When looking at his images, it’s hard to tell if Dmitry Markov is a photographer or activist first. His Instagram photos of Pskov, a small city in northern Russia, often focus on the lives of the young boys and girls he works with at the Russian Children’s Fund. Striking images of a boarding school for troubled teens appear alongside kissing couples, both in a slightly sepia filter the social network is known for, creating a visual link between those in need and those carrying about their day. By treating the children the same as he would the subject of any other street photography scene, he collapses their world and the community, empowering them with portraiture instead of pity.

In just a few years, he has amassed more than 30,000 followers on the social network, raising awareness of not only his incredible skill with an iPhone, but also the plight of his subjects. “My hope is that my photographs will help tell their stories and inspire others to volunteer as well,” Markov said.

His subjects are clearly comfortable with his presence, allowing him to capture images of them at their most vulnerable. No doubt this ease is what led a jury to select Markov as one of the three recipients of the inaugural Getty Images Instagram Grant, which supports photographers using the social network to document underrepresented communities around the world.

Markov, along with Ismail Ferdous and Adriana Zehbrauskas, will receive $10,000 each, as well as mentorship from award-winning Getty Images photographers. Markov plans to use the money to “travel more often, into the small villages and towns which are difficult to reach via public transportation, to continue to tell the stories of my region and its people.”

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