom

Upstate by Alec Soth and Brad Zellar

Upstate by Alec Soth and Brad Zellar

If you are unfamiliar with the work of Alec Soth, let’s just say it’s hipster-tastic. Alec is an enormously talented photographer who took a series of roads trips along the Mississippi River and produced a book of stunning portraits. But you know, hipsters or Alec’s ilk aren’t content to just take photos. So Alec founded his own publishing house called “Little Brown Mushroom” which takes an experimental approach in working with artists to produce new modes of story telling. How do we know that this is truly a hipster endeavor? Because Little Brown Mushroom books are featured in the new Warby Parker retail store in Soho.

#15. Indie Photo Book Library

As we’ve seen, self-publishing is a massive movement in the photography space that is helping to produce tremendous works of art. But did you ever contemplate the longevity of those pieces, and what will happen to this incredible canon of work? Worry no more because Larissa Leclair is collecting, exhibiting and archiving as many self-published photo books as she can out of her home in Washington, D.C.

#16. JR

Inside Out New York City by JR

Inside Out New York City by JR

The ultimate hipster is a French street artist who started out tagging graffiti on the sides of buildings, and somehow wound up winning the 2011 TED prize while putting up massive photo installations in the favelas of Rio, the train tracks of Kenya, and most recently in Times Square. And lest you think JR is just some flash in the pan, take some time to listen to him speak, and find out why “authenticity” is the calling card of a true hipster, and why he has inspired so many people throughout the world with his brand of photography.

About the author: Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and Co-founder of PhotoShelter. Allen authors PhotoShelter’s free business guides for photographers and marketing professionals, including topics like email marketing, search engine optimization, and starting a photography business. Allen is a graduate of Yale University, and flosses daily. This article originally appeared here.

Image credits: Header Instagram photo by Sarah Jacobs

  • JaayJay

    Ehm. Lomography, anyone?

  • Zack

    Oh geeze, this post was worth it just for Tiny Atlas Quarterly. I can feel my wanderlust kicking in already.

  • Jonathan Maniago

    Does that even count as an improvement?

  • lidocaineus

    “Hipster” is some sort of pseudo-bogeyman everyone uses these days. While there are hipsters and they can be annoying, its meaning has changed from that original form to something akin to a stand-in for anything that means “different from me that I find weird and obnoxious”; something to separate you from others (whatever others is) in order to make yourself feel superior.

    This article, while having good intentions, pigeonholes that word to such an extreme that it’s unreadable. Half of these have the most tenuous tie-ins to “hipsterism” – I mean take the last example, #16 – what does street art have anything to do with hipsters, or being authentic? Isn’t the hallmark of a hipster someone who THINKS they’re authentic but actually falls into an archetype because of that? A bunch seem to lump DIY-style to being hipsters.

    Sorry PP – have to say this is not one of your better offerings and unless this author is being tongue-in-cheek (which if he is, he failed miserably) he should really lose the chip on his shoulder.

  • Opie

    …I still consider half of these things to be steps backward.

  • Duke Shin

    The skinny jeans snow-hats-in-the-summer crowd helped save film.

    For every roll we shoot, there’s a hipster buying 10 to use on some edgy hipster project.

  • accidentalocean

    Definitely agree…there was just no need for this article to exist. We appreciate the steady flow of photo news, but stuff like this can sit it out.

  • DamianM

    I feel like they are defining hipsters as anyone who is young and ambitious.

    Little brown mushroom isn’t a hipster sanction…right?

  • Mansgame

    I like the bags since it makes it easier to not get robbed, but the rest has made photography worse.

  • Stan B.

    Yes, it really inspires me to ditch my untalented friends and travel to more exotic locales with producers and make up models so I can be more like her!

  • DamianM

    true. I dont care for the stool, or instagram.

  • Zack

    Heh, maybe not a production crew, but it does make me want to go on a road trip. And fortunately I have photogenic friends I don’t have to pay. ;)

  • Sean Curran

    Great way to make friends. Good job to peta pixel for taking ambitious people and calling them hipsters. It doesn’t matter how you package it, this is a rude thing to do.

    I think this rates as the worst post Ive seen on here.

  • Seth

    You lost me at #3.

  • Jack

    Yeah, having things like medium format polaroid film and small press publishers have *totally* made photography worse. Community photography installations? TERRIBLE. Because creativity and originality are bad!

    As opposed to $300 plastic dslr kits, terrible photoshop actions and wordpress sites where every single mom-with-camera has the exact same stream filled with wedding shots copied from Jasmine Starr, baby shots copied from Anne Geddes, processing copied from VSCO Film and ten thousand photos of food.

    Or their counterpart, the IT/Accounting professional who takes sterile, oversaturated, oversharpened, overly contrasty (or just straight HDR) landscape shots of every standard tourist site/sunset/etc and blogs about L lens sharpness. Oh, and watermarks. Because someone might steal your boring photo.

    Cause that’s the awesome. Right?

  • Adam Cross

    let’s just pick people doing creative things and call them hipsters, that’ll be a good article……..

  • noobsauce

    I ride fixed gear. :(

  • socrates

    I never had any issues with hipsters.
    My only issues are with posers and the sad truth is that the majority of this new fad falls into this category.

    The article itself is not that bad but I consider #4 and #7 not relevant to photography and #16 more of street art.
    (I also consider all three to be of poor taste but thats my personal opinion…)

    I would also like the author to elaborate a little if possible on #10.
    Is it cool because one has to be invited to participate or because of a fact that you failed to mention. Or maybe the Hype about it is not to tell too much to the outsiders….

  • Joe Fonebone

    I may well be being a bit thick here but how does carrying a $120 real leather bag make it LESS likely that you’re going to be robbed?

  • bebekashmir

    I count only 2…

  • Bob Crowley

    People can’t take a joke, can they? This is a blog, on the internet of all places. The varied interests that still exist in personal arts and hobbies contrast nicely with millennial conformism. We have invented a new photonic material that some photographers might also like – if they are willing to pay – and some people think it is artful, but most just treat it as a form of entertainment. Labels do not matter because nobody knows what they mean. Today the Tate removed all labels from the artwork.

  • LaurenJ

    Love Little Brown Mushroom and the Digital Tintype service and people making things by hand…

  • Guy Reynolds

    take a Valium

  • dave

    the problem with this piece is hipsterism and authenticity are at odds with one another. hipsters cloak themselves in arrogant irony and elitism while literally cloaking themselves in their parents’ money. DIY/Indie/individualism in the arts isn’t hipster just cuz they wear skinny jeans. you’d be better off calling them photopunks or something else that refers to an entire culture built around an authentic, diy ethic.

  • Josh

    Gearheads in tan pocket filled vests are responsible for the proliferation of the lens stool.

  • Christopher Miller

    Because the ubiquitous black nylon screams out that there is *at least* $900 worth of retail electronics inside.

  • ScarlettFeverr

    My antivirus went bananas over the Instacube link. Be warned.