Monday, September 9, 2013
In defense of Instagram
About six months ago, I finally got a smartphone and immediately signed up for an Instagram account. I had seen friends' photos for months and was thrilled to start taking my own.
If you're new to Instagram or not exactly sure how it works, I'll fill you in. It's an app for your smartphone that allows you to add filters and blurs to photos and then share them with your friends. Like Twitter, you can also use hashtags to organize photos so that other people can see them and "like" them. It's wildly addicting and fun.
Unfortunately, I've heard a lot of photographers dissing Instagram on Facebook, and it's starting to really bug me. I thought I'd write a few thoughts defending Instagram — and telling you why it has changed my life.
Instagram will never replace professional photographers. While Instagram is a great way to share those cute pictures of your kids or your favorite mug of hot chocolate, it is limited to a small, square-sized glimpse. You'd never have someone take a family picture using their phone, because you wouldn't be able to enlarge it and frame it in your home. Nor would you limit pictures of your brand-new baby to those taken with a smartphone. Those who feel threatened by Instagram should stop worrying; there will always be a need for people who can take beautiful shots with a nice camera.
Instagram cannot make a poorly composed photo better. No matter which blur you apply or which filter you use on that shot you took in a dark theater at 10 at night, you can't make a grainy, poorly lit photo look good. I've found that Instagram has actually made me a better photographer, because I pay more attention to lighting, composition and background.
Instagram's filters are meant for fun. Some of Instagram's critics complain that by adding filters to every photo you take, you are distorting reality. I will admit that some people go overboard, and there are filters that make your original photo look dramatically different. But how is this any different from people who Photoshop images, making colors more vibrant and smoothing wrinkles and flaws? I try to use filters that only enhance my photos, not change them, and I frequently post pictures I haven't added any filters to. I think photography is an art, like painting or sculpting, and you can develop your own style.
Instagram is an easy way to capture everyday moments and share them with other people. I said that Instagram has changed my life — and it has. I took pictures of our Pacific Northwest trip almost entirely with Instagram because I love being able to instantly add filters and even change photos to black and white or sepia (something that would take much longer in Photoshop). But it's not just that. Instagram makes me want to take pictures of the little things that make me smile, like getting new shoes or receiving flowers from Andrew.
What do you think? Are you a fan of Instagram?