fol­low me to...

The world has fol­lowed them from barcelona to Shang­hai. cathy wagstaff speaks with the Rus­sian cou­ple that in­spired a so­cial me­dia phe­nom­e­non.

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be­hind the scenes with Instagram sen­sa­tions Mu­rad and Nataly Os­mann.

mu­rad and nataly os­mann have 3.8 mil­lion fol­low­ers on instagram, a book an­thol­o­gis­ing their pho­tos (with a sec­ond on the way), a col­lab­o­ra­tion with macy’s de­part­ment store, a TV show about to air and a new jew­ellery line set to de­but later this year.

Their wan­der­lust-wor­thy pho­tos fea­ture an im­pec­ca­bly at­tired nataly lead­ing a snap-happy mu­rad as they dis­cover the ex­otic cities of the world. To­gether they have cre­ated a so­cial me­dia phe­nom­e­non that has seen the #Fol­lowmeTo hash­tag car­ried across the globe – with no signs of stop­ping.

The suc­cess is hum­bling for the Rus­sian cou­ple, whose sig­na­ture pose was born out of a mo­ment of im­pa­tience; in the first #Fol­lowmeTo im­age from oc­to­ber 2011, nataly is all but drag­ging her shutterbug part­ner through the streets of barcelona. Friends fol­low­ing their euro­pean trav­els on instagram loved the photo, and the pair went on to repli­cate the pose through­out the city, and then the coun­try. within two years, their “pas­sion project” was known around the world.

“we started it by ac­ci­dent,” mu­rad tells me from his van, cur­rently trav­el­ling through the moun­tains of south­ern china. “we were just fol­low­ing our pas­sion for travel. and then out of nowhere ‘The daily mail’ picked it up and it went vi­ral.”

in pur­suit of the per­fect shot although the moscow-based cou­ple were orig­i­nally just snap­ping pho­tos as they went on an iPhone, nowa­days they plan their trips care­fully with so­phis­ti­cated equip­ment in tow. Their short jaunts take just three days (“a day scout­ing, a day shoot­ing and a day leav­ing”), while their longer jour­neys are planned around an­nual leave. They limit their time to one day per lo­ca­tion, ask­ing lo­cal in­sta­gram­mers for sug­ges­tions for a dif­fer­ent view on iconic land­marks.

one of their trick­ier shoots took them high above the hol­ly­wood hills in a he­li­copter – with­out doors. “it was a sur­prise for nataly; she didn’t know we would be fly­ing with­out them,” mu­rad re­calls, a hint of mis­chief in his voice.

“be­cause it’s a res­i­den­tial area, we only had two min­utes to fly around the hol­ly­wood sign. i was lean­ing well out­side the ma­chine, con­nected only by a small strap and tape.” it took two flights to get the shot. it shows nataly perched on the edge of her seat, her leg non­cha­lantly thrown over the side of the he­li­copter, her right hand grip­ping the door frame. her out­stretched hand

clasps mu­rad’s as they fly to­wards the iconic bea­con of Tin­sel­town, mix­ing beach hair and bare feet with a se­quinned gown and sparkling gems.

other shoots have seen them pos­ing with ele­phants at the amer Fort in Jaipur, dur­ing one of their most mem­o­rable ad­ven­tures in in­dia. The painted pachy­derms were con­stantly mov­ing, un­able to stop in the mid­dle of the street, “so we were run­ning in front of them, try­ing to cap­ture the shot.”

else­where in in­dia, it was the on­look­ers they couldn’t con­trol. if you get a chance to see be­yond the usual square-cropped im­age on their be­hindthe-scenes instagram ac­count, @fol­lowme­trav­eller, you can see whole crowds be­ing held back by friends and trav­el­ling com­pan­ions as mu­rad sin­gle-hand­edly wields his cam­era. in one early-morn­ing shot from delhi, there are hun­dreds of peo­ple milling around them, phones out to cap­ture their fleet­ing en­counter with the in­stafa­mous cou­ple.

in hong Kong, they once clam­bered over pri­vate res­i­dences in pur­suit of the per­fect shot from Vic­to­ria Peak. “but we were with the lo­cal tourism board, so we didn’t get in too much trou­ble. i think they did though!”

hun­dreds of suit­cases of dresses one of the most dis­tinc­tive as­pects of the Fol­low me To se­ries is the in­cred­i­ble out­fits donned by nataly in each photo. From biki­nis in the mal­dives to elab­o­rate wed­ding dresses in in­dia, her com­mand over her per­sonal style is strik­ing. For dif­fi­cult shoots, the pair will travel with a crew and find lo­cal stylists, but oth­er­wise it’s left to mu­rad to carry “all those hun­dred suit­cases”, as he jokes, of his wife’s clothes. (nataly will tell you it’s his cam­era equip­ment.)

Right from the early days, mu­rad and nataly be­gan seek­ing out lo­cal de­sign­ers for her on-cam­era wardrobe, sourc­ing them via lo­cal in­sta­gram­mers.

They com­mu­ni­cate with up-com­ing de­sign­ers of both dresses and elab­o­rate




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