Is Instagram killing Photography ?

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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?
No.

Why?
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? 

 

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5 Comments

  • Reply May 15, 2012

    Stix

    The nice thing is that you have your phone with you all the time. When Annie Leibovitz was asked what is the best camera she simply replied: “The iPhone, because it it with you all the time.”

    I dig Instagram because it makes you look for things to take pictures of. Some photographers are just sour because filters is no longer a “exclusive to photographers” thing. And yes, there have been some really cool Instagram pics.

    • Reply May 15, 2012

      SACN

      So would you call an instagramer a “Photographer” ?

  • Reply July 27, 2012

    Flex

    I see Instagram as a huge advance on street and novice photography. Ordinary people may call a photographer for a wedding, a birthday party, an important event, but they won’t call them just to take a creative picture of their dog.

    Without Instagram, they would grab their phones, take a picture of the moment, without thinking about creativity, beauty or composition; they would just click on the button to freeze that instant forever.

    Now they just want that picture of their dogs to be great, or at least, to be beautiful. People is not looking for the “aw how cute is your dog”, but they’re going for the “is such a nice shot” comment. And that’s a good thing.

    They are far from being called Photographers, but their pictures look so much better now.

    This all matter reminded me of an old site called Fotolog, it was basically the same, you took a picture, posted it online, and then added a caption. You could add friends, and they would comment on your photo. But Fotolog didn’t have any filters so the pictures posted were just … crap.

    My msn, my mail, my chat windows got flooded every day with this links to fotolog, and the pictures, GOD, they were just crappy shots, most of them taken with VGA webcams, and then edited with Paint, adding bright color borders and comic sans quotes printed on top (without aliasing of any kind), and Oh the ugliness! I just wanted to cry.

    I don’t know what happened in your country, but here in Argentina, fotolog became such a trend! Teens just loved it. And they built an entire tribe of annoying kids based on this site, they called themselves ‘floggers’. They all posed alike, all dressed alike, used the same type of pants, t-shirts and glasses. They danced the same music, doing the same dance steps. They got together in flogger’s meetings and they would took pictures of each other.

    And I see Instagrammers now, and I know there’s some behavior pattern repeating itself almost a decade after, but I am somehow relieved now, because I see a glimpse of hope.

    I know I’ll get flooded again with links to Instagram, but I’m just relieved, because I know that Instagram pictures will never look as bad as the ones I’ve seen in fotolog. And that’s a step forward.

  • Reply August 23, 2012

    Mike

    Instagram users are to Photography, what Power Point users are to Graphic Design.

  • Reply September 10, 2013

    stephen greeff

    It is a valid question,
    I would agree with your statement that it does not kill photography.
    It helps develop a photographic eye,
    probably the most important factor about photography,
    is being able to see those moments and capture them.

    What it does however is take away the technical aspect of photography
    were the art is crafted.
    Which Im not going to get into,
    Rather I would focus on how photographers have to learn to adapt ,
    it is the survival of the fittest and technology is the game changer in todays world,
    keep up with it and be knowledgeable of opportunities that once were never there.
    Use them to selfish gain in marketing and improve yourself through capturing moments realised and created through your own personality,
    that is what Instagram offers.
    We all can use it,
    take a good picture and share it.
    We all love a good picture because a picture tells a story
    and who does not love a story,
    I love stories and I cannot get enough of them.

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