If you have a smartphone, you have a camera. And with Instagram — a photo-sharing application recently purchased by Facebook for $1 billion — any user can turn a cell phone snapshot into a creative image that somehow seems more than the sum of its parts.
“Everyone has a phone in his pocket now, and you have this group of people who are really interested in photography and can take good pictures without the barrier of entry that comes with having to buy a D-SLR camera,” said Ali Ukani, a sophomore computer science major at Northeastern.
Ukani created Huskygram, a new website that catalogs Instagram photos taken on campus, creating a collage of square, retro photographs that the app has become famous for. Like Tumblr and Pinterest, the site allows users to view hundreds of photos by scrolling down one single web page.
Ukani was inspired to create Huskygram while at a California airport. He was waiting for a flight back to Boston after visiting his father in San Jose and found himself bored and homesick for Northeastern.
“I started browsing through Instagram on my phone and I thought it would be great to be able to see all these photos of campus in one place,” Ukani said. “The ways people can customize their photos make them much more personal — you can see something you see every day in an entirely different way.”
The photos capture Northeastern from an insider’s perspective through a mixture of snapshots of flowers, benches, flagpoles, graduation ceremonies and late-night study sessions.
The site’s algorithm is designed to automatically search for publicly posted Instagram photos with the hashtag “#northeastern” or that carry location data indicating that a photo was taken on or near campus.
Ukani said he is working with Instagram’s open code to create a way for the site to automatically send him photos that meet the same criteria. This July, he’ll start a co-op job with Goldman Sachs here in Boston.