I have a confession to make: For a long time, I considered Instagram to be a useless platform and I criticized its filters until boredom. Nowadays, I post an image at least once a week. What happened? Keep reading and you’ll understand.
My first contact with Instagram was looking at some low definition images, over-processed with filters that practically destroyed the original image and reduce the definition even more. To top things off, most of those images were simply bad, without any sense of composition, taken with limited cameras but their authors defended them as if they were masterpieces.
Besides, I was fascinated by megapixels, zoom lenses, manual post-processing and I was only interested in showing my images with the highest definition possible and in perfect conditions, otherwise, my images were kept in a vault.
I guess that was not a good time to use Instagram.
However, many pieces fell in place to change my vision about photography in general, and Instagram, as an app and social network, in particular.
Back in 2011 I changed from a Nokia 6131 to an iPhone 4. With its 5Mpx camera and high quality optics (compared to other phones at the time), I thought the images that I produced with my mobile phone were actually worth sharing. The fixed lens seemed like a limiting factor at first but, as I mentioned in a previous post, this limitation has led me to being more creative.
I’m an avid Facebook user since 2007, before that I used hi5 and I’ve tried/experimented with other social networks. I also use Google+ and Twitter, even though the Twitter dynamic wasn’t interesting to me because of the 140 character limit. And yet, limits stimulate our creativity, so I’ve used it more and more over time. I’ve shared images in all of these social networks but each one had its share of unnecessary limitations or complexities.
Sharing an image back then usually meant taking a photograph with a dedicated camera, running to the computer, transferring the image, post-processing it, exporting and then upload it to each social network website.
With the iPhone, the whole process of sharing was quicker but still not perfect.
With the development of image post-processing apps, the whole process to share images online got simpler, I could take a photograph and have it ready to share in just a couple of minutes.
The Perfect Storm
Sharing an image in social networks was easy, I only need to open the Facebook app, load the image, share it, open Twitter, load the image, share it, open Google+, load the image, share it… easy but cumbersome.
When somebody mentioned that Instagram posted my images in Facebook and Twitter at the same time I decided to try it. I installed the app on the iPhone (a 5s now), registered, linked my Facebook and Twitter accounts, shared a few images… and I haven’t looked back since then 😀
Up until now, mobile photography has a great cycle, not ideal, but great:
- Produce a base image with reasonable quality with the mobile phone camera
- Post-process it very quickly using Lightroom Mobile
- Share easily and quickly with a growing number of friends and acquaintances using Instagram+Facebook+Twitter
Now, it’s not a perfect solution. I still believe that applying the Instagram filters produces a false sense of accomplishment and, as a matter of fact, I don’t use them. We still need to remember that a bad base image won’t improve with post-processing.
What do I share on Instagram? Daily life images and whatever catches my eye. One day I could share a sunset while the next day may be an abstract architecture image. Will I use it as much as I use Facebook? I don’t know, I just know that so far it fulfills my need to share one image at a time with ease. Would I share final images of my photography work? No. I think the charm of Instagram is that the images I share are spontaneous and shot with the limitations of a mobile phone.