I wrote a recent post about my conflicting feelings about Instagram. About how the camera and filters are limiting. About the ability to manipulate the image on the spot and share immediately.
All of this contributes to a satisfying user experience because the user gets instant gratification through taking the picture, using the filters to personalize it and get instant feedback from anyone who happens to be online and seeing the post. With some of my urban images, I shared and got instant “Likes” from people I know in Europe. That is quite a long reach! It goes a long way to making one feel connected and a little powerful.
I use an iPad mini. I have found the iPad camera experience to be similar to Instagram in that I can, through a third party app, manipulate the image on the spot. In that way I capture more of the mood I am feeling at that moment. The photo app I use is PhotoForge.
Without a data plan I depend on access to wifi for sharing the image. Sometimes there are places in a dense urban area where it is available but often it’s not. Sharing has to wait till later. But at least the mood of the moment is preserved till it can be shared over social media, including Instagram.
I am getting more comfortable shooting in public using a tablet. I guess I blend in more with all the smart gadgets that are so ubiquitous. I suppose carrying and using a regular DSLR camera will make a photographer stand out more.
About this Image
It was late afternoon and very hot downtown. The light from the lowering sun bounced off one building and reflected it’s grid-like window pattern onto the one across the street. This happens everyday and creates countless photo opportunities. The iPad camera and PhotoForge app allowed me to capture the mood of the moment and process the image to preserve it for posting later.
Trying to Coexist With Instagram
Since starting this blog my feelings toward Instagram have evolved. I don’t want to say they have transformed because I still have some misgivings about the photo/video sharing platform. But since acquiring access to it, via an iPad, I have found the immediacy and spontaneousness of the experience offered me something I did not expect to like.
In the beginning I succumbed because so many of my friends use Instagram to give me and their followers a glimpse into their lives and activities in real time. This kind of immediacy creates a transparency that can be disturbing and interesting at the same time. However, it also offers the possibility to artistically express a moment of time without divulging too much about one’s private thoughts. This is what I did not expect to like.
The Instagram camera, filters and controls are blunt tools for someone who has used conventional photography gear and software most of their life. There are enough tools to yield a variety of visual effects which can differentiate one person’s image making from others. Even so, a lot of the images I see posted via Instagram seem pretty similar.
The way a photographer can distinguish themselves from the rest of the Instagramers is in the choice of subject matter. For instance my choice of subject matter and eye for light differentiates me from many users who chronicle their daily lives and travels. I try to point the camera inwards to express a personal feeling even in the most unglamorous places, such as a corner in my home where light and shadow create a mood in abstract space. Or the odd place in the outside world where I find connectivity and can share on the spot. It is a phenomenon to me that I could be in a public space, pick up a wifi signal from somewhere and be able to transmit a personal, visual expression to people I know who live all over the world.
I am finding a way to use the platform to express myself and share my life without compromising my artistic principals.
As always, evolve and find a way to coexist.