Instagram Users Look to Change Perspective of Youngstown

By John Stran

Youngstown’s scenic views and desolate spaces are being captured by local photographers and spread out on different social media fixtures, primarily Instagram.

Capture Youngstown, an account created by Tim Long, celebrated its one-year anniversary on March 14. Since the first post, the page has gained close to 5,000 followers.

Long wanted to create a page that got the names of local photographers out in the open.

“Photography is such a difficult industry to live or even make a name out of,” Long said. “If I can see one talented artist grow his/her network, following or even sell a print because of the notoriety he/she received from my site, I would be ecstatic.”

Along with promoting local photographers, Long has also set his sights on trying to bring value to the Youngstown name.

“I just want to improve the image of the city that I call home,” Long said.

The feedback from the local community has shown that a lot of people approve of the mission of Capture Youngstown.

“Youngstown’s community, specifically the artists, have always been extremely supportive of each other,” Long said. “But it still amazes me that I receive all of these kind words from people and photographers whose work has been featured and may have never been seen without Capture Youngstown.”

Richard Allison is a photographer whose shots have been featured on the Capture Youngstown account.

Allison said that Capture Youngstown and accounts like it have helped his photos gain exposure which he hopes will benefit his photography business. He too receives a lot of positive feedback on his shots of downtown and the impoverished area surrounding it.

Another Instagram account spreading local photography is Youngstown State University’s Instagram. The YSU Instagram captures the scenery and current everyday happenings on and around campus.

Kati Hartwig, social media and web content manager at YSU, described the purpose of the account as being two-fold.

“We want to spread the word to current students and community members about opportunities on campus,” Hartwig said. “Our other goal is to show prospective students what campus is like.”

The account currently has 10,000 followers and their #ysugram, which gives users the possibility to be featured on the account, seems to be contributing to the follower count.

“There are almost 4,900 photos under the #ysugram search,” Hartwig said. “It gives users the chance to be featured on the page and share the photos with the YSU community.”

The Capture Youngstown hashtag has nearly 4,000 photos under it and the high possibility of this number increasing is what keeps Long in the Instagram game.

“Looking at the hashtag and seeing some of the photos reach nearly 500 likes, I keep posting for the community,” Long said. “They make the page so much fun by allowing me to post these talented photographs of the city and then create a conversation about them.”

The effects of these accounts on the community may not lead to any physical restoration, but those who run these accounts hope that it will bring an aura of optimism to different aspects of the city.

“I don’t like to see Youngstown as the place most people think it is,” Allison said. “I want them to see what is great about it and what people see who live here; not just the bad parts we all hear about.”