For anyone panicking, Instagram will never replace traditional photography. Seeing a perfectly developed photo from a vintage camera shoot will always be more exciting than taking a snap on your mobile phone. However, Instagram does have some redeeming features, as well as some interesting side effects. If you want to find out more about how Instagram is having a genuine impact on the world of photography then read on to learn some more.
Toppling the Paparazzi
It used to be that the only way that we could see into a celebrity’s private life was if a stealthy paparazzi photographer got a shot that they weren’t expecting. Now, thanks to Instagram, fans can get a window into the life of celebs. This medium has made it possible to show the parts of life that fans don’t usually get to see.
It used to be that if we followed the career of a poker player then we’d see them in the papers occasionally, always sat around the table at a tournament. Nowadays many of the poker professionals of today have Instagram accounts that they share with the public. In the case of Maria Ho, we get to see her exotic travels, whilst Doug Polk prefers sharing snaps of his dogs. It’s nice to see the occasional tournament photo too, but fans can feel a lot closer to their celebrity idols from having this more personal view into their lives.
Life Through a Filter
The downside to this invitation into the lives of celebrities is that not everything is always as it seems. Many of us use filters on our selfies, stories, and even posts, but it can have a drastic impact on our self-image. Celebrities are just as guilty as the public of filtering their faces and bodies, but the problem is, they often have a team of professionals behind them who can do an edit that is a lot harder to spot.
These professionally edited photos can fool us into thinking we can achieve these unrealistic ideals. It has even led to people asking for cosmetic surgery to look like Instagram filters. Whilst removing filters entirely won’t solve the problem, people with a wide audience should think carefully, and perhaps disclose when they are using retouched, filtered or heavily edited photographs on their Instagram accounts.
The Proliferation of Portrait
An altogether less serious, but much more obvious change that Instagram has made to the photography world is the proliferation of portrait photographs. In this instance, we don’t mean portrait as in of a human, although there are certainly more selfies floating around than ever before. We mean portrait as in layout.
Instagram is mostly viewed through the screen of a smartphone, and smartphone screens are portrait. Whilst Instagram has made it possible to share landscape photos, they take up a far smaller section of the screen, making people less inclined to share photographs in a landscape format. It makes sense, if you want your photo to be seen larger, to put it in the format that can be displayed at a larger size.
The positive to this is that the already tiny format that your photo is being viewed in is squeezed out a little bit so that some details can be seen. The negative is that most of the other media that we use is in a landscape format. Photos for television, computer screens, even publications, are often required to be landscape, so exclusively Instagram photographers could be preventing their work from being seen on a larger scale.
Making Editing Accessible
A final note on editing. Although we’ve covered selfie-style filters, as anyone who has used Instagram will know, there is a bank of pre-made filters that you can slap onto any photograph before you upload it. Whilst this method of photo editing is far less sophisticated than PaintShop Pro or Adobe Lightroom, it does offer a window into the possibilities that editing provides for people who are new to the world of photography.
Even for professional photographers, the allure of the pre-made filter can be strong. Instead of slaving away for hours on Lightroom making a wedding shot look beautiful, you could slap on a Valencia filter and a lot of people would be none the wiser. We’re kidding, please don’t do that!