Back in 201o when Instagram launched, a lot of people weren't sure what to do with a service purely for social photography. Richard "Koci" Hernandez wasn't one of those people.
Hernandez quickly became an early example of photojournalists using Instagram to innovate in photography.
Using his nickname @koci as a handle, he racked up over 100,000 followers quickly with surreal photographs of San Francisco street life.
Hernandez filtered his images through multiple photo editing apps to create new artistic compositions that blur the edges of reality.
Themes run throughout his work. He is constantly chasing men in fedoras. He plays with shadow and light to create stark geometric shapes and layered images. He captions each image with quotes from artists, philosophers and politicians.
Hernandez is a professor of journalism at Berkeley. Many photojournalists were skeptical to embrace social, Hernandez approached them with the zeal of an evangelist.
"The entire conversation around images is changed," Koci said. "It's so permeated everything. We have visual lives. We're even associating normal every day communication. It's not just chatting now. It's a picture, a snap and a chat."
In 2012, when Instagram announced that it would be changing its terms of service, Hernandez joined a rising chorus of professional photographers in threats to boycott the service if they didn't respect the intellectual property rights of photographers.
Instagram quickly recanted the changes.
In the fallout of Instagram's announcement, photographers flirted with photo-sharing services outside of Instagram.
While Instagram held on to its user base, Hernandez said the whole episode triggered a shift in thinking to a broader definition of "social photography."
Photographers will not be able to keep their photos to themselves, he said. They need to adapt to new ways of taking pictures and new ways to get paid for taking pictures.
"It's like my images just want to be set free," Hernandez said. "We've moved from an era of pure photography to a social photography."
Come here Hernandez speak on June 9 at KPCC with other mobile photography experts. RSVP here.