Twelve months ago today i posted on this very website about Instagram and how I’d started using the photography network. A year later I’m still using that little app and yet the way I’m using the service has changed quite markedly since that first walk with the photo app.
Filters are often mentioned when criticising Instagram. Strangely I’ve found that I very rarely use the filters built into the app. I use other photography apps to take, alter the image and only then do i use the Instagram app to upload to the stream. In many cases two or three iPhone photography apps can be involved in the process of taking and getting the image to Instagram. Within about three months of using the popular photography app, I’d come across a separate process I preferred for creating images away from the usual app filter results of the big I. I used my customised system during my time in Scotland in September of last year and still use variations of the same system now.
So why don’t i touch the Instagram filters? To some extent it appears to stem from my documentary photography background and controlling what i produce. I really don’t like to manipulate images too heavily. If i can’t do it in a darkroom then I’m probably not interested. Even with PhotoShop i tend to think of the software as a digital darkroom rather than the all powerful image alteration tool. This appears to have extended itself into my mobile photography although i must admit I’m not too keen on the visual styles filters on offer in Instagram. The traditional areas of contrast and saturation, dodging and burning are my main aesthetic vices rather than a look or style from a particular camera, lens or film.
So really the main role of Instagram over the last nine months has been that of a distribution engine. It’s quick, simple and ridiculously easy to use. Following other photographers on Instagram is a breeze and there are some really talented people using the service. I just hope that their are no more foul ups like the terms and conditions issue that eroded huge amounts of trust and led many photographers to delete their accounts and leave Instagram.
Finally i need to mention a similar service called EyeEm that i heard about during the terms and condition’s fiasco. Similar in many ways to the Instagram system, one of EyeEm’s winning features is allowing full frame uploads of phone images. While i love Instagram’s square format, it can be rather restricting so its nice to have an alternative place to show full size images. EyeEm could do with a few more active users but it does work exceptionally well and offers something subtly different to Instagram’s service.