Social Media: Vegas Visions
These eye-catching Instagram accounts by local photographers will put some snap in your feed
1. JOHN LOCHER
Long a mainstay in local photojournalism — first at the Review-Journal, now with the Associated Press — Locher imbues your feed with strong topical bass notes. Political and sporting events, disasters — he shoots it all. But his aren’t meat-and-potatoes news snaps. Locher matches impeccable technique with an artist’s eye. Check his image from a local Trump rally, the one with a face shadowed on a Gadsden flag amid the MAGA milling-about: It’s once documentary and poetic, and, like many others, rewards a slow, thoughtful look. (pictured above)
2. CLAUS SCHMIDT
Like many in the 702, Schmidt is smitten by neon, which, hey, cool. But amid the bright lights he shoots the big city, his streetscapes exalting the real Las Vegas without cloying into bleh boosterism; there’s a sly commentary about the contours of human achievement in his shot of a Downtown construction site with snow-topped mountains behind. And bless his dogged attempts to find a unique slant on such clichés as the Lou Ruvo building and Big Rig Jig. On his black-and-white channel, Schmidt emphasizes portraits, abstractions, and offbeat compositions.
3. RICK R.L.
His Insta tagline is “Documenting the Streets,” and there certainly is a palpable frontline urgency to Rick R.L.’s photos from various local social justice protests. No fancy aesthetics here, no self-branding, no journalistic distance — just unambiguous, unflinching glimpses of the real lives of this city’s communities of color. But he hits plenty of other notes, too: celebrations of POC life and deeply felt portraits of people who are too rarely reflected in the dominant images of the city.
4. STETSON YBARRA
These hero shots of big Western landscapes — sweeping desert views intensified by top-notch photographic razzmatazz — provide an epic mood board for your fantasies of post-vaccination travel. Based in Las Vegas, Ybarra — a past winner in our “Focus on Nevada” photo contest — shoots locally and around the West, from California to New Mexico and every charismatic rock formation in between. Until you can leave your squalid pandemic shame hole (or is that just us?), these photos will reassure your quarantine-sozzled brain that there is indeed a world worth going back to.
5. MIKAYLA WHITMORE
Whitmore is a prominent local artist (and occasional DC contributor), and her Instagram account is best viewed as a kind of working sketchbook. She continually switches modes, from casual snaps to the documentary to the artistically complex, and these juxtapositions impart the sense that you’re watching her think through ideas and techniques, probing even mundane images for something latent within: What is this tattered flag, hanging open like a smile, trying to tell us?
6. NORMA JEAN ORTEGA
Because photography is an art of excerpted moments, it most often highlights moments of drama or overt meaning. Ortega’s Insta feed, a mix of her professional and personal photos, achieves an affecting sense of the dailiness of life in Las Vegas. A couple kissing in Sunset Park; offhand scene-grabs of local musicians; a portrait series centering Black women of achievement. The easygoing intimacy of her photos comes off as real, not as an influencer’s strategic decision.