Nearly everyone has a camera these days. Thanks to the advent of smartphones, everyone from your coworkers to your grandparents knows something about what goes into snapping a picture. But just because you’re coordinated enough to touch your screen at the right moment, doesn’t make you a photographer. While apps like Instagram have been allowing the public to pretend like they’re professional photographers on the low, only those with an innate vision can rise to the top of timelines and stand out as a true photographer. For Giovanni Elao, @Insighting to his fans, showcasing his unique photographic perspective to thousands of fans is all in a day’s work.
Whether he’s shooting from a city sidewalk or from the top of a skyscraper, Elao knows how to keep focused, enact his vision, and look and feel great while doing it. Thanks to support from Finish Line, his massive sneaker collection (roughly 500 pairs!) is chock-full of comfortable kicks that deserve an outfit grid all on their own.
Hailing from the Bronx, Elao has New York’s melting pot mentality in his blood, pulling both his shooting style and his fashion sense from the diverse sidewalks of NYC. While the Big Apple is ripe with tourists gawking at the nearest monument, Elao got his start by focusing on a lowly puddle, finding that the reflection within showcased the real beauty in New York’s gigantic buildings. While he originally had plans to become a police officer, it was this small moment that would make a major impact on Elao—kicking off his career as @Insighting. While picking a name can be one of the hardest parts of any creative venture, “Insighting” is a call out to his friends—friends often commending Elao for his insightful nature on a variety of subjects.
Without any formal training, Elao has been perfecting his photography since late 2013. He knows what it means to think differently, using his taste to start from the ground and grow gradually. For the record, his first photo earned him 11 likes. He now routinely earns likes in the thousands, and boasts an amount of followers that would make anyone proud—342,000 to be precise.
If you look at his photography, you’ll get a feel for Elao’s fashion sense right off the rip. Like his subject of choice, Elao’s personal style is architectural. With an eye for symmetry, and a color palette that’s closer to the simplicity of black and white, he’s the type of guy who wants to pop in a crowd, but still be classically stylish.
Considering how Elao mixes his personal perspective with the bustling cities captured by his lens, it should be no surprise that hip-hop is a major inspiration—not just in how he shoots, but how he dresses. Citing how hip-hop style is a blend of ‘dressed-up’ and casual comfort, Elao’s wardrobe is its own mashup of aesthetics—not unlike the city he calls home. “I don’t like to be too ‘out there’ but I like pieces that people might stop and say ‘Where did he get that from?’,” Elao admits. No matter what he wears, whether with a client or snapping pictures for Instagram, he’s always trying to rep his hometown. “I’ve been blessed to go to Europe, a couple places in South America…but I’m blessed to be from New York City,” Elao notes. “When it comes to my style, I like to rep my hometown.”
As a photographer who makes most of his imagery on the street, having a solid fit is important, but there’s something to be said about a great pair of shoes. For Elao, this means something that can bridge the often perilous gap between “comfort” and “style.” “When it comes to shoes I like them to be subtle, but I like them to be fashion-forward too,” he says. “The main thing is comfort, because when I’m out shooting, I’m on my feet for long periods of time.” That’s likely the reason why his favorite shoes include everything from the classic Air Jordan I, to the modern-day marvel that is the adidas Ultra Boost.
Looking the part is important, but looking for the moment and sharing it globally is what drives Elao. We may not be able to travel with him as he snaps his view from the sidewalk, but he’s honored to be able to share his world with his many followers and fans. In his opinion, the ability to capture and share moments is the best part of the job. We may all have smartphones and Instagram accounts, but it’s passion that make his work stand out around the world. “Nowadays we take images for granted. Just the fact that I’m able to take a picture and to take it back home, I’m able to remember that moment,” Elao says. “Photography is timeless…sometimes, people don’t get to travel [with me], but they’re able to see my images. I’m proud to be that gateway for people.”