Seeing a City Through Instagram

A real-time stream of every photo taken in five cities.

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This Is Now

What does your city look like at this moment?

New photography website This Is Now tries to answer that question. The site posts a live feed of five different cities, comprised of all of the publicly-shared photos taken with Instagram. The site features New York, Sao Paulo, London, Sydney, and Tokyo. As photos are taken and shared, they pop up onto the screen, presenting a disconnected mosaic from dozens of different vantage points.

Relying on geo-tags, the site pulls in photos taken and shared publicly - even accidentally. Instagram's default setting makes all pictures public.

Some cities are more active than others. But in a short survey, pre-lunch New York and post-dinner Sao Paulo are the most photo-happy.

And, not surprisingly, some pictures are more interesting than others. There's a fair amount of self-portraits (some veering into the slightly risque), views of skylines, food and drinks, and lots and lots of pictures of people standing in front of stuff. Though this might not be the highest quality photography, the live nature of it and its dispersed anonymity create a unique picture.

According to this article from the Daily Mail, This Is Now's creators are hoping to expand to other cities soon. Now that Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei is using Instagram, could Tehran be next?

Images: This Is Now

About the Author

  • Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.