Instagram Has Ruined Me

I love Instagram, but it has ruined me.

I love using X-Pro II and Amaro and Valencia and Lo-Fi. I can do a number of things: Disguise the mediocre. Enhance the mundane. Adulterate a purely fine digital photograph with a filter.

* * *

In November, I strolled around the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and had forced myself to bring my Nikon so I could snap photographs with “a proper camera” for once. Ever since I’d gotten an iPhone at the beginning of 2012, my Nikon and Canon cameras — and all of my film cameras — have sat on my shelf, collecting dust.

As I walked around the pond and toward the dome, I took photos, but after taking a handful, I felt odd. I used to enjoy this process so much: review shots I’d just snapped on the LCD screen, planning out my next shots, gathering different angles, already growing excited at the thought of sifting through my options later, at my computer.

But that day, I wasn’t doing this, and in fact, got quickly bored. I just took a photograph, but it’s sitting there in my camera, I thought. Filed away on the memory card.

Isn’t it sad?

Surely it wants to be shared.

I strolled underneath the iconic dome and gazed up, put the bulky Nikon around my neck, and reached into my purse for my iPhone to take the shot above me instead. Then I opened Instagram, ran a filter over it, and posted it — to send it off into the world to be liked and viewed for its moment of glory, and to shortly after join the stream of other Instagrams disappearing into our Internet wasteland.

And it felt much more satisfying. So I took the rest of my photos with my phone, sharing several of my favorites on Instagram in the short time it took to walk back to the car.

* * *

I’ve written about this way of photographing and consuming before — about suffering from a bad case of the Facebook Eye and the need to self-document and share. Thankfully over time, as the novelty of a social network has worn, the desire to share has lessened, primarily on Facebook and Twitter. I hate Facebook, but right now it does serve as a functional tool to connect, so I’ve stopped complaining and use it to get in touch when needed. And after dabbling several years ago in Twitter press trips as a travel blogger, I realized I had little desire to share things in such inorganic ways, and to tell everyone where I’m flying and who I’m with and what I’m eating and how the view is totally amazing and blah blah blah.

Yes, I share things that are happening, that I think are cool, that I’m proud of. But I’ve managed to use Facebook and Twitter in ways that make sense to me, in ways that lessen the irritation I once felt while using them. But Instagram? Hmm. Instagram has completely changed my approach to taking photographs, and that’s saying a lot.

In my last post, “On Travel, Time, and (Revisiting) Granada,” I compiled my Instagrammed shots from my recent trip to Spain. In Granada, I also forced myself to take my “real” camera — my Canon this time — out on the streets. As expected, I juggled my camera and my iPhone in my hands, my camera fighting and trying to prove it was still relevant.

So, here I’ve posted additional photographs of this trip, courtesy of my camera. Compared to the gallery in my last post, I honestly don’t like many of these.

Where’s the extreme contrast?

Where are the unnaturally bright colors?

Where’s the fake depth of field?

Where are the borders?

Somehow, unfiltered has become boring. (You won’t see me using the #nofilter tag!) And I find this interesting, and a bit sad. I know social networks and tools and apps come and go, but I do wonder what’s next in my own evolving process in photography.

Thanks for the mention of this post, New York Times!

Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

Senior editor at Longreads / Automattic

82 thoughts on “Instagram Has Ruined Me

  1. I stumbled over this post as I was researching articles about social media and its influence on our thinking. Albeit it does not fit my criteria (scrupulous academic writing) I want to say that it is a great read. I, too, completely agree with the notion that Instagram spoiled and ruined me in a way. Similarly, I want to say that I am more connected to the pictures I took with my full-frame, maybe because more time was invested in pre- and post editing.

  2. I still have mixed feelings about Instagram. I’ve been a photographer for more than a decade, but also, a digital editor/artist. When I edit my pics, I’ll usually do so in layers (Photoshop). Say, the pic is too dark. Rather than run it through a preselected filter, I’ll make a separate layer which is intentionally OVERexposed, layer it beneath the darker layer, and then erase the dark bits away (at an opacity of about 20%) in various places so that the lighter parts bleed through from underneath. I do every area (colours, hues, textures) all in the same way so the end result is often an image of 35+ layers. It’s a constant process of blending, erasing (erasing away the top layer in bits and pieces, not unlike a patchwork quilt) merging, duplicating- repeating.

    When I see people slapping a filter on a shot and that’s it- I have mixed feelings. Some of those results are gorgeous! Even simple Instagram filters. It doesn’t make a person less of an artist. But these days, everybody’s a “photographer” and an “artist”…heheh. So yeah, mixed feelings. That said, great collection of images you’ve compiled here- you have a great eye. ;0)

    1. @monochromejunkie: The first paragraph is what I would call art: you enhance, edit, add and create a new image. It is like creating a meal using a recipe, carefully selecting ingredients, sampling, tasting, adjusting the spices, plating and presenting it, etc.
      What the instagram (IMO) does is creating some kind of fast food quality pictures: they are ok when you want to follow what your loved ones (or random strangers are up to) but you get sick of them after a while.
      In short: I share the mixed feelings about the Instagram

  3. Ah, I wrote something very similar to this the other day. It’s fascinating to grow up in the digital generation, but it makes me very sad for the future. We’ve forgotten how to pause and savor the beautiful sites with our own two eyes because we yearn for the immediate gratification that comes with our social world.

  4. I read that 10% of all photos ever taken in the history of the world were taken last year. That is how much of an explosion of photos has occurred with camera phones.

    The art of photography, and what I enjoy about it, is trying to capture perfect, interesting or dramatic light. There is no substitute for a setting sun or when the light falls just right on a person or animal.

    But for most people, photos are a way to share something beautiful, make a memory or capture a moment with family or friends. For that, instagram is great. For art, not so much.

    I feel sorry for your camera, by the way.

  5. It’s not the camera that makes the picture, it is the artist behind the camera. It can be a iPhone or a full on expensive camera! I love both, and your photo’s are beautiful.

  6. These photos from your real camera are still beautiful, they are vibrant and full of depth. Instagram has made us think that we need extreme colours or contrast to make a photograph interesting and appealing, but certainly in your case you really don’t. I don’t have an iPhone so can’t use Instagram, but I do find myself wishing I could use it to enhance the odd photo. But at the same time I love the feeling of capturing that photo that just doesn’t need any enhancements.

  7. oh gosh / us too. instagram is one of my many love/hate relationships in this wonderfully confusing 21st century. love all of your photographs + this post!

  8. I love Instagram too, but hate how all my shots these days are instagrammed. It’s convenient for when I am with my kids to just whip out my phone and take a shot. But I really would like to capture more proper photos with my regular camera, which I would be able to print out and keep as a lasting memory.

    Sigh, never happens.

  9. Interesting. I felt the same way couple of weeks ago when we returned from canary islands. I had more than 1700 photos on my nikon DSLR and i did not post any of them to facebook, because I made 5-7 favorite shots with iphone and used instagram instead… the standard photos just seem to be too dull after using instagram for a while. Nice to know I am not alone =)

  10. I don’t have instagram or a smartphone, but almost all my friends do. I shoot film as a hobby, I don’t have a DSLR. A quote by Hunter Thompson regarding why he continued to use typewriters when they became obsolete (and I’m paraphrasing here)…he says he preferred typewriters, because he felt what he was writing couldn’t be trash, because it was ‘permanent’. I feel this is the same with film. There’s no loss if you take a bad shot on a digital camera, therefore, arguably, less incentive to take a good one. Obviously I’m aware of the advantages of digital, but I’ll tell you one thing, I’m certainly glad I am not a part of the instagram phenomenon.


  11. Instagram can be incredibly frustrating as a photographer. Here you have a beautifully composed shot and then have to decide which part you are willing to crop out so it fits in to a square.Boooo

    There’s an app coming out though (that I found here, which shows you a square guideline on the iPhone camera. I think it will be perfect for composing shots specifically for a square display!

    I am definitely a filter addict though, haha.

  12. Interesting how its iphone iphone iphone. Other smart phone users don’t complain about this problem.

  13. All the DSLRs and film cameras are gathering dust. I used to find it so gratifying to get a roll of film shot and processed but Instagram has made me needy — needy of instant gratification rather than the excited wait to see if your old film gave any cool effects or if the blessed toy camera let the light leak to create a bit of magic.

  14. Found this post while searching for ways to process Instagram images on my laptop — a reflection of my own slow descent from more proper photography towards Instagram. While I don’t feel it ruined me it certainly has changed my approach to the world with a camera. The little square images are potent sketches of my life, substitutes for the pencil drawings in journals I always wished I could make, historical reminders of fleeting moments I desire to hang on to.

    My DSLRs sit idle save for commercial assignments. The small digital pocket camera I use to make pictures for my Scooter in the Sticks blog also is gathering more dust as I reach more reliably for the iPhone. And my darkroom and film cameras, well, I wonder about their future. Instagram pushed the recent departure of a beloved Wisner view camera. And the Leica M6, I fear its days are numbered.

    How could Instagram have such power?

    Thanks again for your post — makes me feel almost normal.

  15. I loved your blog. I have not yet made the plunge into Instagram and I am trying desperately to stay away. As a trained photographer I have mixed feelings on the matter.

  16. Interesting post! I’ve taken up photography in class as a requirement for my degree. I’m not practicing it that much but I totally understand your sentiments regarding Instagram. It’s fast and convenient. It gives people the chance to take good photographs, with or without the basic knowledge in photography. It’s good in a way but sometimes it’s just too much. I’ve seen my colleagues having this dilemma when their photos came out far from being ‘Instagrammed’ so they added all this things during post-processing and everything turned out like they just came out of the app.

  17. This is a topic close to my heart as I’ve struggled with this photographic dichotomy, too.

    Although I began using Instagram for just over a year, it wasn’t until I dropped my proper Nikon dSLR — in a supermarket car park in France sometime in July last year — that I turned to my iPhone and embraced the low-res nature of Instagram, complete with it’s dizzying range of filters, propensity for blown highlights and over-saturation. All because I couldn’t afford to replace the broken lens at the time. A few months later, however, I found myself in the midst of an Instagram project in Burgos, Spain, spending much of my day and night trudging the streets with my partner, capturing all aspects of the historical city, from its Gothic Cathedral to its graffitied walls and decorative street tiles — all enhanced in an instant by a filter (always with border) and a generous dash of Lux effect. By the end of our seven and a half months in Burgos, Sean and I had amassed over 1,500 Instagram photographs between us and we’re now in the process of compiling them into a book.

    Just before leaving Spain I got a replacement lens. It was an exciting morning, hearing the buzzer, knowing it could only be the postman, and then taking receipt of the small brown box with its English postage stamps and handwritten address by Eddie from Clock Tower Cameras in Brighton. I quickly fitted the lens and snapped a few images to test everything was okay. Later that afternoon we walked around town, me with a real camera around my neck once more, and I shot a bunch of highly disappointing images. What had happened to my eye? Aside from the obvious fact that RAW images have to be processed, my SLR photography skills seemed to have suffered from months of shooting in Instagram. I couldn’t figure it out.

    A couple of months along, shooting with both cameras, I continue to be drawn more to Instagram. For starters I always have my phone with me, but its strength lies in its immediacy. Within a minute I can take, process and share a photograph to my networks and I’m done. All that’s left is to import my images when I’m back with my laptop. No lengthy processing and cropping decisions.

    Referring, also, to your most recent post — Fragments of Time — one of the drafts sitting in my dashboard is a post about this very subject of Instagram photography versus real photography. So I think I’ll pop over there now, pull it from its state of limbo and shape it into the piece it deserves to be.

  18. It is a very interesting problem indeed. But I’m not sure I understand why it ruins you. Simply because it takes away the pleasure you had with you Canon? It seems that there is a dimension of (probably legitimate) guilt in taking more pleasure with something as easy as instagram. Perhaps the same guilt we have when we realize we take more immediate pleasure listening to Adèle than Bach? That for some reason we must be able to appreciate the complicated? I’d be interested to read what you think. S.

    1. Ah, I love your thoughts here — the idea that perhaps I’m not supposed to feel more creative using something as simple and “fake” as Instagram. I like your music listening analogy — I hadn’t thought about it that way.

      I’ll admit I exaggerated with that post title, “Instagram has ruined me” — it hasn’t ruined me, but I do appreciate someone calling me out on that!

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

      1. But do you feel that your Canon is more legitimate than instagram? And if so why? That is what i feel is the really interesting question you raise. It seems that people link legitimacy with effort/time put in like canon vs. Instagram.

        1. Ultimately, no, I don’t think my Canon is “more legitimate” than the Instagram app — I think they’re two very different modes, and I’m not saying I feel like less of a photographer because I don’t use my “real” camera that much anymore. Because in the end, my visual eye — what I see and how I frame something — is the same, no matter the tool. Even if my Instagram photos are technically/traditionally of lesser quality, my style/composition/eye is the same as if I’d shot them with my Canon.

          Not sure if I’ve answered your question — I may have to think more about what you’ve posted.

          1. Well you’ve just pointed out the source of legitimacy according to you, i.e. your visual eye, which I think is valid. In what way is Instagram a threat then? Does the filters compensate for a lack of visual eye for some? Is it that it brings the better photograph and the worst photographs closer?

  19. I like your post a lot. Instagram is, technically speaking, “real” photography. And — disguise the mediocre, enhance the mundane — well, that is basically what art is all about, so, Instagram is both “real” photography and, if you know what you are doing, can be “real” art also. After all, the important thing is the image, not what you used to create it.

  20. i use a really simple cellphone as I don’t really use it that much, but i’ve always been just a tad jealous of people who instantly fix and post pics online. i have to bring my camera, usb cord, laptop and have wifi access to do that 😛

  21. Interesting post….I have never used Instagram so I can’t compare. I prefer to continue using my SLR, but I admit I am curious because it seems like something fun to try.

  22. i haven’t joined the instagram wagon yet, for fear of losing my “real” photography skills. honestly, i’m not sure ’til when i can hold out. haha.

    it’s not that instagram makes your photos better or more interesting–it’s really that feeling of satisfaction you get when people “like” the photos you share on instagram or on social networks that makes you want to use instagram more and more. it’s now easier to show the world your vision, and easier for the world to acknowledge you.

    love your post and the non-filtered photos you took. 🙂

  23. Haha! I totally enjoyed reading your blog and the title made me chuckle. This is actually a completely different perspective on #whatinstagrammeanstome that I haven’t heard and it’s nice to read something different 😉 When you mentioned this blog in another blog about how to embed IG images I thought your photographic experience in general had morphed the way you experienced life. That is a part I have “struggled” with as I’ve gotten more and more into the IG artist community and I seem to not be able to go ANYWHERE without taking a camera or my phone and I’m wondering if I’m really appreciating where I am as I’m trying to snag the next shot. Then during a walk along the rocky cliff in Goa, I looked down and saw all the incredible textures and naturally occurring lines and circles made by erosion or whatever makes things they way they are and I was SO excited. I recently started a 2nd IG account dedicated to minimalism and at that moment, I realized, had I not started to photograph they way I have, I may not have ever really noticed, let alone been excited about lines in rock! I’m a nerd.

    I’ll be honest, I haven’t touched an IG filter in ages and just use other apps in post processing to get whatever I’m wanting to accomplish with each image. While I’m absolutely fascinated with my friends who truly take an image and make graphic design art out of it, my own style is still very much “National Geographic” for the most part. I’ll snap the pic, select my fave for the day, tune it in Snapseed, maybe in PS Touch to play w/ the color curve and then post. BUT that being said, following the amazing artists that I do has allowed my photography and the way I confront an image to shift and grow over time. I just had a super heavy contrast B&W phase… I had a phase!! I never had artistic phases before and now, I do and it’s all because of IG. The thing I still “struggle” with is being able to leave the house empty handed, go on a walk, see an INCREDIBLE sight and be totally ok with just letting that sight be what it is, in that moment, enjoy it, in that moment, and not get twitchy because I don’t have my camera to snap that moment and share it with others later 😉

    Happy snappin girl… remember, the best camera is the one you’re carrying.


  24. I can relate to your post – I’m not a professional photographer, but I love taking photos and capturing moments, taking photos of the everyday and the not so everyday. I don’t have a DSLR (I have a Sony point and shoot with 14 mps), but sometimes I’ll use instagram and look back over my photos and think – why didn’t I take that photo with my point and shoot? There would have been more detail, more texture and better resolution. I read a comment in this feed that encapsulates how I feel about it – the photographer makes the decision about what to photograph, the angle and the position, close up or not. These decisions are what make our photos unique, whether we choose to take them by DSLR, point and shoot or on an iPhone. When I look at people’s instagram feeds, I find that most people have their own style of photography and their own obsessions, and I find that interesting, and often inspiring. It’s different – I don’t think it’s better or worse than taking photos with a better camera.

  25. I made a conscious decision not to use Instagram. The photos usual tell me nothing except ‘hey look at this clever trick’. Forget the filters, I want to really see your photo to really see the moment, not what a person thinks other people want to see.

  26. Smartphones have a way of changing alot of conventional phenomena. From emails, IM, push, marketing, board meetings etc. At a point in time around my continent, smartphones are seen as luxury but right now if you are a public person and need connection, you must go the smartphone way principally to interact socially. I love instagram, but functioning only on iPhones & a few selected android platforms is sickly. Around here, iPhone don’t function optimally while blackberry which still dominate the market is not an Instagram carrier & the struggling android phones are very selective. so far I got to put my love for photography on hold.

  27. Working for a newspaper, as a humor columnist and sports writer/photog, I find that my Nikon has essentially become a tool used primarily for photographing things most phone cameras can’t — speed and action. Utilizing all the options at my disposal in regard to shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc, I can capture things I could never get with an iPhone. Shooting in the rain, under poor light conditions, or in the middle of a scrimmage on the court and using my large zoom to get the look on players’ faces… not going to happen with a phone. That said, when it comes to creative or feature images, like for my column where I’m shooting something stationary and all about composition, my Nikon is getting a run for its money. However, using different lenses — wide angle or fisheye, for example — is adds an element of creativity I can’t get with a phone camera. In short, I expect my Nikon will be slung over my shoulder a while longer — but I’m sure the Nikon is looking over its shoulder as well 🙂

  28. I enjoy your blog greatly–and so I have nominated you for a Very Inspirational Blogger Award! If you choose to accept this award, please see my post on same for the rules that go along with the award. If you decline, best regards as well.

  29. Gone are the days when you need super-high-mega-pixel cameras to take beautiful high resolution photos that you eventually print. Because, after all, who really prints their photos much these days? That’s a relic of film and SLR cameras that need to print their images to enjoy them.

    These days, iPhones take great images and you can quickly share and enjoy with your friends on social platforms (Facebook/Instagram) or other devices (iPads/Apple TVs) at home or wherever you are.

    Sure it’s nice to have a good lens so you can frame your subject in a different way, but you’d be sacrificing the ability to fit your camera in your pocket. And why bother getting a snap-and-shoot cam? Are you really getting that much better of an image for your eventual use? No.

    I compare what’s happening in photography today to what happened in film when the large cameras used in studios by the likes of Edison were replaced by smaller nimble film cameras. “Phone-photography” is giving us a fresh, natural perspective that is candid and very immediate. Interesting times I say.

    Oh and you don’t need filters either.

  30. You should look into an Eye-Fi memory card for your main camera. With it you can stream photos you take to your phone. Then you get the best of both worlds — high quality photos from a real camera and the ability to instantly share them on the web.

  31. unfortunately, Instagram makes everyone feel professional photographers. You give a “Like” on a photo awaiting the return of kindness to another “like”. I’ve seen popular people with horrible photos and full of “likes”

  32. I always had a passion for this, but never had any spare time to do what you do. Thanks for enlightening me. I get bored easily, so this helps me keep my mind occupied. Keep up the good work — I must say you have a pretty awesome blog here.

  33. Your post says everything I have been feeling in the last year.

    I’ve been using less and less of my DSLR – a Nikon D90 which I bought 2 years ago as an attempt to learn more about photography – ever since I got my iPhone 4S last year. I have struggled with the guilt for using less of the DSLR. I wasn’t sure what it was, initially thinking it was me being lazy to carry the bulky Nikon. I mean, the iPhone was less intrusive and so portable with great quality pictures (even when printed, though I know they will never beat the DSLR quality).

    But after a while, like you, I realised, that it’s also the instant gratification of sharing your experience to the world. There is a thrill of say, showing off how beautiful where you live to the rest of the world, or sharing a spot in Indonesia where even the locals have never heard of.

    In the last year, I too have had moments when I take my DSLR, have photos taken with it, only to later take the same ones with the iPhone so I can share them to the world. Then I’d go home, and almost never looked at the ones on my DSLR. Sad, I must say.

    I still feel guilty for letting the DSLR sit there mostly to gather dust, and for the fact that my photography technical skills are probably not improving. I have been thinking whether I should get rid of my Nikon gear, but then, I’m afraid I might want it at a later date and it will be expensive to get a new set. So, it still sits gathering dust…sigh.

    So yes, like you, I think Instagram has also ruined me. Great post, Cheri, it’s always a pleasure reading your posts.

  34. I usually like to use my camera when I’m out traveling, but back home here in NYC, my camera does tend to collect dust. Who needs SLR when my iphone5 camera captures great images! The biggest pro – it doesn’t weigh anything or take up too much space in my bag! Beautiful photos of Alhambra btw!

  35. This reflects so many of my own thoughts on the various uses of photography: mindful presence, creativity, art, instant gratification, communication… I have Instagram guilt too: It feels very good, like eating something you’re not supposed to, and then – much like eating something you’re not supposed to – the guilt kicks in and you feel bad that you can’t like broccoli the same way you like your treat of choice. There is something about the connectivity of Instagram, as Nick commented earlier, that makes it appealing — and something about its rosiness and borders that makes it insincere. You have articulated all of that so beautifully, putting words to many of our troubled snaps.

    1. You articulated much of what I said/wanted to say in your comment! Love the analogy to broccoli and one’s treat of choice — perfect.

      Instant gratification indeed.

    2. I can relate greatly to the challenge of “mindful presence.” In one hand, I feel almost MORE present, or at least aware, because I’m completely fascinated with the smallest of details now that surround me, thanks to how my photography has morphed and shifted due to my IG inspirations. On the other, it’s almost like I’m always looking for my next shot and not just BEING in that space and enjoying it for what it is.

      I was flipping between my droid and my hybrid camera the other day at a Hindu festival and snapping like a crazy fool that I think the festival management thought I was someone official so they let me INTO the drum/horn pit. I snapped pictures like crazy but at times had to just close my eyes and listen to the drums and feel them shake my body without trying to snap a shot… both aspects of the experience were powerful beyond belief.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts lady!


  36. “Disguise the mediocre. Enhance the mundane. Adulterate a purely fine digital photograph with a filter.’ This brilliantly sums up the characteristics of a life where appearances rule over the essence.

  37. I can so relate. I just went on a trip to Sedona and often found myself taking the EXACT same photo with both my Nikon and my iPhone. I was determined to break out my dslr and take “real” pics again. Of course, I ended up posting mostly instagram pics to my blog once I returned. They just seem to work so much better in collages and they have more of a “pop” than traditional photos, a “look at me” factor that almost seems necessary now that we’re being bombarded with so many images all of the time.

    But I do wonder if this trend will fade and we’ll wish we had some clear, high resolution photos to look at when it’s all said and done. Instagram is fun and easy, so I won’t give it up. But I hope to strike a balance–I love shooting manually and don’t want to get too rusty. For what it’s worth, I love the photos you posted here. The color and clarity are gorgeous!

    1. Yep, it seems to be about balance at the moment — I love both modes of taking photos, and that’s fine, but yes, I do wonder if I will be wishing later that I had better-quality pics of, say, my trip to Istanbul or recent trip to England/Scotland or — gasp! — my wedding ceremony last summer. (It was quick and easy, and there was no photographer, and all I’ve posted from that lovely day have been Instagram pics…)

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  38. Instagram give you instant gratification. You take a picture add the filter and you can see the result and average pictures can look more interesting. I use instagram when i am out and about but if I was going somewhere i would still take my camera.

    For me Instagram has had the opposite effect actually helping me move forward with my photography as i am taking more pictures and as many have said I don’t post as much as I did when it was all new and shiny.

  39. It’s like shooting video in 25fps after having tried 24fps. 25fps just has this “home video” feel and doesn’t feel “movie” enough. Those vignetting and color balance effects do give photos a more “movie” feel, don’t they?

  40. I for one love your camera-accessed photos. There asre so many textures, natural colors, enticing forms–a sense of being in the moment in your real world. To each her own, but I do hope you will keep posting camera-driven pictures, as they draw me is just as well, if not better.

  41. This post is so true! I used to carry my Canon DSLR with me everywhere, but I am spoiled by the iPhone and Instagram. I know I need to get motivated to get my big camera out and get snapping, but Instagram is just so much fun (and easy). Beautiful pictures, by the way!

  42. I love Instagram and I hate it. It’s convenient and compelling the same way that fast food is convenient and compelling. Instagram works best for me when I want speedy documentation; it’s mostly a superficial act. When I want to be more deliberate and creative, I use the Nikon. All things in moderation.

  43. I have fond memories of that visit, walking and wondering and talking about photography whilst snapping. I think “ruined” is an interesting choice of words, and seems to contain within it an implicit value judgement. “Changed”, yes.

    I remember thinking that you looked more comfortable taking pictures with your phone, that it was less of an “event”. But perhaps I was projecting.

    Instagram has been a godsend for me. I am, as you know, a reluctant photographer, feeling somehow uneasy at taking out a camera and capturing a little of the world in it. I’m less reticent about phone photography; for some reason it feels like a more “natural” action–perhaps because our phones have become extensions of how we interact with the environment.

    But for me, the filters are secondary to the network. Part of my issue with photography is that I rarely look at my photos again, and rarely show them to people. Unlike writing – the very process of which can help us sculpt and illuminate our inner world in some way, whether anyone ever reads it or not (and even if we never re-read it) – I feel photography is meant to be enjoyed after the fact. If my photos sit on my camera and are never viewed, they represent nothing more than a short-lived visual whim. But as you so rightly say, with Instagram a photo can be sent “off into the world to be liked and viewed for its moment of glory”. Whether anyone does view it or not is less important to me–the fact that it was *possible* for someone to see it, that there was a sense of dynamism or life injected into the static act of snapping a photo, is what I enjoy, and why I would continue using Instagram with the network but without filters, but possibly not vice-versa. (Incidentally, I know photos can be viewed in FlickrBook+ and wherever, but that involves a second layer of action; I appreciate the ease and immediacy of Instagram sharing.)

    Oh, and yeah, I prefer the pics in the last post too! But that might be a kind of confirmation bias, or because the uniform size of the Insta-pics allow for such a pleasingly presented collage.

    Nice post as always. Happy snappling!

  44. If you are comfortable with the fact that Instagram can use your photos without your permission, without giving you credit or compensation, in any way they see fit? Well then, by all means carry on. I prefer to have a bit more control over my work and efforts. Instagram no longer resides on my iPhone.

  45. I think many “artists” feel this way about social networking tools. On one hand, they’re great and there’s no use in denying the instant gratification they provide as you share things cool and fun alike. But still, the creative you feels like you’re using a cheat sheet and guilt is the result. I am not a photographer, but I do have friends who are and they live the same dilemma daily. I personally love the simplicity of a real photograph and just received a Nikon as a gift. I love pictures, but a part of me is looking forward to separating myself from the filter-induced, blur-laying Instagram community. Of course, I will always use my iPhone for quick flicks!!!

  46. So interesting comparing your instagram shots to the canon ones. IMHO: The previous collage was really consistent and smooth, like a perfect pattern. It created a unified feeling of texture and colour. These ‘real’ photographs are more distinct, they work harder individually and give a sense of the reality of the place. In short, I think we can instagram an experience in a satisfying and impulsive way…. but the high resolution unfiltered image works harder and won’t look dated in a few years.

  47. Your photos are beautiful! All of them. I think we should embrace both types of “mediums”. They work for different purposes and they both have very distinctive aesthetics. It is not the camera making the decisions and the great photographs, it’s the photographer behind the camera who decides what to shoot and how to shoot it.

  48. I’m the opposite… I find that over time my idea of what a great photo is can change. I’m going through archives from my retired Canon (my first serious point and shoot) I recently upgraded to a mid-range Canon and couldn’t be happier. For me photography is about letting myself feel a moment while also capturing a memory. I walk around having a personal connection with my surroundings and my camera. Yes, sometimes those photos are still lost and forgotten on memory cards or in folders on my desktop but they have also be rediscovered and appreciated years after they were taken 🙂 I think the shots you got on your Canon are lovely by the way but you should do what makes you happiest. The important thing is that you like what you’re producing. I find that my tastes and habits change as I try new things because I’m constantly trying to improve 😀 Great post!

  49. Love Instagram. Use it all the time (Android) and have done several posts on Diary of an Internet Nobody with it.
    Don’t see why it should be considered three poor relation to “proper” cameras. It’s a good tool.

    Say it with me : “I LOVE INSTAGRAM, AND I’M PROUD!”

  50. I’m not a photographer, but I think I can relate to your feelings of Instagram ruining you. I don’t post on Instagram nearly as often as I used to. In the beginning, I was sharing pics like crazy, trying every filter. Now, I mainly use the same two or three filters and sometimes i get bored with them.

    i still like Instagram and I try to use my pics as prompts for my real passion which is writing. 🙂

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