Russian photographer Murad Osmann and model Natalia Zakharova have amassed an enormous Instagram following through their #FollowMeTo photo series, which depicts Zakharova leading Osmann (via his outstretched hand) through a series of exotic locales.
Now, the couple has gotten married, so naturally:
As Osmann tells HLN, the series began serendipitously while the couple was vacationing in Barcelona, Spain in 2011. "Being an active tourist, Nataly wanted to see everything and I kept taking photos and documenting what I see," Osmann said. "At one point, Nataly grabbed my arm and dragged me forward -- it didn’t stop me from taking a picture even then."
Now, far from being a spur-of-the-moment affair, the #FollowMeTo photos are meticulously planned and edited. Even on his wedding day, it seems, Osmann was on duty. (He maintains a second Instagram account that shows some of the behind-the-scenes images from a #FollowMeTo shoot.)
Osmann plans to continue this "passion project" for as long as people are interested--and judging from the likes, followers, comments and imitators, that could be quite some time.
The success of #FollowMeTo is a good reminder not only of the importance of having a project you're passionate about, but also how having a great hook helps you stand out in an ocean of social media photography. The #FollowMeTo concept is deceptively simple (even if the execution is anything but), yet it amassed Osmann over 2 million followers.
If you need inspiration, check out David Carol and Harrison Jacobs' piece on how a diverse range of photographers broke out from a sea of sameness to build their brand and their business. And as you build your own network, don't forget to read Jacobs' advice on how to turn Instagram followers into paying clients--because one cannot live on likes alone.