I hate Instagram. Actually, I’m that statement isn’t entirely true. To be completely honest and truthful, I F%$KING loathe Instagram. It is the chain-mail of the photography world (Send this email to all your friends list!). It is so similar to a computer worm (virus) it’s not funny. It seems to serves no purpose other than get other people to spread it, install it, get itself everywhere and propagate some more.
Every time someone uses it, I die a little inside. Every time someone uses it, I feel a deep sense of foreboding rage building inside of me. Every time someone uses it, a hipster gains his/her skintight jeans and thick glasses with no lenses.
What exactly is wrong with it? Well, just about everything.
The skill in taking good photos comes in capturing the scene, the beauty as it is seen in your own eyes, the capturing of what makes that thing to you so beautiful. The capturing of colours that nature displays. The finding of an angle that would turn a normally boring scene into something amazing. The small little piece of beauty, inside an otherwise unremarkable location. The capturing of fine details to really show off what a location can provide.
These are the reasons I’ve been making a concerted effort to get in to photography over the last few months, because I want to share some of the beauty I see, and what I personally see in different locations. My attempts at photography are quite poor, but I’m working on it. This entire rant about Instagram though is something I have thought for well over a year now, since it first came out in fact. I was just spurred in to finally posting it due to a run of Instagram “photos” I saw on twitter and facebook last Saturday morning.
Instagram, by its very nature discourages all of these skills, and by its nature ruins any attempts to capture any of these things.
It doesn’t even work as a photo sharing site either. It operates solely as an iPhone application. The screen on an iPhone is a mere 8.9cm (diagonally), which means even full sized images are for all intents and purposes nothing more than thumbnails. If you want to then browse (through the app) through someone’s past photos, you’re stuck with 1cm x 1cm sized thumbnails. I have good eyesight, but even this is too small.
If you want to view it through any other device, whether it be another brand of smartphone, laptop or desktop computer, you’re stuck. If you go to the Instagram website, you can do nothing other than look at their front page telling you to get the iPhone app.
Even when you do have a link to someone’s photo already, it won’t let you click on their name to see the history of photos. If you like one of their images and want to see what else they took photos of in that area or elsewhere, without the app, you’re stuck. This is a massive photo sharing fail.
The website is a massive photo sharing fail in more ways than just the limiting of browsing to small-screened iPhones. The thumbnails it enforces on people mean you lose all detail from a photo. The photo above-left was taken by a friend of mine, WeezMGK. If you click on the above-left image and then select “view full size”, you can see the image in all its detail, zoomed in to a full sized image to look in awe at the fine details. If you try that on the above-right image, you’ll find you can’t. You’re stuck with the thumbnail. Even if you did have the iPhone app, the small screen would stop you from zooming in enough to see those details anyway. Can you even see the Sydney Harbour Bridge? In this way, Instagram discourages the capturing of anything that has any detail.
The image above-left is another photo taken by WeezMGK of the sunset. In this image he captures the colours and actual view from that moment in all its glory. It really is an amazing picture. Instagram though, encourages the use of filters to modify an image and make it “artistic”. Above-right, I’ve applied the filter that best suited that image, and as you can see it completely ruins it, washing out all the colour and what really made that scene beautiful. In fact, for all the viewer of the above-right photo can tell, it may well have just been photos of clouds on an ordinary day, with all colours added by Instagram. There is no beauty in faked colours like that. It’s not capturing what the person actually saw, the actual beauty in the scene.
To demonstrate further the point of not really capturing the scene, I took a photo of some rocks and rubbish (above-left), then applied some Instagram filters (above-right). There was no skill used at all in this photo, nor attempts to capture a moment yet now it’s “arty”, or at least according to hipsters “DUHH! I CAN ART!”. So with both the sunset and rocks examples in mind, what is it you’re actually showing me through Instagram? Is it a beautiful moment that is no longer what you are trying to express (sunset photo), or is it something extremely dull and boring that you’re faking to express (rocks&rubbish photo)?
The heavy focus on the filters also takes away some of the skills in getting a good photo. The framing of the shot, the balancing of the elements in the scene, the ability to find an angle that turns something ordinary in to something wonderful. In the above photos for example, above-left I have the ordinary scene. Above-centre, the unique angle to improve upon it (a view from road level), and finally above-right is the framing and balancing of the scene (the solitary girl walking down the road on the left, and the road rolling and weaving in to the distance on the right). These are three things that many don’t bother with any more due to such single-click filters, making the images on Instagram even more dull.
And it does very heavily push the filters. Just take a look at this screenshot, taken from a website that allows you to view Instagram through a web browser (yes, you need to find third party sites to do that one basic task). Look at how few of those images are not retouched. The filters themselves are simple sing-click things, so it’s not like any thought even goes in to applying those either.
Instagram is the bane of photography. Every time you use it, you may as well be defecating all over the scene you’re pretending to capture.
It discourages the skills of framing a photo, finding an angle, and attempting to capture beauty by its heavy pushing of filters. The filters mean you can never tell if the person was trying to convey what they were seeing, or are simply going “HERP! DERP! I HAZ AN ART!!!~1″, and make it too grainy to even see the subjects natural beauty and detail (sometimes to even see the subject).
Please, for gods sake (or what ever deity/lack of deity to prescribe to), PLEASE, STOP USING INSTAGRAM! It fails at photo sharing, it ruins pictures, it removes any moment or beauty you wish to capture and share, and just leaves you with a generic, grainy, try-hard bunch of pixels that demonstrate less artistic ability than my two year old nephew with a pack of crayons. If you use it, I WILL think less of you, I WILL hate you, and I most certainly will NOT look at your image.