This is the 2nd of a 3 part series introducing Instagram, it’s culture and platform.
There will always be pros and cons of being the “new kid on the block.” The familiar takes a sideline, as the latest and greatest fad paves it’s way to becoming the next centre of attention ready for praise, but possibly not as ready for critique. Instagram, being the second fastest growing social network to date has sparked a passion for creativity in the lives of many different individuals from around the world. What gave Instagram it’s appeal is not necessarily the instantaneous sharing, but rather being able to receive instant feedback over what you’ve shared. Some users receive hundreds of likes within minutes, and are often accompanied by comments that convey the response of the viewers. This ease of use, instant response and visual appeal, gives the average eye a platform to growing creatively in an environment that focuses less on failure and more on how one can develop their skills between posts. Of course, not everyone takes away such a positive response. In fact some may find this platform a threat and even offensive.
Since the introduction of digital, compact and semi-pro cameras photography has become a very broad platform to express one’s creativity. With an already over-populated medium, one can imagine that some individuals will get precious over their area of influence as it became even more accessible through the introduction of mobile photography. Instagram users have been accused of being filter dependent, lucky and unskilled, and although this holds a lot of weight, many individuals will see this simply as a statement rather than an insult. For those like myself, who found Instagram after being deeply involved with traditional image capturing on a dslr, I’ve concluded that when something is deemed beautiful, it is easily shared and how Instagram has given that ability to so many people. If you see something you like, the first inclination is to tell a friend (or a few thousand).
Two parties of pride stand out here for me. Firstly, the traditional photographers who deem themselves “better” than the Instagram user, due to claims of education, superior imaging devices or experience. Secondly, the Instagram user who, from their accumulated following has developed a certain level of pride associated directly with the response from their following. Now one can easily argue both sides and probably never come to a final conclusion as to which is better, which is probably because it would be like comparing apples with oranges.
I am pro-mobile currently and because of this I will defend the Instagramer. The Instagram user simply wants to shoot, edit and share. Apart from a few exceptions, sharing and developing creativity is the end goal for the majority of those using Instagram. Print, sales or even exposure are just wonderful extras should they ever occur. The average Instagramer is not trying to steal your 7-page spread in the next popular magazine, nor are they trying to shoot with the intention of landing the next Hugo Boss campaign. We are simply taking photos to share moments we deem beautiful. For now, the shareabiity of Instagram has given millions an opportunity to venture in a creative space, visually expressing their creativity on a platform that caters for “the amateur” and that ability to express really does give the every day individual an opportunity to expand their creative muscle.
Much of the backlash that Instagram and Mobile Photography receives today is a pure repetition of the history of photography that happened in the past. In the article “Instagram and Anxiety of the Photographer” Joshua Sarinana does a good job of comparing how mobile photography received the same rejection as photography did by modernists when it was first introduced. Be sure to read part 1 and part 2 to get the full story.
If you for one moment are comparing Instagram to traditional photography, then you’ve obviously cut open an apple, taken a bite and expected to taste an orange. There are thousands of traditional photographers out there who have utilized the platform in a positive sense, igers like @laurmarii, @ryanmuirhead and @kaylavarley who use Instagram as an extension of their photography and post a combination of mobile and traditional shots to the platform.
Instagram may be the new kid on the block for now. It is still finding it’s feet in a sense, still growing as a platform. In my opinion, to be threatened by it is definitely an ill discourse, and in all honesty, the photographers who feel threatened are probably the ones who should be.
Featured images are a combination of DSLR and Mobile Photos, try and tell the difference.