Photographer's name up in Northern Lights

William Patino’s images have attracted international attention.Picture: CAMERON SANDERCOCK

William Patino’s images have attracted international attention.Picture: CAMERON SANDERCOCK

No longer the exclusive domain of selfies, drunk party pictures and motivational fitness shots, Instagram is serious business - just ask William Patino.

Mr Patino has amassed more than 35,000 followers for the stunning photographs of the Illawarra coastline he posts on the picture-sharing social media service.

One follower in particular, the Canadian tourism board, was impressed enough to select him as one of a handful of official photographers to shoot the famed Northern Lights next month.

William Patino’s photo of Wollongong’s little lighthouse during a storm.

William Patino’s photo of Wollongong’s little lighthouse during a storm.

"I go out pretty much every morning to take photos, and thought Instagram looked like fun," he said.

"Over time I've gotten noticed by certain people, and a tourism rep from Canada approached me to go over there."

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are spectacular light shows in the northern polar regions caused by electrically charged particles in the atmosphere. Green and pink light is smeared across the night sky, making one of the most stunning natural events on the planet.

Picture: William Patino. Instagram handle: @william_patino

Picture: William Patino. Instagram handle: @william_patino

Mr Patino will be one of a small contingent of Instagrammers to shoot the event, in what is actually the second time he has been headhunted by the Canadians.

"I had to turn down an offer six months ago because I couldn't get time off work," he said.

The week-long trip will be a flurry of freezing temperatures, late nights and early mornings. Mr Patino will head to the city of Yellowknife, shooting between midnight and 3am in temperatures of minus 20 degrees.

"It's hard enough being outside when it's so cold, let alone getting decent photos," he said.

"It will be a challenge."

Mr Patino said his work would likely have gone unnoticed without Instagram. More than 150 million people use Instagram each month, uploading 55 million photos a day - but even among this avalanche of images, the cream always rises to the top.

"It is a great tool, but a lot of people who aren't very good at it can get a big following," he said.

"I just kept doing it and making sure my motives are right, making sure I am doing it for fun and for myself. I think eventually people notice good work."

Mr Patino's Instagram handle is @william_patino.

Picture: William Patino. Instagram handle: @william_patino

Picture: William Patino. Instagram handle: @william_patino

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