Accepted Paper:

Instaterremoto: Tracing Disaster through Instagram Photography  


Nell Haynes (Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the Instagram photography of young Northern Chileans after a recent catastrophic earthquake, and the ways they represented their daily lives in the aftermath.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the ways young Northern Chileans used Instagram photography after a recent 8.2 magnitude earthquake in the region. Not surprisingly, after this disaster, both content and form of photography changed. Yet, if we look more deeply at the themes that emerged, this shift may indicate a broader understanding of the ways social media photography can be and is used under certain circumstances.

Under normal circumstances, most Instagram photography in Northern Chile presents very mundane subjects of daily life, aimed at viewing by friends, family, and acquaintances. After the earthquake, however, the posted photos took on a more journalistic quality, presenting destroyed buildings, displaced residents, and struggles of daily life without power or running water. As these photos were noticed by those living outside the area, their journalistic qualities were heightened, as photographers responded to audience reception. And as the region recovered from the earthquake, photos slowly returned to their earlier subjects and forms.

During these shifts, Instagram photos became less about displaying an individual life, and more about witnessing the plight of a location-based community. This instance reveals one way that social media, often considered to be individualising and narcissistic, may be used opportunistically as a form of community building and representation of a particular group to outsiders.

Panel P04
Comparative studies in social media photography