I’ve had this question asked so many times lately, by fellow photographers that I dream about it. I finally got myself a fancy pants phone and got the answer… I think.
What is Instagram?
For those of you who don’t know what Instagram is, it’s a photo sharing platform that works hand in hand with your iPhone or Android phone. You are able to take pictures, edit them a little, upload them and share with the Instagram community, Tumbler, Twitter and the Foursquare world. The filters used to edit pictures are very much inspired by retro styled images. The platform is so popular that Facebook has just bought it for $1 Billion in cash and stock.
So why would photographers feel threatened?
Its simple, we [Photographers] invest a lot of time and money mastering our craft and only after years and years of practice do we eventually call ourselves photographers. Then one day some guy creates an app that gives a 14 year old the opportunity to be instantly famous for their Instagram work. Professional Photographer, Oliver Du Tre has been quoted saying that the app is gimmicky, unimaginative and bad artistic practice. He has also gone on to say that the app users are lazy in applying its cookie-cutter filters to photos.
It’s not only photographers who have issues with the app. In a recent Facebook poll of 2000 people, responders ranked the Instagram pictures as the biggest picture annoyance, beating baby photos. One fifth of Facebook users have actually deleted users because of Instagram.
Do I agree?
I honestly think Instagram has ignited the love of photography again. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen people take note of their environment and constantly looking for those special moments. And yes that 14 year old is a creative in his own way, because he answers those visual communication questions he encounters every day. Is this a moment worth capturing? How do I capture it? Is this good enough?
And for myself, I know that I don’t always carry my camera equipment with me, even carrying a compact camera is impractical. I’m not saying that that Instagram will allow me to shoot instant pro pics but it allows me to capture an image of a funny sigh or a strange looking building and share it instantly. The intention does not always have to be artistic.
We need to remember that not so long ago; you were not considered a real photographer when you used a digital camera. Let’s not forget that the introduction of Photoshop and other photo manipulating software’s also made you a sell out. At the end of the day, what tools you use do not define how creative you are. I don’t know how many times I’ve said this to guys who have all the equipment in the world and still shoot pictures that remind me of Sylvester Stallone’s bottom lip. They just don’t work and are quite disturbing.
Having said that, I must say that the filter options are quite cheesy and make all the images look like they’ve been taken by one person. I also think that a pro pack with more features and editing tools would make for a good platform for the guys who want to experiment more.
So there, I said it, I don’t think Instagram is killing photography at all, actually I think it’s a good way to enter the field. Rather than buying an expensive camera, download the app and see if you enjoy chasing the perfect shot. And for those of you who think the title “photographer” is being used and tossed like a used condom, relax no phone can match your equipment.
Do you think Instagram is killing Photography?