One of the best Instagram accounts that provides a lively impression of Berlin is @berlinstagram, run by Michael Schulz. Now we teamed up and we are giving away five packs, containing 12 of his best Berlin pictures. To win, just comment below this Facebook picture. To get to know Michael a little bit better, we sat down and talked with him.

Hi Michael, most of the Instagram community knows you as @berlinstagram. When and why did you start using Instagram?

I bought my first iPhone exactly two years ago and Instagram was one of the first apps I installed. I rarely used it till the app was upgraded with more social features and I suddenly discovered that a lot of people I knew from Flickr were pretty active on Instagram too. That was a real motivation and I instantly started taking and editing pictures on my phone. It’s the combination of passion for photography, showing pictures to others and gaining and giving feedback – that made me hooked on Instagram pretty fast, like millions of other users…

You are mostly, as your Instagram handle would suggest, taking pictures of Berlin. — What is so special for you about this city?

Well the diversity of the city is brilliant for taking pictures – old, new, post-war, east, west, trashy, streetart, graffiti, party-scenes, clubs, complete different districts, creativity everywhere, poverty, luxury…

I try to focus on the strange, weired and curious things that are »typical« Berlin and distinguish the city from all other places. I once read an article where someone said: if you come to Berlin the first time you have to discard the overall idea of what is beautiful. I really love that quote.

You gained a lot of popularity inside the Instagram community, but also outside. You were not only covered on the Instagram blog, but e.g. also in the German newspaper Die Welt. How does it feel to have such a widely appreciated »hobby«?

It’s fun but also strange! There are so many other great instagrammers that take awesome pictures, constantly develop their own style but didn’t win that massive amount of attention as I did. So I’m aware that I’m one of the »lucky« ones that earned such huge popularity. As mobile photography evolved to a main trend, classic media and marketing agencies are focussing on it at present: beeing asked by one of the biggest German advertising agencies to take pictures for a campaign of one of the biggest car brands was the weirdest thing so far (and it turned out pretty quick that it wouldn’t work out as they suspected).

Apart from that: don’t rely on follower numbers to value users - beeing put on Instagram’s ‘suggested user’ list brought arround 500 followers a day, but the majority of those followers are people that install the app and stay passive.

You professionalized your hobby more and more. You now have your own Facebook page and you are asked to shoot for companies. It’s almost a second full time job. How do you manage this workload?

It started to eat up quite a lot of leisure time but since I already work in the internet/social media world I am always online, so it’s still managable and fun – if I was a dentist or a ranger it would be a much bigger problem! ;)

But I have to admit that I’m pretty lazy in responding to comments or questions on the app. Instead I focus on taking pictures beside my daily routine – sorry to everyone!

Do you have any ideas or plans where you and @berlinstagram will be in one year ahead?

Not really. I started Instagram and mobile photography for fun and realized pretty late that I had created an archive of more than 1.300 images and built up quite a big fan crowd. Plans are going into the direction for an exhibition and to create some nice things from my images for all the Berlin lovers out there, but earning money is secondary – I definitely want it to stay a hobby.

Apart from that I’m really excited about the development of mobile photography and the new devices coming up in the next 12 month.

Lastly, what is the Instagram account that inspires you most?

Although they are not taken on an iPhone, i really love the pictures of namidacross.