In this week’s Insta-view Resource spoke with Mark Cersosimo, a thriving Instragramer with nearly forty thousand followers. While Mark is a content and community manager at Vimeo, his Instagram shows a keen eye that also blends perfectly with his love for New York. Resource sat down with Cersosimo to discuss his work and what drives him as a photographer.
Can you sum up your experience in the imaging industry for our readers?
I’ve always been interested in art since I was a kid. I was never a good verbal storyteller, so I always tried to tell them visually. I’ve dabbled in photography and videography since the early 2000’s. I threw myself into the world of short films in 2006 and have released a bunch of critically acclaimed documentaries: This Is My Home, The Roving Typist and a ten episode series about subway musicians called Playing for Pocket Change. It wasn’t until Instagram launched in 2010 that I started thinking about photography again.
I’ve read that you work for Vimeo. Tell me about that.
I’ve been a content and community manager at Vimeo for four years now. I’m a problem solver for our ever-growing community of talented filmmakers. I also get to watch lots of videos every day, which has been a constant source of inspiration for me. Vimeo is also the place I post all of my video work and it’s been such a powerful tool. It’s easy for even the best content to get drowned out on YouTube, but Vimeo has allowed my content to be organically noticed by a lot of different companies and individuals looking to connect with me.
So is photography vocational or just a hobby for you?
Photography is just a hobby for me at the moment, but I’m totally open to turning it into something more. As I stated earlier, I’ve been on Instagram since its launch day, but I think I’ve been taking it more seriously within the past two years. I think I could see myself doing a lot more with it. By popular demand I tried selling photo prints, but dropped that idea once I started the process and realized how unkind New York State is to small business owners. I’m currently looking for companies who’d like me to do some branded content on Instagram because it seems like a small enough scale to start out on.
Who have some of your main influences been?
A New York street photographer named Jake Dobkin has been my biggest influence. I stumbled upon his work around 2002 during the photo-blogging boom, and that’s what got me interested in photography in the first place. He was capturing a side of New York that most people walk by without giving a second glance. I really connected to that because those were the things that I was noticing too.
Now, 98 percent of the photos on my Instagram account are shot with my iPhone. I also have a Canon 7D that I shoot with occasionally, but that’s mainly for video use. I’ve tried shooting film a few times but it was far too cost prohibitive. I did love my Yashica Mat 124 G though. That thing is a beauty.
In what ways have you benefited from using social media?
I owe everything to social media. Without it, achieving all the success I’ve had would have been a much larger uphill battle. In terms of filmmaking specifically, I realized recently after countless rejection letters from film festivals… who cares? Who cares that three judges deem your work to be good enough to play in front of an audience of 150 people? I can get 150 people to watch my video in an hour by just posting it on Twitter.
Roger Ebert saw my film This Is My Home on MetaFilter and then blogged about it. That never would’ve happened if not for the Internet. People are still massively underestimating the power of social media in 2014. People are building careers around Instagram, Vine and even Snapchat. Snapchat is a dark horse, by the way. We’re going to start seeing some creative storytelling come out of that.
Instagram has drawn a lot of criticism from photographers who feel it has damaged the industry. How do you feel about that?
If anything, Instagram is doing quite the opposite. The barrier to entry for photographers has never been lower. Smartphones and Instagram combined have made photography accessible to millions of people who never considered taking photos before. How is that a bad thing? People who argue against that are too romantic about the medium. We all have our personal tastes, and that’s fine, but let’s just leave it at that. I’m more inspired by Joe Shmoe with an iPhone than most “prolific” photographers that we all learned about in school. Ansel Adams doesn’t really do much for me.
Obviously your Instagram profile is a love letter to New York. Why do think New York is so great to shoot?
I traveled to San Francisco a few months ago and set aside some time every day to just walk around and shoot and ended up with nearly no photos. The day I got back to New York, I shot more photos than I did in my two weeks in San Fran. New York has a new surprise on every corner. Every neighborhood looks different and they all have their own separate energy. You don’t really get that in other condensed areas. I was born and raised in New York and I intend on dying here. New York is addictive. It’s a drug.