If Ansel Adams was alive today, he would be using the “Inkwell” filter in Instagram, or to mix it up a bit, he would choose “Kelvin” for that gritty print frame look. But since he’s dead, he’s probably rolling in his grave, while over 30 million registered users are uploading images of dogs on their backs a la Ansel.
I love sharing my life online, I have been sharing the minutiae of my comings and goings since 1994. First through email, then my website, Flickr in 2005, Twitter in 2006, numerous blogs, Facebook, Google+ and a dozen or two other social media sites that I have forgotten the passwords to. At first I could only share words and upload images from my computer. When I first heard about Instagram in 2010, I registered and started sharing photographs I took with my iPhone. Hallelujah, I was liberated from my desk, I could share unfettered; the world was mine and I was going to share it with you 24/7. I loved the filters, they gave my photographs an extra boost of glitz, that normally they wouldn’t of had. Who doesn’t like the “Hefe” or “1977” filters? It made drunk people look good, greasy burgers tasty, bland shots of flowers pop, and made you look like you slaved over a hot computer to create that special look. I did not say darkroom because most of the users of Instagram have never stepped into one, or would know what it was. “Darkroom, isn’t that where Batman lives?”
But wait a minute, put that smart phone down. What does this mean for real photographers who create real imagery? The Instagram Effect has now reached into their portfolios, any image that has that look will instantly bring to mind a phone app to any art buyer looking at their work. Super saturated, real gritty film frames, tilt frame, Lomo-fied, light bursts, blur, any filter in Instagram or their competitor app Camera+ will bring the question, why am I looking at your Facebook updates?
On the flipside there are photographers who use Instagram as a tool to push their work virally online, which can brings attention and traffic to their professional work. Non-photographer Justin Bieber has over 1.5 million followers on Instagram, he used social media to launch his he began his career with a video on YouTube. It is a another venue for his fans to live with him 24/7.
As the general public moves like a rampaging herd of rhinos towards the chocolate box choices of photography, the photographer has to expand his/her portfolio and create a distinct and unique vision. Make your vision what everyone else aspires to and cannot do with a swipe of a finger.
“There will come a time when it isn’t ‘They’re spying on me through my phone’ anymore. Eventually, it will be ‘My phone is spying on me.”
― Philip K. Dick