Skip to navigationSkip to content
Life in a square. (Getty Images Instagram Grant/Girma Berta)
LIFE ON INSTAGRAM

Instagrammers from India, Uruguay and Ethiopia won this year’s Getty photo contest

By Selina Cheng

Ronny Sen (@ronnysen) has been photographing the lives of those who toil on the gigantic coal mine in Jharia, India for the past four years. The Indian Instagrammer and two other photographers recently won $10,000 each from Getty Images Instagram Grant, which supports photographers using Instagram to tell under-reported stories from around the world.

Sen’s story is one common to many rural communities that depend on natural resources extraction, where a myriad of governmental, corporate and local powers have more to gain from aggravating a difficult social problem than from ending it. In Jharia, villagers who reap meager rewards from the mine are also plagued by a raging coal fire that started more than a century ago, for reasons still unknown.

One of the photos from Sen’s project Instagram account (@whatdoestheendoftimelooklike) shows a truck digging a pile of burning coal from the ground. But it is virtually impossible to put out the fire: Because of the sheer size of the mine, the truck would have no choice but to dump the burning coal back onto piles of coal nearby, Sen tells Quartz. As the government continues to expand the mining areas, the fire spreads, forcing locals to flee their homes.

Fellow grant-winner is Christian Rodriguez (@christian_foto), a Uruguayan Instagrammer documenting teenage motherhood across Latin America. On his account, the 36-year-old presents intimate portraits of those who straddle girlhood and motherhood at the same time.

His photographs come from Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and elsewhere. Some are colorful portraits of young girls seeking beauty and joy from everyday life, while others testify to their adult responsibilities and struggles.

The third grantee, Grim Berta (@gboxcreative), is a photographer from Ethiopia. Berta shares bright street scenes from his home town and capital city Addis Ababa, in a series called Moving Shadows. The imaginative series caught the attention of the Getty Instagram grant’s jury, according to a statement, for its creative combination of street photography and fine art.