Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Instagram and Its Influence on the Art of Photography

Instagram and Its Influence on the Art of Photography

A guest post by Megan Arevalo

With more than 500 million monthly users, Instagram is now one of the most active social networks, beating Twitter and sitting behind parent company Facebook, which acquired the platform for $1 billion when the company was just 2 years old. The photo-sharing app has morphed to become the leading platform for visual communication, changing the way we consume photography altogether. Some professionals dislike the way things are headed because it cheapens their talents. In the past, painters who were celebrated as artists had a similar feeling towards cameras cameras. Photographs taken were more realistic than paintings and artists were worried that their work would lose its significance. Digital photography has made analog photography a loving memory and whole generation has never even used them.

On the flipside some photographers and artists embrace the Instagram because they can connect with their fans and showcase their work to a new wider audience. The high-quality smartphone cameras don’t replace DSLRs, but they are a viable alternative even for the professionals. Whatever the opinions of professionals, the everyday person can now utilize their smartphone camera and Instagram filters to create appealing photos and build a following – whether their models taking selfies, travellers showing off their destinations, or even meme creators making people laugh.

People are now suddenly inspired by their surroundings as they constantly search for Instagram-worthy moments. Everything from the meal you just cooked, to the book you just finished, to the landmark you visited, can be snapped and has the opportunity to garner likes.  

It is therefore understandable why professionals might feel threatened, especially when advanced filters can make even a low quality image look appealing. However the positioning of objects, lighting and subject matter chosen by career photographers is still likely to have an edge over the average selfie taker. Hours of effort still trumps computer generated airbrushing. Some Instagram celebs still use professionals to take their photos to get the best of both worlds.

In fact the overuse of filters has created a situation where a large percentage of Instagram posts have the same look and somebody who uses a rarer filter or thinks outside of the box can benefit from uniqueness. This may be where professionals still have an edge.

Is Instagram helping to feed narcissism, the kind not typically seen with traditional phorography? Selfies, legs in the beach, taking photos of meals, flexing in the gym, etc are some of the trends popularized by the social network that weren’t that common previously. At the same time however, Instagram is also the main medium behind the popularity of body positivity campaigns as real people share real photos as a form of protest against the rampant use of filters.

Whether we like it or not Instagram is a modernist take on photography and the industry is looking for ways to embrace the technology so that the art form doesn’t alienate the audience.

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