Chasing Toy Planes with @vnthota
As the son of a helicopter pilot, Macau Instagrammer Varun Thota (@vnthota) developed an early love for flying. “I used to play Microsoft’s Flight Simulator for hours and even used it to train for my mock pilot’s certificate as a kid,” Varun remembers.
Now in his late twenties, Varun is still simulating flight patterns but has taken to Instagram to explore his fascination with aviation in a series he calls #mytoyplane. “I decided to start the series when my dad picked up a limited edition Kinder Egg chocolate pack, which included five Airbus A330s inside them,” says Varun. Drawing inspiration from the #putaplaneonit hashtag, Varun adds, “A lot of the photos using that hashtag are quite amazing and it was interesting to see how people even blended in photos of planes with insane backgrounds. I wanted to do something similar, and the idea of using the perfectly sized Kinder Egg planes with someone holding it to add perspective was what I decided to try.”
The results are an imaginative set of photographs that playfully weave viewers through skyscrapers, city streets and the Macau countryside. When it comes to choosing his locations, Varun says, “I try to pick them when I feel they are realistic enough to have actual planes fly over or by them, so this is usually over resident buildings or estates. One of my favorites is looking up through a fire exit ladder.”
More than anything, what Varun looks forward to about the #mytoyplane series, and Instagram in general, is the relationship building: “The thing I enjoy most about the series is how fun it is to include other people in it. It’s always fun to show people the plane, tell them the story and then ask them for a helping hand in taking the shot.”
Observing Tomb Sweeping Day (清明节), the Spring Festival of Remembrance
On the 104th day after the winter solstice, communities across China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and parts of Southeast Asia observe Qingming Festival (清明节 or 清明節), also known as Tomb Sweeping Day.
A bittersweet day for many, families observe the holiday as a time to honor deceased loved ones as well as celebrate the arrival of spring. On Qingming, people visit their ancestors’ grave sites to sweep the tombs, place offerings of food and drink, burn joss papers and say prayers to remember the departed.
Literally translating to “clear bright festival,” the holiday also marks the period on the East Asian lunisolar calendar when the atmosphere becomes clear and bright, the weather warms and signs of spring start appearing. In addition to the commemoration activities, it is also a time for families to go out for picnics, enjoy kite-flying or start spring plowing to take advantage of the coming agricultural season.
The Penny-Sized Illustrations of @samlarson
To see more photos of both Sam’s normal-sized and minuscule work, follow @samlarson on Instagram.
"I gather my inspiration from the American West," says Sam Larson (@samlarson), a 25-year-old Wisconsin native now working as a freelance artist in Carlsbad, California. “I like to get out into the mountains and desert whenever possible.” On Instagram, Sam shares his western-themed creations, which often take the form of tiny, penny-sized drawings.
Sam attributes his rekindled interest in illustration to Instagram. In 2013, after a five-year hiatus from art, “I started doing one drawing a night to post on Instagram. It was an exercise that held me accountable, and the encouragement helped keep me going.”
"Instagram has allowed me to make new friends, travel to places I didn’t know existed, share my art and so much more," says Sam. "I hope to inspire people to pick up a pen, or to embark on some type of adventure."