Is Instagram Killing The Art Of Photography?

MrPimpGoodGame

Following last month’s Instagram masterclass, artist Cai Burton reflects on whether it’s the best place to see good photography

These can create various effects such as ‘wannabe Wes Anderson’, ‘I’ve got Vaseline on my lens’ and ‘instant nostalgia’.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, Instagram is a popular photo sharing, video sharing and social networking app. It allows you to take and share photos that you can apply different filters to. These can create various effects such as ‘wannabe Wes Anderson’, ‘I’ve got Vaseline on my lens’ and ‘instant nostalgia’. But more importantly, it provides its users with an instant, visual, and fun way to share their lives. This has propelled Instagram to become one of the most popular social media platforms.

It’s changed a lot since its launch in 2010; however its basic function has been and will probably always be to share photos. It enables anyone to be a photographer, regardless of your background. The tools are easy and intuitive to use, making it simple to edit your photos too. It swaps technical jargon, such as aperture, exposure and ISO for terms that are easily understandable, such as brightness, contrast and lux. As long as you can point your camera and snap a shot, you can be a photographer.

But is this devaluing the art of photography and photographers in general?

But is this devaluing the art of photography and photographers in general?

I was chatting to a friend who was studying photography and she told me that iPhone photography ‘isn’t real photography’. I was thinking about this and – assuming she meant smartphone photography in general and not photography specific to Apple phones – it’s an interesting point. I use Instagram all the time, and yet I’m probably not the only one who knows next to nothing about how to use a camera properly. For people like me, creating an artistic photo is as simple as clicking on a filter.

Except it’s not. The filters on Instagram are obvious, obtrusive and over-used. Adding effects to the photo doesn’t mask the fact that it’s not very good. Not to mention that the quality on a decent camera will always be better than on a smart phone. The photos you create on Instagram might feel authentic, original and individual, but without a filter, what you’ve really got is a photo of your otherwise mundane life

The filters on Instagram are obvious, obtrusive and over-used.

But despite what my friend says, whilst there are a lot of bad photos on Instagram, there are more than enough good photos to counteract it. I see a lot of brilliant photographs on my instagram feed. Rather than rejecting it, it feels to me like more and more photographers are actually taking advantage of Instagram and the features it provides. You get a huge variety of photographers on instagram these days, using it in interesting and creative ways.

There’s Adam Elkins, who has coined the hashtags #puddle_warfare and #portraitsinapuddle. Alongside his regular photography, he takes photos using puddles and water to reflect images. This creates photos that are interesting and unconventional. And they were all taken on his iPhone.

Andrew Knapp, on the other hand, uses the lower resolution on his iPhone to his advantage.  He challenges his followers to ‘find Momo’, his border collie, in his landscape shots. Never have I been so infuriated by the lack of a zoom feature on Instagram before.

Never have I been so infuriated by the lack of a zoom feature on Instagram before.

There are even awards simply dedicated towards iPhone photography. The iPhone Photography Awards have been running since 2007 and they are still going strong. Submissions are restricted to iPhone, iPod and iPad photos, and only allowed to use IOS apps to edit them. Looking through the photos makes you realise that you can still create breathtaking photos with just your smart phone.

The art of photography isn’t just about capturing a photo in perfect detail. It’s about capturing a mood, a feeling or a moment. I think that Instagram – rather than devaluing photography – makes it more accessible to regular people. Whilst many people use it to post loads of selfies, the majority of people use it to deliver a message or emotional response.

Before Instagram, camera phones were used to take photos of everyday experiences; your dinner, a selfie, a funny sign you want to show your friend. Instagram changes all that and it encourages anyone to share photographs and think about colour, composition, shape and lighting.
Just because it’s a camera that fits in your pocket, doesn’t mean you can’t create photographs that are legitimately amazing.

Perhaps Instagram isn’t killing the art of photography, but instead it’s just changing it.

What do you think? Is Instagram killing the art of photography or making it accessible to those without the right equipment? What’s your favourite filter? Let us know: @rifemag

Related Links:

‘Turning Your Instagram Into Insta-Success’ by Yero Timi-Biu

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