life, look, camera, time

The essence of the Monitor refreshed  

Here's why we launched a redesigned look to the weekly magazine.

'Dark kitchens': Are they the future of takeaways?  

We take a look inside a hidden-away kitchen making takeaways customers can only access via an app.

Central Park retail assets tipped to reap $170m  

Developers Frasers Property Australia and the Japan's Sekisui House are looking to divest the final retail component of the $2 billion Central Park project in Sydney.

Lens: A Photographer Confronts His Familys Tragic Past in Colombias War   -26%

Colombia’s bloody conflict left Andres Cardona an orphan. After years of covering how political violence devastated others, he now looks at how it changed his life forever.

Eilat fears Israeli government may end flight subsidies that helped the city's tourism boom   40%

Tourism Ministry threatens to end airline subsidies due to concerns that tourists are using them to travel to Jordan or Egypt or Israelis looking for cheap flights to Europe

Hard Rock Hotel finally comes to London   -14%

A Hard Rock Hotel is finally coming to London, which was the birthplace of the Hard Rock Cafe back in 1971. CNN Travel gets an exclusive look inside

New York Times Communities You Can Join Online   13%

Readers looking for lively online discussion have plenty of options.

Queensland soldier finally home for Anzac Day   -12%

The recently retired corporal is looking forward to taking part in the dawn service and parade in Brisbane with his kids.

410 Jet Airways pilots resigned in 7 months: NAG   18%

The National Aviators’ Guild said in a communication to members that 410 pilots had resigned between last September and March 31, 2019 and that the airline now has on its rolls about 1,527 pilots. “Wet lease plans are being looked at and clarity will be provided when modalities will be worked out and a concrete plan is available,” NAG said.

Alia looks like a modern-day princess   27%

Alia ditched the present craze for gowns and opted for a completely different look. She wore a monotone jacquard jumpsuit with a plunging neckline and bishop sleeves that looked bold, sassy and chic just like the remarkable roles she chooses.

Africa: U17 Afcon - Kabakama Leading the Path for Women Referees  

[CAF] The decision to have women referees for the Total U17 Africa Cup of Nations underway in Tanzania may be for pilot reasons; however looks like it is one that has come to stay with us.

Changes to Northeast cod, flounder fishery up for discussion   20%

Federal fishing managers are looking to change some of the rules governing important species of food fish this year, and they're seeking feedback from the industry and the public. The … Click to Continue »

SCOTUS hears SNAP retail data case  

Ag agencies look to unionize as site decision nears — Farm bankruptcy overhaul gains steam — Tracking the soybean trade slump

House of Commons recess: How much time off do MPs get?   20%

As MPs take a break from Westminster for Easter, we look at how much time they spend at work.

Wall Street blows off Mueller report   43%

Concerns rise about USMCA — Q1 looking better — But don't get too excited

Lamb stew, and potato-lamb confit: Two recipes for Passover   32%

Looking for some special dishes for the holiday? Food blogger and cookbook author Rottem Lieberson has some intriguing Persian recipes.

Nokia 8.1 straddles the line between mid-range and high-end smartphone   80%

The $699 device looks, feels and performs great, with the benefit of one of the purest Android experiences you can get.

Microsoft Surface Studio 2 review: in a class of its own   25%

Stunning all-in-one PC that slides to become drawing tablet is held back by high price and old chips

The Surface Studio 2 is Microsoft’s beautiful all-singing, all-dancing, all-in-one desktop computer that is quite unlike anything else on the market. But then it should be with prices starting at more than £3,500.

Straight out of the box it’s obvious that the Surface Studio 2 is no ordinary computer. Its gorgeous, pixel-dense 28in screen appears to float, held effortlessly by two chrome articulated arms that are invisible when you’re sitting directly in front of it. The small grey pedestal below looks like a weighted stand, but contains the full workings of the PC.

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Why frustrated Ukrainians may elect a comedian as president   -60%

Ukraine’s presidential election looks in the bag for comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy. But that reflects disappointment in incumbent Petro Poroshenko.

The Instagram Aesthetic Is Over   27%

As Instagram has grown to more than 1 billion monthly users, it has ushered in a very particular look: bright walls, artfully arranged lattes and avocado toast, and Millennial-pink everything, all with that carefully staged, color-corrected, glossy-looking aesthetic. Photos that play into these trends perform so well on Instagram that the look became synonymous with the platform itself, then seeped into the broader world. Even if you don’t use the app, you’ve undoubtedly encountered an “Instagram wall,” a pop-up experience like the Museum of Ice Cream, or a brightly patterned restaurant bathroom just made to be photographed.

No one has capitalized on this look’s popularity more than influencers. Some have even started to make thousands of dollars on photo presets that warp anyone’s pictures to fit this mold. But every trend has a shelf life, and as quickly as Instagram ushered in pink walls and pastel macaroons, it’s now turning on them. “Avocado toast and posts on the beach. It’s so generic and played out at this point. You can photoshop any girl into that background and it will be the same post,” said Claire, a 15-year-old who asked to be referred to by a pseudonym because of her age. “It’s not cool anymore to be manufactured.”

Fast-rising young influencers such as Emma Chamberlain, Jazzy Anne, and Joanna Ceddia all reject the notion of a curated feed in favor of a messier and more unfiltered vibe. While Millennial influencers hauled DSLR cameras to the beach and mastered photo editing to get the perfect shot, the generation younger than they are largely post directly from their mobile phones. “Previously influencers used to say, ‘Oh, that’s not on brand,’ or only post things shot in a certain light or with a commonality,” says Lynsey Eaton, a co-founder of the influencer-marketing agency Estate Five. “For the younger generation, those rules don’t apply at all.”

In fact, many teens are going out of their way to make their photos look worse. Huji Cam, which make your images look as if they were taken with an old-school throwaway camera, has been downloaded more than 16 million times. “Adding grain to your photos is a big thing now,” says Sonia Uppal, a 20-year-old college student. “People are trying to seem candid. People post a lot of mirror selfies and photos of them lounging around.”

Take Reese Blutstein, a 22-year-old influencer who has amassed more than 238,000 followers in just over a year by posting unfiltered, low-production photos of herself in quirky outfits. (A recent flash photo into a mirror with her dog picked up more than 5,000 likes). She, like many members of her generation, doesn’t stress about posting almost the exact same photo twice in a row, something first-generation influencers wouldn’t dream of. “I’m not afraid to over-post. I don’t think, Oh, will this mess up how my feed looks,” she says. “I don’t think too much about it. If I like an image, I just post it.”

Anything that feels staged is as undesirable for Blutstein’s cohort as unfiltered or unflattering photos would be for older influencers. “For my generation, people are more willing to be who they are and not make up a fake identity,” she says. “We are trying to show a real person doing cool things as a real person, not trying to create a persona that isn’t actually you.”

Matt Klein, a cultural strategist at the consultancy Sparks & Honey, also says he’s seen a gradual shift away from the rainbow-colored preplanned photos that dominated the platform in late 2017. “We all know the jig is up,” he says. “We’ve all participated in those staged photos. We all know the stress and anxiety it takes. And we can see through it. Culture is a pendulum, and the pendulum is swaying. That’s not to say everyone is going to stop posting perfect photos. But the energy is shifting.”

Over the past year, “Instagram vs realityphotos have grown in popularity as influencers attempt to make themselves seem more accessible. Earlier this month at Beautycon, a beauty festival, Instagram stars spoke about moving away from ring lights and toward showing off their faces in sunlight. As the public becomes more aware of the prevalence of sponsored posts, beauty influencers are abandoning branded shots for ones that show off their “empties” (empty bottles of product they actually use). A growing number of accounts are dedicated to calling out the various cosmetic procedures celebrities and influencers have had. Influencers have also been actively speaking out themselves about burnout, mental health, and the stress that comes with maintaining perfection.

[Read: The post-Millennial generation is here]

“Everyone is trying to be more authentic,” says Lexie Carbone, a content marketer at Later Media, a social-media marketing firm. “People are writing longer captions. They are sharing how much money they make … I think it all goes back to, you don’t want to see a girl standing in front of a wall that you’ve seen thousands of times. We need something new.”

James Nord, the CEO of Fohr, an influencer-management platform, says he sees this shift play out in his clients’ numbers every day. “What worked for people before doesn’t work anymore,” he says. “For the first time, influencers are coming up against this problem of, How do I continue to grow as tastes change?” A year ago, an influencer could post a shot with manicured hands on a coffee cup and rake in the likes—but now, people will unfollow. According to Fohr, 60 percent of influencers in his network with more than 100,000 followers are actually losing followers month over month. “It’s pretty staggering,” he says. “If you’re an influencer [in 2019] who is still standing in front of Instagram walls, it’s hard.”

The platform itself could be partially responsible for how things have evolved. Whereas Instagram started as a purely visual feed of filtered photos, it has morphed into a messy, tangled social network where photos fight with stories, IGTV, GIFs, and video clips for attention. For many users, a photo itself is just a way to vent in the captions or comment section.

According to Taylor Cohen, a digital strategist at the advertising agency DDB, the Instagram aesthetic’s saturation point came sometime in mid-2018. “It’s not the same as it was even a year ago,” she says. Consider, for example, the Happy Place, an Instagram museum that opened to great fanfare in Los Angeles in 2017 and bills itself as the “most Instagrammable pop-up in America.” When it opened, people were thrilled to fork over the nearly $30 admission price ($199 for a VIP pass). But when it arrived in Boston this month, it landed with a thud. “I would not go,” said Claire, the 15-year-old. “I’d rather take pics in front of a library or something.”

Instagram museums and walls were built to allow normal people to take influencer-quality photographs—but they worked so well, those types of photos became common enough that they don’t resonate like they used to. In the beginning, “you had everyone posting these normal photos, and so that rainbow-food photo stood out,” Klein says. “But because so many people adopted that aesthetic, that has become passé. We’re living in influencer overload.”

[Read: Custom photo filters are the new Instagram gold mine]

Plus, all that perfection is a grind. “I spent so many months looking for a wall that was a certain color,” says Sarah Peretz, a Los Angeles–based influencer known for her stylized, hyper-saturated feed. “There came a point in my life where all I’d be looking for was walls, walls, walls. I was like, Guess what day it is? It’s another wall.” After interrupting a vacation to take a picture against a roadside casino’s perfect orange wall, she decided enough was enough. She began pivoting her feed away from the traditional Instagram aesthetic and started experimenting with drone photography and more creative formats. She says wall photos had become boring to her audience anyway, who are more interested in entertaining Instagram Stories than flat photos.

Last year, Kristin Ruby, the president of Ruby Media Group, a public-relations consulting firm, splurged on a blowout and waiting in an endless line at an Instagram museum—but now, she says, she doesn’t think the pop-ups are worth it. These days, like many users, she doesn’t think too much about her feed and posts more frequently on Instagram Stories. “You don’t have to think about colored walls, the filter, or the people in the background in the way of your perfect candytopia photo,” she says.

As the ideal Instagram look shifts, brands are, as ever, eagerly trying to catch the next wave. “For brands to seem cutting edge, they can’t paint a wall and say that’s what they’re doing,” Nord says. “That aesthetic … is no longer viable.” Cohen points to Glossier as an example of a brand that’s using Instagram in a more modern way. The beauty brand shares a mix of memes, natural-looking close-ups, and recently, a cute video of a sloth “just because.

Ultimately, Eaton says, “people are just looking for things they can relate to.” And “the pink wall and avocado toast are just not what people are stopping at anymore.”

Q: Sociologist takes on myths about wealth and morality   43%

What does the college admissions scandal tell us about the morals of the rich? Sociologist Rachel Sherman looks at the ethics of America's wealthy. 

The edit... Five ways to wear floral prints   19%

For a bold spring look, mix and match different patterns or style up pretty florals with chunky accessories

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The ghost ships of Lagos: how wrecks have become a haven for crime on Nigerias coastline   -14%

Two men in a motorised wooden canoe look around warily as they leave a towering shipwreck in a Lagos lagoon, with barrels of oil barely concealed under rags.The rusting hulk of iron and peeling paint has been battered by the elements and is half submerged. Sprouts of green shoots on deck hint at how long it has been abandoned.But on closer inspection, the wreck is a working storage facility for stolen or “bunkered” oil, as it is known in Nigeria.Oladele, a 30-year-old who does not use his real…

How to paint a room in 4 days from choosing a shade to finishing up   55%

The Easter weekend is coming — a great time to give your home a fresh new look for spring.

Beyond Meat Details Plans for Initial Public Offering   -80%

Beyond Meat’s signature product, the burger patty, is made with pea protein and beet juice, which are supposed to give the burger the bloody look, texture and taste of beef.

Less is more: why the shorts power suit is here for summer   16%

More fun than a skirt, and less formal than trousers, this season’s big trend will have all weather covered

First there was the return of the pant suit, spearheaded by Lady Gaga on stage and Hillary Clinton in Congress. Now the latest version of the trend is a far more relaxed affair, and it’s set to be the look of the summer.

Short suits – oversized blazers paired with coordinating loose-fit tailored shorts – are this summer’s power suit.

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The real monument to van attack victims is all around us   6%

Anyone looking for the real monument to those who died on the Yonge Street sidewalk last April need only look around.

Lightning strikes twice - or more - in the same place, new paper finds  

Multiple thunderbolts can happen from the same cloud, new research involving the novel reuse of technology aimed at looking into deep space has found.

Manchester United vs Man City: The best derbies from the Premier League era   31%

We look back on some of the most notable and thrilling derby encounters from the Premier League era

A family vacation of a different sort: Volunteering on an organic farm   20%

When screen time became too much, Ron Ofer looked for a different way to pass the summer with his kids. What he found: Five hours of work a day in exchange for free, organic room and board.

Kauai with kids is one giant theme park, but its no Disneyland. Its better   17%

The painted red concrete on Disneyland’s Splash Mountain was starting to look like the rich red dirt of Waimea Canyon. The canopy of trees and the rope bridge at the theme park’s Tarzan’s Treehouse evoked Maluhia Road Tree Tunnel and Hanapepe’s Swinging Bridge. And on board the Jungle Cruise, I...

Waking   9%

Sometimes, in shadowy first light, it even looks like a horse,
there at the end of the bed like an implement or furniture,
no horn at the center of its forehead,
no wings, only the right number of legs,
and an outline sleek with dew.
Then, long face to face, it looms above your breathing,
the separation of the eyes and its own deep breathing
meant to wake you—the animal standing there at bedside,
rocking back and forth within the stall of itself,
its fist-size nostrils hollowed out,
until, after dawn, it turns its full length around,
circles the bed as if it’s thinking, and walks
over to a wall and puts its head against it.

Tales of walls, tunnels in the desert   -11%

If you’re looking for a resonant point of departure for contemporary art, you could do worse than Dura Europos.

Nonfiction: The Remarkable Ben Hecht  

Ben Hecht, as a director circa 1946, looks through a camera.

'It Wasn't A Debate': Six Takeaways From The Poroshenko-Zelenskiy Stadium Showdown  

In the end, the two candidates squared off on the same stage, not from opposite ends of a stadium. But it looked and sounded less like a debate than a name-calling match that lacked substantive discussion -- and may not have done much to sway voters.

Stars bring fashion A-game to 'Avengers: Endgame' premiere   43%

The approximately 63 million cast members of Avengers: Endgame attended the film's premiere in Los Angeles wearing outfits that were simply too good for the gathered nerds. Scroll for the best looks, including Captain Marvel in Celine and a surprise appearance by Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus.

Strong suit: Men's fashion with a Hasidic touch   10%

Inspired by the European look of Hasidic dress, Hed Mayner’s debut collection combines elegant tailoring with a military twist, reminding us that local and international can smartly coexist.

Freep Film Festivals Anatomy of Anatomy revisits the making of a Mich. movie classic  

Lansing filmmaker David C. Jones' 'Anatomy of Anatomy' takes a look back at the 1959 filming of 'Anatomy of a Murder' in the Upper Peninsula