An MLB photographer shows you how to Instagram in the big leagues

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With the web becoming more visual, cameras in phones getting ridiculously good, and the explosion in selfies, we’re going to explore digital photography more here at GigaOM, with an eye towards helping you take, share and appreciate good pictures. We’ll talk with experts to help you learn what a good picture is and how to take one.

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Throwing out the first pitch is Brad Mangin, who regularly shoots assignments for Major League Baseball and Sports Illustrated. What makes Mangin unique, however is his use of Instagram. In addition to shooting Bay Area baseball action with his pro equipment, Mangin uses his iPhone to take pictures at the stadium and recently published Instant Baseball: The Baseball Instagrams of Brad Mangin.

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I talked with Mangin recently about Instagramming and got his tips for taking better snaps.

Mangin got into Instagram because of the instant sharing. “Whenever I would take a good picture with my phone, I feel like I’m on deadline,” said Mangin. Rather than waiting until the next day to see his work published, “This is happening right now,” Mangin said. “Batting practice. A portrait of a player right before a game that starts in five minutes.”
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Mangin started Instagramming during spring training last year with his iPhone 4S; “It’s not the tool, it’s the photographer,” he said, “I don’t do cheating — taking a picture with a real camera (and importing into Instagram). It’s a challenge to take great pictures.” He also only uses three different filters: Jefe, Low-fi, and Earlybird, to give his photos a consistent look. After the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2012, Mangin collected his Instagrams into a 176-page book.

So what advice does this professional photographer have for all those Instagrammers out there? First, don’t expect to capture any sports action next time you’re way up in the stands. “You don’t have a $12,000 lens,” said Mangin. Instead, make the most of what you have and get closer.

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“People who are not photographers are too far away. The family in front of the Eiffel Tower are little tiny people in the bottom of the frame,” said Mangin. “Just get closer. To me one of the joys of photography is seeing people’s faces and expressions. I do these portaits of baseball players in the dugout. Do a nice portrait. Make it black and white. Have fun with it. It’s a wonderful camera in there.”

Photo by: Brad Mangin

Photo by: Brad Mangin

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