The Myth About Instagram Leveling the Field
Posted on June 21, 2012
To say that Instagram levels the field for creativity is wrong. Completely wrong.
Instagram is so popular because it turns our otherwise regular-looking snapshots into unique, beautiful images. For those of you who have not become addicted, Instagram is (comparably) the mobile version of Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, and is popular because of its simplicity and for the great results you can achieve by adding a few creative filters to your otherwise bland photos. The app is intuitive, and fairly flexible (with a simple UI) making it easy to master within a few uses. Photoshop’s desktop platform, on the other hand, can take months to master. First, understand that mobile photography is about convenience and simplicity, not complicated layers and editing techniques.
With Instagram, filters and blurs are in. For all you pro shooters out there, you’ve been taught that the purpose of creating an image isn’t to dress it up as much as possible to hide the flaws. Instagram leveled the equipment field and the production flow, not the user’s creativity. Fortunately, that still lies in the eyes, mind, and hands of the photographer.
However, there’s no denying that Instagram is giving the photography industry something to think about. I’ve seen some incredibly striking images come out of Instagram. As expected, the better known and followed users are calling themselves “professional mobile photographers.” Wow. Sounds crazy, but you know, I think it’s for the better that photography has become such an integral part of mobile and social technology. We love pictures, so why continue to make creating them an inaccessible art?
I’m fully embracing the movement, and you should to. I’d say “move past it,” but mobile photography is really a “move over,” a shift, if you will. The film to digital transition was a step up for the photography industry for many reasons; mobile photography isn’t taking over digital, it’s just a shift for consumers. If you’re scared of where photography is going, don’t be ridiculous. Although I’ve heard stories, brides won’t be asking you to shoot their wedding with your iPhone anytime soon (although they might see that as a nice addition to their investment.. *HINT*.)
On that note, here are a few tips on how to make the best of the app. Take these with a grain of salt, they are not rules. Even if they were, rules are meant to be broken in photography; showing us how you see the world, and telling a story with an image are the most important pieces in creating interesting photos.
- Shoot with the end in mind. You know the filters by now, picture them on the subject or landscape before you shoot.
- Crop with the end in mind, and always plan ahead. If you want the texture of the concrete to take up a large part of the image, you better back the hell up.
- Simple rules. The best images tell a story with as little details as possible. We like to make up our own minds as to what’s going on in an image. Also, make sure to separate the background from your subject.
- Follow the rules. Off center the image both vertically and horizontally (rule of thirds); don’t crop extremities; sharp focus; balance image elements…
- Break the rules. (Do whatever the hell you want.)
- Use the “enhance” button (almost) always! This is basically the “holy-shit-this-button-fixes-everything-I-ever-did-wrong” button. (If you’ve used it before, you know it’s true.)
- Find cool light. I can’t explain what this means, just do it and use it to your advantage.
- Be creative as hell. You’ve basically got a fixed lens on your hands, so that means your legs are the zoom. Don’t be afraid to move around and change your perspective; get down on the ground, change the distance of the background to focus on your subject. Stop and look at ordinary objects and things you pass on a daily basis and tell a story with it. Get out of your comfort zone, go for a walk (there’s nothing cool about shit in your house,) you’ll find interesting things everywhere. Also, if the caption is catchy, I might just find the image more interesting, too.
My point is, enjoy Instagram for what is, and don’t compare your 8 megapixel iPhone camera to an $8,000 tricked out pro rig. I challenge you to change your perspective on mobile photography and own it. Either way, stay creative, no matter the vehicle, no matter the place.
Feel free to follow me on Instagram, username “zacksyl,” and on Twitter @zacksylThe Myth About Instagram Leveling the Field by Zack Sylvan