Sam Elfanbaum captures life on East Campus on Instagram @eastcampusphotobook
The account showcases life on East Campus, allows for student engagement and sparks nostalgia among followers.
May. 17, 2021
MU student and member of Columbia-based band Post Sex Nachos, Sam Elfanbaum displays everyday activity across the East Campus neighborhood on Instagram @eastcampusphotobook. The account provides followers with a glimpse of student life in Columbia through Elfenbaum’s photographs.
Elfanbaum created the Instagram account as a project to sharpen his photography skills. However, as he began following those who follow the @universityofmisery Instagram on the account, he quickly gained popularity among students. The account currently has 1,337 followers.
“My goal was to be consistent,” Elfanbaum said. “I thought the best way to do that was to photograph my surroundings.”
As a resident of East Campus, Elfanbaum only has to open his front door to witness the people, places and things within the neighborhood, which makes the lively setting convenient to photograph.
As the account continued to accumulate more followers, he recognized the opportunity to connect with others and build his portfolio. Each day that weather permits, Elfenbaum announces on the account when he will stroll through the neighborhood to observe. He often receives messages from followers requesting to be photographed and will feature them in posts on the account.
“It seemed like a good way to build a legacy at Mizzou,” Elfanbaum said.
The platform benefits Elfanbaum as a photographer, as it allows him to offer services such as graduation and portrait photo sessions, as well as promote his own collection of photographs.
The account receives positive feedback from followers and sparks a sense of appreciation among students. The account can be used as a reminder of college glory days for MU students to fondly look back on.
“The account makes me feel more connected to the Mizzou community and weirdly nostalgic for the present moment,” said Elizabeth Ballew, a sophomore follower of the account.
Nostalgia also touches MU alumni viewing the photographs. Elfanbaum recently received a message requesting a photograph of two neighboring houses on Williams Street, intended as a wedding gift for a bride and groom who first met while living in the houses.
“It is pretty meaningful knowing that the account is reaching people that have already graduated,” Elfanbaum said.
Elfanbaum plans to keep the account alive long after he graduates in order to continue affecting people’s lives in similar ways. He is currently a fifth-year MU student who intends to remain in Columbia for another year before moving to Nashville.
“I’m hoping to pass off the account to another photographer or photojournalism student when I move from Columbia,” Elfanbaum said.
He credits the preset filters he uses on the photos and MU students for the account's large following. Elfanbaum found that followers promote the account on their own, often reposting his images on their Instagram.
“I saw my friends reposting their content on their stories,” Ballew said. “I liked the aesthetic and the vintage college vibes.”
He hopes to only see the impact grow, even after the account is run by another photographer.
“I have some intrigue for all the big Mizzou accounts and the people behind them,” Ballew said. “It’s crazy how these social media accounts can create a sense of community.”
Edited by Shannon Worley | firstname.lastname@example.org